Steph can't just go back and play happy families with Max and her love for Toadie is definitely not out of obligation.
Carmella would've loved Will no matter what but he lied to her so it's goodbye
Toadie wants to spend the rest of his life with Steph and Charlie. Max has had his chance - and he blew it.
Toadie reminds Steph that she said she loved him but everything's changed now that Max has returned. Steph disagrees - he knows how much she cares for him. Toadie picks on the fact that she now 'cares' for him; that's not 'love'. Steph tries to argue but it's Toadie who's doing all the talking. He thinks she used him - she knew how he felt and she used him to make her feel better. Steph strongly denies this but Toadie tells her to go back to Max, then yells at her to stop playing with him.
TOADIE: JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!
An upset Steph does just that.
Elle's on the phone to Carmella, who has told her about the Will situation. Elle tells her to leave her to assess the situation and she'll get back to her.
Dylan intercepts Elle as she tries to leave. He wants to have some fun with her but Elle's meeting a friend - Jane. They're hanging out at a fancy hotel in the city, no - not in the city (and not the one on Williams Street - she told Jean definitely not that one). Dylan is confused - isn't her friend called Jane? Elle breezes out before she has to say anything more.
Max thinks the boxes of beer/wine bottles have got heavier but Boyd tells him his muscles have become slack with lack of use.
Boyd notices some lemons that have been cut up - nice and thin and not thick like the ones Steph cuts. Max tells him that he doesn't have to take sides in this but Boyd says he's only on one side and that's Steph and Max back together. Max expects him to be angry but Boyd says everything went to cr*p when he was away and he did some stupid stuff... Max wants to know more but Boyd thinks it doesn't matter - it's a clean slate from now on. Max can only hope that Steph feels the same way.
The Timmins boys walk in; Dylan is asking Stinger whether he should follow Elle. Stingray thinks he should only do that if Elle made it obvious she wanted to be followed. Dylan doesn't think anything she said made sense. He decides not to go.
Then again Stinger thinks that if a girl was dropping hints about a fancy hotel room he wouldn't be standing around talking to his brother about it. Dylan runs out.
Someone walks into Stingray and, to his surprise, it's Rachel (with new shorter, highlighted hair). He likes her haircut but doesn't manage to say much more as Rachel and Susan are leaving. He smiles a smile tinged with sadness.
Grand Hyatt Hotel, Melbourne
Elle lets herself into Sebastian Barnes' (Will's) room and she can see why Carmella didn't want to hang out in this 'dump'. He wonders why she's here - to torment him? Elle'd heard he was single. She walks up to him and strokes his collar.
ELLE: Look at you, you gorgeous thing - hot and loaded.
Will looks at her for a moment then Elle slaps him. She tells him that not everyone is after his cash - Carmella has a big heart and loves him. Will thinks she didn't have to hit him. Elle ignores him and calls room service. She and Will are going to work out how to get him and Carmella back together.
Steph tells Susan that she feels so guilty - she can't just welcome Max home. And she's hurting Toad too...
Susan thinks she can't keep Toadie hanging on. Steph wonders what she can do. Susan says that if she's reconciling with Max then she has to tell Toadie. But Steph hasn't decided on anything yet - her brain's like porridge!
So, Susan says, now both Toadie and Max are left hanging...
Toadie wants to run out and sort things with Steph but luckily Karl is on hand to talk him back into bed. He asks him why Steph left and Toadie recounts yelling at her. Karl thinks she would have stayed if she really cared. Toadie thinks she's confused but Karl questions this and Toadie doesn't know what to say.
Scarlet Bar Office
Max asks Boyd what his chances are with Steph. Boyd thinks he just has to hang around and eventually Steph will remember what they had together. Max thinks he might be right.
Karl reminds Toadie that the love of her life walked out on Steph - their love couldn't end there and then. Toadie knows this and Karl wonders if Steph's love for him is that of a friend - a confused friend. Toadie says that was the case before but it has turned into something more.
KARL: Be honest with me. Do you really think this is going to work?
Susan knows Steph's confused but she must have a feeling about which man's right for her. Steph can't think straight. Susan takes another perspective; who does she see her future with?
Steph flashbacks to her drunken first kiss with Toadie...
After the ads Karl and Susan are making dinner while Zeke and Rachel sit on the couch. Karl talks about a philosophy where people remove themselves from the instruments of capitalism. Zeke's heard of it; people eat food out of dumpsters. Karl tells them it's a waste minimisation strategy (while to Rachel and Susan it's just a gross and disgusting strategy). Susan makes him promise he'll never do anything like that.
They move onto more serious matters. Susan tells him that Katya isn't doing that well - she still won't give evidence. Rachel is putting on brave face but seeing Katya like that must have been hard.
Karl tells her that Toadie was miserable. Susan tells him that Steph was over but didn't tell her which way she's going to jump. Susan has a feeling it'll be Max, though. Karl thinks the same and Toadie realises this. Susan hopes Karl didn't say anything out of line.
Bree pops in and Karl invites her to have dinner (marinated tofu) but Bree, having heard what's on the menu, decides against it. Zeke asks what tofu is and Karl says it's a beast native to China - it has legs shorter on one side of its body than those on the other side (which comes from living on hillsides). Susan chuckles.
Bree *loves* Rachel's new hair. Zeke wonders where Willow is and Bree quickly says he's at home. Bree asks about Rachel's journo pieces she got published in Shepparton, both on boring subjects that Bree is sure Rachel made sound interesting. Rachel says the first rule of journalism is to get published.
Bree wants to do an article about tattoos for the school blogzine - the cost and the pain. People need to know the risks involved. Susan thinks it's very sensible. Bree turns to Rachel and draws an imaginary tattoo on her arm.
Rachel tells Bree she's decided on her relationship with Stingray. Bree thinks it's over forever but Rachel says it's the total opposite!
Grand Hyatt Hotel, Melbourne
Elle repeats the plan; Will goes back to being a Barnes and Carmella, who's from a rich family anyway, will remember she likes money and power. Will doesn't want Carmella to like him for being rich but Elle thinks he should get over himself - the humble bartender act impresses no one. Will says he's learned more about people from behind the bar than he ever did at the hotel. Elle argues that his wealth makes the bar gig look patronising and dumb.
Someone knocks the door. It's Dylan, with champers. Dyl spots Will and asks if this is 'Jane' (or Jean or whoever). Elle just wanted to see how high he'd jump. She takes the wine and closes the door in his face.
Will can't believe he's meant to take advice from someone like her.
Willow is nowhere to be seen so Zeke goes to search outside. Rachel can't believe he gave Bree a cat and Bree keeps hoping Harold will eventually take Willow if she chucks him over the fence enough times. She'll tell Zeke it's for the best.
Zeke returns and Bree takes him to search for Willow, leaving Stingray and Rachel to chat. Stingray is glad that Shepparton worked out for her. Rachel thinks it's good to be back home, though. They keep smiling at each other until Rachel plants a kiss on Stingray and tells him that she wants to get back together with him. Stingray, seemingly dazed, says nothing and Rachel hurriedly leaves.
Karl has brought Toadie some tofu, which Toad accepts graciously. Karl apologises for being so harsh earlier - he just wants Toad to get through this with his dignity intact (if he has any dignity left after years of HouseOfTrouser/Wrestling/Bikini Shop madness...). Toadie doesn't know about dignity but he'll do the right thing. Karl wishes him good luck and leaves.
Karl meets a beaming Steph in the hallway and assumes she's here to let Toad down gently. But Steph isn't - she loves Toadie. He's the *one*.
Steph goes into Toad's room, where he apologises for before. She's sorry for walking out on him. Toadie says he's tired - tired of all the mess. It's so hard and it'll always be hard. Steph knows (she takes Toadie's hands) and she's been a big part of that mess but she loves him. Toadie says it doesn't matter what she says or how she says it - he knows it's over. Steph shakes her head and reaches for him but Toadie pushes her away. What they feel isn't enough to rise above all this. Steph thinks it is. Toadie thinks that it's maybe just what he feels, then. She's the best mate he could ask for but that's how they work best.
TOADIE: We were never going to work.
Steph is shocked.
Rachel checks her phone for messages as Karl walks in. He tells Susan that he left Toadie to tell Steph it was all over. Then he ran into Steph, who was about to tell Toad it was all on. Susan is shocked.
Bree and Zeke come in and Rachel tells them what happened with Stingray. Karl thinks it's way too teenage for him but Susan is interested - she wonders if it's a wise idea. Rachel reminds her that Libby went through the exact same with Darren; everyone thought he was bad news and look at them now! Susan agrees and asks Karl for his input but Karl has had enough of giving romance advice; his judgement sucks. Bree wants to take a vote but Susan vetoes it; she doesn't want Rachel to do anything, just think about it. Rachel says it's in Stingray's court now.
Boyd tells Stingray that everything should be alright as long as his dad hangs in there. Unless he goes nuts again, Stinger reminds him. Or Steph decides Toadie's the one. Or she decides to run away from the mess, leaving both Max and Toad.
Boyd knows something's up and Stingray fills him in on Rachel. Bree barges in and blasts her brother for leaving Rachel hanging. Boyd wants to know what he's going to do and Bree hopes they're getting back together. Stingray can't believe she thinks that - after everything that's happened? Bree starts to bash him with a pillow, repeating 'Yes' over and over. Boyd joins in.
Grand Hyatt Hotel, Melbourne
Elle takes a bubble bath while Will sits on the edge of the sink unit. She thinks money isn't everything but it's up there with oxygen. Will can't believe she needs all this to make her happy. She reminds him a lot of Paul; he shared some of his beliefs with Will (and some blackmail). Elle says her dad thinks they'd be a good match and now she understands why. He tells her he's Mr 2% - Paul blackmailed him over it until he got sick of it and told him to rack off. Elle says not to make the mistake of trusting Paul - otherwise they'll get along fine. Will declines to join her - and asks her to remember to tell Carmella of his refusal.
Elle opens the door of the suite to find Dylan (who'd been sitting out in the hallway for her all that time- like, doesn't he have anything better to do?). She orders him to bring the car round while she gets dressed.
The Ks are talking about Steph again. Karl had been sure she would choose Max. Susan thinks it was the likely option - they're married with a kid and still the same people. Surely underneath everything the love's still there. Karl asks her if she thinks it'll work with Toadie but Susan really isn't sure - she loves Toadie but there's no way of knowing.
They hear a noise and realise it must be Max - they wonder if he knows. Susan thinks it isn't up them to tell him and Karl thinks his advice sucks too much to add anything else.
A relaxed Max comes in, telling them he spent time with Boyd. There's another knock at the door and Steph comes in - she wants to talk to Max over at number 32.
As Max leaves he flashes Karl and Susan a hopeful smile. Karl tells Susan that Max thinks Steph's going to have him back. Susan, who has a hand half over her mouth, shakes her head and says she knows.
After commercials Susan turns the lights out in the living room. She tells Karl that Steph could be sticking with Toadie because he was shot. Karl thinks loyalty and guilt are powerful motives.
Rachel, in her PJs, walks in - she has to get something from the car. Outside Stingray emerges from his hiding place in the bushes and thanks her for coming out. Rachel tells him that it's fine if he's here to tell her they're not getting back together. He's probably met someone else, someone his own age... Stingray kisses her and Rachel smiles.
Max holds Charlie, amusing him with a stuffed toy squirrel. Steph smiles when she sees this and sits beside them.
STEPH: I want you to move back in with us.
Max asks if she's sure. Steph nods - she wants them to try again, start from scratch. Charlie deserves them trying and they deserve it too, but she doesn't want it to be the way it has been; she wants it to be one step at a time (separate bedrooms and so on). She can't just forget. Max understands.
MAX: I'll make things right between us, Steph. I will, I promise.
Holding Charlie in one arm, he takes her hand and smiles at her, before kissing her on the cheek. As they hug Steph's smile fades away.