Filmmaker Shane Meadows' latest drama The Virtues concluded on Channel 4 last night with 'harrowing' and 'devastating' scenes that left viewers feeling emotionally drained.
In the closing feature-length episode of this four-part series, recovering alcoholic Joseph (Stephen Graham) sought once and for all to confront the ghosts of his troubled past head on.
A severe panic attack - induced by memories of the abuse he experienced while at The Towers home for boys when he was nine years old - came on as Joe and Dinah (Niamh Algar), his sister's sister-in-law, were kissing on the couch..
The attack landed Joe in hospital, where he finally opened up to his sister Anna (Helen Behan) about his abusers, telling her they were two older boys, brothers, at The Towers.
Later in the episode, Joe managed to wrangle the address of one of the brothers from his colleague Craigy (Mark O'Halloran) to go after him for revenge.
Dinah, meanwhile, learned from a social worker she couldn't contact the son she gave up for adoption when she was 15 - all because the boy had tried to get in touch with her years ago, only for his letters and drawings to go unanswered.
Dinah insisted she never received any correspondence from her son and discovered that her super strict mum had burned them all behind her back.
TheVirtues did not mess around. One of the most devastating things I've seen in ages.
Joe went to confront the pedophile, who was bed-ridden and dying at his filthy home, while at the same time, Dinah went to confront her mum.
As the harrowing closing scenes played out simultaneously, Joe tried to kill his abuser but let him be at the last minute, content in the knowledge that he has his life ahead of him, and a son to love, while his abuser will die alone and unhappy in the not-too-distant future.
But Dinah, overcome with emotion and furious that her mum appeared unremorseful for what she did to the letters, grabbed her from behind and choked her to death.
Viewers rushed to Twitter to comment on the devastating scenes.
One wrote, alongside a string of shocked-face emojis: "#TheVirtues OMG!!! She killed her mother."
Another tweeted: "#TheVirtues That mother didn't deserve to die like that.
That was far too easy far her."
A third said: "Woke up this morning feeling so sad for Dinah in #thevirtues. TV fiction I know but so powerful and I wish she could have had a bit of redemption like Joseph. Would have been too neat though for real life I suppose."
Others simply poured praise on the show as a whole, calling it "brilliant" and "devastating".
Someone commented: "Utterly brilliant. Beautiful and devastating #TheVirtues."
Another put: "Jesus Christ, the finale #TheVirtues did not mess around. One of the most devastating things I've seen in ages."
One fan tweeted: "Jaysus #TheVirtues was amazing. Harrowing and a real emotional slog but just brilliant. The acting. My god the acting. Shane Meadows is brilliant."
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