Well that was most certainly worth the wait. After nearly a year, waiting for Team Teal to return to our screens, last night Queen Bea (Danielle Cormack) and all the members we know and love were back. And oh how things have changed. It may have been Bea’s regrowth showing hair, Franky’s (Nicole da Silva) highlights, Vera’s (Kate Atkinson) governor pants or Ferguson’s (Pamela Rabe) wavy, silver locks that made the characters look different, but what’s changed goes deeper than any physical manifestation of last year’s fiery season finale. When we last saw the inmates of Wentworth prison, Franky had been released and was safe in the arms of Bridget (Libby Tanner), Ferguson was being held, straight jacket and all, while Kaz Proctor (Tammy Macintosh) of the Red Right Hand arrived on the beat. We presumed as much, that when we arrived back this season that Bea and Kaz would be at loggerheads, but my friends, that is only the beginning.
The episode opens with Bea and friends arriving back at the newly refurbished Wentworth after a couple of months at the nearby Walford. The group are in somewhat good spirits but as they arrive that all changes, especially Doreen (Shareena Clanton) who has baby Joshua in hand and is understandably anxious about their return. Elsewhere, the newly released Franky is making radio interview rounds talking all things “top dog” – what’s interesting about this opening is the “top dogs” past, present and future are seen. Franky, on the other side, Kaz Proctor, most possibly the next “top dog” and Bea, currently at the helm, sitting silent and thoughtful. This contrast is stark, and so telling for what the rest of the season may just have in store for us. Talk about changes, Vera has now achieved her long-awaited goal of becoming Governor and Mr. Jackson (Robbie Magasiva) her deputy. Mr. Channing has returned to market “the new Wentworth” including a press conference and a tour of the new premises.
First order of business for Bea seems to be a meeting with Vera – she wants Bea on board, leading the ladies in a way that aligns with the new, progressive Wentworth. Vera seems legit, genuine even but when Bea goes to deny the suggestion to work together, Vera does her best Ferguson manipulation when mentioning “young girls being susceptible to drugs”; a play on Bea’s history. Speaking of “The Freak”, shortly after her discussion with Bea, Vera meets a van at the entry of Wentworth. The inmate inside you ask? Joan Ferguson. And with that, this entire season just got so interesting. It doesn’t take long before Kaz sends her right hand woman – Ali Novak – to fetch Bea. But what Kaz doesn’t understand is that no one summons Bea, but it is Bea who does the summoning. When a meet is finally agreed upon, it doesn’t turn out to be the dog-fight Bea was preparing for. In fact, Kaz offers Bea an alcoholic beverage as a welcome home gift as well as her friendship – anyone else think this is just a smoke-screen? It definitely is a theme this episode, with a lot of the situations not seeming as they should be. Example of this is when a guard – unnamed and new – seems to be playing both sides. And by both sides I mean, Ferguson versus Vera. The guard is seen disposing of Joan’s anti-psychotics but then also reporting such a fact back to Vera. So what’s the go there?
Franky spends the majority of the episode navigating what life is like being on parole and by the looks of it, has the ongoing support of none other than Bridget. We presume the two are living together, but when Franky receives a phone call from her parole officer confirming their appointment we learn that living with Bridget is against her parole. Not to mention, it seems as though #Fridget have themselves a stalker – a bald man, whose fist is always clenched. Is this another one of Fergusons cronies? This could be a plausible theory because when Bridget comes face to face with the Freak, she does her best to instil a sense of fear and always knowing in the psychologist that has her completely shaken. Back at Wentworth, the prisoners successfully foil Vera and Channing’s hope of a smooth press conference by making it rain tampons. Yes, you read that right, tampons. Suprisingly though, Vera rises to the occasion and saves the day, proving to her staff and the press that the “new” Wentworth may just be happening.
Closing out a stellar Season 4 premiere, we watch as members of Team Teal continue to grapple with personal and professional struggles. Vera revisits Ferguson in her call, with the letter she intercepted earlier in hand. Pamela Rabe and Kate Atkinson have such a phenomenal dynamic; so eerily subtle but enough to make you skin crawl and heart race. The letter was to be delivered to Mr. Shane Butler – the son of Giana, the prisoner Ferguson had an affair with – but Vera has other ideas. She rips it to shreds. Taunting Ferguson with her new status as Governor; and when Ferguson goes as far to threaten Vera, she responds with a powerfully confident – “its f*#ing Governor”. Kate Atkinson, my lady, the delivery of that line was on point. Meanwhile, Franky finally receives a job offer – the position of paralegal – and wants nothing more than to celebrate and dance with her girlfriend (??). As the camera pulls back and we assume that their stalker is still watching on, what is revealed however, is Vera, arriving and catching the two out. That can’t be good right?
Danielle Cormack delivered a subtle, nuanced performance for Queen Bea’s first outing in the new season; hauntingly quiet, and little on edge, the audience was left wondering if Queen Bea was okay. And in the closing moments of the episode, we are given an insight into just what’s going on for the current “top dog”. She’s laying on bed, legs twitching, and eyes darting, unable to lay still and calm her mind. She’s pacing and the physicality of Danielle’s performance illustrates the slow build that Bea seems to be experiencing. The pain, so insular to this point, is bought to the forefront when Bea sits and pulls down her pants. Revealing the self-made weapon in her hand, Bea continues to struggle. This sequence is artistically cut with the cool, calm and collected nature of Ferguson as well as the very poignant and perfectly chosen lyrics of “there is a fine line between pleasure and pain”. Back with Bea, and the blade lands on her bare skin, she cuts and the visceral release of this pain is enough evidence that Bea is at her breaking point. That possibly, being the top dog, is finally too much for their heroic leader. The scene is gutting to say the least, and Cormack once again, is heart-wrenching in her portrayal.
Other key plot points:
- Kim Chang is highly addicted to meth and losing it
- Boomer thought she was pregnant, but then she wasn’t
- Doreen lets Nash take Joshua
- Ali Novak and Bea seem to have some sort of unspoken chemistry. Could we have a new relationship on our hands?