‘Life is too short’.
That was the crux of Jai Sharma’s heartfelt toast in Emmerdale on what he thought to be one of the happiest days of his life, marrying Laurel Thomas in front of his friends and family.
Little did he know, however, just how apt this very sentiment would prove to be, as subsequent scenes confirmed that his beloved dad Rishi, his best friend and one true ally in life, had tragically died.
It was a twist that was withheld from just about everyone. Even I, a self-proclaimed expert in all-things Emmerdale, only found out recently, and even when I knew of the existence of a twist, I failed to predict what exactly it would entail.
The truth about Jai’s parentage being revealed was at the top of my list, or a surprise return for Marshall Hamston – who had become an honourary member of the Thomas/Sharma clan – after his sudden and unexpected departure last week.
Never in a million years did I think a death was lined up for Rishi, who has become so ingrained in Emmerdale that he’s practically part of the furniture.
Thursday’s (July 27) edition of the soap, twist or no twist, was truly delightful, complete with a happy outcome for the bride and groom not to mention satisfying community scenes, which have been in short supply as of late. The family showdowns were spot on, with powerful performances from everyone involved, with Bhasker Patel and Chris Bisson doing some of their finest work on the show during their 12 year period.
The soap genre can get a bit carried away with death sometimes. Find me a week across any of the nation’s biggest serial dramas where at least one of their respective characters aren’t fighting for their lives!
Rishi’s death, however, hits differently.
The patriarch has become something of an Emmerdale stalwart, who was always there to offer advice to those in need, or was willing to receive such advice himself.
I thought he’d be around for years to come, and in some ways, I still wish that he would be. I’ll certainly miss him and his wise ways.
But the power of soap is to ultimately reflect real life, and what makes this death so poignant is that it does just that, echoing the sentiments of Jai’s speech down to a tee, highlighting a reality that many of us have lived through.
Life is too short. Death can be sudden, often in the blink of an eye and we don’t always get the opportunity to say goodbye to the ones we love.
Jai will have to live with that now. He never got to make amends with Rishi. He never got to tell him how much he loves him and that he’s everything to him.
It’s become something of an Emmerdale calling card to pull off a mammoth twist in this vein, much like Holly Barton and Lisa Dingle’s tragic deaths.
Despite serving up a number of truly incredible storylines this year, such as Paddy’s suicide attempt and Arthur’s relationship with Marshall (bring him back Emmerdale), the ITV soap has been the subject of some criticism as of late, with some fans calling for a big change or story move to really get people talking.
This is exactly what Emmerdale needed.
Rishi’s demise, like Holly’s and Lisa’s, is on everyone’s lips, with social media an example of just how many people are absolutely stunned by the development.
In addition to the shock value, the bold move will also create plenty of story opportunities moving forward, and I’m not just talking about the immediate aftermath, which is every bit as upsetting as you can imagine it to be.
Jai, for example, will struggle to move on. Not only because his beloved father has gone, but because of how things ended between the two. All those unanswered questions.
Their final showdown will no doubt play repeatedly on his mind and how he processes his grief with the recent revelations about his parentage will likely be at the centre of the show in the coming weeks.
Suni’s introduction therefore couldn’t have come at a better time, with actor Brahmdeo Shannon Ramana having settled in incredibly well, having chemistry with just about everyone he’s shared a scene with thus far.
The newcomer and Jai are incredibly close. Under any other circumstances, the two would probably have been overjoyed to discover they’re brothers.
But the fact that Suni spent the night with Nicky Milligan will inevitably lead to conflict, both internal and otherwise.
Suni will likely beat himself up for not returning to Holdgate on the evening in question, while Jai will inevitably chuck some blame his sibling’s way, guaranteeing heartbreak aplenty for the Sharma clan, who have quite frankly been starved off such strong storylines for way too long.
Factor in the impact that said conflict will have on the likes of Archie, Arthur and Laurel, who will have to process their own grief too, plus the wider community as they mourn a loss of Rishi’s nature, then you really see how Emmerdale’s bold move has all the potential to pay off in the long-run.
Laurel and Jai are without a doubt one of the best pairings in Emmerdale, with a truly believable and enjoyable dynamic having been forged between the two characters over the years. With a storyline like this being their first as married couple, it’s safe to say that Emmerdale are invested in them and I couldn’t be more delighted about that.
And as for the performances we’re in for? With actors of Chris Bisson, Charlotte Bellamy and Alfie Clarke’s calibre involved, plus the delightful Brahmdeo, who has hit the ground running, hopes are high for some truly powerful scenes to come.
Emmerdale is back in business.
Emmerdale continues Friday July 28 at 7:30pm on ITV1 and ITVX.
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