Tori Morgan (Penny MacNamee) almost lost her baby girl Grace when she went missing recently, but the biggest threat to the safety of the Home and Away doctor’s daughter is actually her disturbed best friend. Is Jasmine Delaney (Sam Frost) really plotting to snatch her stepdaughter away from Tori?
“I’ve been stopped in the street by fans saying ‘You better watch out, Jasmine is totally going to steal your baby!'” says MacNamee, speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com. “Tori knows Jasmine is going through a rough time, she’s been widowed and suffered a phantom pregnancy. She’s been there for her and realises she has a special connection to Grace, who’s father was Jasmine’s late husband Robbo. But for a long time she didn’t think there was anything sinister going on.”
Viewers have seen Jasmine’s worrying bond with Grace deepen to unhealthy levels, and witnessed her posing as the kid’s mother in an online parents’ forum and subtly gaslight Tori into thinking she’s a bad parent, while secretly seeking legal advice about her rights over the newborn.
“When Grace was snatched, Tori blamed herself for leaving her in the car before it got stolen,” explains MacNamee. “She felt so guilty and like a terrible parent, and agreed when Jasmine took her to task over it. It’s not until the photo shoot at the gym that Tori gets really suspicious.”
An advertising campaign for the local gym showed Jasmine happily posing with Grace as if the child was hers, which struck Tori as inappropriate and finally set off alarm bells. “She thinks it’s out of line and not what they discussed, but Jas does a good job of convincing Tori she has misunderstood the situation and makes her paranoid and doubt herself. It’s creepy, Jasmine is subtly discrediting her.”
Now the extent of Jasmine’s gaslighting has been exposed to the whole of Summer Bay, Tori wrestles with her conscience – should she help her traumatised mate, who is clearly in dire need of professional help for her mental health, or protect her baby?
“It becomes clear to Tori she wasn’t being paranoid, Jasmine has been manipulating her, and as soon as she realises the tiger mum comes out and she knows Grace has to come first – so Tori takes out a restraining order against Jasmine to keep her away from her daughter.
“She’s tried to be a good, supportive friend but doing this is what’s right for Grace in this situation. As soon as she sees evidence on the forum Jasmine is pretending to be Grace’s mum, she can see she’s trying to steal her away. Tori has given Jasmine lots of chances, but now she needs to protect her child.”
A confrontation ensues on Friday 14th August which, as MacNamee somewhat mildly puts it: “Doesn’t go well! Jasmine tries to flip it on Tori that she’s a bad friend and is punishing her. In the moment Tori feels bad but doesn’t relinquish the power. She needs to take out an official apprehended violence order (AVO in Australian law) even though it could potentially destroy the friendship.”
Principled medic Tori isn’t ignoring Jasmine’s issues, insists the actress. “She wants her to recover and be in Grace’s life as a stepmother, and sees how much trauma she has endured. Throughout the AVO period Tori feels guilty and sad for her friend and is willing her to come out of this. As a doctor she has an awareness of mental health and the contacts to get help.”
Unfortunately, Jasmine feels so persecuted she flees the Bay on Tuesday 18th August to stay with her in-laws indefinitely. Is there any way back for the friends now?
“Tori feels awful at driving her out of town,” sighs MacNamee. “She still wants to be Jasmine’s support network and work towards having a healthy relationship with Grace, so feels terrible about her leaving.
“Ultimately there will be a resolution, and I think it’s probably the one everybody would like it to be. Hopefully I won’t have to spend so many scenes arguing about whether or not Jasmine is trying to nick my baby – there’s been a lot of that!”