Albert Square is in mourning next week as residents gather at The Queen Vic for a toast to Dennis Rickman, who lost his life in last week’s boat sinking.
Mick and Linda address their subdued punters who are still reeling from the boat crash
A toast to Dennis
Friday’s (21st February) episode picked up on the aftermath of the boat crash that the previous three episodes had built up to from the perspective of different characters.
Although there won’t be a next chapter for young Dennis, we ponder what might be in store for some of the other residents of Albert Square this side of the soap’s dramatic 35th anniversary episodes.
As Sharon gave birth to a baby boy, she was unaware that her first-born was in grave danger after a boat hosting a party for the Carters floundered upon the Thames. The craft sank after its steering apparatus was disturbed in a violent altercation between Sharon’s estranged husband Phil and lover Keanu.
Dennis’s lifeless body was later pulled from the water but efforts to revive him were in vain, and he was tragically pronounced dead at the scene. All eyes will be on Sharon as she copes with the grief of losing her child: will she seek revenge on Phil for his part in the crash? And how will she feel when she discovers that her long-time friend Ian is also partly culpable in Dennis’s death? Ian locked Dennis in a room on the boat to punish him for his online trolling of Bobby, ultimately delaying his escape from the stricken vessel.
Sharon will also feel guilty herself about what’s happened and we have already seen a hint of that on screen. After Keanu broke the news to her about Dennis, she blamed herself for his death, recalling the time she swore on his life to Louise that there was nothing going on between her and Keanu.
Sharon had also used the idea of Phil and Ben killing Keanu to get Dennis back on side, despite knowing that the hit the Mitchells put out on him was unsuccessful. Dennis discovered that Keanu was very much still alive on the day of the boat party, prompting him to attend the event against his mother’s wishes. As well as that, Sharon has been left to raise her new born son alone after she ordered Keanu to get out of her life for good.
Someone else who is going to be hugely affected by last week’s events is Ian Beale as Dennis would probably still be alive were it not for his actions on the boat. Ian had pursued Dennis to the party to tackle him about his online trolling of his son Bobby, which had led to Bobby being attacked by a gang of racist thugs.
With Dennis unapologetic about his actions, Ian snapped and locked him in a room below deck. This was before any collision had occurred and the boat was still very much afloat, and Ian did try to save Dennis once he realised the danger he was in, but that isn’t likely to stop him beating himself up about Dennis’s death going forwards.
Ian must also face Sharon who is bound to find out his role in her son’s death, especially as Dennis left his mum a voicemail message revealing Ian’s punishment and his situation on the boat. At risk is one of Walford’s longest-running friendships – how will Sharon react to Ian when the truth comes to light?
With a history of depression, could Ian’s mental health also be at risk as he struggles with the guilt of what he has done? Will his inadvertent part in Dennis’s death help Ian relate to Bobby, who accidentally killed his sister Lucy? Ian has not found it easy to connect with Bobby since his release from a Young Offenders Institution last year. And with his other son, Peter, now back from New Zealand, the only character to have been there continuously since 1985 is likely to be at the centre of things for some time to come
It could be argued that Ben is also culpable in what unfolded on the boat. His constant quest for his dad’s approval led him to put a hit out on Keanu’s life – something Keanu returned to Walford seeking revenge for, kidnapping Ben’s boyfriend Callum and demanding £100,000 from the Mitchells.
Keanu may well have stayed away – or at least returned only to see Sharon – had the Mitchells not taken steps to terminate his life thus no showdown between himself and Phil on the boat.
Ben will have questions to answer but his initial focus will be on finding Callum. Despite Keanu telling Shirley the location, poor Callum remains undiscovered. If he is discovered alive, will he be able to forgive his man?
It looked at the start of the week that it could have been the end of landlady Linda Carter and her husband Mick. Her hunt for more alcohol led to her foot becoming wedged in a sideboard. As the water swept in, it became obvious that Linda doesn’t want a divorce and the pair are meant to be together forever.
Making it back to the Queen Vic, Linda took the first step to recovery. She admitted that she is an alcoholic and wants to stop drinking. Running a pub, surrounded by copious amounts of booze, might prove a big obstacle in her battle to be dry.
Rebecca has struggled in recent months – a number of pressures saw her try to take her own life last October and last week saw her dabble with recreational drugs with near-fatal results.
Actress Jasmine Armfield recently quit the soap after six years in the role of ‘Bex’, which led to fevered speculation that she would be the one to meet a watery end in the boat crash
After another brush with death will Bex open up to her parents, Martin and Sonia, about what she truly wants out of life and ultimately, where will that lead her to?
Whitney is about to find herself in police custody after confessing to killing her stalker, Leo King, in Friday’s (21st February) episode and presenting the knife as evidence.
Leo was the son of paedophile Tony King, who sexually abused Whitney between the ages of 12 and 16. Tony was imprisoned for 13 years in 2009 and it was later revealed that he had committed suicide in prison.
In denial that his father was capable of such a crime, Leo sinisterly ingratiated himself with Whitney in September last year, showing his true colours as he tried to get her to admit that she had made the abuse up. Leo’s behaviour grew more and more erratic culminating in him spying on Whitney from Dot’s attic and then attempting to kill her.
Whitney stabbed Leo in self-defence but will the notoriously inept Walford police buy this version of events?
Phil Mitchell was back in Walford last week looking to get even with Keanu for sleeping with his wife Sharon. Phil thought his son, Ben, had taken care of Keanu on his behalf, but unlikely contract killer Martin Fowler had secretly spared his life. Phil fled to Portugal last month amid police interest into Keanu’s disappearance. However, Keanu recently returned to Walford and kidnapped Ben’s boyfriend Callum – demanding £100k from Ben for his release.
Struggling to get the money together, Ben was forced to call on his dad for help and admit that Keanu was still alive, prompting Phil to catch the first flight back from his bolthole. After confronting Keanu’s mum Karen, Phil found out that Keanu was at the boat party (looking to make a fresh start with Sharon, Dennis and the new baby, Keanu was there to talk angry Dennis round). Keanu and Phil came face to face on the upper deck and it wasn’t long before a fight broke out which led to the boat’s sinking.
What will the impact of his adoptive son’s death and his role in it be on Phil? Could he be tempted to turn to booze again at great risk to his health? Will Sharon lay all the blame at Phil’s door? One of her first questions might be why he left Dennis behind when he fled the square with Louise and baby Peggy.
The events of last week are sure to cast a long shadow over Albert Square, with the immediate aftermath playing out from Monday at 8.00pm on BBC One.