So it was with Lou Kelly, whose total loss of hope in the wake of heartbreak led her to nihilistic atrocity in the final episode, as she let her murderous plan play out even when any practical benefit seemed gone. Kelly had no hope left, and in the end was punished. Rita’s band maintained their hope, and in the end were rewarded. There are those who would perhaps have preferred something a little more complicated than “good guys win, bad guys lose, large number of unimportant characters snuff it”. But though Wentworth’s characters and storylines were frequently complicated, it saw its ending as a chance to tie things together rather than scatter loose ends to the breeze – to simplify, to clean house, like Marie Kondo in prison drama form.
Of course, one loose end remained at the end of Wentworth: the Freak. While Ann and Lou got what they deserved, Ferguson ghosted away from the detention centre to we know not where. She saved Vera’s life (and ended Ann’s in one of the great feelgood murders of TV history) and so could be said to have redeemed herself, but whether the Freak has turned over a new leaf, or escaped to continue wreaking havoc in some new arena, we shall never know. Unless there’s a spin-off, of course, and if Joan Ferguson, PI is greenlit I am absolutely here for it.
Besides the bare facts of the ending, the execution is crucial if a series is to finish well. As such, the final Wentworth delivered, with epic disaster scenes as well as trademark fisticuffs. When it comes to screen violence, this show has always known how to make a punch to the face exhilarating, and the satisfaction of Rita’s beatdown of Lou was a wonderful tribute to the countless satisfying beatdowns that came before it.
Was it perfect? Well, nothing ever is, is it? Some would definitely consider the heartwarming closing shots to the strains of Stand By Me to be pushing the sentiment button a little too hard. There is definitely a case to be made that the last episode had too little Boomer, the character that started the show as a sidekick and ended it as the series’ beating heart. Boomer, now pregnant, was given plenty to look forward to, but precious little to actually do in the finale, which was a bit of a shame – would’ve been nice to see her punch at least one or two scrags.
It’s also true that while many will have delighted in the victory of good over evil, others will have wished for a little more mayhem, perhaps even the sacrifice of a favourite or two: the miraculous appearance of Allie, alive and well, after she seemed to have been buried in the rubble, may look like a copout in some eyes.
But in the end, Wentworth stayed true to itself and gave viewers a closing chapter that contained all the show’s essential ingredients: the violence, the betrayal, the heartbreak, the triumph, and yes, just a sprinkling of OTT silliness. And as He Used to Bring Me Roses swelled over the closing credits, we could be glad that, as Oscar Wilde said, “the good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”
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