With his Christmas market plans in full swing, Alfie should be full of the joys of the season. All around him, people are getting into the spirit: Poppy and Fats are flirting, Liam and Morgan are carolling, while Ian and Denise are still engaging in their ‘friendly’ fruit-and-veg war. But Alfie can’t shake the feeling that Kat is still having an affair. Since finding Kat’s mum’s engagement ring in her drawer, he’s been plagued by worries that his wife is straying once again – and upcoming events certainly don’t do anything to ease his mind.
In fact, so distracted is Alfie that he even manages to drop the star that was meant to go on top of the Square’s Christmas tree. And after seeing Kat making surreptitious phone calls, he confides in Michael. “She’s lying to me,” he frets, only to be further surprised that Michael knew about Kat’s infidelity.
When it turns out that Kat was making her calls in a bid to source a replacement star (“I had to pull a few strings but it was worth it” she beams), Alfie switches on the lights. But beneath his smile lie deep concerns. Later, Roxy realises that all is not well and tells Alfie that he can always call her – day or night.
The week ends with Kat making a shopping trip but leaving her purse behind in the process. When she returns, Alfie asks her how she could have bought anything with no money, but Kat offers up the explanation that she borrowed the cash from Roxy. Although Alfie realises that she may not be lying, he still knows that something isn’t right.
Lola is also lacking in peace and goodwill as she wrestles with the concept of trusting Phil. She knows that working with him is her only real hope of getting Lexi back but feels that he’s making all the decisions without consulting her.
In the playground, Shirley tells Lola how she wishes she’d been a better mother and advises her to fight for her daughter. Rushing home for a meeting with the foster worker, Lola states her determination to be a good mum before reminding Phil, in private, that he needs to remember that Lexi is her daughter.
On the day of the court hearing, Phil takes to the stand and gives a heartfelt account of her past. But Lola is still torn as to what action she should take. Just what will she do?
As if the situation wasn’t fraught enough, Derek makes things ten times worse when he learns of Sharon’s addiction to painkillers. Spying a bottle on a table at Jack’s, he asks: “I’m guessing these ain’t painkillers?”
Jack is forced to come clean, which leaves Derek observing that Lola is pinning all her hopes “on a cheap criminal and a drug addict”. Later, Derek can’t resist smugly letting on to Phil, who is shocked and worried. Phil confronts Sharon, who insists that she doesn’t have a problem anymore. But when they arrive at court, Phil tells his lawyer Jimmie that he doesn’t want Sharon to be questioned.
Sharon is, of course, annoyed with Jack for revealing her addiction to Derek and is angered further when Jack tells her he will be missing Derek’s nativity play. With Jack not talking to him, Derek then decides to take over the role as Max’s best man and starts to organise the stag do.
Before the Brannings celebrate those nuptials however, there are the small matters of Oscar’s birthday and Tanya’s scan to get through. Max, though, has financial concerns and tells Derek that “the other lot aren’t making it easy” for him. Later, Derek informs his brother that their “friends” have been in touch again and need more money. Desperate to get the cash together, Max tells Tanya that he can’t go to the hospital with her as he has an important meeting. But after failing to raise the necessary funds, Derek points out that “they won’t take it well”.
Thankfully, Tanya’s scan is clear and Abi goes to the launderette to tell Cora the good news. Annoyed by her gran’s seemingly unsupportive attitude, Abi soon realises that Cora has Ava on her mind. Cora eventually lets her guard down and tells Abi that, even though she may care for Ava, she would never expect her daughter to get back in touch with her. But there are shocked faces all round when Ava arrives with a Christmas card for her biological mother.