Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Hanging By A Thread…

In what turned out to be a significant - if not momentous - week in Ambridge, we are breaking with tradition and, instead of a summary at the end of the week, we are having a two-parter, with the first part covering Sunday to Tuesday. The reasons for this are twofold; firstly, I have already made more notes in three days than I usually do for a whole week, so a single entry would be unbearably long, and secondly, as the story of Rob and Helen has been splashed all over the press and discussed at length on social media, It’s unlikely that I will be spoiling it for anyone, unless they have just returned from Mars. So, on with part one, which is entitled:

Hanging By A Thread…

We have already seen evidence that Helen is showing signs of rebellion against her controlling husband and, on Sunday, Kirsty calls round and is surprised that Helen seems to be pushing the boat out with the table laid for a special supper. Helen announces that she is going to leave Rob and she will tell him after they have discussed it over the meal. Kirsty is appalled that Helen is bothering to tell Rob, but she has to hide as Rob comes home unexpectedly - something that he’s very good at recently. Rob goes for a shower and Kirsty makes her escape.

Let’s pause here and think about this. There you are, trapped in a marriage which is slowly driving you insane, by a man who has spent two years belittling you, isolating you from your friends and family, and who has hit you and raped you. Understandably, you decide to leave the monster, so what do you do? Do you pack while he’s away and get out, taking Henry to your family who, let’s face it, are only just down the road, or do you sit down and discuss it like civilised people and try to leave him after you have washed up? I know which one I’d choose, but then I’m not Helen.

One thing I wouldn’t do is leave a half-packed suitcase on the bed for my husband to clock when he goes for a shower, but Helen does, and Rob is deeply suspicious. Helen says it’s her hospital bag (nothing like planning ahead - she’s only seven months gone) and Rob says forget the shower, let’s have supper now.

Helen is quiet over the meal and Rob praises her tuna bake - why hasn’t she cooked it before? Her reply is that he told her he didn’t like tuna - something he denies, saying that it must be her hormones all over the place again. Appropriately, the Eagles’ ‘Lyin’ Eyes’ is playing in the background and Helen pours out her feelings about Rob’s controlling nature - he won’t let her phone, won’t let her drive and won’t let her wear the clothes she likes. Rob just laughs and says “Well, you did used to rather flaunt yourself, darling.” Instead of smacking him in the gob, Helen wipes the smile from his face by telling him that she has seen Jess, who told her that getting away from Rob was the best thing she ever done.

From here on, things get more fraught, as Rob throws his plate on the floor and snarls “And look what I’ve ended up with; another clingy, over-sensitive, feeble-minded harpy, desperate to be loved, desperate to be needed. Women like you and Jess just want someone to take you in hand.” Well, that’s told you, Helen. But Rob hasn’t finished yet, as he goes on: “Where would you be if we hadn’t met? A single parent disaster zone - a lonely, frigid spinster, yearning for a real man to make you complete. And I do, don’t I? I make you feel special and desired for the first time in your life.”

Helen reverts to type, by saying that she’s sorry (for what, for heaven’s sake?) but Rob, who has calmed down says no, he’s the sorry one “But you forced me to be so frank.” They are about to start on the apple pie, when Henry calls out and Rob says he will go and see to him. Helen takes the opportunity to call Kirsty on the phone that she gave her, but Rob comes back and demands to know where she got the phone. On learning that it was Kirsty, he starts to lose it, describing her as “A manipulative, man-hating dyke.” Kirsty rings Helen back and Rob demands that Helen tells her that she’s fine, which she does.

It is shortly after this that Helen decides the time is right to tell Rob that she is leaving him and, by the way, she’s taking Henry as well. Not surprisingly, Rob doesn’t agree with this scenario and he won’t let her go. Helen says that “When we walk out that door, you’ll never see any of us again - and that includes the baby.” Rob says that this won’t happen, and Helen, who has obviously taken a whole bottle of Brave Pills, rather unwisely calls him “a sad, pathetic little man.” Rob hits her and pulls a knife out of the drawer and makes her hold it, saying “I’ll show you how you can leave - do what Greg did - end it all now, I dare you! It’s the only way I am ever letting you go!” “You’re a monster!” Helen shouts, tearfully.

At this point, Henry appears and Rob tells him to go back to his room. “I’m warning you” he snarls and, when Henry says “No!” Rob starts towards him and there are sounds of a struggle and we hear the knife fall to the ground. Henry asks “What’s wrong with Daddy?” and, in a matter-of-fact voice, Helen tells him that Daddy’s sleeping and why doesn’t Henry go and watch a cartoon? Helen then rings Kirsty and the episode ends with her telling her that she has stabbed Rob and “he’s dead; I killed him.”

Kirsty rushes round and wants to see Rob. “Oh my God!” she says, and asks Helen if she’s called anyone, but Helen is incoherent, sobbing uncontrollably. Kirsty realises that Rob is, in fact, still breathing and tells Helen to get something - anything - to stop the bleeding. What an opportunity missed! Of course, this blog could never condone the taking of life - even a low-life - but would one more stab wound have been noticed? It would certainly stop us being kept in suspense, but Kirsty does the responsible thing and calls an ambulance.

They turn up, along with the police, one of whom is PC Burns. The doctor who examines Rob says that he’s lost a lot of blood and there are internal injuries, adding: “Someone wasn’t messing around - he’s lucky to be alive.” PCB has rung Pat and Tony and says they will be coming to pick up Henry. Meanwhile, Helen is being arrested and handcuffed on suspicion of wounding. When Pat, Tony and Peggy (who was awoken by the sirens) turn up, they are not allowed in and no-one will tell them what’s happening. “Rob’s been hurt, apparently” is all Tony knows. Eventually, PCB tells them that Rob has been stabbed and Helen and Kirsty (who is going voluntarily) to answer questions and led toward the waiting police car. Pat tells Henry that “Mummy’s going on a little trip - I’m sure she’ll be coming home soon.”

At the Police Station, Helen is asked if she’d like to phone anyone - a solicitor, perhaps? “I don’t need a solicitor, do I?” she asks, thus demonstrating a lamentable lack of understanding what it means to be handcuffed and whisked down the Nick. Kirsty rings who says that people from Children’s services are at Bridge Farm to check on Henry.

Kirsty is questioned by Sergeant Mills, who asks about the mobile they found. Kirsty tells her that she gave it to Helen and Sgt. Mills says “So you planned it between you?” Things aren’t going that well for Kirsty, as she has to admit that she never saw Rob hit Helen, nor did she see any bruises and, when asked if she would describe Rob as a violent man, she has to say ‘no’. “He’s not like that - it’s mind games with him; he was driving Helen mad.” She also says that Rob must have done something bad for Helen to attack him, but has no answer when Sgt Mills asks simply “What?” Kirsty is allowed to leave after giving fingerprints and a DNA sample.

Helen has been examined by a doctor and the baby is OK. He notices some red marks on her arm - made recently - but she is unable to tell him where they came from. She is also examined by a mental health expert, who decides that she is fit to answer questions. As she is led away, two of the policewomen talk about the case. “What a mess” says one, and the other replies “It beggars belief - you’re about to bring a new life into the world and you go and do something like that.”

Kirsty has gone to Bridge Farm and Pat asks if Helen is with her? Er, not quite. Pat cannot understand why, saying: “They can’t really believe that she stabbed Rob - someone must have got into the house, surely?” Kirsty says that no-one else was involved and that Rob must have left Helen with no option. Pat and Tony are mystified, and shocked when Kirsty tells them that Helen was leaving Rob and spells out what he was really like. Tom is the only one who said that he was beginning to have his suspicions. “Tony, have we been completely blind?” Pat asks. Yup, that’s about the size of it.

Kirsty airs her fear that she might have made things worse by her answers to the police’s questions and says that Helen needs a lawyer. The family get Dominic Farrell (a colleague of Usha’s) to go to her and, when she starts sobbing and saying that she wants to see Henry, he gently tells her that she’s likely to be there for some time and they need to get their story straight for the interview. Helen is cautioned at the interview and, on advice from Dominic, exercises her right to silence, due to being in shock, saying “no comment” to all the questions. The annoyed policewoman reminds Dominic that the mental health expert said Helen was deemed fit to answer questions and her final question (“Why didn’t you call the ambulance straight away?”) would appear to give an indication of how they are thinking.

So, Rob’s life is hanging by a thread and we still don’t know whether we are rid of the monster. You can imagine him visiting Helen in her dreams, mocking her by saying “See, you couldn’t even do a proper job of killing me - I told you you were a failure, darling.”


  1. Why did they have to make Rob the victim?
    I am so furious about this - and I've been fed up with this story line for so long. Helen has suffered enough, and they could have resolved the storyline without this level of melodrama, but instead of just highlighting domestic abuse Helen is going to be on trial, both in public opinion and probably in court. Presumably Jess will testify as to Rob's propensity to rape, other violence and mental cruelty, but the stabbing will come down to he said she said and we all know how convincing Rob can be.

    On the other hand, the nature and extent of Rob's injuries are rather cheering...

    Am just hoping they will find Stefan's body, or Rob's previously unknown criminal record will emerge. Didn't Dr Lock seem to know something?
    And do I remember correctly that Rob decided not to go for the full adoption with henry after Helen mentioned that there had to be a criminal records check, and he just went a Parental Responsibility order instead, because it was 'quicker'?

    Or am I making that up? Please advise.

    In general, it seems as if the only way Helen is going to get off if is MAJOR bad stuff emerges about Rob..

  2. Whatever Rob's past criminal record may have been, it surely can have little bearing on recent events apart from perhaps contributing to an idea of his character.

    As for the victim of violence in this case, he's lying in a hospital bed while his would-be killer is safely locked in a police cell.

    1. Yes, of course you're right.

      Sorry, I didn't express myself very well.
      I am furious that the script writers made Helen behave with what seems to have been extreme violence, when they could have resolved the story line without Rob having been turned from abuser into victim.

      Helen's behaviour didn't ring true - to me, at least - and much comment from abuse organisations has centred on the fact that in the vast majority of cases the victim of domestic abuse suffers physical injury, rather than inflicting it on the abuser.

      Also, as has been discussed above, the idea that she would sit down with Rob over supper and tell she was leaving, knowing his propensity for violence, while Henry was in the house, is beyond belief.

      The sudden change of Helen from beaten down victim of coercive control, to the knife-wielding Medea of Ambridge, just seems wrong on so many levels.

      Sorry, I do realise that these are NOT REAL PEOPLE.

      I do.


    2. I totally agree that Helen's actions before the stabbing, as portrayed in Sunday's episode, are not realistic:
      Even she couldn't believe that Rob would just say 'You want to leave? so long, then. I hope you'll  let me see my son from time to time.'
      She must have known there would be a big scene, so why keep Henry in the house and why put him to bed since she would have had to get him up again to leave the house? Or was she hoping for a last quiet night in with hubby and leave with Henry after breakfast?  
      If she wanted a 'civilized' conversation, why cook him a meal with tuna, when she knows he hates it?  Last time she made tuna, he threw it in the bin, an episode she hadn't forgotten since she reminded him that he had said he did not like tuna, so what was the point?
      And finally, why leave her half packed bag in full view on the bed?  If she really not have time to finish her packing, she should have hidden it, and if she intended Rob to find it and to trigger an argument, surely she could hardly expect Rob to wait patiently downstairs for her to finish her packing before leaving him.
      Frankly, none of this scene makes sense to me.  Since it was the culmination of months of story building, I would have expected the BBC to make a more convincing job of it. Zoe

  3. Well, Sporty Neil, there is no doubt in my mind that you may be in trouble with the rozzers, here. We all witnessed you inciting poor old Helen to stab that fiend. She heard you, we all did, and now she finds herself in chokey. And the rest of us are all going to be bored witless by months of the fall out. There will no doubt be frantic dusting off of the Free Deidre Barlow placards. A bit of Tipex and some paint, they'll all be good as new. And now I shall have a nap. The whole thing is making me tired.