- Terese is uncomfortable with Naomi being back and working in close proximity to Paul
- Chloe is amazed to learn that Naomi and Pierce are old acquaintances
- Kyle warns Naomi not to 'cut Chloe's grass'; Naomi insists those days are long gone
- Toadie asks Dee if she wants to slow down; she answers by kissing him
- Chloe finds a legal invoice suggesting Claudia always intended to get custody of Aster
- But Claudia assures Aaron that the invoice was backdated for tax reasons
- On everything else, says Claudia, she's 'absolutely on a level'; Aaron believes her
Chloe is visiting Elly, and telling her about Claudia's invoices from the law firm, dated from before Elly's hearing. Chloe's not buying Claudia's explanation that they are backdated for tax purposes; she reckons Claudia knew about Sam Fitzgerald's history with the Kennedys. But Elly says she still needs to know what Claudia's planning for Aster.
Chloe notices Elly is very jumpy, and asks if she's okay.
ELLY: No, nothing about my life is okay right now. I'd rather be anywhere but here.
CHLOE: I know. And you will be soon. Your appeal is gonna happen before you know it. And in the meantime, I am gonna find proof that Claudia has some plan brewing, okay? I will get Aster back to the Kennedys. I promise.
Outside the hotel, even Claudia's struggling to summon up interest about the Murder Island Haven For Disadvantaged Kids™, yawning as Aaron runs his latest assault course plans by her. She tells him not to take it personally; Aster's been up all night with a bad tummy, presumably because of the switch to formula milk.
CLAUDIA: Don't get me wrong, I'm loving every minute of it. But she does take it out of me; you know how it is.
Claudia gets a call from Angela Lane, and Aaron recognises the name as it flashes up on her phone. Claudia rejects the call.
AARON: Do you know Angela Lane?
CLAUDIA: How do you know her?
AARON: Oh, I've just heard Elly talk about her. She's on the PTA at Erinsborough High, and she is not a fan of Elly.
CLAUDIA: ... Yes, well, when the kids pulled out of the focus group, I called the school and they gave me her number.
AARON: ... Really? I wouldn't have thought she'd go anywhere near something Finn was involved with.
CLAUDIA: This project has nothing to do with him... But, look, I do take your point. If you think you can get enough kids without me -
AARON: Look, don't worry about that. I'll handle that.
Aster starts babbling, and Aaron fusses over her. Claudia smiles.
CLAUDIA: You and David need to be parents immediately.
AARON: Yeah, well, that's the plan.
Chloe finds Pierce in the pub, and reports to him that Elly seems worse than ever; Chloe feels miserable, as she doesn't know what to do to help her. As Pierce comforts Chloe, Naomi comes in, and watches Pierce and Chloe from a distance, unseen by them.
PIERCE: You are helping her, by being there as a friend. And that is exactly what Elly needs right now.
CHLOE: How do you always know the perfect thing to say?
PIERCE: It's my superpower!
Pierce suggests Chloe take the afternoon off; he and Naomi can handle the meeting they have planned on their own. Chloe agrees; and nearby, Naomi looks uncomfortable, and then rolls her eyes as Chloe drapes herself over Pierce!
Toadie and Dee emerge from the bedroom!
TOADIE: That was... I don't even know a word to describe that!
DEE: Umm... surreal?
TOADIE: Yeah. But in a good way.
DEE: Mm. In an incredible way. It was... special.
They're about to start pashing again, when Dipi and Shane come in with Hugo and Nell. Dee and Toadie start playing with the kids, while Shane and Dipi go into the kitchen.
Shane tells Dipi he's thinking of asking Toadie's advice about Mackenzie's dad Grant and his WorkCover claim. Dipi thinks it's a good idea, but says maybe not just now, given Toadie seems to be otherwise occupied.
In the office, Pierce, Paul, Terese and Naomi have convened for the meeting. Paul is annoyed that Chloe is a no- show, but Pierce says she has 'other work to finish'.
Paul whinges about Chloe's lack of commitment, but Naomi defends her, saying Chloe has been texting her every half- hour and is across everything. Pierce gives her a grateful nod, and Naomi smiles at him in a rather besotted- looking way!
Naomi updates them all on her event plans, including some proposals to keep the hotel's profile up ahead of Pride month. Paul says one of them will have to go through these with Naomi and make some decisions. Naomi looks worried; evidently keen to avoid the awkwardness of working with Pierce, she says Paul should run through the ideas with her.
However, Terese doesn't like the sound of this!
TERESE: What about Pierce?
NAOMI: What about Paul?
TERESE: ... Paul and I are in the thick of a budget review.
NAOMI: Yeah, well - he's done it in the past, he knows what works.
Paul starts to agree, but Terese pointedly tells him he's busy!
NAOMI: Fine - me and Pierce it is!
On the patio, Chloe is telling Aaron about how much Elly is struggling in jail, and missing Aster. She's worried Aster won't remember Elly exists; but Aaron thinks she will, as he's just learned about attachment in his foster care training. Chloe asks him how that's going; he says the training's done, but they have 'a gazillion' forms to fill in.
AARON: We have to get references, police checks -
CHLOE: Basically they want a biography of your whole lives?
AARON: Yeah, exactly (...) We haven't even done the assessment yet, and already it feels like it's gonna take forever.
CHLOE: It'll be worth it, though.
Aaron tells Chloe what Claudia said about organising focus groups with kids from school, with help from Angela Lane.
CHLOE: Angela Lane?! She destroyed Elly's life! She lodged the petition to get Susan fired! Why is Claudia working with her?
Aaron repeats Claudia's claim about the school giving her Angela's number, but Chloe is sceptical about this.
AARON: Chlo, if you're gonna keep thinking the worst of Claudia, maybe you shouldn't be working with her?
CHLOE: No, it's fine. I just think we should keep our eyes open. I don't trust her, and neither should you.
Naomi and Pierce are at the bar. Pierce mentions that he sensed a vibe between Naomi, Paul and Terese during the meeting, and asks why.
NAOMI: It's just some ex- fiancé- slash- current wife tension!
PIERCE: Wait, who's the... Please don't tell me you were engaged to Paul Robinson!
NAOMI: Ages ago!
PIERCE: Is he even your type?
NAOMI: Well, I have lots of types, Pierce!
Pierce looks slightly uncomfortable; but at this point, Sheila, Kyle and Clive come in, and Naomi goes to chat to them. Sheila is keen for Naomi to reacquaint herself with 'the fabulous' Clive, whom presumably she met at Gary's funeral. Clive goes in to kiss Naomi on the cheek, but it doesn't quite come off, and it's awkward.
Sheila starts bragging about how important Clive's job is, and Naomi rolls her eyes as Clive tries to get Sheila to stop talking! Naomi tells Sheila she's heard all this a hundred times before, and drags Kyle off to the bar for a chinwag about Pierce!
NAOMI: He's been so sweet, and so considerate, and so hot, and it's just like old times!
KYLE: Nomes, you said you weren't gonna go after the guy.
NAOMI: I know what I said. But then I told him I used to be engaged to Paul, and he got all jealous!
KYLE: You said you weren't gonna wreck any families this time around!
NAOMI: But I can't stop thinking about him!
Toadie, Dee, Shane, Dipi, Nell and Hugo are having breakfast. Toadie's planning on going to the prison today for a meeting with Elly; Dee tells him to ask after the aster plant she bought her. It's evident to Shane that Toadie and Dee are very loved up.
Nell, Dipi, Dee and Hugo go outside so that Nell can show Dee Clancy's trick (the invisible dog act, maybe?), and Shane uses the opportunity to ask in a roundabout way whether Toadie and Dee are TITTNL™. Toadie confirms his suspicions.
SHANE: Does that mean we're gonna see more socks on door knobs around here, then?
TOADIE: Nah, nah - we're not gonna get too carried away just yet. Got the kids to think about.
But he says it's nice to have another focus than work for a while. Shane brings up the trouble Grant is having with his WorkCover claim.
TOADIE: So he's got in contact with Mackenzie, has he?
SHANE: ... No, no. Long story, I called him - and I'd really prefer not to talk to her about it just yet.
Toadie agrees to give Grant some advice, as long as it can be after Elly's appeal is out of the way.
Claudia has brought Aster for her weekly visit with Elly, but quickly notices Elly seems to be in pain, and has bruises.
CLAUDIA: If you're being harassed, you really should speak to the guards.
ELLY: I don't need to take advice from you about surviving in prison.
CLAUDIA: You're Aster's mum. I want her to be happy. It makes sense that I would care about you too.
ELLY: Alright, can you just drop the act? In fact, you and I, we don't need to talk when we're in here. I'd prefer it if you were quiet, so I could spend some time with my daughter.
Claudia looks peeved, as Elly fusses over a crying Aster.
Kyle is moaning to Sheila, Clive and Naomi about Roxy's lack of help at Mackenzie's party. Naomi looks thoroughly bored, until Clive asks for her to tell him about herself.
CLIVE: Obviously your reputation precedes you.
NAOMI: ... What's that supposed to mean?
CLIVE: I meant to say -
NAOMI: You make a couple of mistakes with a couple of guys, and then, that's who you are?
CLIVE: I meant your job at the hotel.
NAOMI: Ugh, I've got to go.
Naomi rushes off, despite Sheila telling her to sit down and stop being a drama queen! Clive looks thoroughly perplexed!
At reception, Aaron (only half- jokingly) accuses Chloe of being 'up to trouble' - he's figured out that she's been spying on Claudia.
AARON: It's the only reason you took the job, isn't it? And don't you lie to me!
CHLOE: ... Alright, fine, I'm spying. But Claudia is up to no good, and I have to prove it. She wanted Aster for herself from the get- go. And she's probably in cahoots with Angela to ruin Susan.
AARON: You sound seriously paranoid right now.
CHLOE: And you need to look at the bigger picture! Claudia is not who you think.
As if to prove Chloe's point, Claudia wheels in the pram while talking to a man named Jeremy, who she appears keen to get rid of. But he insists on having a word with her which, unnoticed by Claudia, Chloe and Aaron are listening in to.
CLAUDIA: What do you want?
JEREMY: To tell you I'm available again. It was a pleasure working for you.
CLAUDIA: It was a pleasure getting paid, you mean!
JEREMY: I got a thrill out of it, too. So if there's anything you need followed up...
CLAUDIA: That was over a year ago! And I don't need those sort of things done regularly.
JEREMY: I am higher up now, so... I can do more than just make evidence disappear.
CLAUDIA: I have a child in my care, so I can't get involved in those sorts of activities. Please leave me alone, and don't contact me again.
A disappointed Jeremy walks out, while a shocked Chloe and Aaron process what they've heard.
CHLOE: What evidence?! The custody case, or Elly's trial?
AARON: It's the fire! She's talking about Finn's evidence being destroyed.
CHLOE: She organised it...
In the office, Pierce reports back to Paul and Terese that he was impressed with all Naomi's ideas, and mischievously mentions that he knows Paul and Naomi were engaged, wondering why Paul never mentioned it.
PAUL: Why would I? It's irrelevant.
PIERCE: I guess I can't expect you to make a note of each and every ex - otherwise, we'd never get any work done, would we?
PAUL: Ha- ha- ha. The only relationship that matters to me right now is the one I have with my beautiful wife.
But Pierce continues to bait Paul, and so Terese pointedly sends Paul on a coffee run so she can talk to Pierce alone!
TERESE: You need to stop.
TERESE: About Naomi. Look, I completely trust my husband. But I've had enough stress from his exes to last a lifetime, and I don't need this waved in my face.
TERESE: And I'd appreciate it if you were Naomi's point of contact. And that way, we can all just get on with things.
Pierce agrees, and leaves.
Toadie is visiting Elly, and as requested by Dee, asks her how the aster plant is growing. Elly says it's doing well, adding that it's 'nice to have something to care for in here'. Toadie notices the bruising on her arm.
ELLY: I just... I hit it on a door frame. Any news on the appeal?
TOADIE: No, but I should have a date really soon.
Elly asks if she might get bail once an appeal date is set. Toadie thinks that very unlikely, but says he's put together a really strong case for once they do get a hearing.
ELLY (desperate); Please. Please, anything you can do - any lead, any angle, follow up on anything that could possibly help me. I really have to get out of here.
Chloe is with Aaron, and comes off the phone from their brother Mark.
AARON: Was he mad?
CHLOE: He did not love the spying thing. But, I showed him a snap from the CCTV, and he recognised Claudia's little friend.
AARON: Who is he?
CHLOE: Senior Constable Jeremy Briggs. Mark's always thought he was dodgy, so he's gonna do a little digging on the down- low, and see what else he can find.
Aaron can't work out why Claudia would organise the fire at the evidence depot, given she hated Finn back then, and is starting to doubt the theory.
CHLOE: Aaron, I know you want this island project to go ahead, but be real - this is who Claudia is. And we have to use it to get Aster back to Karl and Susan.
She says they have to tell Toadie and the Kennedys.
Clive is apologising to Sheila for having upset Naomi. Sheila's not worried, repeating her view that Naomi is a drama queen!
CLIVE: So, just how sordid was this reputation of hers?
Sheila makes a noise!
CLIVE: I see.
SHEILA: Mm. But it's all behind her now. I hope.
Meanwhile, David finds Claudia in the seating area. He's brought her a 'soft noise machine' that he used to settle Aster when she lived at No 32, which 'plays a variety of soundscapes'. Claudia thanks him, and asks how the fostering plans are going. He says it's very long- winded; he understands why, but admits to being frustrated by it all.
DAVID: But I know it will be worth it in the end.
Naomi and Pierce are having another meeting, but Pierce has a personal question for her first.
PIERCE: Do you still have Feelings™ for Paul?
NAOMI: Ha! No. No, not at all. That was a long time ago. Both of us have well and truly moved on.
PIERCE: Well, I think that's a good thing.
NAOMI: ... Okay. Have you, umm, told Chloe about our past? How we maybe, almost, kind of dated?
PIERCE: Well, it hasn't really come up. I mean, nothing actually happened.
NAOMI: Right. Good. Okay. I really like Chloe. I'd like to stay on good terms with her.
PIERCE: Yeah. She likes you too.
NAOMI: Great, okay. Yeah, let's just keep that almost- thing just between you and me. Especially cos I don't have the most solid rep around here. I would hate for her to get the wrong idea.
PIERCE: Sure. Whatever you want.
Naomi touches Pierce's arm. Paul, who is at another table, is watching them with interest. Terese emerges from the bathroom.
PAUL: You know, for new colleagues, they're very, very chummy, aren't they?
TERESE: Oh, well, good rapport equals good teamwork. That's good for us.
Paul smirks at Pierce and Naomi, as he and Terese leave.
Toadie is telling Dee, Shane and Dipi about how heartbreaking it was to see Elly so desperate.
TOADIE: The pain is written all over her face, it's in her voice.
Dipi and Shane have brought some food over for Toadie and Dee, but Toadie's not feeling very hungry. He gets a phone call and goes outside to take it. Dee admits she wishes there was more she could do to help. Shane and Dipi reassure Dee that even her being her is making a huge difference to Toadie. Dee thanks them.
Aaron has come to talk to Claudia, explaining that he overheard her talking to Jeremy Briggs.
AARON: Are you responsible for the fire? The one that destroyed the evidence against Finn?
CLAUDIA: ... You must have misheard.
AARON: No, I didn't. Claudia, I'm giving you a chance to explain here.
CLAUDIA: ... Yes. I hired the officer to help with Finn's release. But I didn't expect him to go that far. I just wanted to give Finn the best possible chance at freedom.
AARON: Yeah, but why? You didn't even like Finn.
CLAUDIA: Finn was my son, Aaron! For years, I failed him. And Shaun was so desperate for me to trust Finn. So I chose to do the right thing. And look how that turned out. Look, please don't say anything to anyone about this... If you keep it to yourself, I can help you.
CLAUDIA: With your foster care problems.
AARON: Look, I'm sorry, but we don't have any problems.
CLAUDIA: Yes, but it's taking a long time, and it must be very frustrating for you and David. There's another way. Adoption.
AARON: Look, that takes even longer.
CLAUDIA: Not with the contacts I have. If you keep this secret for me, I'll get you a baby of your own.
Coming up on Neighbours
- Chloe tells Bea and Susan it's their word against 'hers'; they need hard proof
- Cut to Chloe, Susan and Bea rifling through papers at the penthouse
- Andrea threatens Elly with a garden trowel, telling her three years is a long time
- Dee sees Karl with Olivia Bell at the hospital, and asks him about her
- Toadie tells Dee he can't give up now; Elly needs him
- Toadie tells someone that when this becomes public, they could be in a lot of trouble