Waterloo Road Review: Tariq struggles with his disability and Michael’s secrets are revealed in the best episode of the series so far

by Matt D

Personally I have found the first two episodes of this latest series of Waterloo Road to be fairly formulaic in so much as they focus mainly on a new pupil, first Jade and then Lula, who has a big issue rather than concentrate on one of the more established youngsters. This week that has all changed as Tariq’s disability storyline comes front and centre after having been treated as a subplot for the past two episodes. The writers really focus on his daily struggle as he falls out of the bath at the school house and has to rely on Grantly’s help to get back on his feet before later wetting himself while getting a bunch of books from Tom’s car. I liked both of these small scenes as the highlighted how many changes Tariq has to adjust to, other than just using the chair, which in turn finally demonstrates why he’s so depressed since his accident.

Once again though I found the staff of Waterloo Road a bit slow on the uptake as Tariq starts giving away his possessions, first his PSP is bequeathed to Phoenix before his beloved chain is given to Josh, and it is revealed to the audience that he plans to commit suicide after he records a video message for his sister. On a little side note it was good to hear the writers actually reference Tariq’s family as they seemed to have forgotten they played a major part last series as we discover now that Trudi and Finn moved to Canada while his dad has seemingly disowned him. As everyone is completely oblivious to his plans, as he distracts his friends by planning a fight between the Waterloo Road lot and the Havelock High gang, they let him go on the water in his canoe unaware that he is going to drown himself. Luckily Michael Byrne finally realises what’s going on and does his Superman bit by jumping into the water and rescuing Tariq before going on to his next storyline. I personally thought all involved in this week’s central plot deserve praise from the writers to actor Naveed Choudry who has completely perfected his character’s transition from wannabe gang member to somebody who needs help to go about his daily routine.

As I mentioned Michael was tied up with other matters namely his feud with Gerard which intensified this week as the Havelock High headmaster plastered old newspaper headlines across the school which informed both staff and pupils that Michael almost beat his father to death. Though we aware that Michael can fly off the handle at a moment’s notice it is still slightly shocking that he attempted to murder his father and there’s none more shocked than his former lover Sian who thought she knew everything about him. The feud also seems to be trickling down to the pupils as more of the Havelock rabble are attacking the school house forcing Grantly to pick up dog dirt on a daily basis to the extent that he almost sides with the rival head. Former Havelock pupil Gus also gets himself in the thick of it as he is presented as a spy within the Waterloo Road camp however it seems through his relationship with the returning Maddie that he may turn a corner.

Elsewhere it seems that Christine and Connor have mainly survived that fire in their kitchen from last week however their relationship is still on rocky ground as he threatens to move out which raises the suspicions of Maggie after he enquires after a place in the school house. Though Christine is able to sidestep Michael’s questions about her parenting, to be fair he had bigger things to worry about, it’s history teacher Audrey who is most suspicious of the relationship between the pair. Once again Laurie Brett and Shane O’Meara both excel in this storyline however I also want to praise Georgie Glen as Audrey who has quietly become one of my favourites as someone who obviously loves teaching but won’t take any nonsense which was exemplified when she chastised Connor for causing a scene in the dining room though I do find her knitting in the staff room a tad clichéd. Obviously this story will continue throughout the series as Connor slapping his mother will lead to even more drama between the pair while I’m still not sure what role Imogen is playing in all of this.

Though Lula’s behaviour last week was referenced when she apologised to Tariq it seems that everybody has forgotten that Jade is pregnant. It’s not the first time that Waterloo Road has completely forgotten about pupils, they really need to take a better register than they do, Jade was presented as one of the major characters in episode one however now I wouldn’t be surprised if her waters suddenly broke during Chalky’s double maths class. Talking of Chalky his pursuit of Janeece continued as he tries to weasel his way into her affections by becoming her babysitter a role he once again took when she became Lorraine’s plus one to a function at the last moment. I do love Chelsee Healey’s portrayal of Janeece, especially when she has to walk around, however there still isn’t any hint to how she’ll leave the series. Finally Rhiannon seems to have stopped bullying Scout in order to turn her attention to the Havelock gang however I’m still waiting for a reason for her behaviour as I still reckon their related.

Overall I would say that this is my favourite episode so far as it evenly balanced the storylines without any one really taking priority. Tariq’s struggle was presented in a sympathetic and realistic way with our former tough guy suffering in silence before his friends and teachers finally realised what was going on. This was nicely counter-balanced by the more dramatic Michael and Gerard storyline which has endless possibilities going forward though I would advise against the Havelock pupils attacking the Waterloo Road head as he’s already survived a stabbing and a hit-and-run proving that he’s pretty much indestructible.

Are you still watching Waterloo Road? If so what did you think to this episode? Leave Your Comments Below.

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1 Comment

  1. Paul on September 7, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    “Tariq’s struggle was presented in a sympathetic and realistic way”

    I actually thought it was so manipulatively misrepresented that it bordered on offensive. Firstly, to set Tariq up in this “struggle” they had to make sure the schoolhouse has no disabled facilities. Even a chair in a shower would have been fine! Secondly, he had the upper body strength to launch himself out of the bath – and win a kayak tournament later – but was completely unable to drag himself the tiny distance to his chair, leading to his first humiliation.

    The car boot section was, briefly, really good. I thought it showed a realistic problem and a tiny triumph. And then, the urine. Now I can only assume that Tariq has no bladder control, in which case how on earth did he ever leave hospital without a catheter? Did they really just set him up to constantly urinate? There should at least have been the compromise of adult incontinence pads. And then for Tariq to STILL be urinating after sitting outside and crying for a bit, trailing a thick stream as he goes all the way through the school, it just beggared belief. It’s a serious issue for disabled people, and if they’re going to use it as a plot point then it really needs addressing.

    It’s not a sympathetic depiction at all – they pretty much just ritually humiliated him under the guise of “how sad it is when you’re disabled”. I was praying for him to die so I wouldn’t have to see how poorly they handle it any more. Lucky a brief pep talk was all he needed to find a reason to live again!

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