Erin Byrne regularly dives into the soapy waters of daytime television and tries to make sense of it all. This week she takes on “Hollyoaks.”
Next week Brendan Brady is leaving “Hollyoaks.” I have mixed feelings about this. I’m bummed that he’s bowing out because he’s definitely an awesome character; one we would never in a million years see on American TV. But I’m also glad to see him go.
For one thing, if he stuck around there would be no more scenery left in Hollyoaks because Brendan would have eaten it all. Mostly I’m glad to see him go because nobody wants to watch a reprehensible character go on the straight and narrow. I mean, I guess some people do, not me. I want my sexy, conflicted bad boys to stay that way.
Let me tell you a little more about Double B. He is a crazy fictional Irish Ronnie Kray and I mean that it the best possible way. He’s got a mustache that is veering widely into James Hetfield territory and he chews gum like a boss. He also seems to have one permanently blackened pinkie nail.
I don’t know if the actor, Emmett Scanlan, suffered a childhood accident leaving his pinkie nail permanently blackened or if he is so super method that he decided that the character of Brendan should have a permanently blackened pinkie nail. Like, “Screw a pinkie ring, we’re taking this shit downtown” whereupon he proceeded to bash his pinkie with a rock, probably a chunk of the Blarney Stone. He’s that Irish.
He’s also gay and – at least in the beginning of his story – deeply closeted. But he didn’t let that get in the way of being a badass. Hell, if anything it made him even more badass; the gay ambadasseder for the whole United Kingdom. Who knew that a weedy ex-juvenile delinquent name Ste would be the one to win his tar-black heart?
Oh, but Brendan couldn’t even come close to dealing with these new and unwelcome feelings. The closet is a lonely place and Brendan did his best to lash out in anger at every available opportunity.
He used poor, stupid Carmel McQueen as a drug mule, threatening to kill her when a scented candle fell into her bag and burned up the drugs. He lay in wait outside Chez Chez, the club he owned alongside his sister Cheryl, to mug Rhys. (He needed the money so that his son, Declan, could get a vaguely explained medical procedure. He’s not all bad.) Turns out it was Cheryl with the money. Brendan hit her with a chair leg and left her there in the street, but Ste received the brunt of Brendan’s rage.
Brendan hit Ste because he hated himself for loving the kid. I would have thought that Brendan would hit Ste because he’s is legitimately sub-literate and in the habit of impregnating teenage girls (don’t worry, it’s age-appropriate).
But no, Brendan is a true chicken hawk and loves the skinny jeans right off that young man, and what better way to show that love than frequent punching? And Ste, being an idiot, kept going back for more. But really, in the early days, you really couldn’t blame him; Brendan is that much of a sexpot. Regardless, Brendan loved Ste so much that sometimes he had to hit him, which probably explains the pinkie nail.
Ste tried to stay away, dating boring old Noah. That relationship fooled absolutely no one. It came to a spectacular end when Brendan seduced Noah just in time for Ste to walk in and see the whole thing.
Ste tried to be mad at Brendan for setting him up like that but he was completely in Brendan’s thrall. They had a few good weeks together but, as Ste was beginning to learn, Brendan hurts the things he loves. The dream was over when Brendan confessed to Ste that he had beaten Danny Houston to death because Danny threatened to kill Ste.
Danny had already killed one of Brendan’s prior tricks, Vinnie, so Ste’s danger was very real. In the end, it didn’t matter. Not even Brendan’s love confession was enough to make Ste stay. What the hell, Ste? Seriously, not one of you out there can say that beating a man to death isn’t the ultimate gift that one lover could give to another.
Once again, Ste tried to move on; this time with Doug, the newly gay American. Together they realized their dream of opening a New York-style delicatessen and tried their best to put Brendan and their past behind them. Except for Doug’s fake wedding to Leanne, Ste and Doug’s future was bright.
They decided to get married. When Brendan learned that Ste was going to marry Doug he was truly gutted. He spent the whole day crying masculine tears, one hand over Doug’s face in the picture on their wedding announcement.
On the big day, Brendan was far, far away. Little did he know that a chickie-run gone horribly wrong sent a van plowing through Tony & Cindy/Ste & Doug’s double wedding. Brendan never forgave himself for not being there to protect Ste, so he rushed to the hospital only to find Ste in a coma.
After saying some prayers and leaving his manly crucifix upon Ste’s breast, Brendan left. It was just too painful. Brendan was not there to hear Ste’s feeble cries as he croaked “Brendan. I need Brendan,” in his impenetrable Manchester accent.
Brendan went to a cathedral (I guess?) and, after sharing some deep thoughts with an African priest, he promised God that he would leave Ste alone forever if only the Big Guy let him live.
Ste made a full recovery and went back to Doug’s loving, American arms.
Seeing Ste and Doug together burned Brendan hotter than the fires of Pompeii, especially because Doug used to be Brendan’s top drug dealer. Regardless of how much it hurt, Brendan stayed away.
A good Catholic to the end, Brendan kept his promise to God. He needed to get out of town and when he got a call from his cancerous Nan asking him to come to Dublin Brendan was ready to go. While there he kicked a man to death in a Tilt-A-Whirl car, but even that couldn’t banish the memory of his beloved Ste.
Ste too was having a hard time getting over Double B. Even though he was officially married to Doug, Ste’s heart wasn’t in it. When he found evidence that Doug wore a wire for the cops in an attempt to bust Brendan for killing Danny Houston, Ste was at his breaking point.
Doug sobbed and apologized all over Ste’s baby blue oxford shirt. Ste, knowing a bit about misdirected forgiveness, took him back. This time they would go to America and start their life anew. On the eve of their leaving Ste went to Brendan. “Ask me not to go, Brendan. You know I’ll stay, just ask.” Brendan threw his tumbler of Speyburn against the wall, crushing Ste to his chest for one final goodbye kiss. They parted, Ste’s eyes brimming with hopeful tears. Just as his smile began to bloom, Brendan punched him in the face. Several times.
When he returned to his and Doug’s apartment Ste was bloodied and ready to leave Hollyoaks forever. Doug saw his husband’s steely resolve and proceeded to give him the second greatest gift one lover can give to another: A plane ticket to Dublin so that Ste can be with Brendan.
Wha? You see, Doug understands that Ste and Brendan are meant to be together. He doesn’t want to get in the way of that. Ste deserves happiness and Doug was happy to grant it.
But all was not well in Dublin Town. Ste rushed to Brendan’s hotel, beaming, cuts and bruises mostly healed. He banged on the door, “Brendan! I’m eyah!” Brendan opened, still dewy from the bath, towel clinging to his hips. “Surprise!” Ste crowed and, like crow, that excitement stuck in his throat. There, in Brendan’s bed, was Hollyoaks’ Original Gay, John Paul McQueen, Brendan’s anonymous hookup.
Ste stormed out, tears dripping off his exquisite cheekbones. The next we see of him he’s aimlessly roaming the streets of Dublin to the plaintive strains of an acoustic version of ‘You’re the One that I Want” from “Grease.”
Brendan goes after him, stopping short when he sees a grumpy old nun, silently reminding him of his promise to God. He and the nun share an elevator ride where the nun tells him how much she loves smoking, even though it’s bad for you. “Don’t we all deserve happiness?” she asks.
Taking this as a sign, Brendan rushes out to find Ste. They finally meet on the Liffey Bridge and Brendan says the words Ste has longed to hear: “Oi luv ye, Steyvan. Oi really luv ye.”
Tune in next week to find out what happens after Brendan and Ste destroy an abandoned pub.