This power play between Martin and Ben has been convincing as far as gangster dramas go on EastEnders. Usually, any focus on the underworld is hampered by two things: the show’s pre-watershed timeslot and a naïve notion that the life of a criminal is romantic and even heroic.
Just think of Phil Mitchell, who is often depicted as the saviour of the Square thanks to his baseball bat and bottomless back pocket filled with banknotes. But Martin mercifully sees no allure in working for the disreputable Ben and is desperate to find a way out of the mess he’s got into. His plan is to spend more time with his daughter Bex, but Ben is soon demanding that he do another job.
And, by Friday, Ben has gone to extreme lengths to prove he’s not to be messed with, leaving Martin in terrible danger.
We also get a new plotline for one of EastEnders’s most underused characters as undertaker Jay gets a new booking for a funeral and realises that the person who’s died is Terry Bates, the man responsible for his dad Jase’s untimely death.
Jay is often depicted as the calm man in a crisis, so this incendiary situation should give actor Jamie Borthwick the chance to flex his acting muscles and show a different side to his alter ego.
Elsewhere, Leo, who was last seen combing through Callum’s old Facebook posts (when will fictional characters learn to use security settings?), ups the ante when he schemes to ruin Whitney’s friendship with her former fiancé. And he’s not the only master manipulator putting a plan into action – Gray too is trying to get the upper hand as he tells the Taylors that Chantelle is pregnant.
Gray is all surface charm as he shares the baby news, but really, the abusive legal eagle is just trying to remind Chantelle that he’s in charge where their volatile marriage is concerned…