Hits and Misses – Jan-Feb 2017

hitsandmisses

Hits

OMDee

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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…

Messy Ties

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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.

Classic Neighbours

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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.

Pregnant Paige

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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.

Misses

Bratty Behaviour

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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.

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Hits and Misses – Oct-Dec 2016

hitsandmisses

Hits

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Big Issues

You know us, we love a big, dramatic, character-led plot and they don’t get much bigger than this – the surrogacy plot. It’s been an absolute joy to watch unfold in recent weeks, but particularly because it all comes from a very real place for the characters. As quick and hasty decisions may have been, the show has made a point of showing them as deliberately so – and as such, that’s how the characters have ended up in the frosty, friction-filled mess they’re currently in. We’ve loved everything – Steph’s desperate longing and doubts, Mark’s sincere joy at becoming a dad, Sonya’s eternal optimism and selfless nature and poor Toadie’s feelings of inadequacy and betrayal. The show hasn’t shied away from the maturity of the situation and it’s great to see the show use appropriate language when discussing the ins and outs of what the surrogacy involves – instead of the cliché Neighbours euphemisms. Our particular highlight is the devastatingly real scenes where Toadie and Sonya employ therapy tactics to get through their issues but sadly, we’re fearing for the future of one of our favourite couples…

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Family Matters

There’s something so very “Neighbours” about the brashy and bubbly Cannings that have just made them one of the best parts of the show. The last few months have seen Gary embark on a very surprising but brilliantly entertaining affair with Terese where we learnt far too much about their sex life in scenes which actually had an intense and unexpected chemistry. We’re not sure we can get the image of Gary naked in a bush out of our heads very easily. Of course just as it looked like Terese and Gary might be getting a bit softer and more serious (if you ignore Terese’s sizzling feelings for Mr Paul Robinson), Xanthe’s con artist mother, Brooke showed up to give things a good stir. Brooke’s arrival – though familiar territory for Neighbours – gave us some good family drama, especially for our favourite, Xanthe, whose heart was bound to be broken when she idolised her mother so dearly. With all Brooke’s meddling it seems like cute teen sweethearts Ben and Xanthe could be on the rocks too which is a bit gutting after all their heart-eyes on the Gold Coast. But one moment we won’t forget in Neighbours and Canning history was their surreal and hilarious appearance on TV gameshow, Family Feud. Love live Sheila’s teeth gritting!

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The Return of the Lamb-Crabbs

Not only has the surrogacy delivered some great scenes four our regulars but it’s been made all the stronger by the presence of two great recurring cast. It’s not secret we loved every second the brilliant Ellen Crabb is onscreen and we’re sad to learn she and her partner had split. What we didn’t expect, however, was to see her significant other, the very lesser-seen Victoria Lamb to return and play a much bigger part than she ever got to in the past. Showing the Lamb-Crabbs experience with surrogacy as an aside to Steph and Mark’s struggle, was a masterful touch and showed a great, alternative opinion about how their own surrogacy plight had a detrimental effect on their relationship. We’re hoping so much that the plot somehow brings the two women back together and that there could be a much more permanent future for the pair on the show, complete with the return of the much-missed Josie.

Misses

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Insufferable “Love” Story

All these months later, and Paige and Jack are STILL absolutely insufferable. The on/off relationship, the boxing, the bizarrely prominent ‘Blaze Outreach’, more of the on/off relationship, the one sexual encounter, snarking, bitterness, promising they’ll get over each other, theological discussion… it never ends. A slow burn relationship is usually, without fail, the way to progress in soap. It gives the viewer something to get attached to, to root for and enjoy seeing things move at a realistic pace. When things get in the way of the characters getting together, we should be annoyed for them – certainly not at them. Paige and Jack’s mutual stubbornness and at times, very unlikable character traits make them impossible to root for and there’s not end to the dramas in sight. All we can hope for is that the inevitable happens, Jack leaves the church and they might be a bit more bearable when they’re together…

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Hopelessly Devoted

These last few months you’d be forgiven for thinking Neighbours was a medium for launching pop careers rather than the tagline of “unmissable drama” because not only did we suffer the tedium of Maddie’s pop career but we had to endure Angus’s too. Performances, moody autotuned strumming, pop video making – it felt like Neighbours was a big advert for Jai Waetford rather than really giving Erinsborough’s answer to Dick Van Dyke a story. Then did come a story, the tried and tested teacher crush, this time with added sexual assault. Sure the issues of consent raised were worthy (even if it was so soon after the messy portrayal of Xanthe’s assault) but a combination of soppy crooner Angus and Elly the lush – it was never going to be a great story. Elly’s own back and forth flakiness, her ex, her “love” for Ned and the wine-fuelled self pity are becoming tiresome too, but at least now that this student/teacher ordeal is over and Angus is gone we might see something more watchable from her.

Hits and Misses – August/September 2016

hitsandmisses

Hits

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Sizzling Chemistry

Months on, and we’re still absolutely obsessed with Paulrese. There’s something special about the couple and we can’t quite put our finger on what. Ordinarily potential couples that have been drawn out this long have begun to lose their lustre due to the myriad of plotty reasons preventing them from giving it a go, or just as bad, a couple is rushed together and it’s clear to see that the pairing is nothing special. Unlike Paul and many of his past loves (including the lovely Rebecca), Paul and Terese are the very definition of slow-burn and whilst they currently claim to ‘hate’ each other, the absolutely incredible stand-offs between the pair absolutely ooze with sexual chemistry. Even when they’re at odds, it’s clear they’re besotted with each other. We know we may still be waiting a while for them to finally get together but we are truly excited about their potential to become a classic couple.

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The Cannings Can

While we can’t quite believe a pigeon race formed such a crowd-pleasing event (and was sponsored by a major hotel) in Erinsborough – are their lives that unexciting?! – we have really grown to love Gary Canning. There’s something very ‘Neighbours’ about Gary and the rest of the family that we can’t help but love him. Whether he’s being a downbeat dad or a reluctant and hopeless lacky for Paul, his uselessness is likeable and endearing. We really enjoyed him bonding with his pigeon and his boyish excitement reminds us so much of his much-missed son Kyle too. He’s the sort of ‘normal bloke’ character Neighbours needs and while he might be setting his sights a little high with his interest in Terese, it would be nice for him to settle in the street for a long time to come!

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Bright Young Thing

There’s probably not a Neighbours character we love more than Xanthe Canning right now. She’s fun, cute, hopelessly romantic and we loved her mournful tuba playing. This past month we thought she deserved far better than the badly (read: horrendously) told assault storyline and we’re bloody thankful that it’s over now. It was a really bad move of TPTB to tell the story in such a vague and misjudged way and we hope that Neighbours stay away from plots like that if they can’t be told properly in a G rating. On the bright side, Xanthe proves herself a true Canning, because like her gran, brother, father and sorely missed Auntie Nomes, Xanthe can handle comedy and drama brilliantly. And even though Ben doesn’t always deserve her, her crush is so damned endearing we can’t help but really root for them together and hope he treats her like the princess she deserves. They have sparks a plenty and it’s about time she had some happiness.

Misses

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Snakes and Stalkers

Snakes. Why have we spent the greater part of two months on a plot involving snakes? It’s not like we don’t enjoy the occasional villainous plot, or indeed the occasionally soapy, ‘Sunset Beach’ OTT craziness but a lot of the menace of Steph’s stalker ordeal was ultimately lost due to the rather strange decision to have it revolve around snakes on the loose with a tenuous link to the Bible in order to give it depth and meaning. Whilst we praise them for originality in terms of how a villain may choose to target their victim, it sadly got a little too silly for us and worse still, never seemed to reach a proper end – instead lasting at least a couple of weeks longer than it needed to. It did provide some good stuff and the return of the fabulous Ellen Crabb but we think there were better ways to eek drama out of a stalker plot and this probably wasn’t the way to go…

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Maddie-Sue

Another month, more Madison. Thankfully it seems the character is finally on her way out but why we’ve been forced to put up with her this long, we’ll never know. Setting aside the acting for a moment, even the writing for the character is bizarre. Why is everyone so obsessed with Madison?! In the truest of sense of the term ‘Mary-Sue’, Madison is seemingly perfection personified. She has great dress sense (apparently), she’s a great journalist, EA, businesswoman, and now a singer. Is there anything she can’t do? Apparently not, and everyone fawning over, singing her praises constantly, feels insincere and only highlights how unbelievable the character of Madison is at being able to do all these jobs with the efficiency and ability she apparently possesses. We hope she nabs this job on the Gold Coast and let’s face it, of course she will because she’s Madison and we can forget she ever happened.

Scene of the Week – 13-24 June 2016

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It was a long time coming but finally, after months of sashaying around in the same, dated white suit, throwing Scottish shade and blowing up hotels, Julie Quill got what was coming to her – a well deserved slap in the face. For you see, not only was she responsible for emotionally devastating us by accidentally killing Josh and make us weep into our late-night special bowl of crisps, but by proxy, managed to come between Terese and Paul’s blossoming relationship – and that is unforgivable. While we can’t deny we were also wishing Terese would get a chance to publicly attack Julie as she did to Paul on the regular, it was Piper who got a chance to shine this time. And boy, did she. We’ve often talked about how big of an asset the talented Mavournee Hazel is and she did not let us down. She delivered a fantastic emotional performance as grieving Piper and we cheered as she absolutely walloped Julie across the face. It was a brilliant scene, and a fitting climax to months of build-up. Now please let Paul and Terese be okay…

Hits and Misses – 30 May-10 June 2016

hitsandmisses

Hits

Judgement Days

er70_0004_Layer-2After weeks of build-up, the long-awaited trial to find out whether Paul would be rightfully set free or wrongfully sent down for the Lassiter’s bombing arrived and boy, did it deliver. First and foremost, it was great to see some more location shooting. It’s one of the things Jason Herbison was quoted as wanting to do more of this year and considering the show can sometimes feel insular and cramped, we loved every minute of seeing the characters out and about on real streets and in real buildings. It heightened the drama of the week and really hammered home the impact of the trial. Although it was predictable to see Toadie represent Paul, we also really enjoyed seeing him taking on his neighbours and doing his most to help Paul escape conviction. Terese’s distress and ultimate moment of redemption by admitting her lies was great to watch and we can’t deny we’re still rooting for Paul and Terese to find some way to put this all behind them and get together. The scenes were stolen by Stefan Dennis’s very fine acting as the ruling was announcement and reminded us why, all these years later, he’s still one of the show’s MVPs.

Pashing Problems

er70_0004_Layer-3This fortnight saw more excuses for Ned to get his kit off and swan around the pool area (we approve) and then after weeks of sexual tension, give Lauren a full on snog. Their scenes have been simmering and a pash seemed so inevitable that we’re surprised Lauren was so taken aback by it. Sadly for Ned, and us, Lauren pledged her allegiance to dull Brad and denied that there was anything between her and Ned. Shame really as Ned and Lauren had more chemistry in their flirtatious scenes than she’s ever had with Brad. Plus who doesn’t love to watch an illicit hook up that’ll tear a family apart? We’d like to hold out hope that Lauren could change her mind, if only because it would be fun to see Brad’s life ruined and wouldn’t it be good to see a different side to straight-laced Lauren?

Sparks

er70_0004_Layer-5Longing looks, lingering smiles, driving lessons, metaphors about toy cars and Pad Thai – oh yes, it’s the simmering tension between Tyler and Piper. We weren’t a fan of them a few months back but there are definitely sparks between them now and thankfully Pipes has matured and mellowed and Tyler stopped mooning over Paige so it looks like they have real potential. Tyler seems like a big hearted guy and even if he has worked his way through most of the Willis women, his affection and caring for Piper seems like it could be long lasting. Piper could really do with the support and while some might think the age gap is icky, Tyler is goofy enough that it doesn’t seem too jarring. Piper is shaping up to be one of our favourites so we’re hopeful the relationship might lead to some long deserved happiness.

Misses

Social Issues

er70_0004_Layer-1Xanthe’s plots have been really disappointing lately. While we love her slightly ditzy sense of humour, her relationship with gran Sheila, her scenes with BFF Piper and the sweeter scenes with crush Ben, the body image stuff has been really lacking. Xanthe’s issues were really rushed and the plastic surgery appointment stretched believability even for Neighbours standards. And we’re not sure what it is with Neighbours and their buzzword plots but the moment they try and use ‘social media’ (said in that vague way that your granny might say it) everything just feels very cringey and after-school special. Aaron’s involvement seems bizarre and pointless and we can’t believe a few old rags from the neighbours would actually raise more than a few dollars. Angus is of course another big factor spoiling our enjoyment of Xanthe and each time there’s a threat he might go back to London we want to buy the plane ticket for him. Frankly Xanthe deserves better stories and we hope she gets them.

The Kids of Erinsborough

er70_0004_Layer-4Look, we’re not ageist but it’s fair to say that we’re fairly curmudgeonly when it comes to the use (or overuse) of young characters in Neighbours. We all remember the dark days of 2007/2008 where the young kids were overused to the point where that good old cliché running away plot was lathered, rinsed and repeated on a monthly basis. It’s fair to say we’ve come a long way since then with the younger kids actors as supporting components to the drama as opposed to creating it. That said, every so often it can still grate and that was nowhere more obvious than it the last couple of weeks. While Jimmy’s anger at Paul was well-done and we must say, very well performed, the ‘Jimmy joins Paul on the run’ episode was not something we ever wanted or needed, nor was the blindingly obvious ‘Jimmy gets himself injured’ “”twist” the plot took to facilitate Paul’s return. And frankly, the less said about Charlie versus TheEvilQuillSon, the better. We don’t see that much of Charlie and we certainly don’t want to see any more of Julie’s bizarre offspring, nevermind the two at loggerheads!

Scene of the Week – 25 April-6 May 2016

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It feels like we’re praising the aftermath of the dramatic Josh death scenes and the fabulous Rebekah Elmaloglou every week, and we are, but it’s only because they deserve it. This week our favourite scene simply had to be the moment where Brad and Terese mourned their son together. As is the nature of the soap beast, Brad and Terese have spent a lot of the immediate aftermath separately, Terese dealing with Paul and Brad naturally preoccupied with Ned. Therefore it was great to see a scene of the pair together united in their grief. Terese laying on the sofa crying felt so relatable, so believable and so raw. Away from the distractions of work, and of her relationship with Paul, she collapsed in her grief and there’s something so very real about the scene and something we don’t often see on Neighbours. Ordinarily grief is quickly glossed over so it’s great to see that this isn’t the case and despite their business, neither Brad or Terese are coping well with the loss of their son. Whilst we’re glad Terese has long since moved on from Brad, it was nice to see a scene of love and tenderness between the two, and a reminder of the 20 years they did have together.

Hits and Misses – 11-22 April 2016

hitsandmisses

Hits

Power Couple

er67_0003_Layer-4Paul has had many wives and girlfriends over the 30 years of Neighbours’ existence, some much better than others, but let us nail our colours to the mast and say that a relationship with Terese has the potential to be one of the greatest. Their scenes this past fortnight have been electric and full of chemistry. It’s been made all the better than there hasn’t been the cliché affair we all suspected back in 2013 but rather a slow, organic story and gradual growth of feeling on both sides to this point. Terese seeking comfort in Paul provided some emotional moments and we loved Paul providing comfort by recalling his own losses. Their night together, sleeping on the sofa, was wonderful and maturely handled and of course, was made all the more devastating when Mark arrived to take Paul in for questioning the next morning. Terese’s rage in the middle of the Lassiter’s complex as well as at the funeral was fantastically acted by Rebekah Elmaloglou and was made all the more powerful knowing that it wasn’t just from a place of grief over Josh and Doug – but a place of the deepest betrayal. We think Neighbours may have found a new iconic couple…

Willises in Woe

er67_0001_Layer-3After #HotelDeathTrap week or what was probably more like #WillisWeekofHell, the Willis family struggled to cope losing both Doug and Josh in one day. We have to commend Neighbours for their great aftermath in showing the family’s grief and the solid performances – especially by the Willis ladies who kept managing to break our hearts with their impressive emoting skills. We were also given an appearance by Dream!Vision!Josh and Corpse!Josh (nice work Harley) when the funeral featured a creepy open casket. In the funeral service, Ariel Kaplan once again delivered heartbreaking performances as she cried over her twin’s death, saying she just wanted to be whole again. We were also glad to see a softer, more vulnerable side to Piper as her first few months she was quite hard to take to. All the family grieved in their own way, including Pam who arrived with a grudge against Ned and making the family reunion even more tense. It was another powerful week for the Willis family, cementing their place as a very central part of Ramsay Street.

Trio of Trouble

er67_0000_Layer-5After the angst and tears of the Hotel Death Trap Week it’s been a joy to have the light relief of Xanthe Canning on her screens. We’ve already expressed our love for her before but now she’s paired up with Ben and become BFFs with Piper, it’s a trio made in heaven. It’s the sort of friendship that works because they’re all so different. Ben, with his 90s hair and earnestness like his uncle Billy, is brooding and serious, Xanthe is zany and ditzy and Piper is level headed and a little pretentious – but together they all just work. We loved Xanthe and Ben’s dilemma over their money discovery and their awkwardness over how to deal with Piper’s grief. It didn’t take much to cheer Piper up – seeing Xanthe’s desperate attempts to stalk her way into Ben’s affections was a good start. We love all three actors too and hope there’s lots more to come, they could be the great young cast of the future.

Misses

Sarah’s Secret

er67_0002_Layer-2Now, we love the return of a legendary character as all you regular readers will know, so we were overjoyed to see the return of one of Ramsay Street’s most iconic ‘other woman’ – Sarah Beaumont. With all the sadness and drama of the hotel explosion, her return brought some much needed intrigue and was a great callback to one of our favourite Kennedy plots. Two weeks on and we’re still loving having her around but we have to say, we 100% agree with Susan on Sarah’s behaviour! While we now know Sarah is sick and has a very big favour to ask the Kennedys – one that isn’t an easy ask – Sarah did little to help herself with her suspicious actions. Her nervousness and awkwardness around Karl and Susan understandably wound Susan up and her constant delay in telling the truth led to all sorts of suspicions. As for working out the stability of the Kennedy marriage by propositioning Karl as a test? Perhaps not the best idea. But as ever, Sarah never means to cause harm and we can’t wait to see where the story goes from here.

Bedside Manner

er67_0004_Layer-1Honestly, we’re surprised Paige managed to drag herself away from coma guy’s bedside to attend her own brother’s funeral this week. Just what is she playing at?! We love the new ‘do but did she have a few brain cells snipped in the process. Okay John Doe (as we currently know him) is fairly cute and saved her life, but Paige’s behaviour is weird to say the least. Grief affects people in different ways but at the time her family need her most she’s hanging around the hospital as if John Doe is Sleeping Beauty! We all know when Paige has an obsession she just can’t let it go but this is ridiculous. First she spent all her hours trying to find out who he was – FYI not Alex Jones – and now he’s awake she can’t stop staring at him with her big doe eyes. She even missed the memorial of her precious Pop! She hasn’t a clue who he is and at the moment, neither does he. Is she that desperate for a date? Get a life Paige!