Meena escapes Emmerdale but has she gone for good?

·5-min read
Paige Sandhu has made her mark on Emmerdale as Meena Jutla (ITV)
Paige Sandhu has made her mark on Emmerdale as Meena Jutla (ITV)

If the quality of a soap was measured in the number of characters murdered over a six-month period, then Emmerdale would win every award going. 

Since July last year, homicidal Meena Jutla has been blithely bumping people off like she’s the village’s answer to Villanelle, but tonight her conscience-free killing spree appears to have come to an end.

It had to, really. 

If she’d been allowed to continue, there’d have been no one left by summer. Each episode would just have been Meena skipping merrily around the local graveyard or stroking the contents of her trophy box, now swollen to the size of the largest unit at a self-storage company. 

Read more: Emmerdale 2022 spoilers revealed

In there, by that stage, would be Marlon’s chef's hat, Cain’s leather jacket and Pollard’s moustache, shaved off and preserved in a display case.

Meena [Paige Sandhu] goes on the attack (ITV)
Meena [Paige Sandhu] goes on the attack (ITV)

Instead, Meena has been forced to flee and was seen tonight singing the praises of a Glasgow-bound trucker by the name of Tommy, who’d come to her rescue. He was her “knight in shining armour”, though she’ll probably find a way to pierce Tommy’s chainmail and impale him at some point in the near future. Meena doesn’t do fairy-tale endings – her methods are more grim than Grimm.

And something tells me that we haven’t seen the last of her anyway. Like Michael Myers or Ghostface, she’s the kind of villain who won’t be able to resist the opportunity to return for one more scare. 

When the time is right (or, let’s face it, when Emmerdale needs some press attention ahead of a crucial public awards' vote), Meena will no doubt return with a whole bag full of poison-filled syringes ready to be plunged into the necks of her unsuspecting victims.

Sisters at war - Meena [Paige Sandhu] and Manpreet [Rebecca Sarker] (ITV)
Sisters at war - Meena [Paige Sandhu] and Manpreet [Rebecca Sarker] (ITV)

So dominant a force has she become of late that an encore feels inevitable, but there are some viewers who won’t be relishing the prospect of an even meaner Meena wreaking more havoc. There have been objections made about the delight she takes in torture, the cluelessness of her neighbours (who really need to watch a couple of episodes of Criminal Minds), as well as the sheer amount of screen time given over to her warped soliloquising.

Even those who’ve been enjoying the mayhem can hardly deny that ever since winsome Leanna Cavanagh was tipped over that bridge last year, Emmerdale has become The Meena Show. Very little else has registered, to be honest. 

FROM ITV

STRICT EMBARGO 
Print media - No Use Before Tuesday 29th June 2021
Online Media - No Use Before 0700hrs  Tuesday 29th June 2021

Emmerdale - Ep 909293

TBC - Tuesday 6th July 2021 OR Wednesday 7th July

 Leanna Cavanagh [MIMI SLINGER] is in her bedroom and is creeped out when Meena [PAIGE SANDHU] enters and asks for the rucksack.

Picture contact David.crook@itv.com 

This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above, or ITV plc. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on  www.itv.com/presscentre/itvpictures/terms
Leanna was creeped out when Meena entered her bedroom (ITV)

Do we care that much about Al scheming to get his hands on the Woolpack? Nate reuniting and then breaking up with Tracy time and again? Or even the prison plight of Liv, a character who seems to be contractually required to collapse every couple of weeks — usually at 7.30pm on a Thursday when ITV needs us to return at 8.00pm to watch the next episode.

No, it’s just Meena who’s mattered. But then Emmerdale has obviously felt the need to play its strongest hand at a time when tensions behind the scenes were making their way into the tabloid press. 

An investigation into an alleged race-row incident led to actors Matthew Wolfenden (aka David) and Isabel Hodgins (Victoria) being temporarily benched, while fellow star Aaron Anthony (who plays Ellis) is said to have quit the soap following the same backstage argument.

One more scare: might Meena return? (ITV)
One more scare: might Meena return? (ITV)

Such ructions undoubtedly led to last-minute script rewrites, with David and Victoria, for instance, shipped off to Portugal when, ordinarily, we’d have expected to see them play a large part in Meena’s ongoing drama. Instead, it’s been left to Manpreet to get on the wrong side of her sister and then discover her wrongdoing in a way that, at times, was head-scratchingly hard to credit.

Ask any fan who scrutinised the chain of events and they wouldn’t be able to satisfactorily explain how Manpreet came to be tied up and almost killed after stumbling across the truth. And that must surely be down to the rejigging of story strands in order to accommodate those abrupt cast departures. 

FROM ITV

STRICT EMBARGO
Print media - No Use Before Tuesday 4th January 2022
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Emmerdale - Ep 9256

Monday 10th January 2022

Manpreet Sharma [REBECCA SARKER] fills in Vinny Dingle [BRADLEY JOHNSON] on MeenaÕs previous victims. Terrified, Vinny reassures Manpreet that theyÕre both going to be fine. 

Picture contact - David.crook@itv.com

This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above, or ITV plc. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on  www.itv.com/presscentre/itvpictures/terms
Manpreet Sharma filled in Vinny Dingle on Meena's previous victims. (ITV)

Manpreet dug up details on Meena’s deadly past way too easily, to the extent that it felt as though we’d missed vital scenes in which the cogs whirred and suspicions gradually mounted before she eventually realised she had a psychopath for a sibling.

It would have made far more sense had Victoria – who’d already been subjected to Meena’s not-so-veiled threats – pieced things together and then put herself in peril. 

And for David (rather than Vinny) to have been brought to the brink of death after coming to her rescue. But that scenario wouldn’t have been able to play out due to circumstances beyond the scriptwriters’ control. All guesswork and speculation on my part, of course, but it would have had more of an internal logic.

FROM ITV

STRICT EMBARGO
Print media - No Use Before Tuesday Tuesday 5th October 2021
Online Media - No Use Before 0700hrs  Tuesday 5th October 2021

Emmerdale - 9176

Tuesday 12th October 2021

Victoria Sugden [ISABEL HODGINS] is trapped in David MetcalfeÕs [MATTHEW WOLFENDEN] bedroom but Meena Jutla [PAIGE SANDHU] spots her.  She starts unbuttoning her blouse for David and Victoria is forced to reveal herself. Fuming David tells her not to come back until sheÕs sorted herself out. 

Picture contact David.crook@itv.com 

This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above, or ITV plc. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on  www.itv.com/presscentre/itvpictures/termsFROM ITV

STRICT EMBARGO
Print media - No Use Before Tuesday Tuesday 5th October 2021
Online Media - No Use Before 0700hrs  Tuesday 5th October 2021

Emmerdale - 9176

Tuesday 12th October 2021

Gabby Thomas [ROSIE BENTHAM] and Diane Sugden [ELIZABETH ARMISTEAD] meet Bernice Blackstock [SAMANTHA GILES] at the Woolpack, and Bernice is shocked to learn of DianeÕs plan to go move to Portugal. 

Picture contact David.crook@itv.com 

This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above, or ITV plc. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on  www.itv.com/presscentre/itvpictures/terms
Victoria was trapped in David's bedroom but Meena spotted her. (ITV)

Instead, we got rather a lot of crazed grandstanding from Meena, some of which felt like it was there to paper over the plotline’s cracks. Although having Liam face off against her seemed appropriate retribution for what she did to his daughter. 

Now, though, it’s surely time for Meena to take a breather and do her scheming off screen for a while. Others need some time in the spotlight and to be given a few crises to deal with that don’t involve dead bodies and wrongful arrests.

Read more: Murderous Meena 'will do anything' warns actor Paige Sandhu

Then, after an appropriate period of time has elapsed, and David and Victoria have perhaps found their place in village life again, Meena can return to get retribution on those she feels have done her wrong. She’s a character who certainly has her critics, but believe me, absence definitely makes the heart grow fonder. 

Even when it comes to swivel-eyed sociopaths who seem like they've over-indulged on box-sets of Killing Eve.

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