> Valda's Return
by Jeff Truman, Directed
by Aarne Neeme, Produced
by Peter Dodds
Channel Ten: 24/09/07, BBC One: 07/01/08
Zeke and Rachel work out how they’re going to return the exam paper that Ringo stole. Steph apologises to Toadie for him not feeling like number 32 is his home too, but insists that it wouldn’t feel like home to her if he wasn’t there. Declan and Bridget go out joyriding in his car. Susan has a dizzy spell at the golf course while Zeke is off getting some water for her. Toadie proposes to Steph, with the help of a skywriter, in front of their friends at Lassiter’s…
At Lassiter’s, Steph can’t quite find the words to respond to Toadie’s proposal, and looks across to find Lou, Harold, Steve, Miranda, Karl and several others looking at her expectantly. Toadie asks her if she’ll marry him, and her face drops as she looks at him and tell him she’s sorry. The tension is then suddenly broken by the surprise arrival of Valda, who says that it’s lovely to see them all gathered there. It is then the turn of Lou’s face to drop.
At the golf course, Zeke gets back and finds her lying on the bench, though she insists that she’s fine and was just a little hot and dizzy. He hands her the water and suggests they go home now, and she agrees to this, though is still struggling for breath.
Inside Charlie’s bar, Valda is amazed to hear that Steph is now a mum with her own bar and a place on the local council. She explains that she’s come to stay and help out for a while, so Steph gives her the house keys so she can go and settle in at number 32. Valda says that it’s great to be back, and she leaves. Toadie insists that he’s fine about Steph turning down his proposal, though his face says otherwise. She says that she doesn’t want things to change, and doesn’t care for all the hype concerning marriage. Steph wants to talk it through, but Toadie says that he has to go to the office, as he has some work to do.
At the General Store, Toadie goes in and Frazer spots him, and asks if Steph gave him a reason for turning down his proposal. Toadie says that she just doesn’t believe in marriage, and Frazer is slightly taken aback, wondering why she didn’t just play along and turn him down in private later. Toadie isn’t impressed with that comment, so Frazer tries to give him a hug, but Toadie ducks out of the way and walks out of the shop.
At number 32, Valda is telling Steph about Lyn’s new salon in Shelley Bay. She says that Oscar’s getting bigger every day and is very cheeky, but is just about cute enough to get away with it. She notices that something’s wrong, and Steph explains about turning down Toadie’s proposal. Valda immediately assumes that they’ve fallen out over Toadie’s ‘roving eye’ but Steph explains that it’s her; she simply doesn’t want another wedding. Valda wonders if Toadie understood that and explains that his pride must have taken quite a battering – she suggests that Steph track him down and talk things through properly.
At number 28, Susan and Zeke arrive home, and he immediately tells Karl and Rachel about what happened at the golf course. Susan tries to dismiss it, but Karl wonders if she could have had a stroke, as it would explain everything. Susan laughs at this, and Zeke says that Susan was complaining about being hot, but it was cold outside. Karl then wonders if it was a hot flush, and he calls to make an appointment with Dr Olenski. He then drags Susan off to the car to take her to the hospital, and Zeke insists on going too, but Rachel stays behind, claiming to have homework to do. Once alone, she puts the exam paper back in Susan’s bag, only just avoiding being caught by Karl, who comes back to retrieve said bag. He asks Rachel to come with them, and this time she agrees.
At the store, Lou is talking about wanting the ground to swallow him up earlier, but is referring to seeing Valda rather than Toadie’s embarrassment. Harold explains to Miranda and Steve that Lou is only joking, but Lou says he isn’t; he has a bad history with Valda. Harold points out that they had some good points too, but that all the bad stuff is Lou’s own fault, as he toyed with Valda before marrying a gold digger who whisked him away to Hong Kong. Bridget then comes in and her parents tell her to get some food and join them, but she goes over to see Declan, who’s sitting at a table alone. She asks if he’s been out driving lately, but he says that he needs her with him to do that. Miranda and Steve watch, before Didge joins them, and Steve says that he doesn’t want her mixing with a kid like Declan as he’s trouble. Didge says that she was just being polite, then winks at Declan as he walks by.
At the Lassiter’s car park, Declan is shirtless and checking over his car, chatting to Penny from school, when Didge comes along and spots them together. Declan walks over to her and Penny wanders off, while Didge asks Declan to put his shirt back on, as she’s just eaten, though she sneaks a look as he does so. The pair then agree to go for a drive together.
On a back road, Declan and Didge stop and she jokes about him driving so slowly. He fake laughs, just as Justin, and his two brothers Dale and Wayne, pull up next to them and challenge them to a drag race. The two cars then take off but the Hunter brothers cut in front of Declan and he has to pull over and stop.
At number 32, Valda gives Toadie a cup of tea, but he isn’t willing to talk about what’s happened, so she decides to take Charlie out for a walk. Toadie then sits down with Steph and they joke about Valda being non-stop, then Steph brings up the proposal. Toadie doesn’t see what else there is to discuss. She says that she loves him and she’s sorry for the way she reacted – she was just surprised. He asks her how she’s feeling now, and she admits that she hadn’t considered re-marrying after everything that happened with Max, plus she’s still legally married to him. Toadie says that it would just mean signing a couple of papers to get divorced, but Steph doesn’t see what a marriage certificate would change for them. He tells her that he knows that, but he wants to make it official – she says that it would have been easier for her to say yes, but it would have been dishonest. He mentions that her name is still Steph Hoyland, but stops himself from taking the conversation further by leaving.
Declan and Didge pull up next to the Hunter brothers, and she tells Dale that he’s a jerk, before throwing the contents of her water bottle over him and his car. Declan is stunned and speeds off as Didge is informed that ‘she’s dead’.
Declan pulls over in a dead end and they start to argue over why they shouldn’t have driven off like that. Didge thinks they should have gone to the police, but Declan reminds her that he doesn’t have a licence. They wonder what to do next.
At the General Store, Toadie is sitting alone, nursing a coffee, when Steph bursts in, hands him a leather jacket and bike helmet and asks him to join her for a ride.
At the bar, Rachel, Zeke and Karl are waiting for Susan, with Zeke worried about why she’s taking so long. She then appears, ending a phone call as she does so, and promptly breaks the news to Rachel that she’s been accepted onto the advanced literature programme in Canberra. Susan then explains that she had some blood tests and has to wait for the results, but it could be hormonal. Once Rachel has dragged Zeke away from the table, Valda goes over, having heard the whole thing, and tells Susan that ‘the change’ isn’t something to worry about – just another chapter in life’s rich book. Susan is slightly shocked. Valda is then walking out, slowly, with Charlie, when Lou comes in. She jokes with him that he vanished very suddenly earlier on.
Steph and Toadie, on the motorbike, pull up in a quiet spot by a lake. They sit down on a bench and she explains that she’s thought about what he said, and has decided to change her name back to Scully. She asks if he could love a chick with a name like Stephanie Scully, and he says he could, and already did. She points out that his and Lance’s teenage crush on her wasn’t love. She then pulls out a piece of paper and reads:
Toadie, I love you. You've brought me happiness and laughter and passion and kindness and warmth and I feel so, so lucky. And I’ll never take you for granted and I promise to share everything with you always. And I’ll stand by you and I will love you for the rest of my life.
Toadie asks if these are vows, and Steph says that they are, in a way. She suggests a very long engagement and they kiss.
Didge and Dec start to reverse away, deciding that it’s been long enough and the Hunters have probably given up. Just as they reach the exit of the dead end road, the Hunter brothers appear, blocking them in. Declan tells Didge to get out, and Justin, Wayne and Dale do the same. Declan offers to pay to get their car cleaned, but Justin says that he’s going to pay for it big time.
Regular Cast Credits
Cast: Steve Bastoni as Steve Parker, Nikki Coghill as Miranda Parker, Eloise Mignon as Bridget 'Didge' Parker, Ian Smith as Harold Bishop, Tom Oliver as Lou Carpenter, Jackie Woodburne as Susan Kinski, Alan Fletcher as Karl Kennedy, Caitlin Stasey as Rachel Kinski, Matthew Werkmeister as Zeke Kinski, Ben Lawson as Frazer Yeats, Ryan Moloney as Jarrod 'Toadfish' Rebecchi, Carla Bonner as Stephanie Hoyland, Aaron Aulsebrook-Walker as Charlie Hoyland
Guest Cast: Joan Sydney as Valda Sheergold, Chris Toohey as Justin Hunter, Karl Van Moosel as Wayne Hunter, Leon Stripp as Dale Hunter, Kate Schuster as Penny McGinty
• The Hunter brothers’ car registration number is SXU 643
• Joan Sydney returns to the cast as a regular guest, having last appeared in episode 4647, back in February 2005