EastEnders needs to stop a very toxic approach to two of its most vile characters before real damage is done

Dean Wicks and Nish Panesar stand next to each other in EastEnders
It’s time for the show to cut its losses with irredeemable characters continuing to abuse women (Picture: Metro.co.uk/BBC/Getty)

Last year, I couldn’t shut up about the high quality of EastEnders, a show which has enjoyed an unbelievable resurgence after some seriously choppy eras, and that remains unchanged.

But, with 2024’s storylines well underway, a real toxic approach to two of the most horrific characters is giving me cause for concern – and I can see I am not the only one.

Matt Di Angelo and Navin Chowdhry play the characters of Dean Wicks and Nish Panesar extremely well, and it could be argued that there remains a place for them to create more antagonism moving forward. I personally disagree with that, something I will address a bit further down, but I can accept that this is subjective.

The Square has always thrived in great villains and, while there has been much debate over the decision back in the day to turn Dean from a figure of mischief to a downright evil rapist, the storyline with Linda Carter (Kellie Bright) was one of the show’s most powerful of modern times.

Bringing out the most dark side of Dean was, to me, not an unacceptable arc as it lends weight to the very real truth that there are no rules on how a rapist comes across or presents themselves. Or even how they have previously behaved prior to their crime.

His return last year seems, at best superfluous, at worst an unnecessary twisting of the knife into a story that had ended with a realistic but painful injustice.

Gina smiles at Dean in Peggy's in EastEnders

Dean moving in on Gina leads to the fear of history repeating – but it’s too much (Picture: BBC)

Bringing him back during a build-up to a men getting their comeuppance whodunnit (and whogorrit) story had a real vibe of plot device, given he pretty much had no part in the eventual outcome.

So far, he has just been there to cause Linda harrowing pain and take over a local business in the Square where he is a pariah.

The rot set in a bit in a harrowing turn of events that saw him blackmail Linda into withdrawing her statement against him, in order to help George Knight (Colin Salmon) avoid jail.

This felt grossly unfair on how Linda is represented given her resolute strength in holding Dean to accountability from the attack, something which he did actually admit to.

Back presenting himself as a falsely accused victim, Dean is now embarking on a relationship with Gina (Francesca Henry) who is blinded by her sudden feelings for him against the very compelling and backed-up side that Linda has.

Dean is manipulative to the highest degree and can turn on the charm and the sympathy vote like a tap, so this isn’t out of the realms of possibility.

EastEnders picture shows Linda Carter in the woods as Dean Wicks approaches from behind

Any comeuppance Dean receives will be bittersweet given it has taken Linda being destroyed by her rapist a second time (Picture: BBC)

But the story seems gratuitous in that this had been explored with Roxy Mitchell (Rita Simons) previously, at the end of which he launched a second attack ahead of a final confrontation with the Carters that exposed his true colours once more.

There was no feasible route to a return for him and, honestly, it makes little sense that he would even WANT to return to a place where the entire community knows what he is.

It’s difficult to see the purpose of Dean’s story, which is inevitably going to be a comeuppance of kinds. With Linda having done such hard work and endured such pain to build her life back together again, any eventual downfall of Dean would be bittersweet in that it has taken the shattering of Linda by her rapist a second time to facilitate it.

In a soap where villains are generally written well, this particular comeback was not needed.

And, even if a return did create some effective drama, it certainly doesn’t need to be dragged out with a further potential victim to his vile behaviour.

Much like we don’t need to keep finding new excuses and validations for keeping Nish around too.

Kat and Nish sitting in his living room in EastEnders
Nish is very openly evil (Picture: BBC)

Following a geniously plotted out story over the course of a year which centred on the empowerment of six women treated appallingly by men, finally fighting back, it feels wrong that the two most evil main players are currently suffering way less than the women.

Given Dean has entered a relationship with Gina, it shocked me that EastEnders chose to repeat a similar pattern for Nish and Kat Slater (Jessie Wallace).

Kat, who just episodes before compared, perhaps very justifiably, Phil to both her childhood abuser Harry and to his violent dad Eric, fell into the arms of Nish, a man who has openly displayed his manipulation and penchant for extreme villainy, often in public.

It’s another character who, after getting a partial comeuppance at Christmas, continues to swagger the Square victoriously, continuing his long subjecting of abuse against ex-wife Suki (Balvinder Sopal).

Nish confronts Eve in EastEnders
Nish almost killed Eve, there is no way this can be ignored (Picture: BBC)

The scene in which all six women collectively stood up against Nish at Christmas, when he launched himself at Suki to attack her, now feels sullied given he is still holding Suki under his grasp.

He is another character who the majority of the Square know the true colours of, one such person being Kat herself.

Nish recently almost killed Stacey’s best friend Eve and, given how close to Stacey is Kat is, and Kat’s own history of campaigning for Little Mo to see the true colours of Trevor, it’s difficult to get on board with the prospect of her believing Nish over her cousin.

The actors involved in these storylines are phenomenal but it’s not enough reason to try and find ways to extend the horrible treatment of villains to the women of Walford for more months.

There is a danger of damage both to that storyline and even the soap as a whole if these new relationships don’t reach endings soon.

It’s time for these storylines and characters to be put to bed, as effective as they have previously been.

EastEnders has been playing an utter blinder and remains largely at the top of the game but on this one, it might be time to cut the losses and change the narrative around the two most toxic characters and their hold over the women they abuse.

Source: https://edition.cnn.com/

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