Title: The Final Siren
Lolly tells Lou that she’s sorry about the cigarettes, but it was just a joke that got out of hand, and Lou accepts her apology. Steph and Max embrace, but realise that things have changed between them. Lolly reveals the bruise on her shoulder and Pepper wants to know who did it.
Pepper tells Lolly that her abuser shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it – they can report it. Lolly insists that it’s nothing and tries to leave, but Pepper grabs her arm and insists that she stay. Susan, Rachel and Ringo then appear at the door and see what’s happening. Lolly says that Pepper’s hurting her and Pepper is stunned as she’s suddenly accused of hitting the girl. Susan sends Ringo and Rachel off to their next classes and tells Pepper to wait in her office. Once they’re alone, Susan asks Lolly to tell her exactly what happened.
At number 32, Steph, Summer, Boyd and Janae are in the kitchen. Boyd is desperate to find out about Max and Steph’s trip to the resort, but Steph explains that they didn’t make it as they were having so much fun with Lyn, Oscar and Valda. Boyd says that it was meant to be their Valentine’s present, but Janae says that Boyd will have to take her instead. Steph says that she and Max would feel better about that. Boyd is surprised as Steph insists that she doesn’t want the trip to go to waste.
At number 28, Max is telling Karl that the marriage is over. Karl is sympathetic and can relate to what Max is going through, but Max insists that he’s fine and is just worried about the kids.
At number 32, Summer wants to get going to a piano concert, but Boyd isn’t sure that he wants to go. Summer says that it’ll be nice for them to have some quality time, and drags him out of the house. Once they’re alone, Janae asks Steph when she’s going to tell Boyd and Summer that she and Max are over?
At number 28, Karl assures Max that all he can do is tell Boyd and Summer that he’s still their dad and will be around for them. Max then admits that he’s taken a job on the Gippsland rigs, but he just can’t be around Steph for a while. Just then, Toadie bursts in, but realises that he’s interrupted something important and goes back into the bedroom to do some paperwork.
At the school, Susan sits with Lolly and they go over what happened. Lolly says that she’s already explained – Pepper kept her behind after class, then shouted at her. Susan wonders what happened to cause it and Lolly says she isn’t sure – maybe Pepper hates her because she told Lou that she was being picked on. Susan asks why Pepper was grabbing Lolly’s arm, and Lolly begins to think that Susan doesn’t believe her, but Susan insists that they need to get their facts straight, as this is a very serious allegation. Lolly asks if she can go now, but Susan says that they need to wait for Lou. Lolly becomes upset, as she doesn’t want Lou involved, but Susan says that they have to make sure that this never happens again.
At number 32, Boyd and Summer return, just as Janae is leaving. Boyd wants to go to the bar with her, but she insists that he stay. In the kitchen, Summer and Boyd find Max and Steph, looking very serious, and ask what’s going on. Max explains that he and Steph have decided to split up. Boyd is annoyed that they’re giving up so easily, while Summer bursts into tears. Steph hugs her and Max insists that it wasn’t an easy decision, but things have changed too much. Boyd says that they’re throwing the marriage away without trying, but Max insists that they did try. He explains that Steph will stay at the house, and he’s looking for a place in Sale, as he’s taken a job on the Bass Strait. Summer is upset, but Max says he’ll be closer to her, and still not too far away from Erinsborough. Steph says that she and Max both love Summer and Boyd and this is not their fault. Boyd leaves for work, and Max stops Summer going after him. He hugs Summer and says that it’s going to take some adjustment for all of them, but they’ll all still be there for her.
At the school, Pepper is adamant that she didn’t inflict those bruises on Lolly – she knows that grabbing her like that was wrong, but Lolly was about to run off. She explains about the bruises on Lolly’s shoulder – Susan says that Lolly didn’t tell her anything about that. Pepper says that Lolly’s disruptive behaviour might be a sign that she’s a victim of abuse, and Susan reluctantly agrees, but says that Lolly has now made a complaint and is has to be followed up on; Pepper is suspended.
Later, Lou and Harold have come in to meet with Susan. Lou demands that Pepper is sacked, as Lolly struggles to keep her composure. Susan says that the appropriate action will be taken, if Pepper is found to be guilty, and Lou asks if she’s accusing Lolly of lying. Lolly is becoming agitated and Harold agrees to take her home. They leaves. Susan says that both Lolly and Pepper have given their versions of events, and they’ve been faxed to the education department – the investigation is a priority. She then mentions the bruises on Lolly’s shoulder, but Lou says that he knows nothing about them, and he isn’t sure if her behaviour is normal as he’s only just getting to know her again after several years. Susan thinks that Lou should try to get Lolly to talk, but Lou says that Pepper was probably behind the bruises. Susan says that she has no reason to believe that, and Lou says that all this talk of abuse is probably Pepper’s way of throwing the scent off herself.
At the bar, Janae is having a drink with Chris, and says that she knows that Boyd is going to react badly to Steph and Max breaking up. Chris says that he’s lucky to have Janae to lean on at the moment, as she’s so strong. At another table, Pepper is telling Toadie about the allegations but can’t focus on their conversation as her mum is close by. Toadie suggests that Pepper confide in Chris, but Pepper disagrees, as her mum took so long to confide in her. As Pepper continues to rant about not needing her mum, Chris comes over and Pepper hugs her.
At number 24, Lou suspects that Susan is biased towards Pepper, and is trying to cover the whole thing up to avoid bad publicity for the school. Lou thinks that Lolly would have confided in him if she were being bullied, but Harold isn’t so sure – particularly given Lou’s angry reaction today. Lolly walks in and Harold makes himself scarce – Lolly asks Lou if he’s angry with her, and he insists that he’s just angry with himself for being so blinkered. He says that he’ll do everything he can to help her, as long as she does the same. She shows him the bruise, but won’t tell him who did it. She says that it wasn’t Pepper or any of the kids at school. She says that she tripped and fell and wishes Lou would just drop the subject now. Lou gives her a hug, and says they’ll have to let John and Sandy know what’s going on. Lolly doesn’t want them to know, as they’ll make her go home. He promises that she won’t have to go anywhere she doesn’t want to and agrees to keep it between them for now.
At number 30, Pepper is worried about how her dad’s going to react, but Chris insists that he’ll support her. Pepper is worried that he might try to make an example of her, to show that he isn’t soft on his own daughter, but Chris says that both she and Allan know that Pepper would never deliberately harm one of her students. Pepper says that she doesn’t deserve her mum’s sympathy as she’s treated her so badly. Chris admits that she should have been honest with Pepper about Carol from the start, but Pepper blames herself. They decide to move on, as they need each other at the moment. Pepper wonders how she can help Lolly now. Chris advises her to stay out of it, but Pepper says that it’s her duty, as a teacher, to help.
At the bar, Boyd is cleaning, trying to take his mind off what’s happened. Janae tries to get him to calm down, but then Max arrives. Boyd goes to clean the office and Max follows. Max insists that, if there’d been any other option they’d have taken it. Boyd says that they haven’t tried everything; they haven’t tried counselling. Max says that something’s broken and there’s no way of fixing it. Boyd blames himself, saying that he should have done a better job of keeping Toadie away, but Max insists that it’s nobody else’s fault. Boyd wonders what hope this gives the rest of them, as Max and Steph were always so happy together. Max suggests that he just learn from his mistakes and take nothing for granted. He agrees that this won’t stop them from spending time together – Max tells Boyd that whatever he wants, whenever he wants it, all he has to do is ask. They hug.
At number 32, Summer is playing with Charlie when Steph brings the washing in. Summer asks if she’ll still be able to come and visit, and Steph insists that Charlie is still her brother and she’s always welcome. Summer admits that she’s confused about where she fits in now but Steph says that she’ll still be her mum and Charlie will still be her brother; nothing will change. Summer asks if Steph still loves her, as she doesn’t love Max any more. Steph says that she does, but it’s changed. She says that it’s different from the way a parent loves a child – that love never fades. They share a hug.
At the school, Karl is giving the kids an interviews and quips that he doesn’t so much take pulses these days, as grow them. Zeke, Rachel, Bree and Ringo are quite bored of listening and Bree says that they’ve probably got enough now. Karl leaves, with his potatoes, and they decide not to use his interview, but instead they’ll run an expose on Miss Steiger. Bree thinks that they should also run a feature of idiots who send anonymous Valentine’s card – and Zeke grabs the one in Rachel’s hand and reads it out, as Ringo looks awkward. Rachel thinks it’s sweet, but Zeke points out that the gutless loser who sent it will never know that. Ringo says that he doesn’t blame the guy, as Rachel would probably bite his head off. Susan sees Karl outside, picking up potatoes, and he says happily that they’re going to use his interview. Susan smiles and says she’ll see him later. She goes into the classroom and announces that, since Miss Steiger is unavailable, the launch of B.U.N.S will have to be delayed. Ringo manages to save it by suggesting that they do the work at home, and Susan can proof read it before it goes online. Susan thinks it might work, and Rachel is relieved.
At number 30, Pepper can’t think of any students or teachers who would do this to Lolly, and Harold and Lou don’t seem likely candidates either. Chris wonders if there are some adults in Lolly’s life that Pepper doesn’t know about, and Pepper thanks her mum for her support and for being so forgiving. She suggests a dinner party so she can meet Carol properly – and then decides to invite Janelle and Steiger. Chris isn’t quite sure about that, but then realises that if she asks Carmella and Oliver, and Frazer and Rosie, she’ll be the only single person there. She decides that Carol should bring a brother or a son, as long as they’re not gay. Chris calms her daughter down, but Pepper wants to make some effort. Chris suggests that she repaint the office at the garage if she wants a distraction. Pepper thinks it’s a great idea and it’ll give her somewhere to hide from the gossips. She suspects that she’ll soon have no friends left, but then they overhear Ringo and Zeke outside the door, arguing over who gets to offer their support to Pepper first. She opens the door and hugs them both.
At number 28, Karl is furiously cleaning the floor and Harold admits that he’s never seen the house so clean. Karl says he’s been slack lately, and Harold then takes a few of Karl’s potatoes. Karl notices that Harold is in some pain, and says that it’s not surprising after his car-jacking. Harold promptly leaves, as Susan gets home. She’s in a bad mood and Karl apologises for not listening to her earlier. She suddenly realises that he’s cleaned and cooked dinner and he admits that he’s been very selfish lately but it’s going to change. She’s about to forgive him when the rooster makes himself heard, and Karl agrees to give her a shoulder rub to make up for that too. They start discussing Max and Steph’s split, as Toadie comes in and overhears. He says that it’s none of his business now anyway. Karl tells him that Abby phoned earlier, presumably looking for another date, but Toadie doesn’t look too thrilled.
At the park, Boyd and Summer are playing football, as Janae, Charlie, Steph and Max sit on some picnic rugs and watch them. Summer and Boyd think that they should start teaching Charlie how to play, and they all laugh as Boyd does a pathetic kick, so Janae takes Charlie and goes to show her husband how it’s done. Steph and Max watch the kids playing and agree that they did a pretty good job, and they can take at least fifty percent of the credit for Janae. Steph says that they’ve been blessed, and Max smiles and agrees.
Regular Cast Credits