Mandy Dingle (played by the wonderful Lisa Riley) has always been an Emmerdale legend so bringing her back was always going to be a stroke of genius.
Then we met Vinny Ashdale (Bradley Johnson) – the loving, ever so slightly nerdy and genuine nice guy and the one who has calmed Mandy down a tad without her losing her spark; and we fell in love.
So it was a risk to then bring in gambling addict, compulsive liar and abuser Paul (Reece Dinsdale) into the mix – do we need this? Why do we care about Paul’s motives? Is he just a plot device?
I had my doubts at first. I know how capable an actor Reece is so his casting was a delight – but when I saw where the story was going into a gambling spiral, I felt disheartened. Been there, seen it.
Well slap my face and colour me wrong. This is fast becoming the soap storyline of the year and is certainly one to watch.
The performers are all fantastic. Vinny wants to see the good in Paul, protect Mandy and he is distraught at being violently attacked by his own father.
The story of a lost young man rediscovering his father and discovering he is nothing that he hoped for is a big enough story on its own and one to which many can relate.
Seeing Paul get endless chances amplifies Vinny’s goodness and Paul’s pathetic nature as a human.
Meanwhile, we all adore Mandy and want her to find love but it’s heartbreaking to watch her fall for his lies, knowing how much she loves Vinny and how broken she will be to know that Paul is beating him up.
And then comes Paul himself. We have had characters like DI Malone come along, be menacing and then die. But Paul has added human layers.
It’s almost like he wants to do the right thing but is too weak to ever achieve it.
He is broken, faulted and largely irredeemable but he represents many a realistic human characteristic.
And that’s what makes it so painful. This is a threesome that could, without context, make a dream clan with an opportunity to be settled and happy.
But that can never be. Paul’s temper and deceit will potentially destroy Mandy and Vinny as a duo and as individuals.
And that’s where we will see cracks show.
Reece is incredible at making Paul detestable and yet believable over how he manages to manipulate those who desperately want to love and trust him.
And this is building to something big. It’s Emmerdale’s key story of the spring and summer and if you thought this was a simple addiction story you’d be wrong.
This is why they brought Mandy back. This is where Vinny will be sealed as an Emmerdale icon. And this is why Paul was introduced.
Good things come to those who wait and that goes for storyline arcs.
It’s going to be a gamechanger – get on board while you can because the build up will make the outcome more thrilling than you can imagine.
This is soap as it needs to be and with this, Gabby and Kim’s war, Harriet’s despair and the introduction of Charles and Ethan, Emmerdale is starting 2021 in one of its strongest positions?
This again, could be their year. But with regards to Mandy, Paul and Vinny – will they all emerge from this unscathed?
We sense tragedy…as all good stories have to have.
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