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It’s been a harrowing six months for Coronation Street’s Abi Franklin (or Webster now, as she and partner Kevin have tied the knot).
In May, Abi’s (Sally Carman) son Seb was murdered in a brutal hate crime that also targeted his girlfriend Nina Lucas (Mollie Gallagher) because of her gothic style.
Months later the soap revisited that night in flashbacks which included Seb’s last conscious moments, in a haunting final performance by Harry Visinoni.
During Friday’s hour-long episode, his killer Corey Brent (Maximus Evans) was finally brought to justice.
And it was worth the wait.
It’s been a distressing storyline recounting a very real, senseless crime. Seb’s death also became the catalyst for a true ensemble piece, as several characters were immediately drawn in.
From Nina’s uncle Roy Cropper (played by David Neilson, who provided some of the year’s most stand-out scenes) to the usually-comical Dev Alahan (Jimmi Harkishin), the plot made an impact across the Street and raised important conversations about acceptance.
The attack left Nina a shell of her former self as she pulled away from her signature look and hid away. Mollie Gallagher gave poignant performances throughout as Nina slowly regained her sense of self, unwilling to let what happened change who she was for good.
When the soap aired the murder trial back in September, fans were outraged when Corey was acquitted while accomplice Kelly Neelan (Millie Gibson) was found guilty. Kelly was by no means the innocent party here, but she didn’t deserve to be framed.
Yet Corey was merely on borrowed time. Over the past year, Coronation Street has tackled terminal illness and coercive control with great sensitivity; so the show certainly wasn’t going to let itself down now.
Recently, Abi very nearly gunned Corey down in revenge. While he escaped unscathed, his blood-stained clothes from the attack were found soon after. With crucial evidence at last, the race was on to make another arrest.
This week, it looked like Corey was going to flee the country alongside dad Stefan (played by soap veteran Paul Opacic).
But tonight their luck finally ran out when Gary Windass (Mikey North) intercepted their getaway vehicle and drove them straight to the police station. “End of the road, boys,” Gary declared.
It was a clever and dignified resolution; and the perfect contrast to the way soap sinners often get their comeuppance — kicking and screaming and inflicting more violence. It was the best example of soap justice we’ve seen since Geoff Metcalfe was verbally annihilated in court last year.
Detective Swain, played by Vicky Myers, gave Corey a grilling worthy of a prime time drama. Sure, all she got back was “no comment”, but this didn’t actually matter as the police had more than enough evidence to seal his fate.
Upon walking free all those weeks ago, Corey had cruelly winked at Abi and now she got the chance to return the favour. When she later triumphantly punched the air over his incarceration, Abi had the support of the nation.
As realisation dawned on Corey, he switched from callous to quivering wreck for the second time in as many weeks. Through his chilling portrayal, Maximus Evans has surely earned his character a place on the list of Corrie’s most notorious villains.
Actress Sally Carman’s dedication to the story has kept us gripped, too. The memory of that electric showdown between Abi and Corey during ITV’s ‘Super Soap Week’, in which Sally exuded every ounce of Abi’s pain and trauma, is still fresh in my mind.
She has won glowing acclaim for her captivating portrayal, and tonight will no doubt see another outpouring of well-deserved praise.
Ultimately, Coronation Street delivered another unmissable instalment. It was a strong and satisfying conclusion, and the pay-off viewers were hoping for.
Coronation Street airs four nights a week on ITV.
Watch Sally Carman talk on White Wine Question Time about Corrie