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The Firm are an infamous gangland organization who served as recurring major antagonists of the BBC British soap opera EastEnders.

History

It was apparent that The Firm, a notorious gangland organization known as "Walford Investments" to cover-up their illegitimate business, was first originated back in 1970. Since it's foundation, the empire grew more powerful up towards the 1980s when the infamous gangland boss Jack Dalton took charge of the criminal operations on behalf of his elusive superiors Mr. Vinnicombe and Jesper Scanlon.

By then, The Firm ended up operating their gangland activities in Albert Square within the fictionalized Walford from East London. At some point local publican Den Watts got involved with The Firm and, having been in school with a number of would-be high-ranked members of the organization, soon became a highly influential associate within The Firm. At another point, Den used his connections with The Firm to force his enemy Nick Cotton into leaving the square after the latter had caused trouble around the neighborhood.

Soon enough, Den was able to ensure that his pub punters Ali Osman alongside fellow neighbors Naima Jeffery and Tony Carpenter would no longer be pressurized from The Firm after they ended up having to give the organization protection money whilst undergoing racism at the same time. Eventually, Den sold The Queen Vic to his successor Frank Butcher and his wife Pat in order to begin running his own wine bar called "The Strokes"; in reality, however, Den's new business venture was merely a front for The Firm to operate their own gambling den and money laundering activities.

In 1988, Den's association with The Firm began to crumble when his business conflict with his competitive rival James Willmott-Brown continued to escalate for months. Tensions soon reached breaking point when James ends up raping Kathy Beale, the wife of Den's best-friend Pete Beale. Enraged by the incident, Den sought revenge on Willmott-Brown and ends up manipulating Firm member Brad Williams into launching an arson attack at Willmott-Brown's wine bar called "The Dagmar".

Although Den had gotten his revenge and Willmott-Brown would eventually be convicted for Kathy's rape after a prolonging aftermath of her ordeal, The Firm are left unhappy with Den's actions. This is because police involvement over both Kathy's rape and the arson attack has threatened to expose The Firm's criminal activities, as Brad's colleague Joanie Francis has forewarned to Den earlier on. Because of Den's actions, The Firm find themselves facing the prospect of their operations coming under threat from police investigation.

Soon enough, Den is ordered by The Firm to take the blame for the arson attack in order to avoid allowing the police to investigate them. He initially refuses and ends up having to go on the run when The Firm respond by hunting him down. However, Den eventually turns himself into police custody so that The Firm would not be able to hunt him down from the outside.

As time went on, however, Dalton decided that Den has to be killed after it became clear to The Firm that they were unwilling to risk letting Den grass on them - despite the fact that Den never had any intention of grassing them up to the police. Under Dalton's orders, Firm superior Gregory Mantel takes charge of the organization's new objective - to kill Den Watts. In February 1989, Den learns about this and escapes prison to avoid being caught out by his would-be killers.

It then seemed as though Den would escape The Firm until they eventually caught up with him on 23rd February 1989, shortly after he parts ways with family friend Michelle Fowler - whom he got pregnant at the age of 16 with their infant daughter Vicki - at a canal. At first Den spots an apparent gunmen preparing to open a fire on him, so he jogs past the bridge of the canal where an apparent couple are walking past him. But it turns out that they were members of The Firm, and the man ends up shooting Den with a gun hidden in a packet of daffodils.

Following the events of Den's shooting, police find a body at a canal and Den's adopted daughter and Michelle's best friend Sharon Watts is later informed that the body is identified as her father. But it is soon revealed that Den actually survived the shooting, and that he has fled to Spain with the help from his mistress Jan Hammond.

At some point The Firm learns about this as well, and Dalton responds by seeking out a scapegoat to eliminate for The Firm's failure to having Den killed. He ends up selecting Mr. Vinnicombe as the scapegoat, most likely due to a power struggle between him and Dalton over The Firm's supreme leadership. Whatever the case, Dalton's plan works and he successfully has Mr. Vinnicombe killed as penance for Den's failed assassination attempt. Vinnicombe's demise, while off-screen, is implied to be quite brutal as his teeth were bricked out to avoid any dental identification before his corpse was subsequently dumped in the same canal where Den had been shot. Furthermore, it was Vinnicombe's body whom the police had found when assuming that it was Den who perished.

Over the next decade, Dalton reigned control of The Firm throughout the 1990s and the early 2000s in the build-up to the year 2003 taking place. During this time, he took a 16-year-boy named Dennis Rickman under his wing and spent most of the years grooming him into becoming his personal errand boy. At one point in 2001, Dennis was sentenced to prison for GBH amid his involvement in Dalton's gangland activities; Dennis remained in custody after he refused to mention Dalton's involvement to the police.

By the time 2003 emerged, Dalton was still the undisputed gangland kingpin of Walford due to his leadership of The Firm. It was also at that point that he started his own nightclub business called "The Imperial Rooms". Dalton's reign was brutal and terror, so much so that he is implied to have killed numerous people and even stabbed ex-associate Minty Peterson in an unknown incident between him and The Firm.

In May 2003, Dalton made his first onscreen appearance when the square's local hardman Phil Mitchell comes to visit him at The Imperial Rooms. Phil's visit was requested from his employee Alfie Moon after the latter's younger brother, Spencer, had been using forged currency at The Imperial Rooms. Dalton arranges for Spencer to get beaten up anyways, but Alfie takes the beating to protect Spencer.

A few weeks later, Dalton discovers that his secretary named "Helen" is actually an undercover policewoman named Kate Morton; she had been helping her superiors Jill Marsden and Dominic Price investigate The Firm's gangland activities. Consequently, Dalton plans to have Kate murdered and assigns his assassin George Peters to rape and kill her at her own home. George comes close to succeeding until Phil, who had recently dated Kate not long ago, comes to her rescue. He then confronts Dalton and explains the situation in the hopes that Kate would be left alone. Dalton agrees to let Kate live, but on the condition that Phil does a favor for him in future.

A few days later, George gets arrested by the police for dealing cocaine to schoolchildren before he is due to confront Phil in a showdown. It was earlier disclosed from George's involvement with The Firm that he previously killed the daughter of a bloke similar to Phil in an arson attack, possibly another one of Dalton's gangland activities.

Eventually, Dalton calls in the favor for Phil by ordering him to kill Dennis. This comes not long after Dennis is released from prison, and he instantly demands Dalton give him £20,000 as gratitude for the 18-month prison sentence that he and his partner-in-crime Tony Jamison did for their crime boss. Dalton at first orders his subordinate Andy Hunter to give Dennis £2,000 instead of the asking price, and then tries to have Dennis beaten up when he refuses. But Dennis survives and begins blackmailing Dalton for £20,000. Dalton eventually relents, but then decides to have Dennis killed for this and that is when he asks Phil to do the hit.

Later on that night, Phil confronts Dennis at gunpoint and is about to kill him when Dennis makes a risking deal with him - Dennis will murder Dalton himself so that both Phil and Dennis would be free from their common gangland tormentor. Phil reluctantly agrees after Dennis makes it clear that Dalton is a good as dead, most likely because Dennis realizes that Dalton will be coming after him no matter what so long as he is alive.

Armed with the gun that Phil had been given to try and kill him earlier on, Dennis confronts Dalton at gunpoint just as the latter is about to leave the nightclub. Dennis forces Dalton to drive them to the woods, then takes him to a nearby railway track for his inevitable execution. Once there, Dalton begins to psychologically torment Dennis by testing his "killer instinct" whilst professing that he was the nearest thing to being a son - to which Dennis responds that Dalton was the nearest thing to being his father ever since he started working for him at the age of 16.

When Dennis is unable to go through with killing his boss, Dalton begins to insult his family - who turns out to be Sharon and Vicki as they're Dennis' half-sisters. However, what Dalton doesn't know is that Dennis is also the illegitimate son of Dirty Den Watts and that the boy he took under his wing as the age of 16 was the offspring of the same man whom he tried to kill back in February 1989. This is eventually brought up when Den is mentioned, whom Dalton discloses that he knew from in the past; Dennis promptly questions this and Dalton reveals that he was the one who masterminded the events of Den's apparent demise back in 1989.

Dalton's admission of his role behind Den's apparent demise ultimately proves to be his downfall when Dennis reveals himself to actually be Den's son. It is then Dalton begins to fear for his life when Dennis again points the gun at him, only this time showing more determination to go through with it as opposed to feeling hesitant moments ago. Dalton again tries to stop Dennis by telling him that going through with it would cause both The Firm and the police to be after him, but Dennis doesn't listen and he prepares to kill Dalton just as a train roars past between them.

This is when Dalton, in a last-ditch effort to save himself, reveals to Dennis that Den is actually alive. Dennis comes to take this into consideration, but he tells Dalton that it doesn't make a difference and ends up shooting him in the head, killing Dalton and effectively ending years of his gangland reign onto Walford.

In the aftermath of Dalton's murder, both the police and The Firm begin investigating the cause of his death; Andy takes control of The Firm and visits both Dennis and Phil to question them about it. Phil eventually grasses Dennis up to Andy, who lets Dennis live when it becomes clear that Andy's qualities are different to that of Dalton's ruthlessness. A few months later, Den himself returns to the square - just over 14 years after his apparent demise - in light of Dalton's demise. When Andy learns about this, he confronts Den and ends up sparing him just as the case with Dennis. The police also come to investigate Den's reappearance due to The Firm's connection with his previous "death", but this doesn't last long.

Andy's leadership of The Firm continues for the rest of 2003 and throughout 2004, during which he acquires the local bookies to run with his bodyguard Eddie and later orders the death of his employee Paul Trueman from grassing up his drug trafficking activities to the police. However, Andy's reign comes to an end in February 2005 when he ends up feuding with fellow mob boss Johnny Allen in a illegitimate money transaction between them; Andy attempts to double cross Johnny, but this fails and Johnny subsequently kills Andy by luring him to a motorway bridge and then shoving him off the bridge to his death. That same night, Den ends up being killed by his second wife Chrissie Watts - thus making her accomplish what The Firm had failed to do back in the late 1980s.

Towards the end of 2005, Johnny ends up doing what Dalton failed to do back in 2003 when he orders his henchman Danny Moon to kill Dennis on New Year's Eve. It wasn't until 2006 that Dennis' death is avenged when Danny, on the verge of killing both Phil and his brother Grant under Johnny's orders, is accidentally killed by his own brother Jake shortly before Johnny is forced by his daughter Ruby to surrender himself to the police for his crimes - including the murders of both Andy and Dennis respectively. Then a few months later, both Andy's murder and Dennis' death is fully avenged when Johnny dies of a fatal heart attack whilst he attempting to eliminate Ruby's boyfriend Sean Slater. That same night, Jake is presumably killed when he is confronted by mobsters who most likely work for either Johnny or The Firm.

Since then, The Firm has never been mentioned again and it is most likely that the organization has totally dissolved for good.

Trivia

  • It is more than likely that The Firm was originated back in the pre-1980s, as they made a well-known impact throughout the 1980s before briefly reprising that role in 2003.

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