Neighbours Review for the Week of 12-18-23: Does Paul Deserve an Un-Merry Christmas?

Television

Paul Robinson is the epitome of a love-to-hate character (though sometimes he crosses the line into pure annoyance.)

He always thinks he’s right, tries to control everyone he loves for “their own good,” and ends up alone when his plans blow up.

It happened again on Neighbours during the week of 12-18-23, with Terese suggesting that Paul will have a lonely, miserable Christmas because everyone hates him. But have Terese, David, and others angry at Paul taken it too far?

Both David and Terese have genuine reasons to be angry. Paul turned David’s world upside down when he dragged him into his plan to cover up Krista’s alleged death, and he consistently disrespects Terese’s boundaries and her new marriage because he is still in love with her.

Still, there was something heartbreaking about Paul’s loneliness as Christmas approached. He spent most of Thursday’s episode wandering around the Lassiters complex, offering invitations no one took him up on and seeming desperate for company during the holiday.

He reminded me of the kid who isn’t invited to birthday parties and has to beg people to go to his own. It was almost pathetically sad, and his inability to openly give his granddaughter a Christmas gift.

Isla [playing with empty mug]: It’s hot tea.
Paul: I’ll take that in a minute. I just want to tell Daddy this. [Lowering his voice] I got this. It’s a family membership to the zoo. I was hoping you’d be able to slip this in with the other gifts and pretend it’s from you.

Even having her play tea party at his penthouse for two minutes was risky. If Isla tells David that Aaron took her to see Paul, all hell will break loose. And as horrible as Paul has been, that doesn’t seem right.

David’s got every right to set boundaries,  but there are other people involved here. Isla is a little girl who loves Paul and is too young to understand the rift between him and David.

It would be much better for everyone if David allowed Paul to see Isla under certain conditions.

If he doesn’t want to interact with Paul, he could send her with Aaron or Leo and insist that visits be supervised so that Paul can’t fill Isla’s head with manipulative nonsense designed to get David back into his life.

In addition, Aaron and David not being on the same page about this will cause trouble sooner or later. David already threw a fit about Aaron filling in at the Waterhole, and Aaron is defying David’s wishes by taking Isla to see Paul.

Aaron didn’t exactly say no to pretending Paul’s gift was from him, either, and if he goes along with this plan and David realizes the truth, that could lead to an ugly Christmas Day blowup.

I could warm to him if only Paul would be more of the doting grandfather and less of the guy who’s always involved in a stupid scheme. He’s so close to being the type of baddie I love but wouldn’t hang out with in real life, and he’s a legacy character.

Unfortunately, he makes it hard for anyone to take his side when he constantly engages in these manipulative games.

His scheme to get Terese and Jane’s project approved might have worked without bribery. Encouraging a guy he knows to vote his way is typical politics, and it would have been self-defeating for the women to balk at that kind of assistance.

But he had to go too far, bribing a council member with an offer to re-hire his incompetent daughter. Terese is right that if that comes to light, it’ll make her and Jane look complicit, which could jeopardize the entire project.

I loved how strongly Terese stood up to him.

You know what I find insulting? Why do you think I need your help? Before I met you, I was a success. After we divorced, I was a success. I am what I am today because of me. It has nothing to do with you.

Terese

Neighbours does a much better job of offering strong female characters than Days of Our Lives does. I don’t know if this is a part of Australian culture, but it was refreshing for Terese to tell Paul that she did not need his help and to stick to it rather than quickly crumbling because he said he loved her.

Some viewers felt it was mean for Terese to tell Paul he was a miserable person everyone hates,  but I cheered her on. Someone has to hold up the mirror that Paul refuses to look in, and he might listen if it comes from Terese.

Aaron tried earlier in the week,  but Paul refused to listen, instead slinking away to nurse his bruised ego after Terese and Toadie turned down his offer to provide a room for Nell’s birthday party.

Paul: What are you doing behind the bar?
Aaron: Wendy was short staffed, so I put my hand up. Why a double?
Paul: Oh, I offered Toadie and Terese a free function room for Nell’s party.
Aaron: That was nice of you.
Paul: I thought so. But seems they’d rather drive two hours to the beach.
Aaron: Ha!
Paul: What do you mean, ha?
Aaron: Well, you do have a habit of making favours come with obligations.
Paul: You know, you’re a terrible bar man.

Paul’s hurt feelings aside, the beach was a better venue for a teenager’s party. Nell and Hugo got to run around outdoors while the grown-ups talked; a hotel function room might have felt stuffy or confining for a 15-year-old and her little brother.

It’s too bad Nell didn’t invite any friends to her party as well. That would have felt more realistic than a teenager having a party exclusively with family (including the stepmother that no one else wanted there.)

Nell struck up a friendship with JJ and Dex, so they should have been there, and it would have been nice for Mackenzie, who lived with the Rebecchis for a while, to put in an appearance.

The Kennedys could also have dragged Holly with them and kept her out of mischief; she’s not much older than Nell. Besides, Holly is the perfect person to give Nell bad relationship advice or set her on some path that Nell’s family doesn’t want her on.

Still, the set-up of Melanie as an uninvited guest led to some drama that turned the usual soap tropes on their head.

Although Terese was jealous of Toadie and Melanie’s apparent closeness, she and Toadie had an honest talk and grew closer themselves. That was incredibly refreshing; the usual pattern is for the jealous spouse to keep it to themselves until things blow up.

Of course, not everybody is that mature or honest. Toadie wasn’t in the past; if he had been, there’d be no Hugo. And Holly and Mackenzie definitely could use some lessons in that regard!

Holly’s behavior during the Christmas party was the week’s low point. It’s bad enough that she gave into her rage and destroyed the scarf Mackenzie gave Haz. Blaming the dog and acting like the victim when she was caught took her almost to irredeemable territory.

Neither Haz nor Mackenzie should want to. have much to do with her. Holly demonstrated that she is unstable and untrustworthy; even if she apologizes, there’s no guarantee she won’t act out again if she gets insecure about Haz and Mackenzie.

So far, nothing has happened. Mackenzie was upfront with Holly about her feelings for Haz but said that she didn’t intend to pursue a relationship, and that has not changed.

Byron helped along Holly’s misbehavior. I’m glad Haz told him off for telling Holly things that Haz said in confidence.

Byron: I know you felt I sold you out…
Haz: I’ve kept so many secrets for you over the years, but clearly it wasn’t a two way street.

Byron isn’t thinking clearly because of his breakup with Reece, but that’s no excuse. Nor was it a reason to go back to escorting.

I’d prefer there to be less shaming of sex workers on TV in general, and I didn’t like it when Paul used Byron’s past against him to try to interfere with Byron and Reece.

But the way Byron handled the escorting offer was ridiculous and immature. If he wanted to do this, he should have admitted it to everyone and not cared what they thought instead of dithering around and pretending he was coming to Christmas dinner.

Nicolette probably overstepped by telling Tamara to leave her brother alone, but Byron needed to face his pain about Reece instead of running away.

Krista’s reemergence into Erinsborough society is interesting. Half her problem was that she didn’t want to be part of the family business, so it’s odd that she’s volunteered to take Reece’s place at Lassisters now.

I guessed she was pregnant when she started throwing up and taking women’s vitamins. This is one scenario where keeping the baby’s existence from the father might be justified.

Eden is nothing but trouble and almost let Krista die. He’s in jail, so he has little power over Krista if she ignores his demands to see her.

But will she do the intelligent thing, or will she allow him to continue to have a hold on him?

Some viewers think Leo might step up and pretend the baby is his, but the timing doesn’t work. Leo only started interacting with Krista after the pregnancy; will anyone believe it if he tries to play Daddy for her?

Finally, Remi continued to judge David for no good reason while Chloe and Elly moved forward with their wedding plans.

Remi needs to take several seats. She spent the last month trying to get Cara to stop being judgmental of Wendy and Andrew, only to turn around and do the same to David.

Chloe and Elly’s wedding should provide some happiness despite the sad circumstances surrounding Chloe’s health. Usually, soap weddings are ridiculously rushed, but in this case, it’s justified — Chloe’s health could deteriorate at any moment, so they should marry as quickly as possible.

Your turn, Neighbours fanatics. Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and tell us what you think of this week’s episodes!

Don’t forget to check back over the weekend for the latest Neighbours spoilers.

Neighbours streams on Amazon Freevee in the US and UK. New episodes drop on Monday through Thursday mornings at 2/1c.

Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. His debut young adult novel, Reinventing Hannah, is available on Amazon. Follow him on X.

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