- Elly telling Toadie that Andrea wants help contacting Dee
- Dee visiting Andrea in prison
- Toadie asking Dee to keep him out of Andrea's business
- Claudia hiring Sam Fitzgerald to help her gain custody of Aster
- Paul finding Susan having an anxiety attack in her car
- Claudia passing on this information to an unaware Karl
- Susan angrily telling Karl she doesn't need his help
- Susan reaching breaking point and snapping at Mackenzie
- Claudia telling the Kennedys she'll be launching an interim parenting order
Bea happily limps inside after her appointment to replace her leg cast with a moon boot, unaware of how stressed Karl and Susan are. They quickly fill her in on Claudia's intention to gain custody of Aster. Susan says she knows she hasn't been herself lately, but she didn't think Claudia would go to such extreme lengths. Karl tells Bea the custody meeting is in the afternoon, while Susan adds they need to get in contact with Toadie. Karl attempts to get Susan to rest by asking Bea to take Aster to visit Elly and deliver the news while he locates Toadie. But Susan stubbornly insists she won't rest until everything is sorted - she's coming to see Toadie too.
Dee and Toadie are enjoying a meal together while Dee regales him with a story about Steph's kids.
DEE: Adam says to Charlie, 'No, don't skate down that hill, it's too big'. So of course he does, and what happens? Broken ankle - two places!
TOADIE: Oh, ow!
DEE: Steph, oh god, she has got her hands full with those boys. I tell you what, she loves it. You can hear it in her voice.
TOADIE: Yeah she's done all right.
Toadie asks Dee what she's got on for the rest of the arvo, but Dee was hoping they could hang out more. Toadie says he'd love to but the tonne of paperwork he has waiting for him dictates otherwise. He takes a rain- check for that evening, just as Susan rings him. He immediately becomes concerned upon hearing her news and says he'll meet her and Karl in his office ASAP. Dee asks what's wrong and Toadie replies that Claudia is challenging the Kennedys for custody of Aster.
Over at the bar, Shane and Yashvi are commiserating with Mackenzie about Susan's behaviour. Shane isn't impressed but Yashvi points out that Susan must be stressed about Elly. Mackenzie feels bad, believing she just made things worse, but Yashvi says it's not the teen's fault. She assures her that Susan is probably looking for Mackenzie right now to apologise. Mackenzie heads outside for a walk just as Ned joins Yashvi and Shane. He shows off the 'Employee of the Month' certificate he just received from work.
YASHVI: Hey! Congratulations.
SHANE: For hauling luggage? Man, you should put that in the pool room.
Way to rain on Ned's parade, Shane. Yashvi tells Ned to ignore her dad, he didn't mean it. But Ned knows that's not true and admits he's in a 'nothing' job.
Elly holds Aster close in the visitor's room, upset after Bea told her about Claudia's plan. Bea says Karl and Susan are with Toadie now and will figure out how to beat Claudia. Elly says they should have slammed the door in Claudia's face the minute she arrived back in town.
ELLY: She's been trying to manipulate me, even when Shaun was here with that parenting agreement. She's always hated me. She's never trusted me and she's always wanted Aster.
BEA: Yeah you're probably right.
ELLY: And now I can't protect her.
Bea begs Elly to stop worrying - her family will take care of everything and keep Aster safe at home. Bea also feels guilty for telling Elly to give up Aster, but Elly doesn't blame her: she had no idea of Claudia's endgame.
BEA: All that matters now is that she's not going to win, and we're not going to lose.
ELLY: Yeah, well that's what everyone said about the hearing and here I am.
BEA: Elly I know that you're scared, and I get it, but it's not over okay?
ELLY: (defeated) Yeah, okay.
Andrea is building a deck of cards into a house on her bed when Elly returns to their cell. Elly bursts into tears and tells Andrea that Claudia wants to try and get full custody of her daughter. Andrea angrily calls Claudia a cow and argues with Elly when she calls herself a failure.
ELLY: It's true! I'm sitting in here and there's nothing I can do. I'm waiting for people to bring me information about my baby.
ANDREA: What can I do to help?
ELLY: Nothing! You can't do anything. I thought I knew what helplessness felt like; this is like next level.
Andrea grabs her secret phone and urges Elly to make some calls, but Elly pushes it away, not wanting to make things worse. Elly tearfully says she'll just have to wait things out.
What Shane said has really played on Ned's mind, so much so that he's speaking with Terese about how every day at work is starting to feel like Groundhog Day. Ned adds that he's grateful Terese gave him the job all those years ago but he feels like he's been there too long. Terese is concerned that Ned is trying to quit, but Ned says he was just hoping to take on a different role. Relieved, Terese says they'll brainstorm ideas and asks what elements of being a porter he actually enjoys.
NED: Talking to people, solving their problems...
TERESE: Well you're easy- going and people like you.
NED: I hope so.
TERESE: You know what, I reckon you'd make a great addition to the front of house team.
Ned's surprised but Terese thinks he'd be perfect for the role, and he'd have more responsibility. In fact, he can start straight away! Ned smiles and thanks her.
Toadie is preparing Karl and Susan for the custody meeting. He tells them they have a strong relationship with Elly and Aster, which Claudia can't compete with, and that Claudia has practically no grounds for her case. Susan is worried that Claudia saw her fly off the handle at Mackenzie, but Toadie says one slip- up isn't enough to take Aster away. He thinks the meeting is a waste of time. Claudia strides into the room, offering Toadie and the Kennedys a curt "good afternoon". She asks where Aster is, but Karl says the baby is with Bea, "she doesn't need to be exposed to this." Judge Rollands enters the room and introduces herself, hoping to start proceedings, but Claudia says she's just waiting on her counsel. Speaking of, Samantha Fitzgerald walks in right on cue, leaving the Kennedys and Toadie gobsmacked.
Judge Rollands begins the meeting, and says that she hopes they can all have a nice, civil conversation. If they can't reach an agreement at the end, then she will appoint temporary custody to "the party deemed most suitable". Elly's incarceration is discussed and Toadie says that his clients have been charged with Aster's care while Elly appeals her sentence.
TOADIE: Karl, Susan and Aster's Aunt Bea are all close with Elly, and they've helped care for Aster since she was born. So it makes sense that they continue to do so.
SAM: Helping care for a child is not the same as sole responsibility.
TOADIE: My clients have raised three children and cared for countless others. They are both respected members of the community, both professionals...
SAM: With full- time jobs, right? So how's this going to work? Aster's Aunt Bea also works full- time.
Toadie's face says that he is getting fed up with Sam already, but Sam keeps pressing on. She tells the judge that Susan and Bea both work long hours during the day and that Karl's schedule is irregular.
SAM: The fact is, your home will always be in flux. The Kennedys have only had Aster a few days and already my client has seen them struggling. (Susan and Karl look at Claudia in annoyance, while Sam addresses Toadie) Your clients may be professionals but that doesn't help Aster when she's pushed from pillar to post, never knowing who will be feeding her next.
TOADIE: There are countless children in daycare every day of the week. And it is common for children to be looked after by other members of the family.
SAM: We're not talking about what's common here, we're talking about what's best for the child. My client can care for Aster full- time, offering routine and stability.
TOADIE: Aster needs to be near her mother. Your client lives in Switzerland!
SAM: Actually, your honour, my client has recently moved here. She's residing at Lassiters penthouse.
This is news to Karl, Susan and Toadie. Claudia tilts her chin up in quiet defiance.
Dee makes small talk with Shane about how awful Aster's custody case is. She then lets slip that she was planning on visiting Andrea that afternoon while Toadie was working. Shane admits he doesn't quite know what to say to that. Dee understands but also wonders if Shane could act as a sounding board and give her advice about Andrea, "I have a lot of things going through my head and don't know how to talk to Toadie about them." Shane is wary at first but can see that Dee is struggling so he eventually offers to listen.
DEE: The thing is I thought it would be really hard getting to know Andrea, and it isn't. I feel a connection.
SHANE: You know she's a pro at reeling people in.
DEE: I know, but I just feel like this is a really unique situation. That we're both in the same boat; we're both going through the same thing.
SHANE: You trust her?
DEE: No, I don't. But I believe her when she tells me what she's feeling about this. I don't even know how I feel myself, but I just feel like she drew the short straw the day she was born. I can't help feeling sorry for her.
Toadie says that Susan and Karl are the obvious choice to take care of Aster as Elly specifically chose them. Sam retorts that Elly is in jail for killing someone - and she also moved out of the Kennedys because it wasn't fit for a newborn. Karl and Susan narrow their eyes at Sam as Toadie informs the judge that was a misrepresentation.
SAM: Really? She moved out as a consequence of Susan letting Finn Kelly, a known psychopath, move in.
TOADIE: That is incorrect. And Mr Kelly only became a psychopath after your client abandoned him in Colombia to be tortured.
SAM: My client is not responsible for the actions of a group of terrorists. And that incident took place many years ago, it's not relevant to the case. Claudia Watkins is well- respected, with an unblemished public record. The same can't be said for Susan Kennedy. She's been charged with attempted murder.
TOADIE: And acquitted.
SAM: And is under investigation by the Department of Education. Just today, in public, she lashed out at a minor. This poor girl was subjected to schoolyard bullying under her watch last year. On another note... the fact that Mrs Kennedy is affected with multiple sclerosis, an incurable condition, must be taken into account.
Susan is shaken that Sam has taken things to such a deep, personal level.
TOADIE: My client's condition is well managed.
SAM: The symptoms are unpredictable. Her health will always be precarious. She could have a spell... drop the baby.
KARL: (furious) That is a reprehensible thing to say! You should be ashamed!
Toadie steps in, telling the judge his clients are emotional at the moment and requests a short break. The judge agrees and says they'll meet back in an hour. Susan looks upset and angry.
Andrea runs in to her cell and grins at Elly, telling her she snuck a surprise from the kitchen to cheer her up. She offers her a cupcake and says she told the girls in the kitchen what was going on. Elly isn't pleased with her private business becoming public knowledge and worries Andrea just made her an easy target. But Andrea assures her most of the inmates have lost kids as well. Elly eventually accepts the cupcake and thanks Andrea.
ANDREA: I know we're not besties but my heart broke for you when I heard about the custody thing. Made me think about Hugo. You know I tell myself that he's safe and he's loved and he's protected. (She gets choked up) But it doesn't stop me missing him. So I feel for you, roomie. And all the girls out there do too. So, we've got your back.
ELLY: Thank you.
Elly starts to cry and Andrea sits next to her, drawing her close for a comforting hug. Andrea says that she knows it can be scary in prison, and that it's hard, but there are people here who are behind her. And her family will do everything they can on the outside to fight on her behalf.
Ned is wearing a fancy Lassiters jacket and no tie with his shirt as part of his new front of house look. Yashvi and Mackenzie drop by to visit. Mackenzie says that Ned looks very dapper, while Yashvi just wants to know if he'll get free hotel rooms now. Ned smirks and says there ought to be some perks. The girls leave just as a guest arrives with his bags. He announces himself as Zach Zuker and says the hotel is expecting him. Ned has a bit of trouble locating Mr Zuker on the computer, but before he gets a chance to sort things out, Mr Zuker exasperatedly says he'll wait in the outside lounge, handing Ned his bags like he's a porter. It's Groundhog Day!
Andrea's stoked that Dee has come to visit her unannounced. Dee's worried it's too soon, but Andrea says she'll take anything she can get, jokingly telling her sister she can move in if she likes. Dee admits she was at a loose end, but Andrea guesses she got stood up. Dee says that Toadie had work on, and is initially alarmed when Andrea is on top of what's happening with Aster's custody trial. But Andrea explains that Elly is her cellmate.
ANDREA: I gotta give it to Toadie, though, going into bat for his mates.
DEE: You don't still have feelings for Toadie do you?
ANDREA: What? No! (She bursts into laughter) I know it's hard to believe, but I tell you what, that book is shut.
Andrea says she just really wants Toadie to smash it out of the park for Elly. She adds that it's hard seeing Elly so upset because it reminds her how much she misses Hugo. Dee understands that it must be difficult for Andrea, but decides to change the subject to more cheerier topics. Andrea agrees and says she wants to know everything about her sister. Dee smiles and says she doesn't know where to begin.
Susan tells Karl that Claudia must have been plotting to get custody of Aster for a while now because Sam was too well prepared. Mackenzie walks in and Susan immediately goes over to the teen to apologise; she shouldn't have taken her stress out on her student. Mackenzie forgives her and says she hopes Susan feels better soon. Susan thanks her and says they'll make time for a proper catch- up soon. Mackenzie goes to the counter and Karl tells Susan it's nice to have some relief at last.
Dee and Andrea are having a giggle about something. Dee says she's glad she came to visit today and asks if there's anything Andrea needs next time she comes.
ANDREA: There is one thing. Do you reckon next time you visit, whenever that is, that you could just bring a little picture of Hugo for my cell?
DEE: Don't you have one?
ANDREA: No. No, crazy right? Didn't think to pick one up when I was being arrested. Reckon you could help me out?
DEE: Look, I don't really think that's my place.
ANDREA: Yeah... it's just that it's nobody's place except for Toadie's and it's not really my place to contact him. I just don't think it's fair I don't get to see my little boy.
Dee feels bad when Andrea starts to cry so she says she'll see what she can do. Andrea smiles and thanks her.
The meeting is back in session. Toadie tells Judge Rollands that Susan is in perfectly good health, in fact, she has recently participated in a very successful treatment trial. He admits the Kennedys have been through some tough times but they continue to care for Aster, as they have their own children.
SAM: It's an unstable environment. And with no primary carer, unfortunate health concerns, criminality... Whereas my client's situation is the complete opposite. Ms Watkins is in perfect health, she's acquired a residence here in Erinsborough, she's about to invest in a business here, she's done the work to put down solid roots. And as she is financially secure, Aster will be taken care of full- time in a calm and stable environment. It is the best choice for the child.
Sam directs this last piece of dialogue directly to Susan with a contemptuous look. Susan is seething as Karl takes her hand, trying to comfort her. Judge Rollands thanks Toadie and Sam for presenting their cases and wonders if there's any way they could all come to a shared arrangement. Susan asks if she could say a few words, which the judge grants. Claudia shoots an alarmed look at Sam.
SUSAN: Aster means the world to us. Yes, we have had challenges, but any hardship that we've been through has just made us stronger. We will never give up on each other. And we will never give up on Aster, Claudia.
CLAUDIA: You have to do what's best for Aster.
SUSAN: I don't need you to tell me what's best for me or my family. This is what Elly wants.
CLAUDIA: Maybe you should calm down, you don't want to make yourself unwell.
SUSAN: (angry) Just stop it!
The judge looks slightly wary. As do Toadie and Karl, but Susan continues.
SUSAN: If you cared one bit for me or my family, you could have just talked to us instead of dragging us into court.
CLAUDIA: Every time I brought this up with you, you either shut me down or said that you were fine. (Susan is fuming) I am doing this as much for you as I am for Aster.
SUSAN: I will never hand Aster over to you!
JUDGE: Please, Mrs Kennedy. Take a moment.
There's tension in the air.
JUDGE: It's clear we're not going to come to a mutual agreement today. So, having considered all evidence, I've made a decision. Interim custody is hereby awarded to the applicant, Ms Claudia Watkins.
Claudia breathes a sigh of relief as Susan buries her head in her hands, devastated and maddened by the outcome.
Coming up on Neighbours...
Toadie is in his office speaking to Dee.
TOADIE: What we have isn't normal, is it?
Toadie and Dee look like they're sharing a close moment at home but spring apart when Dipi and Shane walk in. Dipi has a chat with Toadie afterwards.
DIPI: The atmosphere in here is so thick you could trip over it.
Toadie and Dee are out fishing at a lake.
TOADIE: I'm glad you're here.
DEE: Me too.
Dee visits Elly in prison.
DEE: Is it Andrea? Has she done something?
ELLY: She has sucked in a lot of people.
Andrea finds Elly afterwards and is not happy.
ANDREA: If I was to find out that you were saying mean things about me, I don't think it would end well.