The dramatic fallout of the attack on Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) in EastEnders led to Ben Mitchell (Max Bowden) framing innocent Keanu Taylor (Danny Walters) on Thursday 1st August, letting the real culprit Stacey Fowler (Lacey Turner) off the hook so he could pin it on his arch-enemy who he believes is usurping his place in his family - and his father's affections.
Ben arrived at the Arches to find Phil unconscious in the pit seconds after Stacey whacked him with a wrench to stop him beating husband Martin Fowler (James Bye), who was trying to save his wife's cousin Kat Moon (Jessie Wallace) from an aggressive confrontation with the riled Mitchell patriarch.
Menacingly ordering the trio out and insisting he'd "sort it," nervous Stacey and Martin prepared to go on the run while Shirley Carter (Linda Henry) sniffed around suspicious at Phil's sudden absence. But as Ben spied Keanu on the Square he called the cops and lied he found Phil after the attack having seen Keanu running away from the scene…
RadioTimes.com spoke to Bowden for a reaction to tonight's twist and what it means for the future:
Why has Ben chosen to frame Keanu?
It's got to the point with Keanu where enough is enough, he's taken Ben’s place as the Mitchell son and he wants him out of the picture so Ben doesn't have to live in someone’s shadow.
Would it not have been easier to have called an ambulance straight away?
Ben is so frustrated and broken by the way he's been treated by his dad that he doesn't do anything the easy or simple way – he wants to do things his way. Ben likes to be in the driving seat and at that point he is in control of what happens next – when he told Stacey, Kat and Martin he'd 'sort it' he was actually pleased, he gets to do this the way he wants.
Ben arranged to meet Keanu in the Arches before the attack, what was his plan?
It was definitely going to come to a head. Ben had just found out he’d been replaced by Keanu in the will, Phil had effectively removed his son. Although Keanu doesn't know that at this point, in Ben’s mind he wanted to have it out with him.
Does he feel guilty about potentially sending the father of his sister's baby to prison?
We’ve seen Ben as a family man with his daughter Lexi and Lola, and granted he’s made mistakes, but is trying his best to be a dad – he believes he could be a better father figure to Louise’s baby than Keanu. Again it’s about taking control of things from Keanu, who he doesn’t believe is good enough for the Mitchells.
Is he jealous of Keanu?
Phil never accepted Ben because he wasn’t that straight alpha male and Keanu is, so there is jealousy. Ben is now comfortable with his sexuality and happy with who he is, yet his dad is still not happy with Ben as a person whereas Keanu is everything Phil idolises.
Ben and Phil are in a better place, but is it still not enough for him?
It's definitely not enough. They’re not violently lashing out at each other any more or having massive rifts but a lot is happening behind each other’s backs on both sides. It's become more sneaky and point-scoring, like a game of chess they're trying to get one up on the other. It's quite immature.
Did Ben consider leaving Phil to die and not taking any action?
This whole situation is a massive conflict of interest for Ben, and several different scenarios are going through his mind. But letting Phil die and taking charge of the family was definitely in his head - he’d had enough of not being enough. However, Ben still craves Phil's approval and that's what took over and made him choose how to react. The subtext is 'remove Keanu and I'm back in the fold, I'm my dad's boy again.'
How will he deal with the Slaters who know the truth?
I don’t think Ben is afraid of anyone, do you?! We’ll have to see how it pans out. Ben's dynamic with the Slaters is a very new thing but he holds the power at this point because he knows what Stacey did, so that is going to be interesting. He is a master manipulator, but Kat can be pretty scary and they are both protective and tough.
Phil is unconscious, Keanu is being set up - what can you tease about what happens next?
The next month is a tumultuous time for Ben and several other characters. There will be ups, downs, emotional roller coasters and a lot of suspense. It's definitely worth staying tuned for…
- EastEnders reveals first look at Phil attack aftermath as Ben arrives on the scene
- Stacey leaves EastEnders after attacking Phil – how will Lacey Turner exit the soap?
- Who’s the daddy? Sharon gets the DNA test results in EastEnders tonight
Visit our dedicated EastEnders page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.