Waterloo Road Episode Five: The feud between Michael and Gerard comes to a head as the series returns to form

by Matt D

So last week I feel I may have been a little overly harsh on Waterloo Road but personally for me it was the weakest episode so far and the revelation of Imogen’s deafness was just a bit daft. Thankfully I found this week’s episode to be much stronger as it explored Gerard Findlay’s motivations for trying to bring Michael down and generally how older teachers struggle to cope with modern regulations.

This theme is also seen through the introduction of the programme’s newest pupil Liberty Gordon who has made the decision to go to the local paper in order to expose the Gerard’s poor standards to the local community. Liberty is seen as an asset to Gerard as she is a champion athlete and is one of the only good things that Havelock High has going for it but at the same time he has made her drop some of the academic subjects that she wants to study as she believes they will help her to get into university. Liberty also has a good relationship with Waterloo Road’s history teacher Audrey McFall, who if you’ve been paying attention used to teach at Havelock, as she always used to encourage Liberty to follow her passions. As is always the way with pupils in Waterloo Road Liberty also has issues at home namely that her mother Sandra, played by Clare Grogan, has rheumatoid arthritis so can’t get around the house easily. After her story in the paper comes out Liberty pleads with Audrey to get her a place at Waterloo Road however she does this at possibly the worst time as Havelock High and Waterloo Road are due to compete in an inter-schools competition.

After hearing of Liberty’s intentions to switch schools from a spiteful Lorraine, a vengeful Gerard attempts to embarrass her by making her late edition into the quiz portion of competition. The quiz, which is hosted by Grantly giving Philip Martin Brown an excuse to break out his dry wit again, sees Waterloo Road trounce their rivals though Liberty shows promise she rushes off after an emergency at home. Though she’s back for the race a suspicious Tariq catches her taking pills in the toilets and believes that they are some sort of performance enhancing drug that will help her to triumph in the cross country event. There is a fair bit of time devoted to the race itself, and I personally rather enjoyed the camera-work during this section, with Liberty coming first by quite a wide margin her victory is spoilt by Tariq’s revelation before something else happens to send Gerard off the deep end once and for all.

I have to say I was rather gripped by this storyline from the get-go thanks to all of the actors involved namely Georgie Glen as Audrey and Alex Norton as Gerard. For weeks now I have admired Glen’s performance even though she’s been given little to do since her introduction but here she portrayed a veteran teacher who was both firm and fair even to the extent of stick up for Gerard remembering him being a good teacher when they first met. Audrey’s relationship with Liberty also allowed Glen to show us a teacher who really cared about her students and I hope this friendship continues to be highlighted in the upcoming weeks rather than just being forgotten about. Norton meanwhile went from the pantomime villain we’ve known him to be since the start of the series to a broken man and through his performance I completely understood his character as a man who just wanted to teach but since becoming a head has had to be concerned with league tables and exam results which has led him to partake in underhand tactics that he isn’t particularly proud of. I did like how the writers let Gerard have his final redemption allowing Liberty to take a place at Waterloo Road and showing what a good man he really is deep down. It’s also interesting that Liberty already has a couple of storylines to walk into when she becomes a fully-fledged Waterloo Road pupil namely her relationship with Tariq and whether or not her health fears are justified.

This week’s main subplot looked at the relationship between Janeece and Chalky primarily how he’s become nothing more than a babysitter to her and how she’s turned into a negligent mother since arriving in Scotland. With Lorraine convincing Janeece to be her assistant for the day, the secretary was more interested in impressing than worrying about her daughter Cheryl’s suspect spots covering them up with concealer. An inevitable phone call from Cheryl’s daycare meant that Chalky had to spring into action attempting to hide the toddler from his classes an endeavour that proved futile and resulted in his class getting completely out of hand. After Michael let the pair off with a warning it was Chalky who finally stood up to Janeece essentially calling her a bad mother and showing her a notepad’s worth of instances in which she has put Cheryl’s needs on the backburner. With actress Chelsee Healey departing the series soon it seems that her exit will have something to do with Cheryl however we’ll have to wait till next week to find out exactly what that is.

As we’re halfway through the series I thought Michael would finally find out about Christine’s drinking but obviously he was too busy with drug-taking athletes and mystery toddlers to bother about the English teacher’s alcoholism. Instead we saw Christine’s health take a turn for the worse as she got gradually dizzier as the day went on eventually falling down the stairs however this event made Connor realise how much he actually loved his mother with the two seemingly reconciling. It seemed though as if the burgeoning Connor and Imogen romance would end before it had really begun as he struggled to please both of the women in his life but luckily it looked for now as if he’d found a way around it.

Elsewhere Rhiannon’s starting bullying Scout again by sending her texts making her believe that her mother was out of prison and on the way to visit her, however if she read the papers she’d know that her TV mum Lisa Riley is currently on Strictly, for some reason this fooled Scout however once again the bully got one over on her. Obviously the writers are trying to make us believe that Rhiannon’s hatred of Scout is justified and I don’t think I’m the only who thinks that they will turn out to be sisters. Sian’s visits to Michael’s father are becoming a regular occurrence though it seems that she is yet to convince the man himself to go and see his incredibly ill father. Sian really should instead be worrying about Maddie who is suffering from some sort of abandonment issues currently trying to make Gus like her by sleeping with him whenever he wants. I’m really not sure where this Maddie story is going, as she’s been given very little to do since her return, however I still haven’t warmed to Gus who has somehow become irresistible to women despite coming across as a charmless idiot.

Overall an enjoyable episode of Waterloo Road that concluded Gerard’s vendetta against Michael in a successful and pleasing way while also intoducing an interesting character in Liberty and in turn allowed Georgie Glen’s Audrey to share the spotlight. Going forward we know Janeece’s fate will be decided in the next couple of weeks while the other big stories for the second half of this run look to be the revelation of the connection between Scout and Rhiannon, whether Michael will visit his father before it’s too late, finding out whatever is happening with Maddie and at some point seeing the conclusion of Christine’s alcoholism plot. All in all I’m rather looking forward to where the series is going in the upcoming weeks and thought this episode was one of the best of the series so far.

Did you enjoy this episode? How do you think the series is advancing so far? Leave Your Comments Below.