“Everything’s gonna be fine. Your brother will be here soon and then we’ll all go away.”
Those were Sharon Mitchell’s words of comfort to her new-born baby boy as she held him in her arms not knowing that her other son Dennis (Bleu Landau) was breathing his last beside the Thames as paramedics failed to revive him in tonight’s (21st February) heart-breaking conclusion to EastEnders 35th anniversary week.
Over four nights the soap has toyed skilfully with fans’ expectations, doubts and concerns as multiple long-term story strands involving the Mitchells, Beales, Fowlers, Carters and Taylors shifted back and forth setting up various potential victims and villains both on land and water.
Dennis Rickman Jr drowned after Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt) locked him below decks for hate trolling his son Bobby Beale (Clay Millner Russell). The angry dad had a last-minute change of heart but Ian’s fumbling efforts to save Denny came just too late.
As the aftermath of Thursday night (20th February)’s boat crash played out there were plenty of other Walford residents who looked like they might not make it to the weekend.
The episode began with a battling Ben Mitchell (Max Bowden) and Keanu Taylor (Danny Walters) plunging into the icy Thames. Elsewhere at the bottom of a deserted warehouse a badly injured Callum Highway (Tony Clay) looked ready to expire from hypothermia.
As the life rafts bobbed uncertainly Mick (Danny Dyer) and Linda Carter (Kellie Bright) finally surfaced after the episode’s most excruciating moment when Mick cracked Linda’s ankle bone to free her trapped foot before they both drowned.
Bex Fowler was rushed to hospital after taking contaminated pills and on the quayside, Whitney Dean (Shona McGarty), still holding the bloody knife that ended Leo King, handed herself into the police.
“I know it’s bad timing,” she told the surprised officer. “I killed someone. He’s on my kitchen floor.”
Keanu survived but by the time he reached the hospital, told Sharon that Denny was dead and briefly met his second baby, he looked like he wished he hadn’t. Instead he said a weary, tearful goodbye to mum Karen (Lorraine Stanley) at Walford East station with little hope of seeing either of his children ever again.
News looked brighter for Bobby after half-brother Peter (Dayle Hudson) told Kathy that the surgeons had stopped the bleed on his brain. Happiest and most relieved of all though were Mick and Linda.
Back in the safety of The Queen Vic (minus the monarch’s bust which sunk to the bottom of the Thames) both looked like drowned rats but there was rekindled love and, at last, some hope.
“I know I’m an alcoholic,” said Linda,” but I want to stop. I choose our marriage. I choose you.”
That just left Ben Mitchell howling in the middle of the square for his beloved Callum. The birthday week may be over but reassuringly it feels like there are plenty more gifts of engrossing storyline still to be delivered.
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