A new Home and Away promo gives us our first look at Leah’s injuries after she and Justin are driven off the road in the dramatic 2023 season return.
The 2022 season finale ended – perhaps a little prematurely – with Eden (Stephanie Panozzo) and Felicity (Jacqui Purvis) joyfully heading off towards the country farm where Felicity was set to get married to Tane (Ethan Browne).
Sure, Felicity had almost bailed on the wedding just hours before, but a pep talk from brother Cash (Nicholas Cartwright) and best friend Eden made her realise that she really was ready to commit to a lifetime with Tane.
The gang who had been hounding the Paratas just a few months ago had long since been forgotten about, despite them putting a bounty on Cash’s head shortly after Cash fatally shot gang leader Marty (Ben Wood).
In the final weeks, Cash brought his dad’s old ute to Summer Bay, planning to repair it and give it to Felicity on her wedding day.
The gang spotted an opportunity, and one of their cronies tampered with the ute’s brakes the day before the wedding, presumably believing that Cash would be the one to drive Felicity to her wedding. A last-minute change of plans saw Eden take the wheel, setting bride and bridesmaid on the road to disaster.
As Tane, Cash and their friends and family waited at the wedding venue – Tane oblivious to the fact that his fiancée had almost bailed – Felicity and Eden jumped in the newly restored ute and headed to join them, with no idea that the brakes were set to fail at any moment.
In the final scenes, we also saw Justin (James Stewart) and Leah (Ada Nicodemou) leave the wedding venue after Leah received a call from Marilyn (Emily Symons) – there’d been a mishap with the wedding cake, and Leah had to rush back to the Bayside Diner to fix it.
We then saw Eden and Felicity speed through country roads on the way to the venue, as brake fluid leaked out from under the car. Disaster was imminent, but we’d have to wait until 2023 to see it, as 2022 ended with the pair driving into the distance…
Now, a second 2023 return promo shows Eden/Felicity and Justin/Leah heading for collision, and gives us our first look at Leah’s injuries, which will leave her life on the line.
The bumper promo, at a minute and a half in length, shows that Flick and Eden will joyfully continue their journey when Home and Away returns on 9th January 2023, brimming with excitement as they head to the venue.
Leah, meanwhile, is less happy as she and Justin head in the opposite direction.
She’s seen frantically on the phone, telling someone – we assume Marilyn – to just leave the cake in the fridge until she gets back to the bay.
“We will be there soon,” she reassures Maz.
Sadly she’ll never make it back to Summer Bay, as tragedy is quite literally hurtling towards them.
“Slow down,” Felicity pleads, as the ute gets dangerously close to the orange camper van in front of them.
However, Eden can’t – the brakes have stopped working!
“I’m trying,” says Eden, panicked, as their reality dawns on them. She pumps the brake pedal multiple times but nothing happens.
The only way they’ll avoid the camper is if they swerve out of its path. Sadly, Justin and Leah are in the other lane.
Felicity’s panicked expression says it all.
As they swerve around the camper, they veer into Justin and Leah’s lane, and Justin has no choice but to swerve out of their way to avoid a collision.
In doing so, he flips the car.
We’ve seen this before, with the crash previewed in previous promos – but this brand new promo shows the dramatic aftermath of their crash, as Leah is left with severe injuries.
We see some quite horrifying close-ups of Justin and Leah being flung about the car as it flies through the air, before they come to a stop.
Yet it’s the final few seconds of the promo which are the most dramatic, as they reveal the aftermath of Justin’s decision to swerve the car off the road.
Justin is conscious, and as he clutches his head and surveys the smashed glass surrounding him, he looks to his left to see a large metal pole has pierced the windscreen.
He’s panicked as he realises that the pole has smashed straight through the windscreen and impaled Leah to her seat, who is clearly panicked as she takes shallow, gasping breaths.
Able to get to his phone, he dials 000.
“Ambulance, I need an ambulance.”
Will the paramedics get there in time to save Leah’s life?
The promo finally confirms the extent of Leah’s injuries. The wedding and accident scenes were filmed back in August, in the town of Blayney in Central West NSW, around 240km west of Sydney.
A photo, shared by a local resident on social media, depicts Leah’s wrecked car resting underneath a tree surrounded by crew members, giving us our first indication that Leah and Justin would be involved in a serious crash.
Another fan photo later emerged of Ada Nicodemou and James Stewart, with Ada wearing a blood-stained dress, hinting that she would suffer an abdominal injury in the crash.
Thankfully we know that Leah survives, with Ada having been spotted filming in recent weeks – but the severity of her injury suggests that Leah will have some serious recovering to do.
The new promo also showed more of the impact of the crash on Flick and Eden.
The pair look set to keep driving after pushing Justin and Leah off the road, and only come to a stop after smashing into the barrier of a petrol station.
It seems Eden is unconscious as Flick checks on her, and she doesn’t wake as Felicity shakes her.
At the wedding venue, Tane and Cash are clueless as to what’s going on down the road.
Cash, who now believes his sister has stood Tane up, has the unenviable task of telling the groom that his bride-to-be isn’t coming.
Somehow the alarm is raised, as Gary (Peter Phelps) – Felicity and Cash’s foster father – runs down the aisle.
“We’ve gotta go, there’s been an accident,” he explains, before he, Cash and Tane rush off towards the scene of the crash.
While it isn’t shown in the new promo, we already know that Flick’s car will be engulfed in flames after petrol, which is spilling from the ute’s engine, ignites.
With multiple lives on the line, will everyone survive when Home and Away returns for 2023?
Home and Away returns to Australian screens on Monday 9th January 2023.
UK viewers will see the 2022 finale and 2023 return episodes in March.
With just under a month until we return to Summer Bay, we explore everything else we know that’s coming up in 2023.