TV review: <i>Killer ending for Shortland Street</i> <font color=#cc0000><b>(spoilers)</font color></b>

01:43, Jan 31 2009
KILLER INSTINCT: Shortland Street's serial killer - Joey (Johnny Barker) comes face to face with one of his victims.

The end of a year-long storyline came to a close last night as Shortland Street's serial killer was cornered. Reviewer Tracey Bond watched the nail-biting tension unfold.

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It was, TVNZ told us, 'the one you've been waiting for'.

Shortland Street's serial killer storyline has been nearly a year in the making and regular voiceovers after each commercial break warned viewers that tonight's episode may contain disturbing scenes.

Alice, who Joey abducted and kept tied to a gurney in his 'top secret' lock-up so he could practice live surgery on her, tried every trick in the book to get Joey to let her go.

"I'll help you Joey - I'm your friend," she pleaded.


When cajoling didn't work she resorted to deception and good old-fashioned violence.

Seeing her opportunity to escape, Alice flung the contents of her bed pan at her captor, before stabbing him - first with a syringe, then with a scalpel.

The acting on Shortland Street can be painful to watch, but the scenes with Alice and Joey were pretty intense.

Meanwhile, as Alice's fate hung in the balance, her boyfriend Craig and Joey's flatmate Kieran had figured out where Joey's secret lair was. Tired of waiting for Lara Wade - the world's worst inspector - to save Alice, they decided to take matters into their own hands.

And so in the twisted maze of the Pine Street lock-up, the Ferndale Strangler's carefully constructed web started to unravel.

Alice, hampered by a weeping wound in her side, fled Joey as Craig and Kieran tried to get to her first.

You could cut the tension with a scalpel. Talking of which, Alice obviously has a future as a surgeon - her well-placed scalpel nicked a major artery - slowing Joey down just enough to allow Craig to find her first.

"Go after Joey," Alice urged Craig, and Craig - being the good obedient boyfriend - did as he was told.

If all lock-ups are like Pine Street, you don't want to get lost in them.

Coming upon Joey around the corner, Craig was faced with a difficult choice: save Joey from his potentially life-threatening wound, or let him die.

"I enjoyed it Craig and I'll keep enjoying it. Let me die," cackled a manic Joey.

Obviously his colleagues had learnt nothing from the revelation that Joey was the serial killer and had been duping everybody with his nice-guy persona for the best part of a year: As soon as Craig turned his back the wily killer made his escape.

But not without Kieran in hot pursuit - Joey's eye-roll when he realised he still hadn't got away - was a classic.

On the rooftop of the lock-up it was confrontation time for the former friends and flatmates.

"Clare was my friend and you killed her, then moved in and slept in her bed," yelled Kieran in a line that was more Young and the Restless than Shortland Street.

"Clare was a slapper and you made everything easier for me because you hang round wth slappers," taunted Joey as Kieran throttled him. You can't get a better one liner than that.

Cue the arrival of the hapless Inspector Wade.

Cornered and with no escape route, Joey took the only way out - down.

"I am Joseph James Henderson, gone but never forgotten."

And with those words Shortland Street closed the chapter on the Ferndale Strangler.

The writers certainly pulled out all the stops to ramp up the tension in the episode and the actors also stepped up to the plate. Johnny Barker as Joey got to act his pants off - in the space of a minute he gave us remorseful, crazy and cold-blooded killer.

Production-wise, some of the sound levels were a bit too tinny at times, causing Joey to sound less than threatening and slightly cartoony. But all in all it was a killer ending.