The life of Dean Thompson (Patrick O’Connor) was turned upside down when he learned that he had a son, Jai (River Jarvis), that he never knew about, and there were some tense moments between him and Amber Simmons (Maddy Jevic) as he tried to come to terms with the burden of parenthood.
The 27-year-old was already going through a tumultuous period of late, with the investigation into the murder of Ross Nixon hanging over Dean’s head, and the ensuing breakup with girlfriend Ziggy (Sophie Dillman) after he revealed his relationship with her.
A remarkable moment came in recent weeks when Dean was able to celebrate the birthday of his son for the first time, but this was not without his stresses as he was reunited with the disapproving mother of Amber, Francesca (Joanne Hunt).
Dean was concerned about the impact she might have on Jai, particularly when Amber barred Dean’s own mother Karen (Georgia Adamson) from being a part of Jai’s life, with Francesca making catty remarks about Dean at any opportunity.
While Dean and his friends have tried to reassure Amber that after being on medication for her schizoaffective disorder, since Karen is a different individual, Amber still knows how Karen used to be back in the days of the Mangrove River, and doesn’t think she can risk hurting Jai if Karen has an ‘off day.’
As a result, Dean was faced with a heartbreaking decision to keep a secret from Karen’s only grandchild or face losing access to Jai himself. Although Dean initially agreed to bow to the demands of Amber, he later determined that he was unwilling to turn his back on his own family, and posed an ultimatum to Amber. Either she allows Karen to join Jai’s life, or he goes through the courts to ensure that his son is still available to him.
Amber declined to retreat and told Dean that she appeared to be in court, with Francesca paying a visit later to give Dean a piece of her mind.
Dean got an envelope the next day containing a copy of his criminal record, stuck with a post-it note telling him he would never win. Dean, angry at the threat that his background could be used against him, fled to Amber’s house.
But he was confused when Dean got there to see Jai alone and hungry, sitting on the front steps, waiting for Amber to come home. Jai told Dean that his gran was supposed to look after him, but somewhere she’d have to go.
Dean made a spur of the moment decision after leaving an angry voicemail for Amber to point out her hypocrisy and packed some things up for Jai. Dean took Jai out of town, telling him they were going on a nice trip.
Amber has picked up Dean’s voicemail as we rejoin the action and frenziedly asks Willow (Sarah Roberts) and Colby (Tim Franklin) if they have seen him. All Willow knows is she saw Dean screeching out of the parking lot of the pier.
Amber meets and blasts Francesca for leaving Jai alone, but stops short of telling her that she doesn’t know where he’s been taken by Dean. She then confronts Francesca, with Francesca saying that she had done it to protect them, over the ‘big fat envelope’ that Dean listed in his letter.
As Amber becomes more concerned, by implying that Dean’s phone is out of control, Colby and Willow manage to placate her and pledge to get in contact as soon as they hear from him. They share their own worries when Amber is gone, the Dean was clearly not in a good position when he took Jai.
Meanwhile, Dean and Jai rock up and spend the night at a hangout run by one of Dean’s old River Boyfriends. Dean asks Jai the next morning if he has ever been to Queensland as he starts preparing the next step of their adventure.
When she meets up with Willow and Colby again, Amber goes through all kinds of emotions. Amber begins to blame herself, saying that Willow told her not to push Dean too far, but as she warns Willow and Colby that Dean has until midday to get Jai back before she calls the police, her low spirits soon turn back into anger.
Amber has a heart-to-heart with John and explains the situation to him when Colby eventually gets an address after Willow puts in a call to the River Boys. She tells him that she always tried to be a good mum, and she was caught off guard by Dean’s wanting to be such a big piece of Jai’s life.
Meanwhile, in the nick of time, Colby arrives at the old River Boy hangout and threatens to arrest Dean if he does not immediately come back to Summer Bay. Dean informs him that Jai is the only thing he has left in his life, and he knows that he’s never going to succeed if he wants to take Amber to court. He’s going to lose access and not be left with anything.
He has to explain, as Dean prepares Jai for their departure, that Amber won’t be with them on their adventure because she’s going to be pretty busy. As Jai hesitates at the thought that Amber might miss him too much, Dean’s heartbreaks.
Will Jai’s concern for his mom be sufficient to persuade Dean to return to Summer Bay, with Amber ready to call the police and Colby’s warnings falling on deaf ears?
On Monday 4th January 2021, at 1:15pm and 6pm, Home and Away returns to Channel 5.