To the Victor Belong the Spoils

By Michael McCarthy

Phil Mitchell, once the Square.s resident villain, is on the run. Somehow sprung from prison . we don.t know how he got out . Mitchell was nabbed in an armed-robbery charge, masterminded by none other than Dirty Den Watts.

It looked like for a time that Den would outfox Sam Mitchell, and once again be the landlord of the Queen Vic. An ill-fated evening of high-stakes poker meant to cement Den.s position as top dog ends when Andy Hunter both defeats then humiliates Den at his own game. A villain for all seasons, Andy is as ruthless as Phil, as vicious as Phil.s younger brother Grant and a cool reminder of the cold-as-ice Steve Owen. Just who is Andy Hunter and how has he come so far so fast? Cast your memory back to an East End villain who made the Krays look like a pair of boy scouts on a jamboree. I refer to the one and only degenerate.s degenerate, Jack Dalton.

Phil and Dennis Rickman had the bad luck to be in Dalton.s orbit, each in debt to that sadistic killer. Hovering in the background, one of Dalton.s junior executives was Andy. Blink and you might have missed our Andy. Jack.s errand boy, Andy would grow old and feeble before Jack ever gave over his crew to this overdressed yes-man. Then fate in the person of Dennis did the world and most certainly Andy a huge favour when Dennis popped a cap on Jack. Andy made certain Dennis would not be a rival. All that Jack Dalton once controlled now belongs to Andy.

Then Andy ran afoul of a rival. Beaten up and dumped on Albert Square, he meets and is cared for by Kat Slater. Andy is now front and centre, not a fly-by-night or a one-off, wannabe mob boss. Andy falls head over heels for Kat. Andy begins to actively woo Kat while love-struck Alfie Moon pines in secret for his best mate Kat. Andy is the man of the hour, a presence here on the Square, as he moves ahead with plans to wed Kat in a style nobody on the Square has ever seen. Andy sets one of his thugs to give Alfie a beating to scare him off from declaring his love for Kat. Andy has invited all the Square to celebrate the nuptials.

Kat, a vision in her bridal gown, the minister, and all the guests are waiting for Charlie to walk his daughter down the aisle to wed Andy.

Then it happens. Alfie fights his way to the church, confesses his love for Kat, and the day ends with Kat in her gown running away with Alfie, leaving Andy furious, made a fool of by Alfie and Kat. Kat and Alfie wed on Christmas Eve, the Queen Vic filled to overflowing, Alfie making it snow on the Square, and Kat finally has her man in the moon.

The happier Alfie and Kat are the angrier Andy becomes. Charlie Slater kidnaps and assaults the man who raped Little Mo in the Vic. Charlie is facing serious charges but there is no money to hire a lawyer so Kat goes to Andy to borrow the money. Andy loans her the money, and like any good loan shark, claims his pound of flesh. Kat goes to bed with Andy; unknown to her, he videotapes the encounter. Alfie sees the tape, which almost dissolves their marriage.

Kat and Alfie mend the relationship, and Andy moves on. He now sets his sights on Sam Mitchell. Andy establishes himself in the Square by buying the betting shop, as he actively pursues a relationship with Sam. At one time, both Billy Mitchell and Minty try to warn Sam about who.s romancing her. Minty gets a broken wrist from one of Andy.s hard men, and Billy gets evicted from Sam.s house.

Andy gives Pat a much-needed job at the betting shop and succeeds in turning her against Den Watts when Den tries to put one over on Andy. Den is made a fool of in front of the customers of the Vic, including his daughters Sharon and Vicky, when they find out Den put up the club in the high-stakes poker game. Den decamps the Square, running away from his troubles.

Andy has met and overcome the obstacles between him and Sam. A walk down the aisle gets Andy an interest in the Arches and the Queen Vic. If we had any doubt as to how crafty he can be when Dennis agreed to be Andy.s best man, never again will we sell Andy short.

A serpent is loose on Albert Square. Give the devil his due. Tread lightly . and all hail to Andy Hunter.

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