Emmerdale took a dark turn last night when Maya Stepney (played by Louisa Clein) played cruel mind games with Jacob Gallagher (Joe-Warren Plant).
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In the harrowing episode, 15-year-old Jacob was seen growing jealous of his stepdad David Metcalfe (Matthew Wolfenden) and Maya’s blossoming romance.
The youngster was noticeably moody and disconnected around the pair after sharing a kiss with Maya earlier this month.
David picked up on the teen’s odd behaviour and shared his concerns with Maya, who suggested she talk to Jacob and, when that failed, she insisted she should hang out with Jacob more.
Hiding her true intentions, the teacher told David she did not want Jacob to feel left out and proceeded to play video games with the high schooler.
Jacob was particularly happy when Maya seemed to show him some attention, however, things become more troubling later in the show.
Maya looked to be getting too close to Jacob and, he was left upset when he saw David kiss her goodnight.
Later, Maya left Jacob a message saying she had really enjoyed spending time with him, but her actions worried viewers.
Fans of the ITV drama series discussed the disturbing scenes on Twitter and raised concerns about Maya’s game playing.
One viewer wrote: “I want to gauge my eyes out watching Maya and Jacob, but that’s how I know how well it’s being played! Poor Jacob is so clueless that this is wrong and she is grooming him.”
Another fumed: “What game is Maya playing? Leave Jacob alone!” While third said: “Jacob is in this too deep.”
A fourth commentator penned: “Maya telling Jacob she’s never seen him as a kid is quite chilling. I don’t think this is her first rodeo.”
Someone else stated: “The Maya and Jacob storyline is actually making me want to vomit. It’s an important storyline though, grooming by women is still seen as a joke. It also serves as a reminder that families are groomed not just the child.”
A sixth person shared: “This Maya and Jacob story is doing my head in. It’s grooming.”
Despite the grooming storyline drawing concerns from some viewers, Maya star Louisa has defended the plot.
Earlier this month, the soap star stressed that it is an “important” story to tell despite the “uncomfortable” subject matter.
She added: “This was an essential and extraordinary meeting. it is such an important story to tell, however uncomfortable the viewing may be. If it can help one person, then our job is done.
“There are many places to turn to if you have been affected by this storyline. #Barnardos #emmerdale.”
In order to accurately portray the grooming storyline Emmerdale has been working with children’s charity Barnardos.
For confidential support call the Samaritans in the UK on 116 123 or visit a local Samaritans branch.
Emmerdale continues tonight on ITV at 7pm.