So Long, Farewell
This last week marked the final appearance of John Paul McQueen, Myra McQueen’s baby boy and the ex-lover of pretty much every gay man in the village. For weeks the media teased Hollyoaks fans that John Paul might be going out with a big bang and on said show, big bangs tended to end in death. Surprisingly we did not lose another McQueen to The Reaper and instead saw him fly off to Asia with son Matthew Jesús. While the show may have tied up John Paul’s storyline with an almost too perfectly tied bow, his departure left a lot of other characters torn wide open.
John Paul was hit with a surprise early on in the week when usually emotionally unavailable boyfriend James Nightingale proposes. In the moment, John Paul probably thinks this is what he wants and says yes but oddly enough, this proposal comes on the same day his divorce with Ste Hay is finalized. All it takes is that to turn his mind away from the man who loved him and right into the arms of the man the scorned him time and time again. Harry Thompson unknowingly sets himself up by inviting his boyfriend’s ex-husband to the divorce party. It’s all fun and games until Harry and Ste argue again and the venue clears out, leaving just the two ex-husbands to commiserate over their boyfriends who just don’t seem to get them. Or something.
John Paul and Ste were cute for a hot minute but this reconnection story should have ended the second Finn O’Connor was back out of the picture. Ste should have stayed emotional support for John Paul but instead they continued to cross the line, kissing and reminiscing and finally they slept together on the night they were legally divorced. As if that wasn’t enough of a mess, John Paul wants to rekindle his romance with Ste while the latter thinks that might be a big mistake. And boy was Ste right! Later that day, James overheard a message on John Paul’s phone from Ste apologizing for sleeping with him and stating that they should both finally move on. The fact that John Paul thought he’d be able to cross James and get away with it; this James is the same man who only a week ago yelled at John Paul’s child that he’d never ever be his father. He may seem unassuming at first but James is a total savage and he did more than prove that.
Later in the week, James surprised John Paul with a brand new car to take for a test drive. The engaged couple go for a spin that quickly takes a dark turn as James speeds toward a countryside cliff. Photos from these scenes were released to the media months back, making everyone think John Paul would somehow meet his demise at the hands of his lover but instead it’s all just a psychological game for the cold-hearted lawyer. No, John Paul isn’t locked inside and pushed over the edge but James makes the former think Ste is though! He taunts his fiancé about finding out about his affair and taking matters into his own hands. With “Ste” locked in the trunk, James pushes the car over the edge of the cliff and watches with a smile as John Paul scrambles to follow behind it. It was all a test though to see who John Paul truly loved and he proved it by nearly killing himself diving behind the car that’s actually empty. James may be a lot of things but I doubt he’d ever be a murderer (but you never know in Hollyoaks) though he had John Paul shaken to the core.
James’ harrowing prank is the impetus to it all. From the scene of that horrific test, John Paul returns home in time to see Ste propose to Harry which probably solidified the thought he had in his head. It was time for him to leave Hollyoaks. The McQueens want to hear nothing of these plans and immediately talk him down from leaving. Being the baby brother in the family his opinions were often shot down so he decides to stay per his family’s complaints. It’s not until he talks to his birth father, transwoman and Hollyoaks High headmistress Sally St. Claire that he decides to go through with it. With her pep talk and connections, they secure John Paul a position teaching at a school in Singapore. All he has to do is make the jump. If I had made a man so mad that he’d buy a car and trash it in the same day just to teach me a lesson? Hell, I’d be on the first flight out of town too.
Much to his family’s chagrin, John Paul opts to make the big move to Asia. He feels as if he’s hit a wall, that he’s done all he could do in Hollyoaks and that there was no longer a place for him. I had initially felt this exit story was hastily written, that it felt almost too good to be true that he secured a new job in a heartbeat but hearing the emotion behind the snap decision made it all come together. John Paul’s reasoning to go was not only everything people have said about his character over the years, but also the same way the actor James Sutton felt. The scenes where he spoke to sister Merecedes McQueen about how his pile of romantic failures was stacked higher than hers, I almost felt like applauding. Too often John Paul was busy being judgmental about others’ love lives when he’d literally been in a love triangle with a married father and his son for a time!
For me, John Paul has always been an overrated character. He came in during a time when soap operas didn’t openly have many gay storylines and yes, he helped to break a lot of those boundaries with his romance with Craig Dean. But after that? After that he seemed more like a wishy-washy yet preachy love addict. I really appreciated the fact that the writers gave the character clarity in the end, he realized that the way he was living was not healthy and he needed to get away to focus on himself. John Paul was the master at making bad decisions, it was seriously all he ever did in the four years I’ve been watching the show. Up until now, I always felt that people always made excuses for him, sheltered him away from the fact that a lot of his own messes were ones he started. I think in his final moments in the village, John Paul finally realized he’d become his own worst enemy in the end.
But even after that moment of clarity, John Paul immediately sends a text to his ex-boyfriend Craig while on the plane to ultimately repeat his usual cycle. I don’t think there could have been a more fitting ending to his wild story.
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