560 Fiona is being terrorized, courtesy of Barney's fake nephew Chris "Adams" Bainbridge. Yes, he's the son of The Colonel and the Christian woman. The role of Chris is somewhat nondescript and limited to only those things he needs to do, but the war-game at Woombai looks pretty exciting, and it's also completely on-topic. If there was ever a reason to hire a private detective...but no, Heather (of all people) thinks it might a waste of money. She and David think that Beryl worries too much, and maybe she should see a doctor. It's just as appalling as telling Mike Ryan, after Stevie's death, to get over it and move on. They have a weird sense of priority sometimes. Charlie's always been some kind of novelty, but it worked when she was Patricia's sidekick. The novelty style has been toned down a bit now she's been given more story and screen time, but she's still ditzy enough to undermine the tension in the meatier storylines. I'm not too optimistic about this new development. It's also the introduction of a new major character: Caroline Morell. She's currently involved with a man who can't provide the luxury that she had when she was still part of the wealthy Morell family. In order to adjust to his lifestyle - and mostly the lack of it - she dresses as a mousy housewife when he's around. Obviously that's not what she really wants, so the big question is: why is she in a relationship with this particular man? There is no answer to this question because it's not relevant. The only thing that matters is that she needs a plausible reason to leave, being reunited with her family and perform a coup "Alexis Colby" style by buying Dottie's shares in The Company - all within a 48 hours time span. It looks as if a few post-its have accidentally dropped from the whiteboard. But, enfin! I can't think of any other soap opera that's been so constantly exciting and surprising, but every now and then I wish they'd slow down a little bit. There's quite a bit of potential good character drama that's being downplayed to make way for the next batch of twist 'n turns. I still remember the times that Paul Shepard sat in Fiona's living room, sighing his long dramatic sighs and complain about the hazards of soap life. Fiona, Barbara, Beryl and David still have their big soap moments, but some of the other characters/actors deserve it too, I think. As Mel has already pointed out, the actor playing Alan Brandon felt a bit like a miscast, sort of a cute wannabe-bastard from a Despicable Me! movie. His story arc wasn't going anywhere but somehow I began to appreciate him, probably even more when he mellowed a little bit. Alan's suicide is robbed of any kind of momentum because the focus immediately shifts onto Cheri Nolan, who also does absolutely nothing with her storyline. We don't get to see Alan struggling with his horrible fate, not even a single tear. Blink and you'll miss it. I understand the concept of characters-as-plot-devices, just wish they had been more careful in what to keep and what to lose. Wayne finally discovers the truth about Mitch and Karen, and his revenge is fabulous! Karen herself has never looked more pathetic, and I almost feel sorry for her. Overall, the tone of these episodes have been pretty dark, but not the dramatic kind of dark that we got from the Healys and Terry Hanson, or even Margaret's death - just to name a more recent storyline. It's still outrageously addictive, but not exactly the way it used to be. Leigh Palmer's background proves to be very colourful, I have yet to discover her plans with the baby, but I just revel in her wickedness. Mother Fran blurts out a soaptastic paternity titbit: Evil Leigh is David's daughter! Oh oh oh, if only Patricia was still around to discover this, she'd know how to make the best (worst!) of the situation.