As soon as the episode starts, we jump back to the celebration after Shannon was discovered alive. Julie (Sheridan Smith) attempts to discover the truth from Kinchie (Dean Andrews). While he refuses to disclose where the girl was located, Julie knows the answer is not what she wants to hear. Kinchie finally admits the she was found with her uncle, who has not been in touch since the girl disappeared. Natalie’s (Sian Brooke) boyfriend returns home. He grabs a few drinks and prepares to head back to the party. Natalie tries to convince him to keep an open mind, until the truth is revealed. Craig (Tom Hanson) and Karen (Gemma Whelan) are released and allowed to return home.
Julie and several of the other locals arrive and everyone escapes the media’s glare, by taking shelter in Karen’s house. Karen reveals that the police aren’t ready to let Shannon return home. Karen is asked about Michael Donovan (Sam Chapman). Karen is adamant that she never met the man, despite others insisting she has been with him in the past. Julie puts an end to the questioning and reveals she wants to plant a tree for Shannon. Michael is interviewed at the station while Freeman (Siobhan Finneran) and Grummitt (Steve Oram) watch. Michael claims his life was threatened by Karen, who forced him to keep Shannon. Julie learns more about Shannon’s recovery, while hunting for a tree for the girl.
After Julie returns with the tree, she gets into a brief argument with Natalie. Karen is escorted to a restaurant, where she is questioned by Freeman. Karen is quickly caught in a lie and forced to admit knowing Michael. During this time, Craig is questioned by Grummitt. Craig insists he knew nothing about Michael and was shocked when the girl was found. He also reiterates the fact that Karen insists she doesn’t know Michael. Freeman drops Karen and Craig off later that night. Then, she speaks with Natalie and tries to obtain information from her. Natalie insists she knows nothing and admits Karen is still her mate. Inside, Julie questions why the police won’t return Shannon. Natalie suggests the police aren’t happy about something. Despite Shannon still being away, the community buries Julie’s tree in the morning.
Later, Julie goes shopping with her kids. On the way home, they ridicule her for not being around. Nonetheless, she leaves them once again and rushes over to Karen’s place. She discovers that Craig has been arrested for having porn on his computer. Julie and Natalie speak privately. Julie plays stupid and Natalie is forced to point out that Craig probably had child porn on his computer. Both women also reveal that they were sexually abused when younger. Julie gets excited when she reveals a call requesting her to be by Karen’s side. Julie joins her friend seconds later. The women are told that Karen’s children will be taken into custody. Karen puts on a good show and breaks down crying. Julie speaks with Freeman, who reveals Karen was blank when she saw Shannon. Then, Freeman tells Karen she cannot return to the estate.
In the morning, Julie finally spends some time with her children. She is also introduced to her grandchild. Meanwhile, Freeman catches up with Natalie. Julie watches Karen’s interview with the media and tries to determine whether or not she is lying. During this time, Freeman tries to convince Julie to get more information from the woman. Julie visits Karen. The woman remains awkward and waves at those nearby. Julie gives her a bracelet and they embrace. She returns to Natalie and finally agrees with her. They contemplate what to do next. Julie insists they need to get the truth out of her. They meet up with Karen, who is with Freeman. Together, Natalie and Julie question the woman. Natalie finally gets Karen to tell the truth. She admits to setting up the kidnapping in hopes of getting away from Craig.
Karen is arrested. Outside of the police station, the community gathers and turns against their old friend. Then, they all take their frustration out on Julie. Julie returns to the estate and removes her tree. Julie meets with Kath (Rebecca Manley) and tells her she visited Shannon’s school. She also discusses her falling out of faith. In the morning, Julie gets a visit from Freeman. She complains about a newspaper article featuring a statement by David Cameron bashing the Shannon Estate. Freeman reveals that Karen has changed her story and is now denying everything. Freeman also makes it clear that the police suspect other locals could’ve been involved. Julie visits Karen at the jail. Julie insists that Karen should be apologizing to Shannon. She also tries to convince her friend to tell the truth. Karen is quickly caught in a lie, when she shows Julie a bracelet that isn’t the one she gave her.
Next, the trial begins and Karen takes the stand. She tries to place the blame on Michael. Natalie fights with her boyfriend, before heading to the courthouse. Natalie is questioned. She tells the court about Karen’s confession. She bashes the woman. Julie goes next. She takes up for Karen, but also admits she is a liar. Karen is found guilty. The locals celebrate, while Julie grieves. Julie returns to the estate and discovers that Natalie is moving out. Natalie admits Julie was brave to say what she said and vice versa. Natalie also reveals she has split up with Pete. Julie returns home and finds Kinchie watching her kids once again. Peter runs off to school. Julie reveals the boy is doing much better in class. When the show ends, we learn that Karen was released in April 2012 and Julie visited her frequently at the jail.
The Moorside Review
The disappearance of Shannon Matthews was undeniably full of twists, turns and deceit. The show shed light on the event, while diving deeper into the mindset of the locals. Nonetheless, much of the same remained from episode 1 to episode 2. Julie continued to pull the wool over her own eyes while refusing to accept the truth. It was great to see the locals turn against Julie, who has virtually used Karen and Shannon as a way to transform herself into a local celebrity and hero.
Despite learning the truth, Julie remained just as naïve as ever. She took up for her friend and visited her numerous times at the jail. All the while, she continued to ignore her own children. The Moorside almost leads one to believe that Julie may have knew more from the beginning. Thank goodness for Natalie Brown. She was the only one who had common sense from the very beginning.
The Moorside did good with the story and did great choosing actors and actresses that closely matched their real-life counterparts. The series is definitely worth a watch. A 7.5 out of 10 is deserved for the finale.