Friday, 20 February 2015

TV Soap: Eastenders (30th Anniversary Part 3)

So now the mystery has finally been solved. Little Bobby Beale did it. He bludgeoned his sister to death with a music box.

I've been getting into the "Who killed Lucy Beale" excitement all this week, so I was anxious to see the anniversary episode last night. I didn't see it as it was broadcast, because I went out to see the excellent punk band Staatspunkrott performing. As soon as I got home (shortly after midnight) I made a cup of coffee and watched the episodes on Iplayer. My opinion on the story's resolution?

It sucks!

I have two reasons for my criticism. I know that many Eastenders fans will disagree with me, so I hope that they'll leave comments here to start a lively discussion.

First, there were many murder suspects, but Bobby Beale was so unlikely that finding out it was him seemed like a deus ex machina. I mean, he's only 11, and his sister was 21. He didn't surprise her, as we saw in the flashback yesterday. Lucy saw him enter the room. She could easily have fought him off. But even if she didn't, how much effort is needed to kill someone with a music box? A lucky strike from behind might knock a person unconscious, but not kill him. And as I just said, she was facing him. Repeated blows would have been necessary to kill her, even if Bobby had had enough strength. That would have left her badly bruised and in a pool of blood. But her body looked clean and tidy when she was found, no scars on her face, no blood anywhere. The whole murder scenario seems unrealistic.

My second criticism is the way the murder was revealed. There were two episodes yesterday. The first episode, which lasted an hour, was in the usual Eastenders format. Ian Beale was beginning to piece together clues about his daughter's death, while Kim Fox had a baby in the pub toilet, Stacey Branning found a corpse in an empty house, and Dean Wicks attempted to set the pub on fire. A typical day in a typical London street. At the end of the episode Ian accused his wife Jane (who he had married in the previous episode) of killing his daughter.

But then came the second episode, broadcast an hour later. An episode in a very strange format. It was advertised as a flashback episode. Rather than continue the conversation from the previous episode's cliffhanger, we were shown the events that happened on the last day of Lucy's life. Some of what we saw was a repeat of things broadcast last year, but there were also additional scenes to fill in the gaps. We weren't shown the murder itself, but we saw Lucy talking to an off-screen person entering the room, and then we saw Jane finding Lucy's body and Bobby confessing to her. Logically, the flashback episode can't be the contents of Jane's conversation with Ian, because she wasn't present for most of what happened in the flashbacks. Dramatically, the flashback device is a cheap way out without any artistic merit. That's my opinion, anyway, but I welcome comments from anyone who thinks differently.

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