Max Branning is fuelled with hatred for his brother Jack – but does anyone know why?
For reasons as yet unclear, manipulative Max has focused his attention on destroying his sibling’s life by secretly helping Charlie Cotton gain custody of little Matthew and getting him arrested for assault.
But what is the root of his attempts to wreck Jack’s world? Max has been acting shifty since returning to Walford at Christmas having spent time behind bars framed for murder. He’s clearly a man with a plan – we just don’t know what that plan is.
The plot has really thickened recently: in last night’s episode he appeared to be talking to the oven door when the kids asked when Jack would be coming home: “Everything is going to be exactly where it should be,” he said before turning to the oven as he put the fish fingers on, “don’t you worry about that…”
While we wait for Max to fully confide in kitchen appliances exactly what he’s up to, it’s time to assemble some theories on why Max hates Jack.
He was secretly in love with the Mitchell sisters
Jack the lad did the double with the Mitchell girls, marrying Ronnie (twice) and getting Roxy up the duff. What if Max secretly harboured desires for the deceased divas himself and spent 10 years watching while his brother bedded them both? Max almost seduced Roxy on the night the girls took their fatal pool plunge – if Ronnie hadn’t been wearing that weighty wedding dress she might have been able to save Rox from drowning, and both sisters could’ve survived. So basically it’s Jack’s fault that they died and Max didn’t get his end away.
He’s never forgiven him for stealing Tanya
Remember when Jack had a fling with Max’s ex Tanya after she chucked him out for cheating with Stacey? His jealousy over their hook-up could’ve been festering all these years, and while Max and Tan eventually reunited it all fell apart eventually. Does Max blame Jack for ruining his relationship with the love of his life? If so then someone needs to explain to Max that marrying someone else behind Tanya’s back and generally treating her like dirt could have had more to do with the breakdown of his marriage.
They fell out when they were kids
The Branning broods’ childhood is always described as difficult, with tyrannical dad Jim dishing out beatings to his six kids. Max is notoriously haunted by the time Jim shut him in a coffin to teach him a lesson, what if Jack was involved in that traumatic childhood incident too? What if it was all Jack’s idea? Or there could be something else that caused beef between the brothers when they were growing up – did Jack borrow Max’s Brut aftershave without checking?
It’s all connected to Weyland & Co
Max’s involvement with the shady Weyland organisation could be the key to all this, seeing it seems to be connected to everything else Max does. Since his rendezvous with the chairman of the company at the top of the Shard back in January where they spoke in ominous riddles about their plan for Albert Square, Mr Branning has manipulated Shirley into selling the Vic’s freehold and cosied up to Carmel when he discovered she was working at the council’s planning department – all apparently in the name of Weyland. Maybe they want Jack out of the way in case he cottons on to their plot?
Jack didn’t visit him in prison
Max was framed for Lucy Beale’s murder and sent down for a crime he didn’t commit by the Beales and the Mitchells. They appear to be getting off scot-free (for now) yet Jack’s the one in his sights. Perhaps Jack didn’t visit him in prison and he’s got the hump? In fact, did anyone bother visiting Max? And while we’re on the subject, why is Jack getting all the hatred? Has Max been so disturbed by his sentence he’s going after people who had absolutely nothing to do with him being framed? Who’s next in the firing line, Shrimpy from the market? Tracey the barmaid?
Someone in prison is putting him up to it
We don’t know much about Max’s time in jail, other than a hint of a self-harming habit that suggests he seriously struggled inside. What if Max had a cellmate with a grudge against Jack from his days in the police force – he could’ve been the copper that sent him down – and he turned Max against his brother, tasking him with taking Jack down now he’s out with the promise of a wad of cash?
Jack turned his house into flats
While Max was inside Jack took it upon himself to buy up his brother’s old gaff and turn it into swanky apartments. Did he check with Max that was okay? What if Max was banking on moving back there once he returned? And what was the point since nobody appears to be living in those flats anyway?
He’s in league with Sean Slater
A long shot, but Sean was Jack’s archenemy after the fertile Branning bloke was revealed as Amy’s dad, who Sean thought was his. The Slater psycho briefly kidnapped Amy but she was safely returned before Sean fled Walford for good nine years ago. Rob Kazinsky’s possible return to EastEnders has been mooted many times, so perhaps he’s in league with Max and wants him to destroy Jack on his behalf. But what’s in it for Max? Or is it just ginger solidarity with his fellow red-headed rogue?
He’s possessed by Bob from Twin Peaks
Max paid a visit to Charlie’s flat in Monday’s episode and there was something familiar about the seedy setting as he strolled down the corridor: strobe lights, weird pounding music, sinister sounds, atmospheric red light – there was a definite Twin Peaks’ black lodge vibe. Is Max possessed by evil spirit Bob who’s making him do awful things to his brother? Is an EastEnders crossover one of the big secrets David Lynch is keeping before the much-anticipated new season of Twin Peaks airs in a few days’ time? All that was missing was a dancing dwarf and a creepy giant.
He’s jealous of Jack’s sexiest male awards
Of course it could just be pure jealousy that Jack’s the bigger heart-throb of the Branning boys. Does he resent his good looks? His generous thatch of hair? Those numerous sexiest soap male awards he’s won?