(Series 5, ep. 3) Pack up your flags and pepper spray – it’s field trip time for the Stella crew! The nurses went on an excursion to one of the deadliestest cities in the world – London. But it wasn’t every passer by being a “potential terrorist or lunatic” that caused the most disturbance for our heroine, it was an old boomerang love coming flinging full pelt back into her life.
The episode began with Stella setting the empty house ground rules ahead of her surprise visit to Michael’s London office pad. Ben had no interest in parties though as he had a new camera and was planning an epic zombie live action film project as part of his Lads Summer adventures. Little Alan had other plans though, and it took even less time than I expected for him to have to whip out the melodrama as he caught the former child chef prodigy and Cerys Ferris canoodling in the allotment shed. Clearly Little Alan got Michael’s secret rendez-vous spots mixed up and chose his backyard love nest rather than round the back of Beyonce’s (and Rhian’s) favourite pub. I’ll just ignore the fact that his best friend’s mum was viewing Michael’s prize marrow in the same place last just last week. Either way, the Lads Summer is over as Ben cast off into a strop making me wonder when he will get a decent storyline again.
Staying true to form with her army precision timing wake up call and a Welsh flag for security, Cheryl was in her element escorting her regiment of nurses through the capital ahead of their placement interviews. In a glorious scene transition only possible in this show, she also insisted on the full entourage accompanying Stella to Michael’s office for the surprise visit all in the name of safety – and told Cockney Jane exactly what was what when she tried to pull the old appointment card to block Stella from her love. Once they were past the front desk, Michael’s boss Maria stopped talking Lawyer for long enough to invite them both for dinner (this time not with Cheryl and co.) and in doing so she threw a bizarre but interesting character revelation into the ring – one a fair twist from my predictions. It’s not just Michael she is after, but Stella as well…and to share them with her partner. In two of the most wonderfully awkward parallel advances, hinted only by some rather probing dinner questions, both Stella and Michael fended off the experimental couple and had a good drunken chuckle about it on the way home.
As the couple that fends of swingers together stays together, Michael later suggests that Stella sell up the sloping paradise and come live with him in London, even beyond her prospective placement. Stella is eventually sold on the idea but all I can think about is the last time she faced this conundrum and ended up losing Rob Morgan to the pull of the Ponty. Lo and behold, before Auntie Brenda has time to utter a famous Welshman, the man himself pops up in Stella’s hospital. As it turns out, he is ill and there for treatment having gone on a break with his partner and reminding Stella of all the things she loved and hated about him in the first place. He doesn’t want anyone to know he is ill and ever powerless to his mellow welsh tones, Stella agrees to keep his secret.
Back in the valleys, the town lost the legend of Mayor Mary Meyer and although they barely knew her, Auntie Brenda was determined to give her a send off worthy of a queen after having been promised her support as her successor. Another heir of the mayor was causing trouble as well – her beautiful but blubbering son Ian had got under Bobby’s skin, but he wasn’t there for long before the undertaker took one too many “up the Frisky” and was desperate to shake his former crush realising that Ian needed a shrink more than a boyfriend. Needless to say nothing ended well for either Bobby or Auntie Brenda and although they drowned their sorrows with their boss, Ivan began to wonder if hiring the dysfunctional duo was the best decision. Paula may have been a drunk but at least she never…actually no. She pretty much broke every taboo as well.
We also found out that Jag’s new crush Carol can make a mean Jalfrezi and has a son who Jag would much rather have as his family than his own mother who was there to visit. I do like the innocence of Jag and Carol’s little love story. I can’t help but think that Jag is the writers way of filling the Alan and Celia hole, and I’m happy enough with that so far. His mother unfortunately looks like she is going to be filling Taneesha’s as she dreams of marrying off her grandaughter. I imagine that storyline is going to give us more fireworks than even Ben and Little Alan but I’m assuming that is next week’s problem. As far as explosives go, the episode wrap up lit some of its own, right on Stella’s doorstep. She may be thinking of leaving for London, but the former love of her life has finally decided it’s time for him to do the one thing she thought he would never do – Runaway Rob is back to stay.