(This recap was originally published on August 1, 2014.)
Previously on Wentworth, Liz Birdsworth finally lived up to her name and flew free of the prison walls. Bea got Boomer sent to the slot and revealed her plan to take over Top Dog status from Franky. Matthew Fletcher—who this season has picked up the Hot Mess torch from Will—learned that he was being transferred away from Wentworth, either due to his aggressive incompetence or because he’s the only guard who seems to suspect the craziness of which Joan is capable.
This episode is really the culmination of Bea’s storyline from the very beginning of the series; she has always been heading to where she arrives today. Which, in a way, is kind of sad. From what I can tell, this season of Wentworth owe a lot more in terms of plot and character to the original Prisoner series, which I find about as satisfying as the Star Wars I-III trilogy. The show felt so much fresher when it seemed like a retelling of the old story, with new perspectives and narrative tools, rather than a ponderous tragedy operating from a set of foregone conclusions. With that said, it makes for a nice surprise when the episode opens with a shot of Bea laid out on a gurney, looking like she just lost a fight with the entire continent of Australia.
Of course, we know that Bea has been master-planning shit for weeks so we can assume that there’s a twist at play somewhere, but still it’s hard to imagine anyone willingly getting beaten up that badly on purpose.
To find out what the fuck happened, we travel back in time to that morning, where Bea is doing her prison exercises: toning her arms, practicing her Amazonian death glare, and seeing how well the hemophilia medication as work. Typical revenge plot stuff. Finding that her blood has essentially stopped flowing, she pops another pill and gives herself a look in the mirror that clearly tells the audience that today is the day. I will say that whatever criticisms I have of this season, and they are numerous, Danielle Cormack’s performance has never been anything less than stellar, and that goes for the rest of the cast as well.Next up, Bea goes to breakfast (you gotta carb up if you wanna take over a women’s prison) and Franky invites her to parlay.
Franky: So, any clue why Boomer got herself locked in the slot?
Bea: You know boomer and that crazy temper. She just lost it when I told her that soon I would be running Wentworth and you two would be my slaves.
Franky: Oh, so you wanna take me on?
Bea: LOL of course not. What gave you that idea?
Franky is a little scared but a lot confused. But see, that’s because Franky only has but the one scheme going on (stay at the top), while Bea is running multiple games. Franky is playing checkers, while Bea is conducting a Stahma Tarr-style symphony of duplicity and revenge. Case in point: Bea’s next act is to get on the phone with Liz, affect a husky voice, and be like “Liz. Later today you will receive a mysterious package. It is a super secret birthday present for you, but DO NOT OPEN IT.” And Liz is like “Okay you are kind of freaking me out but I’m still holding out hope that the package is a cake.” When Bea hangs up, Doreen asks what is even her deal lately, and Bea grabs her by the shoulders and is like “From now on, the only question you’re allowed to ask me is ‘how do you like your tea’.”
It’s a small moment, but it indicates a lot about Bea’s transformation from a compassionate, sympathetic outsider, to a ruthless bully. That’s what I mean about the show operating out of foregone conclusions; Bea has been dragged to her destiny this season, at the expense of her character and the story.
One positive development is the introduction of a new prisoner: a woman who seems like a cross between Crazy Eyes and Tank Girl, who introduces herself as Jesus Kelly.
Even Fletch is amused by her off-kilter charm until she catches a glimpse of Joan and assumes an expression of pure terror. She eventually admits that she remembers Joan from her old prison, but is too afraid to say more. This certainly piques Fletch’s attention, but before he can investigate further, Joan puts Jesus Kelly in solitary, where she can’t tell tales about Joan and her dearly departed love.
That day in the laundry, Bea and Franky shoot each other glances like two people who can’t wait to fuck/kill each other (is it weird that the more they fight, the more I ship them?) so Bea tells Maxine that she’s going to need her shiv back. Right as she does this, Franky calls her over and does the most surprising thing possible: she tells the truth.
Franky: Look, I know Joan is using you to take me down. And I know you think I’m playing checkers and you’re playing Shakespearean intrigue, but you need to understand that she is playing crazytown hallucinatory fencing but with real swords. Case in point: she killed Simone with that Pink Dragon. You and I may have our differences, but never forget that I’m the devil you know.
I love this because Franky really is telling the truth to Bea, just like Fletch is telling the truth about Joan. But both of them have so thoroughly burned their bridges, that no one believes them. Or even if Bea does believe Franky, she has an endgame that outweighs any prison politics.