I can't say I'm unhappy to see the demise of Joe McIntyre. He wasn't in Coronation Street long enough to really form any attachement to as a character and he was rarely a sympathetic one. He leaped from weakness to weakness, dragging Gail down with him. She even moaned to her mother at one point that she was too old to be looking after a man, and wanted someone to look after her for a change. It's a lot of stress and baggage to take on but she stood by her man, even after his addiction drove him to break into her workplace to try to steal painkillers from the drugs cabinet.
He first seemed to be a great guy. Lots of humour and zest, he persued Gail with zeal but not in a stalking kind of way. He liked her, she liked him. She had reservations because their children were a couple and quite rightly too, because when it did come out, neither was too happy with the revelation. He thought they'd be good together and didn't let her put him off. It seemed like a very long time since someone really put such a smile on her face and although his temper seemed a bit quick to boil, he could be the right man for Gail.
Well, no. That's never going to happen, is it? Gail seems to be a loser magnet, I'm sorry to say. And very bad luck for husbands. She's had four of them and three of them have died, two by drowning and one stabbed to death. Mind you, she was about to divorce both Brian and Richard (who she found out was a murderer). Fate has funny ways of taking care of your problems for you, doesn't it? Even this time around, Joe was mired under debt to a nasty loan shark who might have come after Joe's family so very likely his death will mean that she's off the hook as far as the debt goes. As to the insurance fraud? Hmmmm... maybe not so off that hook.
It didn't take long for Joe's finances to crash and burn. The economy took a downturn and Joe's business as a kitchen fitter suffered. He took odd jobs with Bill Webster and even worked part time in a DIY shop. He humiliated himself and worked for a contractor through the despicable Len Windass who, thankfully, seems to have disappeared off the screen. The problem with that contract is that he had to borrow money for supplies (though why the developer building the properties didn't pay for it is a gaping plot hole never addressed. Nor was the fact that the building to be converted was little more than a shell yet Joe was putting in kitchens straight away? Maybe Len just met him in an out of the way location and that wasn't the building site, but that, too, was never clear.) Did Joe go to the bank with the signed contract to prove he had a way to pay back a loan for supplies? Of course not, that would be too easy. He borrowed from a loan shark.
And promptly threw his back out, meaning he couldn't work. He got coerced into paying Gary Windass and Jason to do some of the work which probably stretched his finances even thinner while he struggled to stay on his feet with the help of painkillers. And things went downhill into addiction from there.
Poor Gail, it was one thing after another. David and Audrey both tried to make her see that Joe was a loser. Yes, i know, people in real life have financial trouble and you should stick by your man but this is a soap, not real life. We can be hard on Joe if we want to. Especially when he kept making one bad decision after the next, ending with a fatal plan to fake his own death for the insurance, which wasn't going to pay out for 7 years anyway. Desperation makes strange bedfellows.
How was that plan really going to help Gail? wouldn't anyone notice her taking regular weekend jaunts to Ireland where Joe said he'd go and hide under a new identity? Did he really think she would be able to maintain the pretence for all those years? And then what? He's declared dead, she gets the cash and leaves town, home and the family she's so tied to? Well, she wouldn't have to find out. Joe couldn't even do this right. He got knocked overboard when the boom caught a gust of wind (on a glass-clear lake, another plot hole, but I digress.) Because he'd had a sprained wrist, he couldn't haul himself back on board (why didn't he swim to the dingy he was chasing instead?) and finally just gave up and slipped beneath the surface.
Gail is frantic, thinking he really did go through with his plan but she didn't hold up her end of things. She was supposed to report him missing but because she thought he'd change his mind, she refused to go to the police in spite of David's urging. That's going to be her undoing. Spoilers say Gail will go to jail for his murder in the insurance scam because he forged her signature on the application for the life insurance. No health checkups, and i think it would look suspicious that someone would drop out of sight two weeks after signing a new policy even if it wasn't to pay out for 7 years? The insurance company and the police agree. So Joe is dragging Gail even further down from the grave. Naturally it looks suspicious and Joe's daughter Tina will think the worst of Gail even though she knows her father's situation with the loan shark. Why on earth would she think Gail would kill Joe? Wouldn't it make more sense to assume he killed himself on purpose if you didn't know about the fake-death plan?
Ah well. It doesn't matter. Joe's death and the aftermath will to have repercussions that will last all year long and to tell you the truth, now that he's off the canvas, I'm going to be looking forward to the ride! Gail is one of my favourite characters even if she can be headstrong, bossy, blind to her children's faults and miserable. Even if she's turned into Mini-Ivy Tilsley, she's still a lot nicer than Ivy and hasn't turned into a bitter middle aged harpy in spite of having a lot of good reason to be that way. Not yet anyway. But it could be on the cards after this year is over!