Casualty Review: Series 32, Episode 37


Warning: Contains references to rape.

This was the episode that had been receiving a lot of coverage beforehand as it was the start of a storyline that would take us well into the summer; Alicia’s (Chelsea Halfpenny) rape ordeal. I must first praise the decision to announce the storyline prior to it airing on television, as it allowed viewers to decide whether or not to watch the episode on the night. From interviews I’ve read, it was important to Chelsea that any viewer who’s experienced sexual assault knew about this storyline and could decide for themselves whether they wanted to watch something that close to home.

I’d also like to clarify that I don’t intend to be insensitive in my review, so a heartfelt apology if I accidently word things poorly. Please let me know so I can change it!

Moving onto the episode itself… It began with a close up of fingers on flesh, but partnered with the intense and almost haunting sound of stifled sobs it immediately let on that this certainly wasn’t a scene of passion. The camera panned across quivering lips and fearful eyes, which we struggled to identify until we got an overhead shot and were met with the distressed gaze of Alicia staring at us through the screen. Breaking the fourth wall in a situation like this really brings out the empathy in the audience and the director, Jon Sen, managed to deliver this revelation with a heavy impact. It felt as though I’d made eye contact with her and immediately that brought a sense of involvement, like you know this character as a friend and you’d do anything to help. I think that shot was a clever way of instantly getting the audience to empathise with a storyline that had, quite literally, happened overnight. There wasn’t the usual allowance of getting viewers’ attention as a storyline builds over time because the development occurred practically instantaneously. In short, Jon Sen and Chelsea Halfpenny approached this effectively and respectfully, for which I’m grateful.

Casualty, BBC, episode review, Series 32, episode 37, Alicia, Chelsea Halfpenny
Alicia played by Chelsea Halfpenny.
Alicia managed to wriggle from Eddie’s (Joe Gaminara) hold and then fled her house: teary, panicked, and likely in shock, alongside a turbulence of other emotions. It flashed between slow motion and real time shots of her running, accompanied with one of Casualty’s rare soundtracks that crescendoed into the opening titles.

Throughout the episode, Alicia was evidently—and understandably—distracted, continuously appearing as though she’d been crying and it made me quite emotional. I often found myself furrowing my brow with concern, or huffing out of frustration whenever she seemed close to telling a character about her trauma but then getting interrupted—just listen to her!!! It’s going to take a lot for Ethan (George Rainsford) to get back into my good books after he disregarded her pleas to explain, but I’ll get to that in a bit!

In a bid to get away from the hospital and Eddie, Alicia went to the scene of a coach crash where they required a doctor to administer Ketamine to a trapped patient. This patient also happened to be the young girl, Nina (Amita Suman), we saw escaping from her locked bedroom by throwing a stool through the window and hopping onto the family home’s porch in order to meet her boyfriend, Malachi (Raphel Famotibe). The young couple had intended to fly to NYC where one of Nina’s friends had said they could get bar jobs and live without the constant shaming from her parents. Whilst Alicia tried her best to safely free the patient, with the help of Sam and Iain (Charlotte Salt and Michael Stevenson), the firefighters attending the scene warned them of a potential mudslide from the ledge that towered directly above the coach. This was where the drama really got tense! The three Holby lifesavers sped up their procedure and then began maneuvering Nina off the coach when suddenly it shifted and threatened to cause more damage. Moving slowly to prevent further faults, loud cries came from outside as the rain finally caused the ledge to crumble and it poured into the coach—ultimately onto our paramedics and doctor. Word got round at Holby that some of their staff were trapped, but it was soon cleared up that they were all fine and en route.

BBC, Casualty, episode review, series 32, episode 37, Iain, Alicia, Michael Stevenson, Chelsea Halfpenny
Alicia and Iain attending to the trapped patient (Michael Stevenson and Chelsea Halfpenny).

Upon arriving back at the hospital, Alicia insisted on staying with Nina as the young girl got treated, but then she collapsed; relying on the physical support of Bea (Michelle Fox) and Ethan to get her into a wheelchair. Ethan then took Alicia into a side room to get checked over and she asked if she could swap F1s with him so she could mentor Bea for a bit. You could see her trying to find the courage to tell him about what had happened with Eddie, desperately needing a friend to turn to, “We are friends, aren’t we?” and that line alone is heartbreaking enough. Just as she seemed to be trying to broach the topic of last night, she got interrupted by Elle (Jaye Griffiths). Agh!

Alicia later received a call from Eddie, who left a voicemail about getting pizza and said, “I’ll come and find you at the end of shift.” To Alicia—who’s already feeling threatened by this man—I think his use of “find you” would seem quite targeted and it’s no wonder she left in a hurry. On her way, she discovered Malachi who was struggling to come to terms with Nina lying to him about her Schizophrenia, so Alicia gave him some rather wise words and it seemed to bring him to his senses. Towards the end of the episode, we saw Ethan ask about Alicia and then offer to check in on her at home, but to everyone’s surprise Eddie suggested he drop by instead. Thankfully, Ethan insisted that he be the one to visit her and he subsequently turned up at her house with a bottle of wine. Earlier in the day, he had broken up with Leigh-Anne (Cassie Bradley) for fear of their relationship damaging his career and so he’d then intended to confess his true feelings for Alicia. In my opinion, this was a cruel twist of fate as it was Ethan’s rejection the night before that had led to Alicia kissing Eddie in the hopes of getting over him. I’m not saying Ethan’s to blame—because he’s not—but the writers have really managed to frustrate me with this one!

It ended with Ethan saying he still loved her and Alicia was clearly overwhelmed, both from the confession and the events of the past twenty-four hours. She informed him that there’s something she needed to tell him, but first she needed a glass of wine. He went to the kitchen to get them some glasses and then saw a note that’s tacked to her fridge, which ends with:

‘Eddie xxx
P.S. Thanks for a wild night..!!! :)’
Ethan figured that this must be what Alicia wanted to tell him and he doesn’t give her the chance to explain, which is something she pleaded for, as well as for him to stay. But he left. Whilst he wasn’t to know that she was raped, it frustrated me that he couldn’t realise her clear distress was about more than just hearing his confession or that she’d supposedly ‘slept with’ Eddie. Anyone could tell that she was tormented and yet he continued to leave whilst acting like a kicked puppy because he felt rejected! I promise I’m trying to remain objective, but I can’t help the odd bit of bias coming in…

After Ethan’s departure, Alicia stormed to her room and tore the bedsheets from her bed before burning them on the barbecue in her back garden.

I understand this review has been Alicia-centric but that reflects the episode, I feel. I do wish to briefly cover these other storylines, however:
  • The light relief Bea and Rash (Neet Mohan) brought to this heavy episode was appreciated, with them fighting the coffee machine in the staffroom and reducing it to spitting sparks.

    BBC, Casualty, episode review, series 32, episode 37, Jacob, Sam, Blake, Charles Venn, Charlotte Salt, Kai Thorne
    Jacob, Sam and Blake.
  • The Jacob/Sam/Blake (Charles Venn, Charlotte Salt, and Kai Thorne) storyline this episode that stemmed from Blake’s lack of enthusiasm towards revising (something students across the country can likely relate with at the moment!) was quite sweet. Sam went out of her way to strike a deal with Blake, who revised for two hour periods with the promise of an hour training with Sam at the punchbag. It certainly seemed to earn Jacob’s approval—and one of his dashing smiles!
BBC, Casualty, episode review, series 32, episode 37, Ethan, Leigh-Anne, Kiegan, George Rainsford, Cassie Bradley
Leigh-Anne and Ethan with Kiegan.

  • Leigh-Anne caused a bit of fuss this week when she insistently pulled Ethan from his work so that he could be there when they took Kiegan off oxygen. She then readmitted her son when she’s adamant that his lips had been turning blue and that he’d stopped breathing. But despite Elle, Mr Barling (Simon Shepherd), and Ethan checking him over, there was no evidence that anything was wrong. Mr Barling also noticed the over-familiarity between Leigh-Anne and Ethan and he warned Ethan not to overstep any more lines. This encouraged Ethan to end things with her in the hopes of their relationship not ruining his career.
  • Finally, there’s another hint at Connie’s (Amanda Mealing) post-cancer struggles as she demanded Louise bring her the FAST scan when it’s next available. Connie performed a scan on herself and seemed relieved by the results. There’s a brief shot of Elle noticing Connie receiving the scanner—will Elle be the unlikely friend who helps the clinical lead come to terms with her recovery?

Overall, this episode was an important one as it’s the start of Alicia’s significant storyline. It also provided some tense and dramatic stunt scenes, as well as some more heartfelt and promising ones. I am intrigued to see where these storyline’s go from here.

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