Wentworth (S4E02): “Poking Spiders”

Review:

With the fourth season of Wentworth well and truly underway, this week’s episode titled “Poking Spiders” kept the speed up. The episodes on a young looking lawyer type male, profusely sweating awaiting entry into the protection unit. Close behind is Bridget (Libby Tanner) who questions whether this is his first time in a prison; of course it is Gidget. Not to mention the prisoner he is seeing, is one Joan Ferguson (Pamela Rabe). That is enough to make anyone shake in their boots. He is there to relay a message from her lawyer that Mr. Jasper (her thug from last season) has revised his statement, thus not supporting her story. The poor lawyer just can’t win this one, especially when Ferguson lunges at him knocking the paperwork over. He rushes out, leaving a rambling and obviously agitated Ferguson in her cell. Pamela Rabe continues to haunt the audience with her phenomenal evolution as “The Freak” and this sequence is nothing short of what we’d expect. And when she mutters “dead men tell no tales” we know she means business.

Bridget, having witnessed this outburst of Ferguson’s while visiting Kim Chang, makes a call to the psychiatric facility where Ferguson had been housed previously asking for Ferguson’s documents and records be sent through to her. Next point of business for Bridget is a meeting with Vera (Kate Atkinson), and after last week’s viewing of Franky (Nicole da Silva) and Gidge together, we know it can’t be good. And it isn’t. Vera flat out asks how long it has been going on, Bridget evidently taken back by the question. You can tell these two have built a reciprocal relationship of trust, and Bridget doesn’t lie stating that it started once Franky had been released. Vera pretty much expresses how disappointed she is, and fires Bridget right there on the spot, telling her to go home. Not only that, she makes an underhanded threat regarding Franky’s parole. Vera may not be as bad as Ferguson, but she most certainly knows how to play the game.

We meet the inmates for the first time this week in the bathroom, where Kaz (Tammy Macintosh) continues to give Maxine (Socratis Otto) a hard time. Luckily, Bea (Danielle Cormack) is never too far away and stops the abuse before it even gets started. Again though, Ali can’t help but check Bea out and this time Maxine witnesses it. She tells Bea that Ali has the “hots” for her, and you could possibly use that to her advantage. Seems as though with Bea fading with all the pressure of top dog, that Maxine is now the one making some of the tougher decisions. And while we’re talking about pressure, Doreen (Shareena Clanton) and Boomer want to know how the plight for conjugal visits is going. Meanwhile, Bridget arrives home – that stalker man still watching her house – to fill Franky in on all the new developments. Bridget tells Franky what’s happened, Franky sure the Vera is bluffing, but Bridget not too sure. Bridget’s care and protectiveness of Franky comes to the forefront in this scene, and Libby Tanner does a brilliant job of illustrating the pain of the situation. She suggest Franky move out; she doesn’t want her getting caught up in this and jeopardising her parole but also, she doesn’t want to risk her job. Franky, obviously hurt by the fact that it sounds like Bridget defending Vera, passionately proclaims how hard she has fought for this. Let’s just take a moment to applaud the emotional vulnerability Nic da Silva gives to Franky in this scene, and Libby Tanner equally displays the toughness surrounding their relationship. Franky storms out, and as she leaves, we discover exactly their stalker friend is. It is Franky’s Dad.

Back at Wentworth, Bea meets with Vera again to discuss the possibility of conjugal visits, unfortunately Channing and the entire board have vetoed the idea. It’s not going to happen. To make matters worse, Vera is still getting heat from Ferguson regarding her current situation. If Bea is fading, Vera is most certainly struggling under the pressure of being the new Governor. Breaking the news to the inmates about the conjugal visits doesn’t go over too well, and Kaz – not really understanding the notion of top dog – decides to take it upon herself to change the prison’ mind. Maxine continues to express concern to Bea that Kaz doesn’t respect her, that she needs to be put in her place. Bea assures her right-hand woman she can manage it. You sure Bea? Meanwhile, we discover just how far Kaz goes to organise a campaign; she has a mobile phone within the walls of Wentworth. She’s brazen, I’ll give her that much. And what she is planning turns out to be pretty hilarious and somewhat successful. But before this happens, Bea receives a little more bad news from Vera – Ferguson is petitioning to be released into general population. Claiming that it is infringing upon her basic human rights, Ferguson has a pretty strong case.

Meanwhile, Kaz has organised a protest in regards to the conjugal visits; said protest involves the inmates stripping naked, chanting for the “right to have sex”. Catch is, Kaz has employed two journalists (??) to be stationed outside Wentworth with a drone to film the entire thing. Whether you like her or not, you have to admit Kaz is one smart cookie. The protest devolves into a riot; Kaz ends up assaulting Mr. Jackson (Robbie Magasiva) who reacts by pushing her a injuring her. The drone luckily is shot out of the sky. With the environment at Wentworth becoming increasingly volatile, Vera has no one else to turn to but Bridget. Arriving at her house, she needs advice on how to proceed with Ferguson. No sooner had their discussion started, that a knock on the door interrupts. It’s Franky. Libby Tanner and Nic da Silva were stand outs this week, their commitment to genuineness in Bridget and Franky is soul-crushing. Franky breaks down, admitting to not knowing how to be on the outside, that inside it was so much clearer. It scares her, the fear so visceral we feel every last emotion in this scene. The pride Bridget feels when Franky starts to acknowledge such feelings is subtly illustrated by Tanner, but is enough to make the audience feel how much she champions Franky, and supports her.

Bea spends the episode trying to solidify her leadership as top dog, she does so by heeding Maxine’s advice to play upon the obvious feelings Ali has for her. She eventually gives in to this advice; she gets Ali moved up in the phone line, and offers also to do her hair. This play seems to work. So does that mean Bea is finally playing the game again? Finally fighting for her status? Someone else fighting for status is none other than Ferguson, who continues throughout the episode to fight for her right to be released. And even when Bridget and Vera formulate a plan to assess her true psychiatric state, Ferguson succeeds them in manipulation again. Is there any way “The Freak” can be beaten? She seems to know everything there is to know. And when she questions Bridget about her “rape” there is no dismissing the fact that it hit a nerve. Could this be the starts of us learning more about Bridget? With their plan failing, Vera meets with Bea once again to make a deal. If Bea can keep the inmates from attacking Ferguson when she is released, Vera will say “yes” to conjugal visits. The deal is made.

The episode quickly approaches its end as we see Franky, standing in the shadows, watching her Dad and her newly discovered younger sister, swing on the swings. Nic da Silva inhabits the complex emotions Franky struggles with effortlessly, as we witness her dilemma on whether to move forward or walk away. As she decides, and turns to walk away, her Dad notices her and summons her over. The meeting between Franky and her much younger sister is heart-warming to say the least, another culmination of her commitment to becoming better. She’s overwhelmed but not enough to freak out. In fact, she does exactly the opposite. As we head back to Wentworth, Bridget and Vera are leaving for the day when Vera innocently asks her newfound ally – “You don’t think I’m like her (Ferguson) do you?” – A telling question. Regardless of skills in manipulation, Vera has a conscience. She has morals. She has fear. Something Bridget ensures her makes her NOT a psychopath. Bridget exits to a somewhat docile Franky waiting for her; Franky is obviously still a little shaken from her encounter with her father and new sister – a fact she has not yet mentioned to Gidge. Bridget is intuitive and picks up on Franky’s tone and immediately worries that Franky is breaking up with her (she isn’t); a vulnerability we aren’t used to seeing from Bridget. She’s usually the stoic one, holding up Franky, but this admission gives us an idea of just how much she may rely on Franky. Franky suggests she moves out, it is time for her to stand on her own two feet, a realisation that Bridget is oh so proud of.

Channing confronts Ferguson, and informs her she won’t be released into general population but that doesn’t last too long. With one dark look, and underhanded threat Channing backflips almost immediately. What does she have on him? He lets Vera know that she is to be released, Vera can’t do anything about it especially when it’s clear Channing wants Ferguson dead just as much as anyone else. And as the episode closes, Ferguson, for the first time ever, is seen dressed in teal. All I have to say is watch out, because what’s coming is sure to be one hell of a ride.

 

Other key plot points:

  • Franky has a little sister. And Bridget was possibly raped in the past. Two things they are hiding from the other – could this be drama for them going forward?
  • Maxine found a lump in her breast
  • Vera ensures Bridget that her relationship with Franky is safe