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"Sticks and Stones" is the 1004th episode of Casualty and the 43rd and final episode of the 30th series. It was preceded by "The Fear" and followed by "Too Old for This Shift". The episode was directed by David Innes Edwards and written by Claire Miller. This episode sees the return of junior doctor Alicia Munroe who is last seen in the 2015 episode "Avoidable Harm".

This episode also features the much anticipated car accident occur involving Connie and Grace. When behind the scenes images were leaked earlier in the year, fans predicted that the events would play out in the 30th anniversary episode. This was partially true, as this episode leaves off on a cliffhanger, with events being continued at the start of series 31 in August. The events of the episode take place on 27 August 2016.

Synopsis

The episode opens with a view along the edge of the cliff edge with trees at the top, as Connie's car is seen speeding out of the trees and plummeting down to the ground whilst the song Focus by Ariana Grande plays in the background. The remainder of the episode takes place in flashback form up until the very end.

10 hours before the crash, Connie wakes up and goes for a run before going to work leaving Jacob in bed whilst Grace is at a sleepover at Carmel's house. After waking up, Grace and Carmel go on the trampoline in the garden but Carmel slips and breaks her leg. Steph runs out and Grace heads home down the road to get Connie to help. However, Grace enters the house to find Connie and Jacob kissing and is infuriated that she wasn't told that they'd begun dating again. Connie cares for Carmel until the paramedics get there at which point she's admitted to the ED. Also, Jacob is offered the position of clinical nurse manager following Rita's departure the previous month.

Meanwhile Alicia returns for a locum shift in the ED but is worried about having to face Lily again. Shortly after Glen Thomas is admitted, presumably drunk with some bad facial lacerations. He's treated by Lily and Alicia, but Lily asks Alicia to perform a procedure which she's perfectly capable of doing. Alicia confronts her about this, but Lily attempts to be nice to Alicia in an attempt to make up for the previous year. In reception, the staff are preparing for Charlie's 30th anniversary celebrations that evening at The Hope & Anchor.

Shortly after they undertake a CT for Glen, they discover that he has a large mass on his brain. When he comes to, Lily informs him of this but he claims that he already knows about it and that it's past the point of being treatable. Meanwhile Connie treats Carmel and discovers scratches on her stomach and also notes that she's dehydrated and malnourished. When she inquires about the scratches, Carmel tells her that it was Grace who hurt her. Connie speaks to Grace and she admits to it but Jacob speaks to Grace later and notices that it couldn't have been her as she bites her nails.

Sticks and Stones Connie and Steph

Connie questions Steph on Carmel's eating habits.

Shortly before Glen is moved upstairs, David goes to fetch Robyn to inform her of Glen being in the department as a patient. When Glen admits the truth to her, she gives him another chance and encourages him to get treatment although he's reluctant to. Elsewhere, Connie overhears Steph insulting Carmel and intervenes. Steph admits that Carmel has been consuming large quantities of protein shakes as opposed to food. When she gets a moment alone with Carmel, Connie discovers that she scratched herself due to the psychological abuse her mother was putting her through. Connie calls social services as she's concerned for Carmel's welfare.

After having another examination, Robyn and Glen share a kiss and Robyn insists that Glen shouldn't give up. Steph is furious upon discovering that Connie has called social services, but Connie leaves to head home with Grace. Outside the ED, Connie reveals to Jacob that Grace is okay with their relationship now after having a talk with her. As Connie drives off, she notices Steph get in her car and follows them.

As they're speeding along the road which is located on the ledge of a steep incline, Connie notices Steph racing up behind them trying to get Connie to pull over. She drives alongside Connie and tries to block her to get her to stop but Connie continues driving. As they approach a sharp turn in the road, Steph attempts to block the corner and is able to stop. However, Connie is unable to stop her car and they speed off the road and plunge down the ravine to the ground. The screen cuts to black just before they hit the ground and the words "to be continued" appear on the screen.

Production

Connie'scar

One of the images which surfaced in 2016.

The dramatic ending to the episode involving the car crash was filmed in around March and April 2016, at which time images surfaced of Connie's bashed up and vertically positioned car on set. This caused fan speculation to arise online, and predictions were made for the 30th anniversary episode. When the trailer for the series finale was eventually released in July, it was noted that the car scene wasn't to take place along the "regular stretch of road", a motorway where several car chase scenes have been filmed in the past.

Filming took place near Tintern in southern Wales for the scenes of Connie's car crash. The strech of road used was Wye Valley Road which runs from Tintern towards Chepstow.

In addition to this episode being the dramatic series finale, it marks the 100th appearance of Connie Beauchamp on Casualty, including her guest appearances prior to becoming a series regular in 2014.

In the episode, there was a noticeable continuity error with Steph's hairstyle. When she rushes out to Carmel on the trampoline her hair is straight, but when she arrives at the ED her hair is curled. This was likely due to the fact filming took place on different days.

Reception

Following "The Fear", there was a two week buildup to the episode which left fans in suspense as to what the big series finale was going to involve. A trailer was released on 23 July showing Connie's car plunging off of a cliff which caused more suspicions to arise. Following the episode airing, many fans praised it over social media but expressed annoyance at the 3 weeks with no episodes before the first of series 31.

Above all, there was a clear trend in fans being concerned about the status of Connie and Grace following the crash. Despite the fact it was already known through inadvertent spoilers that Connie wouldn't be killed, Grace's fate was unknown.

Alison Graham from the Radio Times reviewed the episode, saying "When Grim Grace turns up in an episode, you just know it won't end well and that's truer than ever now, with a cliffhanger that marks the start of Casualty's 30th-birthday celebrations".