The EastEnders Weekender is our re-cap, review and maybe a little rant about the previous week’s goings on around Albert Square. While we certainly hope that you’re keeping up to the minute on what’s happening in Walford by watching EastEnders every weeknight at 8pm ET, we know that’s not always possible and you have to catch up on the drama and intrigue online. Therefore, please be forewarned that the EastEnders Weekender contains big spoilers if you haven’t yet enjoyed the previous week’s episodes of EastEnders. Watch for a new EastEnders Weekender online each weekend.
EPISODES: 4476 – 4480 / VISIONTV AIRDATES: JUNE 30 – JULY 4, 2014
With Ian’s return to Albert Square at the beginning of last week, and Sharon’s surprise appearance at its tail end, it was easy to get the feeling that the past (both distant, and recent) would be coming back to bother the neighbours. Although the bedraggled Mr. Beale hadn’t been gone all that long, the unexpected presence of Phil’s ex on his doorstep opened up some long-buried tensions, and came just as the Mitchells were celebrating the future. The disruption of Phil and Shirley’s engagement party would turn out to be the least of their worries, however, as other events from the past threatened to tear the combative family apart once again.
First, though, Phil had his hands full with the nearly hysterical Sharon, who came to him in a panic after running out of her own wedding, and leaving behind her six-year-old son Dennis. Begging him to help her get him back, Sharon didn’t win Shirley over, but Phil was quick to play the white knight, driving her back to the ceremony and helping her retrieve Dennis from the grasp of her manipulative fiancé. Helping to keep Sharon and her son together left Phil anxious to officially tie the knot with Shirley, but back the house, she wasn’t quite so keen.
Back in the square, Shirley took Ian under her wing and tried to clean him up. Having his older brother under their roof again put Ben on edge, and his nerves were only heightened as Shirley continued to muse after what might’ve forced Ian off the deep end. Not convinced that Mandy’s departure would be enough to force him out of Walford, she rightly assumed that it was some other pressure that took its toll on him. It wasn’t Ian, though, that ultimately pointed her in the right direction, but Denise, who led her to the photo frame/murder weapon that had so mysteriously disappeared from Heather’s flat months ago.
Of course, it was only a matter of time before Shirley finally found the weapon used to kill her friend, and the discovery prompted an all-out search around the square to track down where it had come from. Luckily for her, Cora’s thorough recordkeeping at the charity shop led them straight to Jean, who remembered getting the frame from the bags of used items from the Mitchells’ house. Although initially stunned by the revelation, it didn’t take Shirley long to start seeing that her own (almost) family had hidden the truth from her for months.
As Phil continued to help Sharon sort out her situation, his fiancée was growing ever more suspicious of him and his potential role in Heather’s murder. Ben came home to find Shirley stewing over the frame, clearly convinced that his father was responsible for Heather’s death. Ben tried to convince her of Phil’s innocence, but as we’ve seen before, Shirley can be a tough person to talk down once she’s made her mind up about something. However, the more he tried to defend his father, the more Ben incriminated himself, and Shirley finally got the true version of events from the fateful night out of him.
She reacted just as we might have expected – violently – and it was only Phil’s well-timed arrival back at the house that saved Ben from an early demise. Just like his son had earlier, Phil tried to calm the irate Shirley, with little success. Unwilling to accept that she knew the truth, Phil made up his mind to continue to deny what really happened, telling Ben that he would protect him rather than let him go back to prison. Shirley wasn’t having any of it, and as Phil tried to keep her from calling the police, she began to realize that he had known all along that his son killed Heather and had kept it from her.
When things calmed down between them, Shirley told Phil that she couldn’t live with him, while also holding onto the secret of Heather’s murder. Unconvinced that Phil truly loved her, it looked as though she was ready to leave him for good. She did respond, though, to his request for her to just talk to Ben, and to listen to his account of what happened, appealing to her instincts as a mother. Unfortunately, when he went to get his son, Ben was nowhere to be found. He ended up, as it turned out, exactly where Shirley had been trying to send him. At the police station, Ben went to give Marsden information about the murder, but she wasn’t as receptive to the news as he expected.
When he finally came clean about killing Heather, she didn’t believe him, but although Phil almost managed to convince them that he was confessing for attention, one officer at the station actually took it seriously. With Ben under arrest, Shirley seemed nearly satisfied, but Phil was still certain that they could keep his son out of prison, and Marsden’s continued skepticism seemed to confirm it. Still, when the police eventually made their way to the Mitchell house in search of the evidence to put Ben away, Shirley wavered, unsure of whether or not she should hand over the photo frame that would put all doubts of Ben’s guilt to rest.
Meanwhile, Ian was starting to realize just how much damage his absence had done to his two children and how difficult it would be to win them back. When Max went to Lucy to once again plead Ian’s case, she still flatly refused to see him. He tried to break the news to his friend as gently as possible, and left Ian feeling perhaps a little more hopeful than he should, making it all the more disappointing when Lucy set the record straight in the harshest terms possible. His daughter’s utter rejection seemed almost too much for Ian to bear, but while Phil’s version of a pep talk did little to raise his spirits, seeing his old friend Sharon was actually quite helpful.
She also proved to have a better touch than Max when tasked with talking to Lucy on Ian’s behalf. Happy to see a familiar (and female) face in her home, Ian’s coldhearted daughter actually responded to Sharon’s emotionally charged defense of her old friends. Although things were still tense, Lucy agreed to let her father stay in the house again, and even accepted his tearful plea for forgiveness – on the condition that he sign all of his businesses over to her. As frustrating as she can be, we couldn’t help but admire Lucy’s savvy handling of the situation. At least she, for one, is starting to understand that your family, the people you trust the most, can let you down as easily and completely as anybody else.
– Kate Shepherd
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