Chekovs missing gun, Or how Eastenders lost Lucys plot.

It was a hasty moment and was over quickly. A moment of red fire and black rage. He thought he was bringing justice to all with the simplistic view of the world only an 11 year old could have. Crying Murder he took the black box to his sister’s head in a moment of clear madness where everything was transparent in a frothy Sea he struck the tormented soul down….. .

So Bobby Killed Lucy and I can’t help but feel utterly robbed.

Many people are likening it to the “who shot Mr Burns” storyline on “The Simpsons”. It’s like it in more ways than one, the biggest reason is that the killer was never a suspect and the possibility of him being responsible for the murder, was brought in at the very last act at the very last possible point. They might as well have brought Pauline Fowler back to do it. It wasn’t so much as a twist say for example, in the “Usual suspects” It was deliberate deception that has wasted a year of viewers lives.

Now I wouldn’t mind if the idea of doing this whodunit was knocked up on the back of a fag packet over a few beers and some Tapas, but it took Eastenders an unprecedented 12 months to get to this point. It is obvious they had put a lot of thought into the structure and they have deliberately gone out of their way to put a myriad of other characters in the frame, from hapless Billy to Abby Branning. At no point have we seen a shifty look from Bobby or even signs of Post-Traumatic Stress. The best we get is Bobby’s running away episode which was knitted into the raft of reactions to Lucy’s death. (Along with Ian’s vice indiscretion and Peters trip abroad). I suggest that this was deliberately easy to overlook, slipped into two episodes and quickly glossed over. An almost token attempt if you will to retrospectively suggest guilt. I know this is fiction, but 11 years old boys are notorious for not keeping secrets and this one’s a doozey. He would have told it to more than one person, definitely to Tiffany Butcher and almost certainly confessed to another adult.

Imagine reading a Chandler novel or watching an episode of Morse then on the last page of the novel, or after the final ad break, the little kid who has just been hovering on the periphery turns out to be the culprit, there have been no clues, no hints no signposts to his guilt in fact, he has had not one single line of dialogue.  To make it worse, it’s taken you a year to get to here.

How betrayed and taken for a mug would you feel after investing all that time and emotion? It’s not even like Eastenders   explored Bobby’s behavioral issues previously, it takes a big step to go from silent cupid to Avenging Angel of death, even for soap writers and the result is far-fetched beyond credibility. It is worse still, if the author has taken the time to build substantial guilt patterns for a number of characters including implausible scenarios ( Masood the killer… really?) and character transplants ( Masood, the killer…. Really?)There were more Red Herrings here than a Martian Fishery.

There was no skill in “mystery “ involved in plotting this story and it was strung out far too long for anyone to look back and join the dots. In fact, producers so removed any possibility of the viewer solving this ,Bobby is significantly absent for most of the story.

“Chekov’s gun” is a drama writing convention , that  shows if there is a gun on the set in the first act then it must be fired in the final act. This is crucial for crime drama and here, has been ignored. it gives the viewer a fighting chance of how the murder drama will pan out and provides the viewer with the most essential clue. Without it, the drama fails and the audience is robbed. Who killed Lucy Beal? It wasn’t Chekov’s gun.

(By the way- the black box doesn’t count…..it was an innocuous household object.)

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