The moment Frankie Lewis (Rose Ayling-Ellis) in EastEnders told Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) she thought he was her dad came as a shock to us all. Now it has been revealed Mick was abused when he was 12 years old by Frankie’s mum, Katy, we have been watching him spiral out of control as he continues to hide his abuse a secret from his family. As Mick uses his anger to hide what’s really going on with him, he’s been lashing out at Shirley (Linda Henry), who was never around at the time Mick was abused.
We know Mick and Shirley’s past has been difficult. Mick has actually only spent the last 2 years knowing Shirley is his mother, after spending his life believing she was his sister. The two of them have had their fall outs, but overall, they’ve built a good relationship as mother and son, which is sadly on the brink of shattering as Mick comes to terms with his abuse, and pushes Shirley further away.
Shirley is wracked with guilt and is finding it difficult to connect and help Mick with his problems, but has recently found distraction in the form of Gray Atkins (Toby-Alexander Smith) as he deals with his grievance and guilt after murdering wife Chantelle (Jessica Plummer).
After Linda (Kellie Bright) revealed how Gray got angry at her for washing Chantelle’s mug up, Shirley marched over to No. 1 to confront him about it, only to find Gray close to creating a gas explosion, thus killing himself and his children. Out of everyone on the Square, it came as a bit of a shock to many that Shirley was the one to stop Gray from creating the horrific event, and since then we’ve seen her promise to be there for Gray.
With Shirley helping Gray, coupled with the issues she’s facing with her son, so much has changed. Will a friendship develop between Shirley and Gray? How will this new dynamic impact Mick? We’re taking a look at this storyline to work out what could be ahead for these three characters, as they all face their own battles…
Will Shirley and Gray become friends?
These two share similarities, they’ve connected over the fact that they both have dark secrets, and little does Shirley know they share the fact that they both walked out on a dying family member. Now distance has formed between Shirley and Mick, she’s bonded with Gray – another lonely person with no one to confide in.
After Shirley found Gray on the edge, the aftermath allowed us to learn she genuinely feels for the single dad. We can see this friendship developing as they both find comfort in helping each other with their situations, but if a something forms between the two of them, could Shirley become subjected to Gray’s abuse too? Shirley’s a smart woman, if Gray tries to abuse her, is it possible she may figure out the connection between his evil side and Chantelle’s death?
Will Gray confess to Shirley?
Now Shirley’s moved into Gray’s house, they’ll inevitably become closer, and with Shirley being the only one who can connect with Gray on this new level, will this prompt him to confess all about what really happened when Chantelle died? With Shirley being unaware Gray is an abuser, she thinks he’s a only grieving widower, and may find herself in a heart to heart with Gray and considering how this secret is destroying him already, it might lead Gray to tell Shirley the full truth about who he is.
Of course, if Gray confesses, Shirley has a big secret on her hands. As told by how little Shirley reacted when Gray tried to make her leave his house last week, any threats from him if she discovers his secret, we don’t think would phase her. Shirley might well be the first person to discover the truth about Gray, but with no proof, what will she do with the secret that destroyed the lives of the Taylors and Chantelle’s close friends?
Why does Shirley want to help Gray?
According to Shirley, helping Gray is being ‘neighbourly’ but we’ve already established this is something far more than being a good Samaritan…so why does Shirley really want to help Gray?
We think the overall guilt Shirley feels when it comes to being a mother is playing a huge part in this. It’s possible Gray reminds Shirley of Dean (Matt Di Angelo), or perhaps she thinks as she was never there for Mick, Jimbo, or Dean for that matter, helping Gray will confirm something for her that she is a good person?
Will Shirley spending time with Gray help her relationship with Mick?
Mick’s struggle he is facing has completely changed his relationship with Shirley. He is using the anger he feels towards his mother to shield the confusing emotions he is feeling, and with Shirley being in the dark about the real reason for his behaviour changes, she can’t do anything to help him. While we know Sylvie and Stan brought Mick up before he went into care, his feelings of betrayal and abandonment when it comes to Shirley are completely accurate. If Mick had spent his life knowing Shirley was his mother, and she was around to bring him up, going into care and his sexual assault ordeal may have never even happened.
It would be interesting to see if Shirley spending time with Gray will be more of a help than a hindrance when it comes to rebuilding her relationship with Mick. Perhaps time away from her son will allow her to understand him better?
Both Mick and Gray are hiding a secret and both do have difficult pasts, and time with Gray could help Shirley realise how much Mick has been affected by her not being around when he was a child. We’ve said previously how smart Shirley is, and has already recognised Mick’s change in behaviour started when Katy Lewis was mentioned…would Shirley figure out what happened to Mick during the time she spends with Gray? Abusers have similar traits, and due to the hatred Shirley felt towards Katy, could she recognise Gray’s mannerisms are the same as how Katy used to be, allowing her to realise the reason at the heart of Mick’s pain?
More feelings of betrayal and confusion will be on the way for Mick if he can’t understand why Shirley is spending time with Gray. Putting these two together has created an interesting dynamic, they are both really good at talking about each other’s problems instead of worrying about their own, which may create an even bigger issue for Gray if he inadvertently reveals too much.
The relationship between Shirley and Mick is fragile right now, and we have to praise Danny Dyer and Linda Henry who are consistently delivering outstanding performances that show the true pain Mick and Shirley are both in. Right now, we are seeing glimmers of 12-year-old Mick’s desperation for his mother’s love, quickly overtaken by the anger present day Mick feels towards Shirley which, after all these years, is extremely difficult for the pair of them to handle.
The new friendship between Shirley and Gray is a surprising one, but we think this upcoming storyline with the two of them is about to play a key role in changing their current situations. The truth about Chantelle’s death and Gray being an abuser must come out eventually, and if Shirley grows determined to prove she is a good mum, living with Gray could be the key to her discovering the connection between Frankie and Mick, and what really happened to him in care.
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