Casualty Review: Series 32, Episode 36

This episode certainly tugged on the heart strings with an array of storylines centred from the old to the young, to love and isolation. It began by panning over what appeared to be an elderly couple lying on the floor of their conservatory having clearly suffered some sort of trauma; the recognisable tones of Ave Maria playing in the background and the appearance of their goldfish seeming to be purely for an artistic shot, however it came into play later in the episode and, in hindsight, was used as tragic foreshadowing.

It turns out that the couple were the returning friends of Connie (Amanda Mealing), who she’d known from her stay at the hospital during her cancer treatment. Maggie (Lin Blakley) had been receiving similar treatment at the time, however we discovered that it hadn’t prevented her cancer from spreading to her frontal lobe, which unfortunately led to some rather predictable personality changes. It was her husband, Ray (Gary Lilburn), who suffered the brunt of her aggression and it culminated in devastating Romeo and Juliet inspired actions.

Casualty, BBC, episode review, series 32, episode 36, Connie, Amanda Mealing
Connie and Ray (Amanda Mealing and Gary Lilburn).
Upon having Maggie admitted into the hospital with disorientation and a nasty laceration, Connie jumped into her protective mode in order to figure out the explanation behind her friend’s injuries. So it’s of no surprise that she lept to judgement when Ray was also brought in with symptoms of an overdose and then continually offered incoherent apologies. It took a while but eventually we found out that Maggie’s tumour had resulted in her aggression reaching a point where she was wielding a knife, and in self-defence Ray had hit her with a vase. Believing he had killed her, in the style of Shakespearean tragedy, he decided to overdose on Maggie’s morphine as a way of not having to spend a night without her— as in the heartbreaking line, “I’ve not fallen asleep without her in my arms for such a long time.”

Sadly, Maggie’s cancer progressed rapidly and Connie managed to put off the police enquiries long enough to grant Ray his final moments with his already unaware wife.

BBC, Casualty, episode review, series 32, episode 36, Connie, Charlie, Amanda Mealing, Derek Thompson
Connie and Charlie (Amanda Mealing and Derek Thompson).
Obviously, this all had its emotional toll on Connie, as well; who allowed only a smidgen of consolation from Charlie (Derek Thompson). It was towards the end of the episode that the Coomes’ goldfish reappeared under Noel’s (Tony Marshall) care, who’d come to deliver a fish tank to a bemused Connie. That is until she realised who it was from when she discovered a scrapbook left to her from Maggie.

We later see Connie performing a scan on herself, just above the scar left from her surgery she’d had to remove her cancer. Amanda Mealing has previously hinted at a storyline focussing on Connie’s cancer PTSD; something many survivors find themselves experiencing, including the actress herself. I think this could be hugely eye-opening to the viewers, especially considering that we’ve all had cancer impact our lives somehow—be it yourself, a friend, or family member. Therefore, it’s spreading awareness around the topic of an illness physically disappearing, but still having its hold. And as with many of Casualty’s important storylines, educating the nation is at the forefront.

We also have to mention the return of Bea (Michelle Fox) as an F1! She received Ethan (George Rainsford) as a mentor and Eddie (Joe Gaminara), her fellow F1, got Alicia (Chelsea Halfpenny)—then the two pairs battled it out to see who could treat the most minors by the end of the shift. I enjoyed how they gradually brought back the missed dynamic between the ex-lovers and all with some lighthearted challenge. It inevitably reached the conversation about how they feel, but Ethan cut it short by sharing the news that he’d been “seeing someone”. Understandably, this broke Alicia’s heart as she seemed about ready to confess her feelings for him. She failed to convince with her pokerface and empty assurances that “it’s fine” for him to be with someone else and it ultimately ends with him skipping the drinks they’d been planning on having at the end of the shift.

Casualty, BBC, episode review, Series 32, episode 36, Alicia, Chelsea Halfpenny
Alicia played by Chelsea Halfpenny.
This is where another huge storyline begins, although in a world without spoilers we aren’t to know that yet! A handful of the hospital staff headed to the pub and the subtly short-lived tension between Eddie and Alicia peaked with the pair kissing and then heading home, with hints of the passion continuing further.

Other points to mention:
  • The storyline of guest character Liv (Hope Lloyd) was rather an eye-opener, with her diagnosis being the uncommon and often unrecognised, Menstrual Psychosis. I find myself being more attentive with storylines that highlight generally unheard of illnesses and they’re often interesting to learn about.
  • There was also the storyline of the little boy, Kyle, and his father (Will Finlason) who’d been lied to about Kyle having Leukaemia. Personally, I found it a pointless addition to the episode but I appreciate that it maintains the usual ‘3 patients’ structure of the show and it added something a little different.

Overall, I liked that the episode highlighted Connie’s sensitivity and vulnerability as it’s not something we’ve seen a lot of since her return. Also, a big nod goes to the Alicia and Ethan development as I feel as though that could really support upcoming storylines.

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