Picking up moments after last week’s shocking ending, this week’s episode “Screw Lover” opened on Ferguson (Pamela Rabe) in her cell. She’s in her bed, sweating and restless experiencing horrifying flashbacks to the brutal attack she was subjected to last week. She wakes with a start, luckily Kaz (Tammy Macintosh) is close by to ensure Ferguson is nursed back to health. Muttering sweet assurances, stroking her head and having Ali (Kate Jenkinson) fetch water and painkillers (??), Kaz seems to have it all under control. It has to be just as trying for Kaz, illustrated as she looks in the mirror while rinsing the bloodied towels that have been used to help Ferguson heal. It’s mind-numbing to see such an ordeal be experienced, and more so such a visceral disgust portrayed by Tammy Macintosh as the forthright feminist. She barely leaves Joan’s side but when ushered to bed by Ali, the tired protector relents. Out in the common area, Ali offers a shoulder and some comfort as Kaz breaks at the disbelief that someone could do this to a woman. Regardless of how she goes about business, Kaz is most certainly dedicated to her cause and genuinely invested in the rights of women.
The next morning, it is the women’s first count since the attack and Ferguson is required to stand outside her cell. Kaz helps her change her once again bloodied clothes just in time for the count. Luckily, the guard responsible is Miss Miles, who knows all too well what Ferguson has experienced. First seeing the other inmates this week in the breakfast hall, Team Bea are enjoying their meal but none more so than Boomer (Katrina Milosevic) with the news that conjugal visits have been reinstated. She has no concept that Doreen (Shareena Clanton) is still being denied the right and even with a ribbing from Liz (Celia Ireland) continues on with her excitement. What breaks up the celebration is Ferguson entering the breakfast hall, flanked on both sides by the “Red Right Hand”, lead valiantly by Kaz. As the chant of “Freak” is started by none other than Juice, Ferguson lines up for breakfast. Refused service, Kaz goes ahead and dishes hers up. The tension in the room is spine-tingling as the other inmates look on, trying to work out what exactly is going on. Watching Ferguson, we see her have a severe post-traumatic reaction to Will Jackson (Robbie Magasiva) when he enters. You know what this means right?
Back at their cell block, Ferguson comes clean to Kaz admitting that it was in fact Will that assaulted her, and with that the audience lets out an audible gasp. Is she really setting Will up? Add to that, she continues on to implicate Bea (Danielle Cormack) in the situation by identifying that she and Will have been in an illegal affair. We all know that Ferguson has just ignited a fire within Kaz that will be hard to distinguish. After this revelation, Ferguson is ushered to a meeting with her lawyer while Jackson and Vera (Kate Atkinson) discuss what the repercussions for Bea will be; she saved Will’s life after all, however, what she did was still a slottable offence. Vera’s next point of business is to oversee the strip search of Ferguson, a formality that doesn’t go over well with Ferguson. What happens next is another scene, in my opinion, we’ve yet to witness on Australian television. Vera instructs Ferguson to undress; as an audience we know what it’s going to reveal, but Vera is as unknowing as anybody. And when Ferguson stands, still in underwear, we see bruises on the inside of her leg. Vera knows something just isn’t right. As she continues, Ferguson now naked, she instruct inmate Ferguson to turn around. What is revealed is extensive bruising covering her bottom and lower back. Pamela Rabe as “The Freak” is unchanged throughout this ordeal, a placid look, no pain. Vera however is shocked, appalled, none more so when Ferguson bends over and the extent of her assault is discovered.
Having now been moved to medical for an examination, Bridget (Libby Tanner) has been asked to psychologically assess Joan’s state. Bridget has no doubt about the lengths Joan is going to, to gain power and control of the prison once again. There is no conning Bridget, and even when Ferguson taunts Bridget in regards to Franky Bridget remains stoic. She goes as far to state her opinion; that Joan orchestrated this entire plan. It seems horrific that someone would do that, but it’s Ferguson people, she’ll do anything to gain power. I’ve got to say the dynamic between Libby Tanner and Pamela Rabe has been the most fascinating this season, and I predict if there is anyone to take “The Freak” down it will be Bridget. Following this, Joan is released into the loving arms of Kaz – please note how Pamela Rabe played Joan so manipulative and conniving one moment and then vulnerable and broken the next. Skill people, skill. Elsewhere, Vera gives the entire staff a smack down about their conduct and questions how such a brutal attack could have occurred. Miss Miles sits, silently yet covered in guilt over the fact she may have been privy to it but unfortunately lies about that fact. With no success and no guard coming forward, they are dismissed but not before Bridget asks Vera if she’s considered Joan could have done this to herself.
With no help from the guards, Vera calls Kaz to her office to question her. Vera warns Kaz that Ferguson may in fact be manipulating her, but Kaz doesn’t take kindly to that accusation. Another dynamic so scintillating this season has been Vera and the every-changing top dog inmates; she and Tammy Macintosh are powerful together. Vera challenges Kaz to prove her wrong regarding Ferguson, who attacked her? Kaz rebuts stating what makes you think it was a prisoner? This statement has turned into a rumour around the prison, word getting out that Jackson was in fact the one responsible for the attack on Ferguson. It doesn’t look good, and to make matters worse, when Bea is seen tipping him off her strong hold is threatened. Noticing that Ali was the one to see this exchange, she pulls the rather endearing blonde into the bathroom. Daniella Cormack is paying the complexity of Bea’s internal struggle so beautifully that I hang on every last word. It is obvious that Ali makes her nervous – either sexually or just in general – but regardless, she needs to ensure that Ali won’t tell anyone what she saw. Ali promises she won’t and we are inclined to believe her, yet she has questions. Ali wants to know if Bea is in fact with Will; the question has her unable to form coherent sentences as she grapples with whether to be honest. She simply states that when her daughter died (cue the tears) Jackson did her a favour. Any mention of Debbie gets the audience right in the heart, but add to that the genuine rapport being developed between Ali and Bea and we’re even more hooked.
Will forwards on the rumour to Vera who unfortunately isn’t too happy about the whole thing, and instructs her deputy to stay away from Ferguson and her cell block. But Jackson doesn’t exactly do that, in fact, on his way back to the prison floor he sprays Proctor with a heated statement heard by pretty much everyone. Good one Will. Kaz, now having reached the end of her tether, assembles her crew to plan an attack on him. And with the help of Ferguson, and her knowledge of blind spots throughout the prison, it gets underway. Elsewhere, Boomer provides a little reprieve for the harsh drama of Wentworth with her happiness around her conjugal visit. Her and Daz are reunited and ultimately it seems as though it’s going to go off without a problem. Meanwhile, Kaz and her team are getting ready to attack, and given the word they disperse. Ali however, looks nervous and seeks out Bea – there is going to be an attack on Jackson she tells her. Oh Ali, how I love thee. Yet this information wasn’t passed along in time, as Will falls prey to a beating at the hands of Kaz and her crew, even with Bea’s warning.
The closing moments of the episode deliver some of the most heart-stopping and heart-breaking turns for the members of Wentworth. Telling Vera he will take care of reprimanding Bea, Jackson sets off to do so. In the meantime, Bea is dealing with the repercussions of defending Jackson by being called “screw lover” while also being ripped by Liz and Doreen. Needing an escape, she unleashes all her feelings on Maxine (Socratis Otto) – once again – and for the first time, Maxine loses it herself. The obvious build-up and subsequent outbreak of emotion and circumstance is too much for the partners in crime. Standing up to Bea, Maxine goes on to fill her closest confidant in about what’s been happening. The realisation from Bea that she has lost sight of what is most important, is written all across her face and through her eyes. Maxine outlines that it’s just a lump, they have to cut it out and everything will be ok – seems to me she is still downplaying it to save the other’s the added heartbreak and stress. Bea doesn’t care, she doesn’t care about that; this moment is telling, in that we see the old, deeply loyalty and fiercely protective motherly instincts of Bea. She loves Maxine, that much is true, but right now, the circumstances are making it hard. Socratis Otto is inhabiting this story arc in a way that makes my heart ache and cheer all at the same time. Together with Danielle Cormack and the entire cast, Wentworth is breaking the glass ceiling this season and it’s gosh darn exciting. Interrupting this exchange, Will has come to say “thank you” to Bea, a response she does not expect. And in an instant, obviously knowing her top dog status is falling, she jumps Mr. Jackson and brutally bashes him. She is subdued and taken to the slot. Take not of the change in Danielle Cormack’s facial expression; from angry and volatile, to broken, relieved and tired, that my friends is acting.
Other key plot points:
- Maxine finds out that the cells are malignant. Socratis Otto gives us the most honest portrayal of what this experience I’m sure entails. No words. Breathlessness. He does beautiful, nuanced work in displaying such complex emotions.
- Doreen attempts to use advice from Ferguson to get her conjugals reinstated
- Bea lies about information regarding Will’s bashing
- Ferguson is pulling everybody’s strings.