Having now settled in to its new setting of Scotland, Waterloo Road continued this week and I’m glad to say I’m still enjoying being a fan again, even if there are a few flaws…
RELOCATION, RELOCATION, RELOCATION
The characters are – on the whole – believable, even if the situation isn’t. I understand that with there having been over 130 episodes, the writers are bound to have to resort to a bit of dramatic licence with their storylines but in a chat with some others at college this week, in which the subject of Waterloo Road cropped up, we all decided that it’s more than a little far-fetched that the school has moved to Scotland, taking a lot of the pupils with it. If the new building had been in another part of Rochdale (the show’s original location) and most of the pupils had gone there, that would have been believable and totally unquestionable. Had it moved to another city with the pupils following, it would have been a little more difficult to invest in but we would have gone along with it. Another country, though? I’m not convinced. I loved school, but not so much that I would have relocated to another part of the UK for it!
I’ve been experiencing a little bit of deja-vu with Waterloo Road, too. The death of Denzil Kelly is very similar to that of Adam Deardon in the first ever episode back in 2006. Adam was involved in a collision (just like Denzil), a memorial tree was then planted in the school grounds for him (just as there was one for Denzil in this episode) and while Adam had died, others involved in the crash came away alive but injured – like his best mate Donte Charles (spring forward six years, and while Denzil has died, Tariq Siddiqui has been left disabled). There’s nothing necessarily wrong with the reappearance of a ‘car crash’ plot but can’t those who pen the series thing of something a little more…original?
However, if you put all thoughts of far-fetched and repetitive storylines out of your mind, you’ll find that Waterloo Road is still an enjoyable show. In fact, the thing I’m finding most enjoyable about this series is watching the relationship between Conor Mulgrew and his mum, English teacher Christine, as he is determined to expose and dispel her alcoholism. It’s just brilliant. The story isn’t moving too quickly, nor too slowly, meaning we get a chance to enjoy and become involved in it yet don’t get sick of it. The mother-son relationship and each stage of Christine’s addiction has clearly been well thought-out and considered, which it would be easy for it not to be as the writers are under considerable pressure to keep churning out episodes (fifty have already been commissioned!). This episode left us with a bit of a cliffhanger, too (I won’t reveal it!), the repercussions of which will be most interesting to discover.
THE ‘EXTREMELY INTRIGUING’ LULA
The big story in this episode, though, was pupil Lula and her complicated home life, including a grieving mother and cult-following uncle. Lula was extremely intriguing as a character herself, but added to the storyline of her twisted uncle trying to involve her in something akin to an exorcism she was outstanding (as was Marlene Madenge, who played her).
The way Paul Logue, who wrote this week’s episode, played with my emotions concerning Lula was outstanding – one minute having me despise her, the next feeling sorry for her. However, he also made me sympathise with Waterloo Road’s senior management – Deputy-Head, Tom Clarkson in particular. I myself felt his frustration and confusion with the girl’s situation, hers and her uncle’s conflicting accounts and so on.
All of Lula’s scenes were really well directed, in particular the one in which a group of girls (I’m still to learn names properly) attacked her in the Cooler for taunting Tariq about his disability and those which saw Lula with the Pastor, about to perform the exorcism upon her, as she kneeled, praying and terrified. The acting and directing were absolutely spot-on.
It’s definitely safe to say that this series is much better than I expected. Perhaps, just like with The X Factor, I needed a year away in order to properly appreciate it again.
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