Well, well, well. It has been the biggest talking point in years, probably ever. The holy grail of Neighbours plot. The biggest unsolved mystery. The stuff fan dreams are made of and it’s finally happened – Dee has returned. Or has she? After 13 years, we fell off our seats as ‘Dee’ appeared Toadie’s doorstep and spun him a long, convoluted and still, not unbelievable story about her miraculous survival and like Toadie, we bought every word. And while many theorised that things weren’t as they seemed, we were honestly shocked to the core when it was revealed that Dee wasn’t Dee at all – but rather, being a manipulative con-woman named Andrea. Words honestly can’t do justice to this story and its impact and to do so would be to undersell it. We experienced Toadie’s joy with him, shared the scepticism of Sonya and Susan as the clues added up and felt the stomach punch when we finally realised the truth. The story is rife with incredible continuity and tender heartfelt moments that served only to become harrowing punches in the stomach when Andrea revealed her cruel plot. It brought us the return of the wonderful Sindi as Andrea’s partner in crime and took a hammer of the Rebecchi marriage and by extension, Steph and Mark. What we’ve loved most of all is the intricate plotting at play here – the type of plot that’s rarely seen in soap. Everything, every twist dovetails into the next and it’s effect on the characters and how it’s gradually drawn more in has been a masterstroke. Last but not least, Madeleine West effortlessly proves her worth as an actress convincing us not only as the troubled, fragile Dee but the ruthless Andrea. What a delight it is to see her back onscreen and we have to admit, deep deep down we’re still hoping that Andrea can serve us one more massive twist and reveal that she really is Dee after all…
Speaking of characters that have been drawn into ‘The Web of Dee’, we’ve been delighted to see the return of fan favourite recurring cop, Ellen Crabb and by extension, her ex Victoria and daughter Josie. When Victoria first popped up again the other month as part of the IVF story, we failed to realised it was actually rather brilliant foreshadowing of the bigger role she was soon to play in Steph’s life. As Steph feared she was losing Mark to the other woman in his life, and mother of his child, Sonya, Victoria was there to support Steph and ultimately make a move on her. We can’t lie, we live for Victoria’s tragic desperation for Steph as the show toes the line between two women with a connection and at the same time, two women who are escaping from messy relationships together. The fact that Mark works along with Ellen has made things even better – and of course, more complicated. It was great to see Josie return after such a long time and we’re hoping to see so much more of this brilliant little unit and dare we say, they’d make excellent additions to the core cast.
What can we say about the Cannings that we haven’t said before? They continue to be a highlight in every episode of Neighbours they appear in, bringing classic comedy, warmth and quirkiness to our screens. Their rivalry with the Kennedys was a fun watch with the Romeo and Juliet style romance of Ben and Xanthe at the heart of it. Ben and Xanthe have been such a funny and cute couple, the kind of made-to-be teen romance Neighbours has been lacking for a few years – but really, we just love every aspect of Xanthe from her feminism to her Japanese phrasing. Just like his mother, Gary fits into the community so well and we love his scenes with Paul and Terese and the recent sausage plot has had us howling at the innuendos. The Cannings just keep on giving and we don’t think we’ll ever get sick of them.
When Paige was revealed to be pregnant just before Christmas we were dreading it. Hormones and extreme mood swings – we just couldn’t imagine that was going to make Paige, who had become rather insufferable at times, anything but hateful. But surprisingly becoming pregnant has made Paige far more watchable. We’ve started to see glimpses of the Paige we liked and remembered from her introduction – the independence and the empowerment. Even though we’re not looking forward to the inevitable Jack merry-go-round, it’s been good to see Paige making decisions and being confident rather than just chasing a guy. Through this storyline we’ve also seen Paige form an unusual friendship with David which has been warm and interesting and given someone else for Paige to confide in and also support and done wonders for both characters. Here’s hoping that Paige becoming a mother will lead to new directions for the character and continue to take her down a less selfish path.
We’ve really enjoyed the Tyler and Piper chemistry for ages – from their friendship to their romance – so much so we’ve been able to look past the slightly iffy age gap. However, we’ve not seen them in their best light since they got together and we haven’t enjoyed their scenes so much lately. The main problem is that we actually agree with Brad and Terese’s reservations and Typer aren’t exactly proving themselves to be mature by acting out this way. We know they’re in love and want to be together but Piper just comes across as a brat when she tries to fight for their respect instead of trying to approach the problem rationally. Moving out of home and having to cope alone is not going to end well and it’s a fairly well-trodden plot that we’re a bit tired of. We’re sure somehow the Willis family will come around to the idea, maybe with Tyler doing something to prove he’s worthy of their daughter’s heart, but for now they’re less star-crossed and more unlikeable.