Emmerdale finally exposed Mackenzie Boyd's (Lawrence Robb) cheating secret this week, leaving wife Charity Dingle (Emma Atkins) in pieces after a series of heated confrontations. But, with a powerhouse performance from Atkins in tonight's single-strand instalment, Charity may just have been brought back to life after spending months in the dark.

Charity is one of the ITV soap's most beloved characters, with her fiery, unpredictable behaviour and a vulnerable side that has always ensured she never strayed too far into villain territory in over 20 years on-screen. Yet her relationship with Mack has only weighed her down, with the baby drama dragging on for far too long.

Yes, it's always been clear that Mack loved Charity; and infidelity is an inevitable soap trope. But Emmerdale's decision to have him sleep with Chloe Harris (Jessie Elland) a matter of weeks after Charity experienced an ectopic pregnancy, and when she had given her all to their relationship, made the plot twist all the more insensitive.

After Charity's former engagement to Vanessa Woodfield (Michelle Hardwick) suffered an irreparable breakdown, Charity struggled and turned to drink, but eventually dusted herself off and focused on being a mother. Last year she called out son Noah (Jack Downham) for his worrying behaviour in captivating scenes, and it seemed like she had found her strength again.

Emmerdale: Charity looks upset
Emma Atkins as Charity in Emmerdale. ITV

Yet the more solid she and Mack became, the more Charity's fire began to burn out. Mack's sister, Moira Dingle (Natalie J Robb), even left Charity stranded in the middle of nowhere and Charity simply let her get away with it! This was not the Charity we have come to know and love, so her reaction here did not disappoint as, at last, those around her were suitably put in their place.

As tonight's episode reminded us, a row amid their tragedy led Charity to flippantly order Mack to find someone else to father a child with. Mack did so and, while he felt genuine remorse, ultimately stayed silent and allowed Charity's granddaughter, Sarah Sugden (Katie Hill) to help cover the whole thing up when she discovered what he'd done.

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Charity being betrayed not just by Mack, but by others who she's supposed to be able to trust, was a plot device that simply never rang true and felt completely wrong for the character. So her calling out this shocking breach of trust was a long time coming.

Although those bombshells - and her showdowns with Mack and Chloe - were heartbreaking for Charity, somehow it also felt like her fighting spirit had finally been reignited as she fought for her own self-worth for the first time in what feels like an era. Charity could have crumbled completely but instead she took her moment to shame the guilty parties.

She hasn't just been cheated on and lied to by Mack, she's been transformed into a shadow of her former self through her love for him. But while we may now be seeing Charity at an incredibly low ebb, let's not forget that we've seen her this fragile before and we know she can put herself back together once more.

Emma Atkins as Charity Dingle and Lawrence Robb as Mackenzie Boyd in Emmerdale
Emma Atkins as Charity Dingle and Lawrence Robb as Mackenzie Boyd ITV

Having been framed for murder, abused and almost killed over the years, Charity can certainly weather this storm and Atkins' delivery as her alter ego re-entered the spotlight absolutely proved this. As devastated as Charity was, she wasn't going to be talked round by Mack and, although it may take some time for her to rebuild, these scenes paved the way for the old Charity to return in all her glory.

That's not to say she should lose the development she's had in recent years. Charity's bond with Noah is the strongest it's ever been, and she's retained the maturity that blossomed when she was settled with Vanessa. Her spark, however, has been dimmed by Mack and it's now time for Charity to take back control of her life.

It's been far too long since she came up with a fun scheme or creative revenge plot, but we'd settle for seeing Charity's fearless, ruthless side in her everyday life now that she's no longer tied to Mack - because she deserves better than to be kept quiet on the sidelines.

For help and support on the issues discussed above, you can visit The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust, or find the right support for you here.

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Emmerdale airs on weekdays at 7:30pm on ITV1 and ITVX. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide and Streaming Guide or visit our Soaps hub.

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