Hello dear friends and companions, and my apologies for the lateness of this recap. I have two excuses. One is that in order to finance my work here at The Dart, I have to take a lot of other jobs, which sometimes eat up all my time and writing abilities, a situation you can help remedy by SUBSCRIBING. My second excuse is that I just wasn’t particularly inspired by episode two of Wentworth, and didn’t feel that old urge to stay up all night scribbling character analyses.
I was initially rather alarmed by my own lack of enthusiasm, and had a long, drawn-out metaphor planned for how we the audience are a bit like Franky this season, caught in a massive game of Chutes and Ladders in which we were sent back to square one with nothing to show for all our progress. And if that were really the case, then we all should have jumped ship along with everyone who stopped watching after Bea’s death.
But then I realized that the true stand-in for the audience’s experience isn’t Franky at all. It’s Boomer, who keeps expressing the childish wish that “everything go back to normal.” Of course that is impossible (not to mention, contrary to Boomer’s recollections, “normal” was never really that great). So even though the first two episodes of season two did not come ROARING back to life as I might have hoped I think it’s because this show is in the midst of making some huge adjustments, and it’s more like turning around a cruise ship than throwing a sports car into reverse. It going to take time and the understanding that we can only go forward, not back. That being said, by the end of episode three I felt that familiar Wentworthian anxiety wash over me like the warm caress of a prison shower, so I think it’s safe to say that the show is finding its footing once again.
So, real quick, here’s what happened in episode two:
Franky gets dragged back to jail, which is heartbreaking to everyone but Boomer, who is PSYCHED.
The people who are least happy that Franky is back in prison are as follows:
- Kaz, who is justifiably concerned by Franky’s arrival, since it bears an eerie resemblance to when Santana came back to Glee and took 100% of the solos from the New New Directions despite no longer being in high school.
LOOK, I’M THE UNSTABLE HOTHEAD NOW, AND ALLIE PRETTY MUCH HAS THE “DAMAGED LESBO” THING COVERED, SO I’M JUST UNCLEAR WHAT YOU’RE ADDING TO THE DYNAMIC.
YOU HAVE TO COME HOME, BABY. UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT IS ABOUT TO COME BACK ON.
Now y’all, Bridget is such a good therapist and such a good partner and so good at Bonnie Raitt songs on karaoke night (I’m assuming), but one thing she is not good at is having ONE SINGLE BIT OF CHILL ABOUT FRANKY. Like, Liz is better at pretending to be a secret undercover agent than Bridget is at hiding the fact that Franky has possession of her whole entire heart. As soon as Franky lands back in Wentworth, Bridget just starts following her around, paying for her legal defense, and scheduling thrice daily “therapy sessions” just so she can smell Franky’s hair and reassure herself that she’s still alive. Vera commands her to back off but to no avail, and Joan plots how best to use the situation to her advantage.
OH GOOD THE UNIFORMS ARE STILL TEAL.
Poor Francesca is frustrated and scared, but above all, she is committed to getting the fuck out of here, emotional progress intact. She wants to make it very clear to everyone (herself above all) that she is not the same person who once let a woman die in the hope that she might shit out some heroin. She has swum in the ocean of freedom, and she no longer has any interest in being queen of the fishbowl. She wants to keep learning and growing and healing, and good god, she wants to go home to her woman. This desire is given a powerful visual element when Boomer fills her cell with pin-up girls (just like the old days) but Franky rips them down and refashions them into a kite, her personal symbol of freedom.
I MEAN, IT’S NO SEAHORSES, BUT WE CAN WORK WITH IT.
The other big storyline at the moment is Liz Birdsworth: Witness X. As you’ll recall, Liz is preparing to testify against Sonia Stevens, having been plied by a detective with pastries, kisses, and the promise of an early release.
THIS FEELS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, BUT THEN AGAIN SO THE IDEA OF A PRIVATE SHOWER.
The hour is rapidly approaching when Liz will have to take the stand and recount the time when Sonia confessed to murdering her best friend, shaving her head, and burying her body in the desert. Couple problems with that plan:
- That confession never happened. I mean, Liz is really sure Sonia is a murderer on account of one time she also cut Maxine’s hair, but still. She will be committing perjury.
- If anyone finds out that Liz turned snitch, her life is pretty much over. And Doreen already knows.
- As we are all aware, Liz does not perform particularly well under pressure. The last time she was required to speak in public, she got wasted and asked a prison official to have sex with her. Liz once killed her mother-in-law with a lawnmower because she was overwhelmed by the prospect of throwing her a birthday party. And now she has to face off against a fancy lawyer? The woman lost a battle with hors d’oeuvres.
To make matters worse, Sonia herself knows that one of the women have turned against her, and the added stress is making it even harder for her to memorize her fake statement. When she finally takes the stand, Liz’s testimony is less convincing than a fourteen year-old boy bragging about his sexual conquests.
SHE CONFESSED ALL OVER ME AND I WAS LIKE “GIRL WHY ARE YOU CONFESSING SO MUCH” BUT SHE JUST KEPT CONFESSING.
The defense attorney rips up her testimony in about thirty seconds flat, with the help of a photograph that proves that Sonia had shaved her friend’s head while she was very much alive. How could such a thing have happened? Well it turns out that the photograph was only uncovered the night before, and Detective Chinstrap forgot to check his messages to find out about it. Owing to this, the charges against Sonia are dropped, and Liz herself is charged with perjury.
Liz is understandably devastated, but I’m glad she’s sticking around on the show. We’ve lost too many good people lately. Plus, I’d almost rather Detective Chinstrap betray her through sheer incompetence, rather than turning out to be married and breaking her heart.
WE’LL ALWAYS HAVE THE TOTALLY BULLSHIT PROMISE OF PARIS.
Now let’s check in with Kaz, our new Top Dog, and see how her nonviolent regime is going.
OH NO WHO COULD EVER HAVE SEEN THIS COMING BESIDES EVERYONE.
As you may have forgotten, Kaz was only able to secure her position as Top Dog by earning the loyalty of Tina Macado and the Cool Haircut Gang. Kaz promised to let them deal drugs in peace, and they promised to let Kaz lecture them for an hour a day on feminist theory. The problem is: Wentworth is now flooded with the drugs Officer Jake is sneaking in, and it’s not making for a very peaceful environment. Women are overdosing and attacking each other, and Kaz doesn’t know how to stop it. Enter Joan Ferguson. Joan tells Kaz where to find the drugs, and Kaz finds and flushes them. Then, Joan offers to help Tina Macado sneak in more drugs. Why would do these two seemingly opposite things? Maybe she’s trying to win Tina’s support for her own bid at Top Dog. Maybe she just likes chaos. Maybe she wants a Cool Haircut of her own.
I JUST FEEL LIKE I COULD REALLY PULL OFF AN UNDERCUT.
NAH, THAT’S NOT A LESBIAN THING ANYMORE. THE NAZIS TOOK IT.
YOU’RE TELLING ME A PERSON CAN’T BE BOTH?
You know who we haven’t really talked about yet? Allie. How is Allie, even?
REMEMBER WHEN THESE GREEN BEANS WERE LIT BY THE MAGIC GOLDEN GLOW OF LOVE?
Well Allie is…still Allie basically, still our walking silver lining. I expected her to be much more broken this season, just a husk with no time for anything but revenge, but I’m glad that’s not the direction the writers went. I mean, she is heartbroken, and she is hellbent on revenge, but she still has a ready smile, and I need that smile. (What I don’t need, what none of us need, are for the writers to give her another romance this season, least of all with Franky, so here’s hoping they don’t go down that road.)
And now let’s return to Franky herself. Or rather, the tangled web in which Franky, Bridget, Vera, and Joan are all trapped.
So Franky is being accused of murdering Mike Parcheesi (or whatever, close enough), the man whose face she once burned, and who stalked her after her release. The chief piece of evidence against her is the gun used to kill him, which was dug up by the prosecution.
If that gun looks familiar, it’s because it’s the same one used by Shane Butler in last year’s season finale, which Franky pried out of his fingers and threw in a dumpster, because, for the billionth time, NO ONE ON THIS SHOW CAN DISPOSE OF EVIDENCE FOR SHIT.
Franky is a thousand percent certain that Joan is the one trying to frame her, but I am a thousand percent certain that Mike Parcheesi killed himself just to hurt Franky. I know that seems extreme but the dude didn’t seem to have a whole lot else going on. Nevertheless, Joan is happy for Franky to suspect her, because anything that makes Fanny Bandit act erratically will destabilize Vera’s regime, and thus fulfill Joan’s ultimate goal of…wait, what is Joan’s ultimate goal again? I’m pretty sure it’s just to have fun at this point.
As you can imagine, this situation is not doing great things for Franky and Bridget’s relationship. For one thing, Bridget is pretty pissed that Franky didn’t tell her that they had a stalker collecting evidence that could put Franky back behind bars and cost Bridget her medical license. Franky, for her part, is furious that Bridget doesn’t believe The Freak is behind this (and every other) plot. What’s worse, they are denied their usual method of conflict resolution: rough and mutually pleasurable sex.
If you’re watching Franky and Bridget this season and it’s just making you long for Ballie, let’s have a talk about that. Because, other than having four boobs apiece, these two relationships have nothing in common. Bea and Allie were each other’s great love, possibly even their first love, and that relationship had the kind of once in a lifetime magic that could turn a prison into a paradise. Bridget and Franky, on the other hand, are seasoned veterans of the wars of love. They didn’t fall helplessly into each other’s arms, they committed to working and risking and growing for each other. I don’t think that makes their relationship any less valuable–and I think if Bea had lived she would eventually have had to go through the same thing with Allie–but the choices they make come from completely different places: starry-eyed romance on one hand, and hard-earned experience on the other.
Despite the fact that they may never be as much fun to watch as Bea and Allie were, seeing Franky and Bridget muddle through this impossible situation hurt me in a way that finally reassured me that I was back with this show.
Bridget, for her part, is just free-bleeding all over the place. We’ve never gotten to know Bridget all that well, really, because she’s always been the calm professional, the cool to Franky’s hot. But watching her in this kind of pain teaches us a lot more about her. She has a massive blind spot where Franky is concerned, yes, but she knows that and chooses to go on loving her anyway. When Joan threatens to expose their relationship and take her job, Bridget is like “fine, fuck this job.” (TAKE HEED, ALL OTHER WENTWORTH PERSONNEL. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO STAY HERE.) She knows it’s crazy, but dammit she is sane for a living, and she chooses Franky to be crazy for, again and again.
Franky doesn’t have the luxury of those choices. Or any choices. She’s in jail. So when she pushes Bridget away as hard as she can, it comes from a lot of places.
- She doesn’t want Bridget risking her career for her, doesn’t want to cause any more pain.
- She finally built up a relationship of equality with Bridget, and she doesn’t want to be the damsel who needs rescuing.
- Hearing Bridget say “I’ll wait for you forever” is a level of responsibility for Bridget’s life and happiness that Franky is barely capable of handling on her best day.
- She’s trapped and scared and doing what people tend to do in those situations, which is lash out at the people we know will love us and take our shit.
None of that is an excuse for what happens when Franky pushes Bridget against a wall and comes very close to raping her.
She rips her shirt and the buttons come off. She says awful, hurtful things about how this must be what Bridget really wants from her jailbird lover. She stops before she actually does rape her, but it’s violent and awful enough that she proved she could. Bridget says that Franky failed at pushing her away, but succeeded at hurting her. And she hurt me too. It’s one of the more difficult scenes this show has put us through. I’m really curious to hear what you think about it in the comment section.
Almost as rough is the scene just afterwards, when Bridget clutches her jacket over her ripped blouse and decides to keep choosing Franky. At that moment, who should come to her rescue but Vera Bennett, who refuses to accept her resignation.
HEY, BALLIE STARTED WITH SOME UNINVITED SHOWER CUNNILINGUS, AND THEY WERE THE HEALTHIEST RELATIONSHIP WE’VE EVER HAD.
Apart from her embattled relationship, Franky has to deal with the question of who actually killed Mike Parcheesi? She nearly gets Shane Butler to go to the police and confess that the gun was his, but then she receives a mysterious letter that changes her mind.
Mike was apparently the only person she told about the significance of her kite necklace, which means that whoever sent this letter was someone he told.
IT WAS THIS BITCH, WASN’T IT?
Now she just has to figure out who else Mike knew, which won’t be easy while she’s stuck behind bars.
And I hope she pulls it off, I really do, but that victory won’t mean much to me if she destroys her relationship with Bridget in the meantime. Franky might be our kite, a high-flying wonder, but Bridget is the string keeping her tethered to my heart.
See you next week.