‘Dark City – The Cleaner’ Ending Explained & Series Recap: Does Joe Get Caught?

Known for its tranquility and friendly people, Christchurch is a pretty place to live. However, as the Dark City – The Cleaner begins, the city turns into a zone of massacre when Joe, a man with a cleaner job at the police station, starts killing women and becomes the Christchurch Carver. A serial killer existing right under the noses of the cops, Joe’s life soon turns upside down when a smarter criminal makes him her puppet.


Spoilers Ahead 

How Does Joe Operate?

Joe is a middle-aged White man with almost nobody in his life except his mother and two fish. He’s the narrator of his own story, and he claims that he’s not a psychopath. He doesn’t rape the women he kills because he thinks that’s what separates him from a monster His signature is placing an eaten apple in his victim’s mouth and strangling them to death. Impeccable at his murders, the cops don’t have a clue about him as he wanders freely, right where they scratch their heads trying to find out the killer. Joe treats his victims as new relationships, and he likes to stalk and get to know the women before killing them. His way of killing is so efficient that his fourth victim is still rotting in a car, which the cops haven’t found in months. Joe finds his victims while sitting by a bus window, “window shopping,” as he likes to call it. Joe sets his eyes on Laura Pilgrim, a local florist. 


Who’s The Copycat Killer?

A woman named Daniela Walker gets strangled to death, and a whole apple is left by her bedside. The souvenir matches Joe’s style, and he’s furious that someone is trying to pin their shabby murder on him. For Joe, his murders mean something, and imitation of art is not flattering for him, rather an insult. Joe starts to secretly listen to the detectives to find a clue, and he’s amused when Detective Kent suggests that this might be a different killer pretending to be the Carver. The detective in charge, Carl Schroder, knew the victim, and his suspicion pointed towards Mike, the husband of the victim.

What Happens When Joe Meets Melissa?

Joe searches the supermarket for the best cat food for a cat he just rescued from the roadside. A woman named Melissa suggests him one and asks Joe to walk her home. Joe wants to hunt another woman, and he’s trying to decide if he should kill her on the way or in her home. A dumb man gives her his jacket out of fake chivalry, and she takes possession of his gun. Joe could never imagine a woman who could possibly do this to him, when he stands helpless in a dark alley. Melissa saw Joe lurking around the Walker house earlier and figured he’s the Christchurch Carver. Melissa makes Joe take off his pants and cuff himself to a car. She makes him admit that he’s the Carver and opens his briefcase of death. When she asks Joe about Daniela, he swears that he’s still trying to find the actual killer, and it’s not him. Melissa takes a plier and wreaks havoc on his private parts before disappearing. 


What Does Melissa Want From Joe?

Joe somehow finds his way home and calls up Sally for help. Sally is a cleaner at the station, and she’s into Joe. A wholehearted Christian, Sally makes him sandwiches, and she’s probably the only person who truly sees him. Joe doesn’t let Sally call an ambulance or get any outside help. Sally fixes Joe up and cleans his apartment, even giving him stitches down there. Sally notices the police files and pictures from the Carver case in his apartment and joins the dots before leaving. Joe wakes up after two days, and he has lost valuable time when there’s a killer out there pretending to be him. Melissa sends him a cell phone and gives him two days to find out who killed Daniela. Melissa wants to see the murderer get killed, and Joe has become her tool for achieving this goal. 

Was It A Cop Who Killed Daniela? 

Joe hates his existence because of what Melissa has done to him, but he also must do what she wants. The Carver has now become a puppet, and a limping Joe sets out to find the copycat. When the husband escapes suspicion, Joe goes to the Walker house to investigate. Joe realizes that the investigating job is not an easy one. On his way out of the house, he notices a different pen lying around in the bed, which doesn’t match the pen in the photos from the crime scene. He soon realizes that his vision got too shabby, and only a cop who has entry to the crime scenes can swap the pens. Detective Schroder soon steps into the Walker house, and Joe is suspicious of Schroder being the killer. His list of suspects began to grow, and he narrowed it down to three: Schroder, Calhoun, and Travers. 


What Does Joe Do To Lure The Copycat Killer Out?

Joe decides to murder another woman in the Walker house as a trick to find the actual killer. He goes to Laura’s house to kill her, but finds her boyfriend in the shower instead. Joe runs out of the house and sees that there are already a few cops present in the area. Joe runs for his life after the boyfriend asks for help from the cops, and Melissa appears just at the right time to save Joe from the trouble. She makes Joe say that he missed her while holding a gun in his face. One can already sense the romantic tension between them, and even though Joe claims to hate her, he seems to be gentle whenever he sees Melissa. In the meantime, Joe, bent on finishing the job, picks up a prostitute, Candy. He drives her to the Walker house to finally kill her. However, Candy notices Joe’s briefcase and tries to run, but the Carver does what he does best and strangles Candy to death. Joe sets fire to the stolen car Melissa gave him in the driveway to leave a message for the police. Detective Kent must be Joe’s favorite detective, as she again cracks that it’s Carver telling the cops that he didn’t kill Daniela. A couple of other prostitutes are brought to the station for interrogation, and Joe notices one of them knows Schroder. 

How Does Melissa Help Joe Find The Copycat?

Joe finds Becky, the prostitute who knew Schroder. He picks her up from the roadside, but an inspector spots him. Sam, the inspector, was keeping watch on the other prostitutes for leads, and he got Joe on his camera. As soon as Joe takes Becky with him, Melissa taps on the window of Sam’s car. Becky takes Joe to a hotel where she’s a regular, and Joe asks her if there’s a cop who took her. He goes one step further and asks her if any one of them forced themselves on her. Becky tells Joe about one particular cop, but the description isn’t enough for him. Joe at first thinks about not killing her, but his empathy soon runs out, and he kills Becky in cold blood. Melissa sneaks up on him with Officer Sam in her trunk. She leaves Joe to take care of the bodies, and Joe drives around the town with two bodies. He collects the cat from the vet and drops her off at his apartment. When he comes back to dispose of the bodies, the car is nowhere to be found. Melissa leaves the car at Schroder’s driveway and comes to the station wearing a wig as a witness. Melissa loves to play with Joe, and Joe can’t figure her out. She described her first kill to the police and just came to the station to freak Joe out. Always one step ahead, Melissa goes to the hotel where Becky took Joe and bribes the owner, Wendy, to point to the cop who came here with Becky. 


How Does Joe Get His Revenge On The Copycat?

Ever since Melissa came into his life, Joe has lost control of things. His mother is dating an old man, and the cat kills his precious goldfishes to add to his misery. Melissa’s discovery from Wendy revealed that Calhoun was the guy. Joe starts to stalk him, but Calhoun figures it out and beats him up. Joe gets out of trouble by playing innocent to him, but he knows for sure that he must take his revenge. Joe texts Calhoun that he knows what he did, and Calhoun finds Joe again, thinking it’s him. Joe dumps the phone just in time to save himself again, avoiding Calhoun’s suspicion. He blackmails Calhoun to come to the Walker house with fifty thousand dollars in exchange for his silence. Calhoun is guilty as hell, and he agrees. Joe had broken into Calhoun’s locker earlier and figured out where he lived. After his divorce, Calhoun used to stay in a hotel. Joe works his way into Calhoun’s room after threatening a staff member and nabbing a knife. Joe wants to pin his crimes on Calhoun, and it’s essential that he get his prints on a murder weapon. Melissa and him pay a visit to Wendy after the police announce a huge reward for finding Carver. They tie up the last loose end, and Joe uses the Calhoun knife very carefully to complete his plan. He even gets a bonus; seeing that Wendy has two wonderful goldfishes in her house, he replaces his dead buddies with Wendy’s fishes. 

Can Sally Ruin The Party For Joe?

Sally has been worried about Joe ever since his recovery, and she decides to check up on him. She couldn’t find Joe in his apartment, but the cat comes back in, and Sally tries to get her out of the house. She finds a parking ticket under the bed and tries to use it to lure the cat out. She manages to get rid of the cat eventually and goes to visit Joe’s mother to ask about him. Joe’s mother reveals a lifelong lie about Joe as she tells Sally that Joe is a car salesman like his father. Sally senses something is not right and catches Joe in the station, but Joe avoids her. Sally follows Joe to the Walker house, where Calhoun shows up soon after him. She almost taps on the door, but an emergency call about her father forces her to leave. 


What Happens To Calhoun?

Joe knocks Calhoun out with a frying pan. Calhoun soon gets back up and almost chokes Joe to death, but Joe manages to get hold of a glass and slams it into Calhoun’s head. Calhoun wakes up to see himself tied up to a chair, and Melissa comes to see the man she’s been after for so long. Calhoun admits he killed Daniela and begs for forgiveness. Joe doesn’t want to kill Calhoun because of what he did to Daniela, but because he tried to frame the murder as a Carver killing. Up until now, Melissa never said her intention behind this whole thing. She asks Calhoun if he remembers Melissa Flowers. Melissa Flowers is a woman who was raped and killed by a cop a long time ago, and the case was never solved. This woman is not even Melissa herself, but her sister. For the sake of convenience, I’m going to call this woman Melissa. Calhoun reveals that the cop was never found, and it turns out that the cop was Melissa’s first kill. The resemblance between her sister’s and Daniela’s deaths was the reason she wanted to get to the killer. Once Melissa started killing people, she got hooked on it. Joe offers Melissa the knife to finish the job, and she stabs Calhoun, cherishing every bit of it. 

What Happens Between Joe And Melissa?

Melissa asks Joe to meet her at their spot (the park where she left him to die). She now wants Joe to find new targets to kill, and he still can’t figure Melissa out. Joe gives Melissa a recording of her killing Calhoun as his “romantic gesture” to her. This also meant that Melissa can no longer blackmail Joe, as he too now has enough evidence to nail her. Melissa is drawn to Joe, and her infatuation has turned to love now. The tension between them finally ends when they get intimate after this. It’s not a one-time thing, and they get extremely close to each other. Joe is terrified of her, but he also acknowledges that she’s the one he truly loves. Joe’s internal monologue has gone as far as them moving in together and spending their lives with each other. They go out together and window-shop for their next victim, and it turns into a perfect romance between two murderers. 


How Does Joe Get Caught?

Joe’s romantic paradise is cut short when the cops bring Sally in for interrogation. Joe had planted the parking ticket in Calhoun’s bag. The police find the fourth victim covered in cat litter, and the fingerprints trace back to Sally. Sally remembers the parking ticket being at Joe’s apartment, and she still thinks that Calhoun was hurting Joe. Sally meets Joe to tell him about what happened, but Schroder and Kent have been following Sally throughout. The cops have surrounded Joe within a minute, and he holds Sally hostage at gunpoint. Joe always had a plan B if this day were to come, and he was determined to never be caught by the cops. He lets Sally go and points the gun at his own face, seeing Melissa in the crowd looking at him. Sally tries to shove him just when he pulls the trigger to avoid his death. The bullet doesn’t kill him, and the cops manage to arrest the Carver after all this time. Schroder is disappointed that Joe turned out to be a killer, but Joe has no regrets, and he flips him the bird. 

What Will Happen In Season 2?

During Dark City – The Cleaner‘s ending, Melissa is heartbroken when she sees Joe being taken by the police. The breed of human she despises the most has now taken her man in. Like Joe, Melissa is also extremely unstable and crazy in love. The pain in her eyes when she saw Joe pointing the gun at himself was visible. She promises to come for him, and I wouldn’t question a woman as shrewd as her. It’s possible that she will manage to get Joe out of prison in the next season. It’s foolish to put anything past Melissa, who leaves no loose ends and can work her way through anyone. It’d be fun to see what they do to Joe after this; I mean, he has to pay for killing this many women (I mean, kill men if you absolutely have to?). The first season of Dark City the Cleaner is what Penn Badgley’s You could’ve been if they worked on the script rather than putting songs in it. The six episodes fly by you, and the mysteries unfolding with time are as good as peeling an orange.


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Aniket Mukherjee
Aniket Mukherjee
Aniket is a literature student pursuing his master's degree while trying to comprehend Joyce and Pound. When his head is not shoved in books, he finds solace in cinema and his heart beats for poetry, football, and Adam Sandler in times.

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