Wentworth Season 5 Premiere Recap
Wentworth is back, and if you thought the show couldn’t go on after the writers killed off Bea Smith, then prepare yourself to be wrong.
Wentworth / @wentworth_memes
Not that there’s any point in preparing yourself for anything with this show, because in the four seasons so far, you learn the harsh way that as soon as you think you know what’s coming, then you’re for sure about to have your heart ripped out.
When Bea died at the hands of The Freak at the end of Season 4, I rocked in the corner crying solidly for the next hour. I still don’t understand why they did it, but hey, I’m not alone there. Over the next few days, the realisation that Wentworth would continue without Bea sent me into floods of tears over and over. A fictional character. Endless tears. But this was Bea fricken Smith. The sublimely talented Danielle Cormack. Gone. And as far as fictional characters from TV dramas, she was worth the tears.
Many times over the past 8 months I have sworn off Wentworth, decided that I can’t bear the pain it brings. I’ve been forced into questioning my overall relationship with the show. Did Wentworth love me, like I loved Wentworth? I doubted it. No-one would inflict this kind of pain deliberately on someone so committed and devoted if they cared, if they weren’t some sort of twisted psychopath.
Then I would think of The Freak. The cruel, scheming, psychopathic Freak. Some argue her ruthless and murderous behaviour shows a poor, lost, little misunderstood child reacting to her harsh and loveless upbringing…
But yeah, nah, to me she’s just a freak.
So – how do you fit in everything that happened in this incredible first episode? What a way to start a new season!
It begins with the inmates learning the devastating news that Bea is dead. Before the credits have even begun, I have been hit with all the feels and the waterworks have started as Bea’s friends hold a memorial for her. A simple plaque with a picture of Bea and Debbie has been attached to the exercise yard wire, and red and white roses and pieces of red fabric are draped and tied on as each one says goodbye. Beautifully intercut with a small gathering at her grave beside Debbie’s, I’m guessing there wouldn’t have been a dry eye in the house.
I must admit here I felt a little disappointed there was no picture or reference to Allie at the memorial. She was the love of Bea’s life, languishing in hospital where a compassionate Franky visits to break it to her that her soul mate, the other seahorse, has gone to the great ocean in the sky. Am I cynical to suggest that this was perhaps an oversight on the writers’ parts, not acknowledging a lesbian relationship for the significance it held for both characters? Probably. But then again, maybe not.
In what could be considered some very deft foreshadowing, Franky and the newly un-suspended (again) Mr Jackson have a cemetery conversation about the “fucked or not fucked” justice system… with the agreement being that the most fucked thing of all is The Freak.
Cut to Joan, looking like a trapped wild animal. The murky green filters and low lighting add to the overall icky feel of the scene, as her lawyer arrives and Joan struggles to maintain control. She knows well and good that saying she stabbed Bea because “she wanted me to” sounds completely batty, and it’s a testament to the brilliance of Pamela Rabe that the physical signs of Joan regathering her self-control are clear for all to see.
Speaking of icky, while Vera is desperately trying to defend herself and her staff against the accusations from the board surrounding the murder, into her office strides the Prince of Ick himself, Jake Stewart. His suggestion – pin it on someone. Looking a bit bewildered Vera asks if that’s not a bit unethical. Hmmm… a little late for ethics now isn’t it Vera?
Meanwhile in flashback, we learn that Vera knows how things really played out, and it must have shaken her world. Not only was she the one who let Bea out, but she knows that Bea took the screwdriver. And at the very least, Joan was acting in self-defence. So Vera’s screwed in two ways – she doesn’t want Joan in Wentworth, but to defend her she’ll implicate herself, PLUS - she has to carry the guilt of her part in Bea’s death. Poor Vera, she just wants to do a good job, she really wasn’t cut out for this shit.
So the screws turn up in H-Block to clear out Bea’s cell and without a few dollars in it for Smiles, she’s not prepared to wait despite the pleas of the prisoners. Prince Ick shows up and being Deputy Gov, agrees to wait until after Allie returns. Maxy feels like she should have been there to support Bea (hey Maxy – reminder about the double mastectomy and chemotherapy… you’ve had a bit on your plate lately), but Mother Hen Liz reminds her that Bea always did whatever it was she wanted and no-one could have stopped her once she set her mind on something.
In another twisted bit of not-at-all-stalky foreshadowing, Franky is buying coffee after learning she’s just been awarded a permanent position with Legal Aid. Who should she ‘accidentally’ bump into but Mike Pennisi, the celebrity chef who’s face received the wok full of boiling hot oil in a moment of pre-chilled out Franky rage. Knowing it’s a breach of her parole, big-hearted Franky decides to give him a moment of her time in the hope it might help to heal. He questions her about the kite hanging around her neck. Freedom, it means freedom. ALARM BELLS!
Now I’m going to digress here. If you hadn’t read any of the preseason promos, and didn’t know that Mike Pennisi turns out to be just a little obsessed with stalking Franky, you’d think that this meeting might be just the tonic they’ve all been needing. Maybe they could even become friends? We’ll leave that until later in the piece, but right now, I’d just like to point out the dude’s name. It’s Pennisi. Pennises. Penises. Dicks. Dick. Yeah, the guy’s a bit of a dick. Nice job writers.
Oh, oh! And this leads us to THE BEST line in the episode, possibly the whole series to date. Prince Ick arrives in isolation to take Joan to the Governor’s office, and Joan demands his help in finding out who helped Bea get out. She’ll concentrate on the prisoners, he has to concentrate on ‘her’. Taken aback, Jake is quite genuine when he asks, ‘Vera?’ Joan’s reply?
“Just because you fuck her, doesn’t mean you know her.”
Oh glory be – as much as I hate you Freak, you are a truly delicious villain.
Okay – lesbian alert! We’re heading inside Bridget’s house (nice haircut Gidge, but after the jackets and your gay af walk, the next cutest thing about you was the adorable ponytail flick), where Franky secretly resides in a blatant breach of her parole. Lesbians hanging for some Fridget action will have to wait a bit, some sweet ‘comfy couple’ chat about how “free” (there’s that word again) Franky feels after her coffee with Pennisi, and a truly terrible play on words as Bridget calls Franky a ‘cunning linguist’ is all you’re gonna get.
Two opposing intercut shots. The transport van’s doors open, blue overtones to match the teal of the tracksuit, a figure with her head bowed. The inside of a cell. Those murky green tones as a figure sits, head bowed, on a bed. First the figure in the cell, then cut to the figure in the van. Both heads rise and look ahead to the warfare that’s sure to ensue between Allie and Joan. Allie is brought back into the prison; Joan is brought back into general population. Foreboding music and the eerie colour schemes follow their movements.
[At this point, just quietly, while I’m throwing my support behind #TeamAllie, if I were a betting person, I’d be throwing my money behind #TeamJoan.]
Allie returns to hugs from all in H6. She heads into Bea’s cell for some ‘time alone’ and is surprised to find no screwdriver shaped hole behind any of Bea’s drawings. Bea’s red blanket is still on her bed, Allie picks it up, sits on the bed and holds it close to her as she cries and mourns her loss. I dissolve into waterworks #2.
Creepy-stalker-guy – a.k.a. Dick – ups the ante on Franky, calling her at work and wanting to meet again. Franky leaves work to find photos of her and Bridget in an envelope under her windscreen wiper. She’s getting worried. Less about creep-stalker-guy, but more about the fact he – or someone else – knows about her parole violation. And now she’s in breach twice over.
Meanwhile the Freak enters the laundry room, while Smiles and Officer Murphy conveniently take a smoko. *Showdown!* Joan resigns herself to the fact that she’s about to go double handed into the ironing press and tells Kaz to get it over with.
But wait, what’s this? With a new Top Dog comes new rules, and being the leader of the Red Right Hand that only dishes out violence to blokes who are violent towards women, Kaz declares that there’ll be no violence inflicted by one woman against another. No-one is to touch Ferguson. No-one is to speak to her or acknowledge her. She’s a ghost. Not a bad strategy for Ferguson, someone who feeds on the negative attention from others to provide her power (although I personally would’ve started after the steam had risen over her peeled and blistered hands. Am I a bad person?).
Seems, however, Allie didn’t get the memo. And what follows is something to behold in its epicness as far as fight scenes go. Now, I thought the Franky and Bea fight for Top Dog at the end of Season 2 was as good as it could get. This went next level, as Joan morphed into a 6’1” long-haired Van Damme smashing first Allie, then any comers game enough to have a crack. Like something out of an action flick, she became the (un)Superhero using her superior strength, skills and guile to emerge victorious. She put four in medical, including one with a snapped arm.
And then… and then… she taunts them with animalistic and guttural screams daring them, goading them into following the same fate as their fallen comrades. Not surprisingly, none did.
Back in the unit Sonia is reading over her defence notes, as Liz looks a little guilty around the edges knowing she’s about to pull the rug out from Miss Fancy Pants and have her put away for murder. Maxy wanders in from her chemotherapy and breaks the news to Boomer that she’s being transferred to be closer to the hospital. Booms does what Booms does best and goes near boonta, as she locks herself in her cell threatening Maxy that she’ll “smash your fucken tits in” if she tries to come in. Maxy gently reminds her that she no longer has any tits to smash in.
Boomer is not placated until Miss Fancy Pants talks her down off the ledge, and Boomer sees sense that it’s the best for Maxy, but admits how much it hurts because all the people she loves leave her. It’s a very poignant moment as a person who normally communicates with her fists struggles to communicate her feelings with words.
Meanwhile Vera goes to visit Allie in medical, asking if this is what Bea would want. Allie confirms what Bea had known all along - that Ferguson gave her a hot shot. Allie is distraught knowing that Bea knew, and the pain that Kate Jenkinson elicits is raw and haunting.
Back in the Fridget house, Franky is burning the incriminating photos, as we cut to a glimpse of the extreme creepy-stalkerness of Mike Pennisi. He’s preparing a meal for two – one for himself and one for a mannequin called… Francesca. Dressed like Franky and sitting in front of a wall of photos of Franky, the Dick toasts the dummy after blow torching one side of a crème brulee, Master Chef style. Things are officially hotting up for this particular storyline.
Vera is now trying to work out how Ferguson got to Allie, and is a little undone to find in the records that it was her loverboy, Prince Ick on duty at the time. In confronting him he does what a slime ball does and points the finger at someone else, this time Officer Murphy. She covers for her pal, and agrees she did his shift for him, at the same time dropping herself neck deep in it.
Creepy-stalker-dude starts to make the full extent of his obsession known. He approaches Franky outside her work place and turns super nasty when she says she can’t see him. He calls her moments later, letting her know he knows where she lives, and that Bridget is going to cop it too, and their happy little life is about to come crashing down. Camera pans and the Franky-mannequin’s face is all burned and charred down one side. This is not looking good.
Franky panics (who can blame her). FRANKY WHATEVER YOU’RE THINKING, DON’T DO IT! But of course, this is Wentworth, and against her better judgement she goes and does it. Let me just say right here, that as much as I truly and deeply loved Bea, Franky has been my one true love since the very beginning of this show. Maybe it’s the lesbian swag, maybe it’s the tatts, maybe it’s because she’s a bad girl who deep down just wants to be loved (HUGE props to Nicole da Silva and her incredible talent for giving us this wonderful character), but right from the start I have loved Franky. Even when she was doing terrible, horrible things, I have loved Franky. So when she pulls up in front of what can only be the Dick’s house, you just know that nothing good is going to come from it. And I feel scared for her. I’m not one of these people who loves conflict (I know – why do I watch, right?). I want happy endings, I want people to find their true loves, and to be doing things that fulfil them and satisfy their souls. I am an empath, and maybe this is why this show kills me in a thousand different ways. But I watch it because it’s just SO DAMN GOOD.
So on finding no-one home, Franky returns to her car and before she’s had a chance to turn the engine on, the Dick has jumped in, attempted to strangle her with her seatbelt, and apply the very same blowtorch to her face that he fired up the crème brulee with a scene or two earlier. Franky pulls out all her prison fight know-how and fights him off and screams off in her little green car leaving him standing in the middle of the road eating her dust.
Vera… oh Vera. You are getting yourself further and further in it. The shit I mean. She’s taking the advice of Prince Ick himself – why-oh-why she believes everything he says is quite beyond me – and pinning the blame on poor Officer Murphy for letting Bea out after she “misplaced her swipe card”. Murphy denies it of course, but Vera says the alternative is that she will be implicated in an attempted murder investigation because she let Ferguson get out of her cell and hot-shot Allie. Murphy takes the first option, and both Vera and Jake stand back and watch as an innocent Murphy cleans out her locker.
The interesting thing here is that both are guilty of corruption, but neither one knows the extent to which the other is involved. Jake delivers the news to Joan that Vera didn’t let Bea out at the same time that Vera is dropping the phone Bea was supposed to use to record Ferguson’s confession down a storm water drain. Joan’s lip twitches as it does when she hears news that doesn’t please her, or when she’s feeling out of control. Bad things happen when Joan’s lip twitches. Bad things are coming. Of course, this is Wentworth.
Back to Franky at work. Ever since the Dick started stalking her she’s been trying to get a word with her boss. Now it seems, it’s too late. Two detectives turn up to arrest her for the murder of Mike Pennisi.
Hang on… WHAT? Oh Franky, my Franky! What the fuck is happening? I’m confused (imagine how Franky is feeling). In Franky we have seen Wentworth’s true redemption story, and I have of course professed my undying love, but now I’m going to throw something out there. This stalker nutjob has come off as the bad guy, but while Franky has been getting her life together this poor dude has been walking around looking like the son of Freddy Kruger – not to mention the physical and emotional pain he’s suffered while he’s been ‘rehabilitating’. Who is the victim? And then there are all the other questions this raises for me…
How and why has Franky been implicated / investigated and clearly framed for the murder of someone who she saw just that morning?
Does she have the strength to stay the course she’s on after being thrown back into the heaving, seething - yet totally non-violent – environment that is Wentworth?
Has Pennisi pulled a Bea and somehow killed himself but framed the person he hates most in the world – i.e Franky – in the process?
Would the Wentworth writers pull the same stunt twice?
I guess we have to keep coming back to see.