*This article contains spoilers from the EastEnders boxset available on BBC iPlayer, which have yet to air on television.*
There was fresh trauma for Ben Mitchell (Max Bowden) in tonight's EastEnders (1st August), as his drug use resulted in him collapsing.
As the character continued to struggle over being raped by Lewis Butler (Aidan O'Callaghan), he prioritised partying with James (Anto Sharp), who previously introduced him to the dangerous substance as a way to relax before sex. But this meant that Ben risked missing precious time with young daughter Lexi Pearce (Isabella Brown), who had an important dance exam.
Ben's day spiralled yet again after another run-in with Kheerat Panesar (Jaz Deol). He tried to make amends following his revelation that his actions led to the death of Kheerat's brother Jags; but Kheerat told him their friendship was over for good. Ben then bumped into estranged husband Callum Highway (Tony Clay), who remained cool with him as he passed on a good luck wish for Lexi.
Ben turned up late to Lexi's exam, and things took a sad turn after she questioned him, telling him she missed her old dad. When Ben shouted at her, Lexi ran off in tears; and Ben headed to Peggy's to seek out the drug dealer hired by his auntie Sam (Kim Medcalf). Sam warned her dealer not to sell to Ben, but it was already too late as Ben took the drugs and joined Ben for a night out.
At a club, James leaned in for a kiss but Ben was too far gone, and in his worsened state he was spooked when he had a vision that it was evil Lewis kissing him. James sent him home, and as Ben stumbled on his way to dinner where Lexi was waiting, he left her a voicemail promising to be there soon. But an unwell Ben collapsed, with Suki Panesar (Balvinder Sopal) spotting him by the bins.
Clutching his chest, Ben was conscious enough to reach out to her, begging for help. But Suki walked away, leaving him for dead. So, what next? Will Ben survive?
Be warned, we're delving into serious spoilers for the rest of the week's EastEnders - so if you haven't watched those episodes, look away now!
Does Ben die in EastEnders? His fate revealed
As EastEnders continued, Lexi was increasingly distressed when her dad didn't arrive for her celebratory meal at the Beales'. Just as Callum and Jay Brown (Jamie Borthwick) showed up, Lexi played Ben's voicemail on her phone for all to hear, noting that he didn't sound very well.
Ben's mum Kathy (Gillian Taylforth) worried after recalling that he was high on drugs the week before, and Jay enlisted Callum to help search for Ben. Callum was frustrated over Ben's selfishness - and still in the dark over Ben's horrific ordeal. But just as Callum was about to give up, he found a lifeless Ben nearby with no pulse.
At the hospital, a doctor revealed the name of the drug Ben had taken, and although Callum was worried sick, he couldn't take any more as he'd heard that the substance was commonly used before sex. Ben's dad Phil (Steve McFadden) couldn't persuade his son-in-law to stay, and Kathy made Phil realise that Ben had denied his sexual assault out of fear that Phil would reject him.
It was touch and go as they waited for Ben to wake up, with confirmation that Ben had suffered a heart attack. But finally, Ben regained consciousness and Kathy encouraged Phil to have a proper heart-to-heart with their fragile son. Ben reminded Phil of the way he had spoken to him before, hinting that he thought sex between two men was different and therefore he knew his dad wouldn't believe he had been raped.
But Phil told him he was wrong - he believed him, and he was sorry for letting him down. Bowden and McFadden put in moving performances as father and son shared an emotional moment, and suddenly there was a small glimmer of hope that Ben might begin to recover.
Phil then reverted to type as he spoke to ex prison pal Ravi Gulati (Aaron Thiara), wanting revenge on Lewis now that Ben had revealed the identity of his attacker. Kathy made Phil see that this wouldn't be doing right by Ben, and he called things off. But when Phil let slip what had happened to Ben to sister Sam after venting his fury to her over the drug dealing, Sam vowed to track down Lewis herself. Will the Mitchells kill Lewis, or will Ben get justice the right way?
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BBC iPlayer is currently streaming weekly boxsets for EastEnders throughout the summer. Visit our dedicated EastEnders page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers. If you’re looking for more to watch check out our TV Guide.
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