I’m a soaps expert and here’s everything the BBC have got wrong with EastEnders’ murder mystery

The show struck hard with its long-awaited whodunnit but some of us are still disappointed.

I'm a soaps expert and here's everything the BBC have got wrong with EastEnders' murder mystery | The Sun

KEANU Taylor’s dramatic murder was teased months ahead of time but have expectations really been met?

Since it was aired, a multitude of EastEnders fans have raised issues, from unrealistic to unforgivable, which bosses will have to make up for.

Christmas 2023 ended with a shocking murder mystery and viewers have complaints

Christmas 2023 ended with a shocking murder mystery and viewers have complaintsCredit: BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron

Keanu Taylor was killed off

Keanu Taylor was killed offCredit: BBC

Each year, the BBC One soap’s Christmas instalment is a staple of the festive period.

Following an intense Christmas 2022, which saw Walford legend Mick Carter vanish at sea, Chris Clenshaw seemed to strike gold with a whodunnit for the show’s 2023 celebrations.

The storyline was teased in a history-making flashforward scene involving six of Albert Square’s most beloved matriarchs – Denise Fox (portrayed by Diane Parish), Stacey Slater (Lacey Turner), Linda Carter (Kellie Bright), Suki Panesar (Balvinder Sopal), Kathy Beale (Gillian Taylforth) and Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean).

The presence of a mystery man, lying dead on the Queen Vic floor right next to the pub’s meticulously decorated Christmas tree sent fans into a frenzy as they tried to figure out which male resident would be meeting his end on Christmas Day.

Trepidation was at an all-time high and theories were thrown around on social media such as X, formerly known as Twitter, and Reddit.

Christmas eventually came with viewers on the edge of their seats eagerly waiting for what was to come, but what the murder of Keanu Taylor (Danny Walters) left behind was far from satisfactory – here’s why.

Cringeworthy blunders

Continuity errors and blunders have been a recurrence in soapland for decades but the ones that followed the long-awaited Christmas murder mystery were enough for fans to be deeply frustrated.

After ten nail-biting months, the drama unfolded as Sharon Watts finally walked down the aisle with her then-fiancé Keanu Taylor.

Elsewhere, Suki Panesar decided to leave her abusive and controlling husband Nish (Navin Chowdhry) for her lover, Eve Unwin (Heather Peace) after months of hesitation and doubt.

Just as Sharon and Keanu dramatically called it quits after he was exposed for Albie Watts’ fake kidnapping ordeal, Suki was making a move out of Walford with Eve in tow.

While she was finally out of the closet and proud, Nish was far from happy to see his wife get her independence back and he fought to keep her under his thumb.

Unfortunately for him, his son Ravi Gulati (Aaron Thiara) intervened after a huge crisis of conscience which followed Nish ordering him to kill Eve.

The brawl played out in the Panesar kitchen as father and son unleashed their mutual anger.

Meanwhile, other members of the family, including Nugget, Avani and their mother Priya Nandra-Hart (Sophie Khan Levy), were enjoying a quiet Christmas dinner, seemingly unaware of the utter chaos down the hallway.

Fans were left in stitches by this first of many blunders.

The murder of Keanu Taylor finally took place in the Queen Vic after Denise violently hit Nish over the head with a heavy champagne bottle, before the late hunk tried to strangle Sharon once he found out Albie was not really his biological son.

Despite the heavy drama unfolding before their eyes, viewers struggled to understand how a pub that became the scene of many crimes in the span of more than three decades, from public fights to bloody murders, could still be open without any surveillance equipment.

“The Queen Vic. Only pub that has no CCTV where people have regularly been murdered for about 35 years and still keeps its trading licence”, one soap fan penned after Nish was left unconscious on the floor of the Queen Vic.

The biggest mind-boggling errors viewers couldn’t get over were thrown around once Linda committed her infamous crime.

The Six quickly wrapped up their mistake to lay it to rest underneath Kathy Beale’s café, while Nish remained in a critical condition in The Vic.

But how did six women manage to carry the late Keanu’s body out of the pub, the centrepiece of life in Albert Square, without ever being noticed by anybody? Viewers had the same question as they doubted Denise’s ability to stand watch.

“Almost midnight, and the lights are still on at No.1 Albert Square. Perhaps someone witnessed the attempt to place the body in George’s jeep”, one of them pointed out.

“Why are they just carrying a dead body all around the square as if someone can’t just look out of their window and see them. And aren’t there cameras in the square? Around the market? This wasn’t very smart at all,” another added.

Things went from bad to worse when they began to question the Six’s plan to cover up Keanu’s body with cement made from scratch.

“Caught up with EastEnders. Don’t like the whole murder of Keanu and the cover by by the six. A truly unrealistic storyline.. then 5 of them manage to cover & seal a huge hole with cement in just a few hours, ridiculous”, one viewer fumed.

Another echoed: “This episode is so ridiculous. These 5 were loud enough for the whole square to hear. Not to mention the great job they did with the cement.”

Another interrogation came to many minds as the Six seemed to wipe their hands clean of Keanu after he was buried.

“Burying Keanu’s body in the café wasn’t a smart move though”, one soap watcher criticised before wondering: “Won’t the smell still be there? They should have moved his body as soon as they could.”

“The cement won’t do nothing”, they added as another questioned: “Won’t the builders spot the wet concrete tomorrow?”

One month has flown by since the murder of Keanu Taylor and blunders continue to pile up as the mystery remains under constant threat.

But what if it could have been completely avoided?

Killing Keanu was unnecessary

Nish was the first to strike with violence as he desperately tried to keep Suki from being the liberated woman Eve has been encouraging her to be.

Suki was stuck in the role of dutiful mother and obedient wife for several decades, taking on several business ventures on the condition she knew her place – right by Nish’s side.

This was until her friendships in the Square became the wind she needed beneath her wings and she finally broke free of her husband’s clutches.

Nish tried to force Suki back home, only to be held back by the other women surrounding them.

The treacherous businessman then showed he was capable of true brutality by hitting Linda Carter, a woman outside of his private circle, before he was bottled by Denise.

Sharon, on the other hand, freed herself from Keanu’s spell and hit him with the biggest bombshell of his ill-fated life yet, that Albie was never his son to begin with.

Understandably, the news crushed Keanu, piling up on top of the pain he must have felt after being dumped by the woman he loved on his wedding day.

While violence should never be excused, his final outburst can be reasonably explained by human emotion.

But did Linda really have to stab him?

The pub landlady could have picked out anything to help defend Sharon or she could have simply shoved, punched or kicked Keanu out of the way to make a point.

Why did she have to turn into a murderer unnecessarily?

More importantly, did Keanu really deserve to die out of all the seven men that were on the hitlist for the Christmas murder mystery?

Nish wasn’t the only villain to be a potential target as he was followed by Linda’s rapist Dean Wicks (Matt Di Angelo).

In my opinion, Keanu, though rough around the edges and manipulative, was the least deserving of death among these men and some fans agree.

“The writers assassinated his character the last 2 months, Keanu wouldn’t have done that”, one angry viewer wrote on Reddit.

“And even if he did, all he deserved in response was an arm or leg stab to stop him. Not a a heart stab. They murdered him and stuck him in a hole like a piece of rubbish. And not a single one of them have given any thought for his family. All six women are worse than Keanu.”

Another echoed: “There was also zero sympathy for Keanu who just found out his bride-to-be lied to him about being a father for years.”

“I think the whole kidnapping situation threw him under the bus in eyes of the Walford community but to the viewers we just saw a desperate idiot fumbling.”

Keanu was not the right target for this murder storyline and with Nish lying on the floor of The Vic before being revived by none other than Suki, I was personally disappointed to realise the flashforward that started it all was nothing but a red herring.

Members of the Six unravel with Linda Carter turning back to booze and Denise Fox on the verge of a mental breakdown after realising her necklace had fallen onto Keanu’s corpse when the Six buried him.

Speaking of which…

A failed sorority

When it was first teased in February, 2023, the whodunnit left viewers with the impression that all the women involved would stick together, led by the will of staying out of prison and bonded by secrecy.

Prior to killing Keanu, Sharon, Linda, Denise, Stacey, Suki and Kathy all shared fragments of what seemed like a long-lasting friendship, with the group enjoying a lock-in in The Vic one late evening, toasting to the vow to fix their problems with the men in their lives.

The spirit of sisterhood flooded the Vic as the Six stood their ground against Nish Panesar and Keanu Taylor shortly after.

But since the troublemaker was laid to rest, every hint of sorority seeped out of Albert Square in an instant as Sharon refused to face the consequences of Keanu’s murder and left for Australia, leaving her pals to take the fall without her for a crime she took part in.

Worse still, worried fans noticed one member of the group is at the receiving end of unfair treatment.

“The Four will not be happy until they’ve destroyed every part of Denise’s life. Denise deserves so much better than them”, one commented as another argued: “Can we please give Denise a break?”

“Denise, WTF??!! They’re gonna stitch you up for Keanu AND Nish”, another theorised.

Indeed, Denise has been slowly unravelling after realising she had lost her signature “D” necklace and it could be her downfall if Keanu’s body was to be found.

But instead of supporting her, Kathy, Stacey, Suki and Linda have bullied the hairstylist into silence, refusing to soothe her fears and ordering her to stick to a plan she never really agreed to.

To make matters worse, she also has to keep her fragile marriage to Jack Branning (Scott Maslen) afloat while he canoodles with Stacey Slater behind her back.

Spoilers for next week have confirmed that Denise’s spiral is due to continue as she finally opens up to somebody close to her about the events of Christmas.

Due to the poor treatment she has received from her partners in crime, including Sharon who has simply decided to abandon ship before it was too late, this could be an excuse for her to undergo further stonewalling.

Off-screen, the opinion remains the same – Denise, a legend as equally important as the likes of Sharon, Kathy, Cindy Beale or Kat Slater, deserves better.

Friendship and sisterhood are clearly under threat, making me personally frustrated to see that, yet again, women are pitted against one another for the sake of drama.

What could have been a celebration of female friendship in the face of adversity has been turned into a race with freedom on the finishing line.

Kathy has been able to sacrifice her marriage to Rocky Cotton (Brian Conley) to save herself and her friends from a potential lifetime behind bars – couldn’t her selflessness be a source of inspiration for fellow members of the Six?

Why should Denise be branded a danger when all she needs is a steady source of support, particularly as her sister Kim (Tameka Empson) is now gone to live out her dreams on a cruise ship with Howie Danes (Delroy Atkinson)?

Why is Sharon leaving her pals to take the fall alone?

What kind of friends would forget the importance of a united front in a time of crisis?

Not friends I would ever want in my corner, which begs the mention of another troubling point in the storyline.

The rise of “toxic femininity”

Multiple other characters could be dropping like flies in upcoming weeks while the Six try to keep their dirty secret buried under Kathy’s café.

Rocky Cotton was the first to be sacrificed as he quickly rumbled something bad had happened on Christmas Day.

Nish Panesar could be next as he reels from the shock of his separation from Suki.

Many viewers (yours truly included) are rooting for The Six to prevail but there’s a message I personally cannot stand by – why are we still using violence to resolve domestic abuse-related issues?

Everything is possible in soapland and yet, the answer to everyone’s problems remains violence.

The theme is recurring on our screens and isn’t confined to the adorned walls of the Vic, as seen with Coronation Street’s Yasmeen and Geoff Metcalfe.

While I want to see women stand as equals to men, I can’t help but spot a double standard, like multiple other fans.

This was notably branded “toxic femininity” on a Digital Spy forum.

“Soaps using violence to resolve domestic issues, passing off murder as an acceptable solution whether it’s to an abusive relationship or just a single argument”, one viewer commented.

“And of course they continue the soap narrative of all men being evil and the women who kill them are good. Soaps are just toxic femininity at its worst.”

Another agreed: “Hollyoaks has been really bad over the past few years for having a massive ‘men are just awful’ message. Every story seemed to revolve around it.”

A third viewer pointed out that Matt Di Angelo’s Dean Wicks is still (rightfully) being branded “evil”, a “villain”, for raping Linda.

However, the Vic landlady herself is given the label of “icon”, “queen” and even “hero” for saving her pal Sharon by murdering Keanu.

“Yes there are awful men in the world, but I still hate this trope”, this fan claimed before adding: “Dean raping Linda = bad. Linda MURDERING an innocent man = yes Queen! We love the six!!!”

True gender equality resides in the ability to recognise that men and women are both victims of a patriarchal society while they should be uplifting one another to finally eradicate harmful gender stereotypes.

If violence should never be perpetrated against women, should it really be accepted or even celebrated when it’s done against men?

For once in fiction, I dream of a storyline where an attacker is brought to justice and the system doesn’t fail their victims.

One day, I hope to see an abuser on my screen learn from their terrible actions and grow into a better person.

I am tired of women being vilified because they haven’t behaved like a “perfect victim”, the one who silently endures her partner’s angry outbursts with a chagrined expression and without ever speaking out.

While I am the first to understand female rage, perpetuating violence against anybody or any group of people isn’t just harmful – it’s unforgivable.

According to statistics made public by The Refuge, two women die every week at the hands of their partner or ex-partner, indicating that victims of domestic violence are still in dire need of support.

In many, non-isolated cases, the strong women who decide to take a stand are vilified for doing so due to our society still heavily relying on gender norms, which are harmful to both women AND men.

Turning a woman into an attacker as she defends herself against her abuser helps those of us who fail to grasp the idea of gender equality vilify strong women.

This often goes hand in hand with the act of branding a woman “crazy” if she dares to speak up or act out to protect herself but let’s not forget that intimate partner violence can also affect men.

According to statistics provided by Mankind.org.uk, “one in 6-7 men” will be a victim of domestic abuse once in their lifetime and 25% of the domestic abuse crimes recorded by the authorities were committed against men.

Half of male victims (49%) fail to tell anyone about their ordeal and they are two and a half times less likely to tell anybody than female survivors (19%).

Finally, “11% of male victims (7.2% women) have considered taking their life due to partner abuse”, underlining again the importance of nuance in a storyline that evokes domestic abuse.

EastEnders’ Christmas murder mystery could have been the perfect opportunity to bring women together and raise awareness on an important topic without falling into the same dangerous tropes that plague mainstream media.

Instead of killing Keanu, a man desperate to have the family he dreamed of after being deprived of a father figure for most of his life, justice could have been brought to Suki, if one character truly had to die to feed into drama.

Linda, who has been tormented by the reappearance of her rapist in Walford, could have also been avenged after being discredited and gaslighted by the man who took advantage of her.

But the biggest criticism I have for this storyline, which I heavily anticipated myself, is its predictability as many other soapland stories have pushed women away from one another.

In a society where women are constantly compared to one another, encouraged to follow norms that sometimes prevent them from embracing their truest selves, soaps and other forms of fiction need to do more and strive for better.

In a world where domestic abuse often goes undetected and unresolved, we needed a storyline that brought peace and closure to Suki or even Linda, more than anybody else.

Sharon and Keanu’s petty fight took the attention away from the potential issues that could have been addressed – all in the hopes of suspense and drama.

But could bosses surprise us still as Nish grows more cumbersome than ever?

EastEnders airs from Monday to Thursday at 7.30pm on BBC One.

Many important issues could have been addressed through the storyline

Many important issues could have been addressed through the storylineCredit: BBC

And one character deserves better

And one character deserves betterCredit: BBC
Source: https://edition.cnn.com/

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