We've heard a lot about the tragic tale of India's murder in the past few weeks, but seeing it play out on screen in this evening's double bill is something else altogether as the soap has managed the tricky feat of pulling off a truly dark and chilling moment within the boundaries of its early evening timeslot.
It's no secret by now that India's experiment with online dating is about to go terribly wrong when she arranges to meet her new acquaintance Cameron alone at a restaurant, breaking her own rules on how to stay safe when it comes to internet relationships.
On the way to the agreed meeting place, India stops on an abandoned street to help an older man who is seemingly having car trouble. When she offers him her mobile to make a call, he fakes a conversation to the breakdown service before revealing his identity as 'Cameron', leaving India horrified before she's fatally attacked and dumped in some woods…
The storyline is delicately handled and a clever close-up shot of India's online dating rules just after the murder takes place provides both a powerful moment and a chance to really get the message across about the importance of staying safe online.
Jeff Rawle, who plays 'Cameron', does a fantastic job of portraying the dual role of the affable older man and sinister killer. He should definitely be one to watch out for as he becomes a more permanent fixture in the village in the weeks ahead, as there is a big twist regarding his identity in tonight's second episode.
Beth Kingston also puts in a memorable performance in India's final episode and it's impossible not to feel sorry for the character during her last moments in the show.
Tonight's double bill - which also features more detail on Brendan Brady's backstory and some classic comedy from the McQueens - received a really strong reaction on the DS forum and on Twitter when it was screened on E4's first look service last night, and rightly so!
On a more general note, Hollyoaks really has come on leaps and bounds in the past six months and I think producer Paul Marquess deserves more credit than he's received so far for the massive turnaround we've seen on screen.
Ste and Brendan's relationship, Jasmine's transgender plot, entertaining new couplings like Rhys and Jacqui and Nancy and Darren, and the hilarious antics of Mitzeee are just some of the things that have made the show something worth shouting about recently.
There's still room for further improvement and expansion in the New Year, and one main challenge is going to be bedding in the huge numbers of new characters that we've seen in 2010, as some viewers are still adjusting to such a major change in the cast lineup.
By all accounts, though, the soap's team have some more exciting things up their sleeves for 2011 to build on the recent increase in goodwill for the show - so I'll be among those keeping my fingers crossed for a Happy New Year for Hollyoaks…
Hollyoaks' dark double bill airs tonight at 6.00pm and 6.30pm on Channel 4. Check back on Digital Spy in the New Year for an interview with Paul Marquess about his future plans for the show.
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