Home and Away spoilers follow for UK viewers.
Home and Away's Rose Delaney has her world turned upside-down on UK screens next week, as her brother Xander fights for his life in hospital after being attacked.
Xander is busy on a paramedic shift when a gang of thugs with baseball bats approach, wanting to steal drugs from the ambulance. While Xander is rushed to hospital afterwards, his work colleague Jamie tragically dies at the scene.
Rather than wait at Xander's bedside for news, Rose focuses her efforts on catching the culprits and uses her position within the police to seek justice.
Rose's family-focused boyfriend Mali Hudson questions her priorities during Xander's crisis and ultimately ends their relationship, deciding that they're too different.
Digital Spy recently caught up with Kirsty Marillier, who plays Rose, for an exclusive chat about the storyline.
How was it to film such a dramatic story?
"It was really great. We have an acting coach that we work with and I was seeing her a lot around the time of this story. She's around all the time, but it can ebb and flow with how much free time you have to see her.
"We worked together a lot for these scenes, because I really wanted to go to some emotional places when shooting this. I knew that this content would push me into that emotional terrain and I felt like I was able to stretch myself as an actor in a great way. Both Luke [Van Os, who plays Xander] and I found it enriching and a real learning curve.
"When the stakes are high in a storyline, there's something worth fighting for in the scenes. I'm happy with how it's worked out and I hope that people respond well to the story."
The story is airing in the 'blockbuster fortnight' to celebrate the 8,000th episode. Were you aware it would get so much attention?
"You're not really ever sure! I knew that this was going to be a big storyline for Rose and Xander, but you never know how much light they're going to shed on it, in terms of promo and the content they put online.
"It definitely felt big at the time when we were shooting it. For Rose there were tears, screaming, fights, catching drug dealers. There were all kinds of big things happening, so you hope they get a promo in!"
Why does Rose focus on the police sting to catch the culprits, rather than staying by Xander's bedside?
"When Rose finds out that Xander has been hit with a baseball bat, she goes into protective sister mode. Rather than do what a civilian potentially would, which is sit by their brother's side for the next five days, Rose decides to go and catch the people who have done this.
"It comes from a place of wanting to do good and not being idle. She really wants to put a stopper in the criminals' tracks.
"I wouldn't say it's necessarily a revenge storyline, because it could be misconstrued as that. I think it's genuinely about stopping this hurt from happening again – and it's what Rose knows Xander would want her to do.
"It feels fundamentally right for the character, for the greater good, to get rid of these people and put them behind bars. There's so much pain that they've caused."
Mali doesn't see it that way and accuses Rose of abandoning her brother when he needs her…
"It really catches Rose off guard when Mali does that. It feels like a big swing and a slap to the face, because really Rose is pulling all-nighters to be at the cop shop and investigate this case.
"Mali's perspective is an interesting one, because it's about where his value system sits. He really puts family at the forefront of everything that he does.
"So does Rose, but they come at it from a different angle. That's where the friction is caused in the relationship because Mali can't understand her point of view and that upsets Rose.
"Mali turns up at the cop shop and wants her to go to the hospital instead. Rose gets quite rattled, because she's in the middle of a really important case and this is how she's showing her love for Xander. Unfortunately sitting by Xander's bedside is not in her ecosystem at this point in time."
Could you understand Rose's decision?
"I really had to think about what Rose was doing and get to a place where I understood it – and I think I do. It's about protection and Rose sitting with Xander wouldn't change anything. She needs to instigate change because she feels helpless for him.
"It was really important for me to understand the workings behind that choice, because I didn't want it to come across as selfish, or that Rose was using it as a way of distracting herself from her pain.
"That did exist too, but really it was coming from a place of wanting to create good and change the evil that was occurring at the time."
Mali ends his relationship with Rose after this argument. Is there any hope for their future?
"People seem to like them – they've taken a shine to their relationship. I think they really do have some work to do, though, if they're going to get back together. It's a pretty big obstacle to encounter in the first couple of months in a relationship and it hasn't gone down well.
"Mali has broken up with Rose in one of their first fights and that's why she is so caught off guard. I think she's just like: 'What, we're not even going to have a conversation about this?' That's quite hurtful. We'll see, you'll have to stay tuned on that one!"
Early in the relationship, Mali spoke about racism that Indigenous Australians face from the police. How did you feel about the show exploring that with him and Rose?
"I thought it was a really interesting storyline to throw into Summer Bay. It's complex terrain for the characters to be in.
"I myself am mixed race. I grew up in South Africa and I'm part African. It's quite interesting because we didn't have that discussion between an Indigenous Australian and a white person – we had that between two people of colour.
"I think that's actually quite an interesting conversation to have. It was a really smart choice by the writers to throw that in.
"At that point, Rose really had to prove to Mali that she's not her job. Maybe that's why he responds to this Xander situation so badly, because Rose really seems to be acting from the perspective of her job and career in this moment when she's trying to find these drug dealers."
Home and Away airs weekdays at 1.45pm on Channel 5 and 6pm on 5STAR. First-look screenings air at 6.30pm on 5STAR and the show also streams on My5.
In Australia, the show airs Mondays to Thursdays at 7pm on Channel 7 and streams on 7plus.
Selected classic episodes are available via Prime Video in the UK.
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