ONE familiar face comes back to Walford after spending weeks away – but their return doesn’t go as planned.
Meanwhile, another EastEnders icon plots against one of the Square’s most notorious villain, ready to expose them for who they really are.
Christmas is fast approaching in Albert Square
One EastEnders icon comes back this week
Phil Mitchell is trying to take down DCI Samantha Keeble
1. Phil returns to Walford
With Phil gone, Kat Slater (portrayed by Jessie Wallace) has felt at a loss and her former husband Alfie Moon (Shane Richie) has somewhat taken advantage of her confusion.
However, in scenes due to air next week, the owner of Kat’s Cabs gets a visit from DCI Samantha Keeble (Alison Newman) who demands she get Phil back.
The detective follows this up with a threat – if Phil doesn’t come back to the Square, she’ll bring him back herself with handcuffs.
Later on, Kat’s love triangle develops as she confides in Stacey Slater (Lacey Turner) about her confusion over Alfie and Phil.
Alfie goes above and beyond for Kat and she’s thrilled by his big gesture when she returns home.
Charmed, she agrees to have a magical Moon Christmas as a family with their children.
But with Phil (Steve McFadden) back, Kat’s confusion grows and she’s soon angry to uncover the real reason for his return.
Phil also has to face Billy Mitchell’s (Perry Fenwick) anger upon his comeback as the latter scolds him for not being there when he was needed.
Billy then updates Phil on Lola’s tragic brain tumour diagnosis and he’s horrified – but there’s worse.
The pair could even be torn apart for good.
Things will go from bad to worse for Phil when Alfie wants Kat and the boys at the Christmas carol fundraiser, prompting him to categorically refuse.
Alfie doesn’t back down and finds him at the Arches to demand that the boys come to the concert.
Will tensions escalate?
Another return makes Linda’s blood boil
2. Linda is furious
Meanwhile, Linda Carter has had no option but to watch her former husband Mick Carter move on with another woman.
But this week, The Vic landlady played by Kellie Bright gets hit with another blow when she finds out a familiar face will be back in the Square.
Zack Hudson (played by James Farrar) drops a bombshell on Linda in upcoming scenes of the long-running soap.
The hunk tells her that Jada Lennox has offered to bring her daughter Alyssa to her pal Sharon Watts for Christmas Day.
Linda is unhappy to hear about Jada, who schemed against her to get her to lose custody of baby Annie – while manipulated by Janine Butcher (Charlie Brooks).
She has no choice but to be understanding when Zack then reminds her how much Sharon misses her granddaughter.
Given their bad blood, however, Linda decides to do what she can to make herself scarce once Jada arrives.
Janine Butcher isn’t fooling Shirley Carter
3. Shirley plays detective
Speaking of Janine, the villain may be able to fool Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) into thinking she’s harmless but Shirley Carter (Linda Henry) is slowly catching on.
With his nuptials fast approaching, the pub landlord is preparing himself for a new life with Janine away from Walford.
However, the blonde bombshell isn’t as ready to leave Albert Square behind as her other half.
This week, Janine clearly shows she’s upset about moving but Mick reassures her and promises to tell his former wife Linda about their move soon.
But Shirley is adamant that Janine is up to something shady.
Shirley overhears Janine making secret arrangements on the phone with a man called Steve and she immediately believes the villain is keeping a secret lover.
In later scenes, Janine breaks the news to her daughter Scarlett that they will be leaving the pub.
The young girl is worried that Mick will discover Janine’s lie and their lives will be ruined.
As fans of the London-based program may know, Scarlett is aware that her mother has had a part to play in Linda’s horrific car crash earlier this year.
Linda was framed by her love rival for drunk driving, which led to her being closely observed by everyone around her – and social services.
Yet while Scarlett is concerned Mick may find out everything, Janine stays calm and reminds her that Mick must never find out what she has done.
Unbeknownst to her, a sneaky Shirley has heard some of their conversation.
Later on, Shirley knows she has to get through to Scarlett to know what’s going on.
Unfortunately for her, quizzing the child about Janine’s secret gets her nowhere.
Her curiosity only grows when she spots Janine taking another secretive call.
That same evening, Shirley decides to watch Die Hard and Scarlett is horrified to see the photo of Frankie Lewis, which is proof against Janine, flutter out of the case.
In a flash, Scarlett grabs the photo and hides it in her diary – but Shirley is keeping her eye on her like a hawk.
Could the tough woman be getting closer to the truth?
Lola tries to live her life normally despite her illness
4. Lola gets sad news
Following her heart-breaking diagnosis, Lola Pearce (Danielle Harold) is trying to make the most of her last moments in the Square.
Ben Mitchell (portrayed by Max Bowden), on the other hand, has been desperate to help Lola find a solution.
When he was told her brain surgery was unsuccessful and she likely had a small amount of time left to live, the mechanic looked into another treatment and found a seemingly promising clinical trial.
But as Lola and her partner Jay Brown (Jamie Borthwick) go to see a specialist, they’re told by Dr Cunningham that it’s too soon for them to try this route.
Lola is immediately told not to get her hopes up – miracles rarely happen.
Ben is devastated to hear his efforts were all a waste of time and Lola is feeling increasingly overwhelmed.
She feels terrible after snapping at her daughter Lexi while Jay and Ben agree to make this Christmas one to remember as it could be the last one they’ll spend together.
Lola and Lexi make up in later scenes and plait each other’s hair following their spat – but things take a mortifying turn.
The young girl is horrified when her mother’s hair comes out in her hand and Lola is devastated to contemplate the dark future ahead of her.
Later on, Lola is feeling self-conscious about her hair loss and talks it out with Jay.
He promises her that he’ll always love her, no matter what.
While at the Christmas concert in the Square, Lola approaches Denise Fox (Diane Parish) and asks to come back to work, determined to not go down without a fight.
What will Denise say?
Mick Carter gets ready to tie the knot with Janine Butcher
5. Mick makes huge decision
The love triangle takes another turn this week as Mick finally makes a decision for his future.
Coming up, while Shirley is trying to sabotage his wedding, the pub landlord gets ready the morning of his wedding.
His mother is a spectre at the feast – but what will she do while Linda encourages her to drop her vendetta for Mick’s sake?
The latter then asks everyone to leave so he can make some final touches alone.
But soon, Linda offers him a final way out of his wedding to Janine…
The bride is later waiting for her groom at the registry office and Mick finally gets to her.
But what will he tell her?
Will the pair really get hitched ahead of Mick’s final scenes?
Alfie is trying to reignite the spark he once had with Kat Slater
6. Alfie declares his love
Alfie Moon (Shane Richie) has been trying to get Kat Slater’s affection again ever since he came back to Walford.
With Christmas mere weeks away, Alfie is happy to be spending it all in the company of his family, more particularly alongside his former wife Kat.
But he’s also focusing on the panto, although he’s left in a foul mood because Kat isn’t Snow White.
Instead, Alfie has had to let Honey Mitchell take the part.
However, things go his way when Honey suddenly falls ill and Alfie begs Kat to step in.
While everyone involved in the production is panicking due to last minute mishaps, all Alfie can think of is rehearsing Prince Carlo and Snow White’s kiss with Kat but she refuses.
The panto later begins but the cast are blindsided by the changes to the script, prompting Kat and Alfie to ad-lib to make it work.
Later on, Alfie makes a big speech for the finale and it’s clear he’s talking about his undying love for Kat.
He then goes to plant a kiss on Snow White – but will she let him?
The following morning, Alfie is in high spirits but Kat is starting to feel confused.
She asks Alfie to leave the home while her son Tommy Moon points out she seems a lot happier around Alfie.
In later scenes, a rattled Kat confides in Stacey Slater about her confusion over Alfie and Phil.
When she arrives home, she’s thrilled and emotional about Alfie’s big gesture and agrees they can have a magical Moon Christmas as a family.
But how will Phil’s return impact the reunion?
Is romance in the cards for Sam?
7. Sam gets a new love interest
Sam Mitchell (Kim Medcalf) made her way back to Walford earlier this year in the hopes of bringing her family’s empire down.
And when she wasn’t flirting with danger, Sam found the time to do so with Zack Hudson as the pair shared an evening which resulted in the latter’s explosive breakup with Nancy Carter.
Sam has since kissed her former flame Jack Branning after a drunken evening at Peggy’s but her love life has remained at a standstill.
However, this is all about to change due to Ricky Butcher’s comeback.
Actor Sid Owen recently reprised his role as Janine’s brother and his character evidently still has a soft spot for his former wife Sam.
As viewers of the London-based program may remember, the pair eloped in 1991 before separating five years later.
Coming up, Ricky and Sam have a row in The Vic about her looking down on him and he retaliates by telling her she’s a loser in love.
Sam rushes out of the pub and a remorseful Ricky tracks her down at the café to apologise – but she concedes that he’s right.
Later on, Ricky gets a second date with Sam and it all goes well.
They even share a kiss in the Square.
But when he asks to know if they are dating, Sam is clearly not as chuffed about making things official.
Perhaps learning from her past mistakes, she refuses to jump the gun and simply tells him they are “seeing how it goes.”
Will she change her mind?
EastEnders airs from Monday to Thursday.