EastEnders spoilers: Lauren Branning’s desperation for an emotional reunion consumes her

Lauren in EastEnders talking to Penny
Lauren arrives back in the Square and is keen to be reunited with son Louie (Picture: BBC / Jack Barnes / Kieron McCarron)

Lauren Branning (Jacqueline Jossa) is to return to from France following the shocking events of Christmas Day in EastEnders, and she’s desperate for a reunion with a very special person.

The character is keen to be reunited with son Louie, following her release after her arrest at the airport, but it turns out that her baby boy isn’t the only family member she’s set to cross paths with.

Lauren speaks to Peter Beale (Thomas Law), who is Louie’s dad, and Peter is so pleased to see her that he urges her to stay a while longer.

Despite her reservations, Lauren agrees but upon speaking to Penny (Kitty Castledine), who returned to Walford with her, she reconsiders, having discovered that Peter knew about her cousin’s secret and didn’t tell her.

After ringing for a taxi, Lauren gets set to say her goodbyes, but Sonia Fowler (Natalie Cassidy) blurts out that she’s got a secret sister living in Walford.

Lauren is stunned and heads straight for the Vic, where she confronts Linda Carter (Kellie Bright), demanding to know why she wasn’t informed that Annie is her sibling.

Annie, as viewers know, was born shortly after Linda had a controversial affair with Max (Jake Wood), which proved contentious with viewers, who thought the whole thing was extremely out of character for the landlady.

Linda, like the viewers at home, had been keen to forget about the affair, hoping no-one would ever find out that her soulmate Mick (Danny Dyer) wasn’t actually the dad. But Lauren will find out the truth.

Lauren Branning and Peter Beale talk in the Beale family home in EastEnders
Lauren agrees to stay longer and let Peter see Louie (Picture: BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)

The question is: just how will she react?

Lauren originally left the Square back in 2018 with Louie after sister Abi’s death, to start a new life in New Zealand, where her on-off boyfriend Peter lived.

Lauren did return for her grandma Dot Cotton’s funeral back in December 2022, and we saw her earlier this year when she discovered Cindy Beale (Michelle Collins) was alive and living in France with Peter and his dad Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt).

Lauren and Sonia in the doorway of the Queen Vic in EastEnders
Lauren wants answers (Picture: BBC / Jack Barnes / Kieron McCarron)
Linda at the bar in EastEnders
Linda has some explaining to do (Picture: BBC / Jack Barnes / Kieron McCarron)

Following her showdown with Linda, Lauren wonders whether to go to Exeter when Bobby (Clay Milner Russell)arrives to plead Peter’s case. His words gives Lauren pause for thought and she agrees to stay for a while, and to let Peter see Louie.

Soon Lauren and Penny are flat-hunting – but Peter isn’t a fan of Penny and throws a massive spanner in the works.

Will Lauren stay in the Square? Can Penny win Peter over?

One to watch: Monday January 8 at 7:30pm on BBC One.

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