EastEnders' Lola Pearce-Brown dies as the sun comes up in moving final message
"She did it on purpose, Jay. She did it for us."
This article includes discussion of brain tumours and terminal illness that some readers may find upsetting.
Lola Pearce-Brown (Danielle Harold) died in tonight's heartbreaking episode of EastEnders (31st May), doing so in a way that became her final act of love for her family.
Nurse Suzanne informed Lola's husband Jay Brown (Jamie Borthwick) that he still had time to say goodbye to her - but Jay struggled to know where to begin. As Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden), Kathy Beale (Gillian Taylforth) and Callum Highway (Tony Clay) arrived to see Lola for the last time, Phil couldn't cope and fled, even when granddaughter Lexi (Isabella Brown) asked where he was going.
Callum told Lola that his absent husband Ben (Max Bowden) was on his way, and that if he was there now Ben would say that she and Lexi were the best thing to ever happen to him. He promised that they would take care of Lexi before saying a last goodbye.
Jay soon returned to sit by Lola's bedside, but snapped when Lexi wanted to play music and paint her mum's nails.
When Lexi snapped back that Lola was her mum and would want her nails to look good, Jay realised that this was what Lexi needed and gave her some time alone with Lola. Meanwhile, at The Vic, landlady Linda Carter (Kellie Bright) invited the locals for a lock in as they played darts and shared their happy memories of Lola.
At the house, Honey Mitchell (Emma Barton) told Billy (Perry Fenwick) that she felt guilty for being with Jay for so long when he could have been with soulmate Lola. Billy pointed out that perhaps he and Honey would never have split up themselves if he hadn't made so many mistakes, and the couple embraced. Honey later gave her own touching farewell to Lola, telling her how brilliant she was.
Phil ended up confiding in ex-wife Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean) as he recalled how he had mistreated Lola in the past. He then asked his late mum, Peggy (Barbara Windsor) to look after Lola in a poignant moment.
Left alone with Lola and Lexi, Jay watched as the youngster told her mum that she loved her and would never forget her. She then left the room, telling Jay it was his turn to talk to Lola. As Jay held Lola's hand, he said she wasn't really leaving him and he didn't need to say goodbye. He promised that one day he would join her and they could have another chance at being together again.
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Jay went on to begin an imagined conversation with Lola, in which they discussed which animals they would want to come back as. He felt that she would want to be a fox, while he joked that she would choose him to be reincarnated as a rat.
As Lexi slept by her mum's side, Jay left to use the toilet, continuing to talk to Lola in their usual banter style as he emerged. As he returned to Lola, he announced that the sun had come out for her. But at that moment, Jay realised that Lola had passed away while he was out of the room.
He sobbed, devastated as he had promised he wouldn't leave her. But Lexi woke up and told her stepdad that Lola had done this on purpose to protect them, and the pair clung onto Lola and cried. Outside, the sun continued to shine as a fox wandered across the Square, all while composer Simon May's famous 'Julia's Theme' twinkled in the background in tribute to Lola.
This emotional instalment marks the end of star Danielle Harold's time on EastEnders after 12 years. Harold, alongside co-stars Borthwick, Brown and Fenwick have earned praise for their moving portrayal of Lola's illness, with the character's death now leaving a huge hole as her loved ones cope with her loss.
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EastEnders airs Mondays to Thursdays at 7:30pm on BBC One and from 6am on BBC iPlayer. Visit our dedicated EastEnders page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers.
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