Wentworth S05E11 Recap: Coup De GraceJoan’s reign of terror is over as Vera saves her from a lynching, while Sonia finally cracks Liz over Witness X.


INTENSE! After a few weeks of Wentworth floundering a little in order to make its way to this, the penultimate episode, it was back with a bang this week.

In what could almost have constituted a series finale, I’m left wondering what the writers have left in the bag to pull out for next week’s last episode of Season 5. We already know Season 6 has been commissioned, so expect a massive cliff-hanger, maybe the death of another character (at the hand of the Freak?) – perhaps Franky and Allie finally complete their BDE (Big Dumb Escape)… but let’s speculate no further and get into the recap of Episode 11.

Bad Boy Jake the Snake seems to have finally developed a bit of a conscience about all the truly fucked up and shitty things he’s been doing since his arrival at Wentworth. Waking up in a cold sweat, he’s been dreaming that the person he shot in the back of the van at the end of Season 4 was in fact Vera, and not Nils Jesper. Could it be that he’s developed feelings for Vera, and it’s eating away at him that he’s so complicit in all of Joan’s plans to bring her down?

His panicked search though the house finds Vera making coffee in the kitchen – where she suggests they drop their pretence of driving separate cars to work and start arriving together. He likes this idea. Not because he can use it to hurt her, but because he actually likes the idea. THE BIG LUG HAS FALLEN FOR HER! Joan will not be happy.

He goes to tell Joan he’s out, but Joan won’t hear of it because they are ‘simpatico’ and ‘you’d be dead without me.’ He mumbles something about death being better that working for her anymore, so she taunts him that he’s too gutless to kill himself, but if he does, “make it count, do it in Vera’s bedroom.” The. Depths. Of. Depravity. She then orders him to “break up with her. Be cruel. Make her suffer.” He looks at her likes she’s some alien life form and that he doesn’t know how vile she actually is.


Off he trots and finds Vera, and at first we’re led to believe (maybe that was his intention at first) that he’s once again going to do Joan’s bidding, before he turns around and says, “let’s get the fuck out of here. Go anywhere we want. We’re better off walking away that staying.” Then, THEN, THEN, “I love you Vera…” And he means it. But she shatters his plans by replying (and seriously, how well does he know her – what else would Vera say?), “I can’t just up and leave when things get difficult. I don’t work like that.” But she strides away, biting her bottom lip, with a little bit of the ‘OMG I can’t believe he just told me he loves me’ look on her face.


A discussion between Will and Vera on how long Franky is to be left in the slot is interrupted by Channing who commends her judgement that it’s probably for the better to keep Franky there given her accusations against Ferguson. But then he drops the bombshell that he intends to recommend her permanent removal from the Governorship, which prompts a radical shake-up of Vera’s normally conservative and (fairly, for the most part) by-the-book approach to her job.

Channing then has Joan brought to his office and, after a bit of banter which included the line “to me you’ll always be a brothel-owning pimp masquerading as a regional manager” from Joan, who really does get all the best that the writers have to offer, Channing tells her that Franky’s being released from the slot ‘and remember this waiver you signed that if anything happened to you the prison wasn’t responsible?’ And “if it does, Joan, it’s not my fuckin’ funeral.”


 Hope they tear you to pieces.


After the news from Channing, Vera goes off to find Jake to agree to his plan to ‘get the fuck out of here… I love you too… as in right now… as in I’ll go and find Channing and tell him where to stick his job.’ Jake is happier than a pig in poo, thinking he’s managed to get away from the Freak, and get the girl. It’s all fallen into place for Jake the Snake, and Vera is feeling pretty pleased with herself too. BUT – on her way to Channing’s office, she comes across the Freak. Vera is fairly bouncing along with an “ain’t nothing gonna rain on my parade” look on her face… but she’s underestimated – yet again – the size of the storm Joan can bring.


He loves me, he loves me, he loves me…

Got some things you might want to hear Vera. Brace yourself, it’s going to hurt.


Oh Vera, she’s about to trip you up and land you face first in the dirt. “Everything is based on a lie”… “He’s reported back everything you’ve done”… “Working for me all along” … “We’ve had a good laugh at how pathetic you are”… “You know a man like Jake could never love you”… Vera’s walls come tumbling down as Joan unleashes wave after wave of hurt upon her, and she can barely make it into the lift before hitting the emergency stop button and crashing, sobbing, to the floor.


 Fuck that’s gotta hurt!


Vera’s not going to take Joan’s story lying down for too long. She calls Jake in, tells him she knows everything and while he’s trying to explain why he’s fucked her over continually for months on end and should get another chance, she tells him to resign or be sacked, but he loves her… Her reply? “Get the fuck out”! Go Vera! Jake strides very purposefully to the laundry where he clears everyone out except Joan and claims, “I swear, I will do whatever it takes to fucking take you down.” But she lets him know that she’s had her lawyer have all the paper trail for the drug money lead directly to him, so he’s pretty much fucked. Vera meanwhile, apologises to Will and these BFFs are BFFs again.


We good ,bro? Yeah, always Vera.


Destroyed by the woman he loves (boo hoo), and fearful that he’ll never escape Joan’s scaly talons, Jake heads off to the scene of Nils Jespers’ murder and tries to gas himself in his car, but then thinks better of it, opening the door, falling out onto the ground and coughing and gasping for air. Back to Vera’s place to collect his stuff, he also tells her he has no plans to resign (what???), and if she tries to force him, he’ll drop her in it because he knows she let Bea out and that she scapegoated Officer Murphy back in episode 2. It’s officially a stalemate.


In her role as peer worker, Kaz come to see Franky in the slot – who’s lost track of the six days she’s been there. Franky’s first concern is the workshop and the delivery, concerned that her BDE is now compromised because – locked up in the slot. BUT, before the Freak killed Iman, the whole point of the BDE was to find out who killed Pennisi, but now she knows who did it, the whole point of the BDE is … ? I’m not sure. To live as a criminal on the run till she either a) dies or b) is recaptured. That pretty much seems the options right about now. She’s hardly going to be able to creep around without anyone noticing, collecting evidence to show that Iman killed Pennisi. And then there’s the tiny little issue that the cops think she killed Iman. This BDE makes even less sense than before Franky!!


Kaz is all confused, like who cares about the workshop, you’ve got bigger things to worry about. Franky tells her that the Freak killed Iman and Kaz is all, ‘FUCK. We have to bring down The Freak.’ Next thing Kaz is calling a meeting with her Red Right Hand crew, with Allie back in the fold. As one of them rightly points out, ‘she’s got Tina’s crew, the Boys, the Kooris, the smackheads and everyone else is shit scared of her.’ Hard to crack those nuts all at once. But Kaz is inspired and determined to “take that bitch down” – prison-but-not-violent style… an informal court where she has to address her crimes, mostly the ones consisting of killing someone. When she comes across Joan a little later she tells her, “I know what you’ve done; justice is coming.” Joan replies with, “I’ll put the kettle on.” Classic.


Liz is back with the Detective investigating the perjury charge. They’ve put a bunch of clues together and worked out there must have been collusion for the story to fall apart so easily on the day of the trial, but of course, she thinks it’s between Liz and Sonia. Liz’s charge is going to be upgraded to ‘perverting the course of justice.’ She’s pretty shook up, as you’d expect, but the cogs in her head finally start turning, and she realises she was completely duped by Dirty Detective Don, and the collusion was between him and Sonia. Poor Liz. Does she feel used, emotionally abused and totally stupid? Yes, yes she does. Meanwhile at Sonia’s committal hearing she’s accepted a plea bargain of manslaughter, and she’s going to be locked up for ‘quite a while longer’. Liz confronts Sonia having worked it all out, and Sonia pretends to have just worked out that Liz was Witness X, which eats away at Liz’s guilty conscience.


Crying in her cell, Booms stops by and offers support, until Sonia casually drops it to Boomer that Liz was Witness X. To simple Boomer, this is a step too far – especially after Liz being the Season 2 lagger, and she expects that they all live by the code – DO NOT LAG. She confronts Liz who completely loses it, yelling over and over “I’m a fuck up, I’m a fuck up” as she pulls her hair out by the handful, and falling to the floor and crawling at Boomer’s feet. It’s a frightening (and very convincing) portrayal of a person having a complete breakdown. Sedated in medical later, Sonia approaches her and calls her “the perfect patsy” and promises to “take care of her in her own unique way.” Sonia’s sociopathic personality is shining brighter and brighter.


Liz has lost it.


Franky’s released and walks into a group meeting led by Kaz. She wants no part of the ‘Kangaroo Court’ to hold Joan accountable because “if you take her down, she’ll just rise up again because she’s willing to do what no-one else is.” Besides, Franky’s only focused on the BDE, so trying to bring down Ferguson, even though both Kaz and Allie implore that “the women will listen to you”, it doesn’t interest her at all. She’s a little gobsmacked that Allie hasn’t gone on with plans for the BDE while she’s been in the slot, and grabbed some pliers from the workshop so they can remove the staples, once they’re locked in the box, but Allie has become invested in Kaz’s plan as a way to get her revenge for Bea, and wants to take The Freak down before they go – and it’s only two days away until the delivery leaves the prison. Franky’s attitude is “fuck The Freak”, and if you’re not committed, then don’t come with me.


Hot dayum!


Franky goes to medical to get her wound from the Iman attack tended and her TOTALLY ADORBS face as she flirts outrageously with Nurse Ratchett had me weak at the knees. She sees where the keys to some of the supplies are kept, so while Nursey is out of the room momentarily she finagles herself a couple of pairs of scissors and a few other bits and pieces – all for the BDE. Her peace offering to Allie is one of the pairs of scissors they can use to bust open the staples (presumably on the box they’re in), and Allie is back in on the BDE, but wants to Franky to help Kaz to help the women by destroying Joan before they go. Franky is pissed off and frustrated.


BUT – here we are on the final dip of the rollercoaster that was this week’s episode. RRH crew jump Joan in her cell, holding a shiv to her throat. When Franky appeared saying “it’s your day in court Freak” I nearly jumped off the couch in excitement, but then realised even though she’s not personally holding the shiv to her throat, this is not a good move for her in terms of the double murder and her defence.


Gotcha Freak!


But then I remembered the BDE, and I thought Franky is fucked anyway, so it doesn’t really matter what she does.  The Freak is tied up and led into the yard. Not a position Joan expected to find herself in. Her supporters are not too happy, and neither are the guards as they are all ordered out as Smiles is taken hostage with a shiv to her throat. She has the presence of mind to press the talk button on her radio, so that there’s sound to go with the CCTV vision that Channing, Vera and Will are watching in the governor’s office. Channing is coked up to the eyeballs, and insists that no one does anything that they just ‘see how it plays out.’ Vera storms off, and Channing orders her not to interfere. Methinks Vera won’t listen.


Day of Retribution.


What follows is some bloody fine acting by both Tammy McIntosh and Pamela Rabe as the Kangaroo Court unfolds. Like seriously good performances from each of them. Kaz lets them know what’s about to happen, Tina says you must challenge one-on-one for Top Dog, Kaz reminds them that the Freak took over in a coup and it’s time everyone has the chance to have their say without fear of a Top Dog who keeps them in order by terrorising everyone. Franky steps up. ‘She killed Iman. She killed Bea. Eight stab wounds isn’t self defence.’ [Wasn’t it 13??] ‘She also killed Simone Slater with a hot shot.

She hot shotted Allie. You tortured Jodie Spiteri till she shoved a pencil in her eye. You cut Lucy Gambaro’s tongue out. And you killed Jess Warner when you started the fire that nearly killed all of us. Don’t be afraid. The bitch bleeds just like the rest of us. Stand together, we can beat her.’ Joan demands her time to speak and what follows is at once predictable (that Joan can’t help herself but show her utter contempt for the women), but also shocking as a pack mentality descends and a true ‘Lord of the Flies’ moment is upon them. And through all this, Channing insists no officer does a thing.


Nobody move.


Tied up to the basketball ring The Freak starts with reason. Firstly she doesn’t deny anything Franky says, but instead says, “I’m here to look after you, everything I do, I do for you…” before the true psychopathic thoughts break through as she lets them know what she truly thinks. “You lack discipline and intelligence, you need me, I give you order, you’re all PIGS.” Rabe’s performance as Joan loses control is BEYOND, and well, at this point, even her most ardent supporters are pretty pissed off, and how!

The chant of ‘fight, fight’ and ‘guilty, guilty’ goes up and Kaz calls for a vote while Franky and Allie look on rather smugly at her break down knowing she just shot herself in the foot, and Sonia looks like the cat that got the cream. Sonia for Top Dog in Season 6, perhaps?


You’ve done nothing for me but destroy my already pretty shitty life.


A rope is thrown in… OKAY, WHERE DOES A ROPE COME FROM?? WHO HAS A ROPE?? This – I don’t believe… but, it makes for good drama I suppose, as  Kaz screams, Vera is basically begging Channing to let the officers in, and Channing is denying that request. Kaz tries to get Franky to stop them, but she knows she’s no match for a mob screaming for blood, and the panicked look between the main cast members inside the wire and the officers outside the wire allow for the “extras” and “lesser” cast members to be responsible for the lynching.

Except Sonia, who just watches on with morbid interest, the ‘good gals’ are all tearing up, as Ferguson’s face turns blotchy and purple, she dribbling and spitting and her kicking slows. It’s fucking gruesome.


You have to stop them Franky.

Nothin’ I can do.

 WTF have I done?


Vera defies orders and bursts in, screaming at the ones holding Smiles to give up the shiv.  In desperation she runs to the rope and slashes through it. Joan falls to the ground (smacking her head on the bitumen mind you, so if the lynching didn’t do enough damage, the brain injury might just finish her off…). Sonia’s little grin as Vera begins CPR and mouth-to-mouth in complete silence as the ring of prisoners and officers all watch on is just a little sickening – but then the writers fall back on a visual they’ve used before.

We think she’s dead (Kaz end S4), we think she’s dead (Kaz end S4), we think she’s dead (Kaz end S4), and then BOOM – her eyes spring open (oh, Kaz end of S4). Tbh, I felt it reduced the impact of what they were trying to achieve just a little, although it does of course, set the finale up next week.


You’re such a good person Vera. She would have let you die.


So –
(And will Franky and Allie succeed in the BDE?)
(And what will Sonia – the new Top Dog – do to Liz?)


Episode 12 next week.

Watch on Apple TV

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