Tara Ward recaps all the flaming hot drama from the 2022 Christmas cliffhanger.
Shortland Street has burned with the searing heat of Chris Warner’s loins for 30 long years, but last night Ferndale was ravaged by a different kind of fire. Ferndale icon Waverley Harrison temporarily returned as an influencer desperately seeking fame, but instead started a forest fire that destroyed an entire suburb and burnt down a hospital. Now Waverley will never get her own collagen powder discount code, and she probably caused Dr Love’s hair to be irrevocably singed to boot. She certainly has a lot to answer for.
The wildfire was the major event in this year’s cliffhanger episode, a brilliantly dramatic ending to a brilliantly dramatic year. The fire began near where Marty and Esther were camping, and as they took refuge from the flames in a lake, serial proposer Marty asked Esther to marry him. She was hypothermic and nearly dead, but Marty knows from experience that there is no such thing as a bad time to make an offer of marriage. They escaped to the safety of Shortland Street just as embers set fire to the hospital roof, leaving the future of Shortland Street to Chris and TK, two doctors who have only ever fought the flames of their hearts.
Last week Chris and TK were enemies, but last night they were united by their mutual respect for the public health system. TK was already reeling from the news that his cancer had returned, and threw himself into the blaze like he was Lionel Skeggins’ last batch of muffins. “I get it. You love this hospital. So do I,” Chris consoled him, as they looked fondly at the air conditioning units. Somewhere below them, weirdo hospital chaplain Scott was trying to kill paramedic Logan with a plastic bag and a blind fury not seen in Ferndale since Leanne attacked her flower stand. No wonder Chris and TK are so attached to this place.
This was a slick little cliffhanger, steady in suspense and full of dark, unpredictable moments. There was quiet panic as Drew and Nicole struggled to save Esther’s life and Chris bravely operated on Rahu’s firefighter brother without anaesthetic, while Madonna ignored her ex-boyfriend Marc’s cries for help. He had stolen all her money and she ran him down with her car, and now it seemed Madonna was about to win their twisted game of “who can annoy your partner more” by leaving Marc to die in a burning building. Sucks to be you, Marc with a c.
It also sucked to be Harper, who was struggling after coming off her medication for postnatal depression. She decided she couldn’t stay in Ferndale and hooned off on her motorbike, while back at the hospital, Logan woke and revealed that Scott tried to kill him. Noone was more surprised than hornbag nurse Dawn. She’d been secretly working with the police by pretending to be Scott’s girlfriend, but after they sinned together in her bedroom, Dawn kicked Scott to the chaplain curb. She liked Logan a lot more than Scott. Logan was much less murdery.
It’s not a Shortland Street cliffhanger without a cheeky death or two, and when Maeve realised it was Scott who killed her son during a swimming pool baptism, his time was up. Maeve chased the youth pastor down and beat him up, but instead of sending thoughts and prayers, the dramatic storyline gods came in and whacked him over the head four times with a fire extinguisher. It was Brightshine church leader and wealthy hospital donor Rebekah who eventually knocked the dodgy bastard off, and if Scott survives a beating, a bashing and a burning, it will be a true Christmas miracle.
But the biggest death this year was Shortland Street hospital itself. After Santa electrocuted himself on the coffee machine, flames licked Dr Warner’s feet like they were one of his wives and TK shouted at everyone to leave. The fire had won. Rachel McKenna’s old office was fast alight, the ward where Sarah Potts took her last breath now in ashes, the IV bar a ruined shell of gin and regret. The fire had succeeded where earthquakes, volcanoes and poonamis had failed during the past 30 years, and if there was ever a time we needed Chris Warner to belt out ‘Anchor Me’, this was it. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Shortland Street must rise again, in Dr Love’s hair we trust.
The Shortland Street Christmas cliffhanger is available to stream on TVNZ+. Shortland Street returns from its summer hiatus in January 2023.