Linda Carter (Kellie Bright) stole the show in tonight’s episode of EastEnders, as she flawlessly stopped the scheming Janine Butcher (Charlie Brooks) in her tracks in an instantly iconic soap showdown.
This week, viewers have seen Janine’s jealousy spiral as she’s been forced to witness her new partner – and Linda’s estranged husband – Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) enjoying the company of his ex. Janine was even more uneasy when the former couple shared another tender moment as they warmly reminisced over old times.
Although Mick rejected Linda’s proposition of a romantic reunion, Janine clearly still felt threatened by the very presence of Mick’s childhood sweetheart.
Everyone around her has also pointed out that Mick and Linda’s bond will never fade; and so Janine took ruthless action against her yet again.
With Linda at a low ebb as she succumbed to her dependency on alcohol, Janine offered her a huge sum of money to leave Walford and never come back — even suggesting that walking away might benefit everyone involved.
Read more: Next week on EastEnders
After thinking it over, Linda agreed to the deal; but insisted that Janine must double the cash. Janine scoffed in her face, but as Linda reminded her that this was all her idea, the other woman eventually relented.
As she left their meeting, though, Linda casually pointed out that her exit might prove she was never actually the issue in Janine’s relationship with Mick. The implication didn’t put Janine off, but Linda had certainly touched a nerve.
EastEnders has always been known for fiery showdowns between strong female characters, and it turned out this scene was only the beginning as the show returned to its roots.
In true Janine style, she resorted to underhand tactics to raise the extra funds — secretly conning Linda and Mick’s daughter Nancy Carter (Maddy Hill) in the process. We’ll expect fireworks when that bombshell drops.
Read more: EastEnders: Janine makes Linda an offer
Janine handed over the money as promised, but Linda was torn. An insightful chat with Nancy’s boyfriend Zack Hudson (James Farrar) made her see sense, culminating in one of the BBC soap’s most iconic moments of the year.
As Janine arrived at The Queen Vic for an evening with Mick, she wondered who was covering the bar in their absence. Right on cue, a smiling Linda appeared; ready for battle and looking a million dollars.
Janine demanded her money back, and prepared to issue Linda with a menacing threat. But she never got the chance, as Linda dared Janine to tell Mick that she had offered the mother of his children a windfall to disappear from their lives forever.
“You listen to me,” Linda fiercely declared. “I’m staying: for good. Because there is nothing in this world that could make me leave my children. Not 50 grand; not alcoholism; and certainly not you.”
The contempt with which Linda uttered the last few words was superbly delivered by actor Bright, who in a matter of seconds reminded us why the down-on-her-luck Linda is one of EastEnders’ most beloved characters.
When she first arrived on Albert Square in a solid partnership with Mick, it was hard to believe that Linda would one day be in a much less stable position - but tonight’s epic clash between her and Janine might just have signalled a new era for her.
It was also the perfect throwback to those memorable conflicts from the soap’s early era. Linda’s captivating cliffhanger was just as thrilling as Den versus Angie Watts (Leslie Grantham and Anita Dobson), or Peggy Mitchell (the late, great Dame Barbara Windsor) with her unforgettable catchphrase: “Get out of my pub!”
Tonight’s EastEnders was soapland at its very best; gritty and compelling with a powerhouse performance that stayed true to the show we know and love.
Watch the latest EastEnders spoilers