Waterloo Road Episode 2: Credibility is stretched as a pupil is supposedly possessed by the devil while Christine’s drinking continues to disrupt her work

by Matt D

Last week a lot of people thought Waterloo Road’s move to Scotland was a step too far in terms of credibility as they didn’t believe that all of the students would move that far and that the teachers would have to get used to a new curriculum. My answers to these criticisms was that most of the kids who journeyed to Scotland came because their home lives were so complicated it was easier for them to live in the School House while in terms of the curriculum it seems to have been set by the head teacher as it is a privately funded institution. I’m really sorry I stuck my neck out though as this week’s central storyline centres on Congolese Lula, a student who had all of one line last week, whose uncle believes she is possessed by the devil.

As far as I can recall this is the first time that a serial drama such as this has dealt with an exorcism, though I’m sure God-fearing Dot Cotton has thought about it a number of times, and I feel there’s a reason for this as it really doesn’t feel like a credible story. It seems that Lula believes that she is possessed and several times throughout the episode she stops and stares at various characters just so we may think that she does actually have something wrong with her. As Tom and Sian despair over Lula’s behaviour after she disrupts Denzil’s memorial they call in her uncle who from the offset seems like someone who can’t be trusted with his evil grin and suspicious ring on his finger his agreement that he will have the local pastor speak to his niece should really be met with some suspicion although as is always the case on Waterloo Road the teacher always seem to realise that something’s not right at the last minute.

It appears that Lula’s ‘ill mother’ has been suffering since her husband’s deportation back to the Congo which has meant that her brother has poisoned Lula’s mind and she know believes that she needs help. Her plot also plays into other stories namely Tariq’s inability to cope with his disability, despite Josh’s constant upbeat attempts, with Lula trying to convince him that the accident was caused because he had a bad heart and she may actually have a point as this was the boy who almost took a crossbow to his sister’s boyfriend at the end of the last series. Tom’s eventual saving of Lula also plays into his guilt over Denzil’s death believing that the youngster only journeyed up to Scotland to please him and is unable to deliver a speech during his memorial. Eventually Tom comes to the realisation that it’s better to talk about your feelings and gets in touch with Denzil’s mother Rose presumably to apologise for the school finishing off yet another one of her children following Sambuca’s death. Though the plot itself was quite ludicrous in nature Marlene Madegne, as Lula, did a convincing job of someone who was going through some sort of personal turmoil and as the episode went on she really made me feel for her character while Cornell S John as her uncle did a brilliant sinister turn as an incredibly wicked man.

The other big story that continued from last week was Christine’s alcoholism which this week saw her son Connor take drastic steps in order to point out how it could impact on her career at Waterloo Road. Knowing that his mother keeps a bottle of vodka in her desk he put out for all the pupils to see with history teacher Audrey suspecting that it belonged to Christine rather than one of the pupils however Connor owned up to his mother’s mistake briefly earning her trust. The Mulgrews’ story also gave us a bit more of an introduction to Imogen, the girl with the ghostly eyes who only had a handful of scenes last week, it seems that her fascination with horror meant she had something in common with Stephen King fan Connor with the two almost going on a date which was odd as last week they seemed to be setting him up with Scout. The final scene, which I won’t ruin for anyone, meant that both Laurie Brett and Shane O’Mara really got their chance to shine as the warring mother and son with this alcoholism storyline seeming somewhat fresh despite many dramas tackling it in the past.

Elsewhere the feud with Havelock High continued with Grantly’s car vandalized in the opening scenes of the episode he put the blame firmly at the door of the rival school which almost scuppered Michael’s to come to some sort of truce with Havelock head Gerard Findlay played by a fantastically gruff Alex Norton. Though Grantly eventually got his car re-sprayed it seemed that Findlay wasn’t going to give up easily informing Mr Budgen that Michael has a history with the police in his former stomping ground. This episode we also saw the continuation of Lorraine’s design contest, in which Daniella Denby-Ashe stomped around the corridors like Alan Sugar with a clipboard and a short skirt, as well as Rhiannon’s bullying campaign towards various pupils but once again her main target was Scout. Some other stories were put on the back-burner such as Jade’s pregnancy with last week’s lead character barely featuring this week while Chalky and Janeece’s romance seemed destined to fail after she saw him as more of a babysitter than a potential suitor. A random re-appearance by Maddie, who seems to want to stay with Sian despite her once despising her evil step-mother, seems to herald another storyline but for me there are far too many already.

Despite the Lula storyline stretching Waterloo Road’s credibility to breaking point I still found myself going along for the ride due to the strong performances and the plot itself staying the right side of utterly ludicrous. Thankfully this bizarre story was balanced by the grittier plots such as Christine’s drinking, Tariq’s disability and Tom’s guilt over Denzil’s death while some lighter moments involving Lorraine and Grantly meant the show wasn’t all doom and gloom. Though some may have given up on Waterloo Road I have to say I’m still a fan as I believe it is one of the best mainstream dramas on TV today and I can’t say I wasn’t entertained once again this week. Therefore I will continue to defend the show however if it is revealed next week that this new school has been built on an old Indian Burial Ground then I think I’ll give up on it all together.

What did you think to this week’s exorcism plot? Are you still enjoying the series’ new Scottish setting? Leave Your Comments Below.