After a year of what could arguably be one of soap lands most detailed, emotional and heartbreaking storylines, the conclusion to Emmerdale’s assisted suicide plot comes to an end tomorrow night.
One of the strengths of the ITV soap, is its ability to let stories play out in real time, giving viewers a realistic view of a complicated and well thought out plot, letting it play on in the background for months and years rather than days and weeks, and this particular storyline is no exception.
After months of trying to convince Jackson Walsh (Marc Silcock) that his life was still worth living, his mother Hazel (Pauline Quirke) and boyfriend Aaron (Danny Miller) have finally come round to understanding his longing for death, and after some of the best acting and writing alike, the date has finally been set for them to help their beloved Jackson end his life.
Whilst this storyline has received both praise and criticism alike from both sides of the pond, where America has a high YouTube viewing audience for the British ITV soap, one thing we can all agree on is how well it has been portrayed.
From the start of the whole Aaron/Jackson saga, the attention to detail and perfect mix of raw emotion, tenderness and even humour (one of the funniest lines I have ever heard in Soap land was when Hazel responded to Aaron’s fear that Jackson would kill himself by saying, ‘what is he going to do? Hold his breath?) has been the heart and soul of the soap, who’s ratings have rocketed from strength to strength since this plot began nearly 18 months ago. It has been a credit to the writers, actors and generally everyone involved.
Speaking to The Boston Herald, Marc Silcock, who plays Jackson Walsh, said of the plot:
“To be brutally honest, the final two episodes are pretty horrific, and we tried to make them that way,” he said. “We don’t want one person for a minute to think that (Jackson’s decision) is correct. I am an advocate for the idea for the right to die, but I believe the show has covered all the aspects of the story line and covered all the bases. We’re not saying that we believe that this is right; we are showing what these three people believe at the moment.
“We didn’t want to glorify it and make it a beautiful thing. That’s not reality. In reality, helping someone kill themselves would be a hideous thing, and we try to show that as best as possible.”
But, as he also revealed, this is not the end of the story for Aaron and Hazel : “At that very moment, all three of them think the right thing has been done. There’s a sense of contentment with Jackson. But (the story) sparks a long journey for Aaron and Hazel, and they soon realize that they didn’t make the right decision.”
As the week progresses, the whole village seem’s to have an opinion about what the pair did, with people turning against them and even the vicar refusing to conduct the funeral. Again, this is another way which Emmerdale shines. It would have been so easy to have made the end nice and tidy, for everyone to understand and empathise with what has happened, but that would be unrealistic. Let’s not forget how long it took Hazel and Aaron to get their heads around Jackson’s wishes, let alone agree that it was the right thing to do, so it is only natural that everyone’s shock initial reaction would mirror this.
Another criticism the show has come across is the lack of affection between Aaron and Jackson leading up to the end, but as Marc pointed out to the Boston Herald:
“Aaron isn’t going to start being touchy-feely. It doesn’t make any sense with the back story, the way the characters were. It doesn’t make sense to break character to put those bits in there and sacrifice the 15 months I’ve been there and the two years Danny has been there to play it out for people to see. People want to invest in the characters so badly sometimes, they ignore the characters’ views and their history. Not for one minute do I think that we’ve missed anything in the story line.”
So, with the plot about thicken for two of the characters involved, it doesn’t necessarily end for Jackson, who has several video diaries left to be aired at the writers discretion. So don’t go putting those tissues away, it looks like the heartache is set for the long haul!