“Seeing Red”, the title of last week’s Wentworth finale warned us that either someone was in danger of being targeted by Bea Smith (Danielle Cormack) or Bea herself was in danger. Either way, each scenario doesn’t bode well for our beloved fearless leader. Last week’s episode, we saw Allie (Kate Jenkinson) attacked and given a “hot shot” of some dirty drug by none other than Ferguson (Pamela Rabe), so we knew we were in for one hell of a ride. The scene ended what was a highly tense penultimate Wentworth episode, with the audience heading into the finale with so many questions unanswered. So to this week; Bea wakes blissfully happy, not able to wipe the cheeky grin off her face. Liz (Celia Ireland) catches this joy, and reminds Bea to watch her back. As Bea walks through the halls of Wentworth, a new brightness to her, she enters the bathroom and discovers Allie – it should be noted that Allie has been posed to make it look like she shot herself up, but we all know the truth. Regardless, Bea doesn’t waste time in pushing the panic button, never leaving Allie’s side as she is rushed away for treatment. Hauntingly, Allie is taken straight past Ferguson’s cell as she watches her handy work fall into place. Bea reluctantly leaves Allie’s side to re-join the others, who again have no luck in calming her down. This is what Danielle Cormack excels at; the scenes that call for her to be, at one minute, angry and agitated, but the next broken, hurting and vulnerable. As the reality sets in, that Allie may not make it, she falls into Maxine’s (Socratis Otto) arms and states “I can’t lose her”.
Elsewhere, Vera (Kate Atkinson) and Jake (Bernard Curry) are inspecting the footage around the time of Allie’s attack, discovering that there is a total of 6 minutes missing. What does this mean Jake asks? Oh you know, just that an officer was involved. I’m looking at you, Mr. Stewart. On the back of this discovery, Vera orders that all officers be searched and drug tested while news comes in that Allie is still in a critical condition. It seems like this isn’t the only discovery being made this week with Helen’s (the lady who Sonia is suspected of killing) is found, leading to a breakdown from Sonia (Sigrid Thornton). Luckily, Liz is nearby and offers a comforting hand and reassuring words. After calming herself down, as much as possible considering the circumstances, Bea confronts Mr. Jackson (Robbie Magasiva) demanding an update on Allie. She is critical but stable Will responds, before he questions the truth to the rumours. He wants to know if Bea and Allie are in fact, together. Bea doesn’t need to say anything, the answer is written all across her face and through her being, and more so in her undying belief that Allie wouldn’t do this to herself
Still somewhat flying high after her attack on Allie, Ferguson wastes no time in throwing that shade we all love, Vera’s way. As much as we love Vera, the poor woman still hasn’t perfected her poker face with her feelings almost always visible in every facial expression and mannerism. Both women, for different reasons, are looking forward to seeing justice prevail. After deducing that it couldn’t have been anyone else but Kaz (Tammy Macintosh) who attacked Allie, Bea confronts Kaz leaving her no room to strike first. Danielle and Tammy have given the audience a dynamic fourth season, with their character’s rivalry one of the most heart-stopping and physical to date. This exchange, brutal and full of passion is a sequence you can’t miss; and the direction of each shot just adds a whole new level. When Bea falls to the ground, her head bouncing off the cement ground both she and Kaz are rendered motionless and broken. Finally, they exchange words – Bea is sure it was Kaz, but Kaz assures her that she loves Allie just as much. The realisation from both women of the love they share for Allie is highly visceral; heaving chests, overflowing tears and war wounds to prove it.
Bea is sent to medical, and when Vera checks in on her Bea encourages her to look into it, that Allie didn’t OD, she was attacked. The following sequence, again, is heightened in its emotionality by the beautiful editing and cinematography of the Wentworth creative team. It is moments like these, contrasted together, following Bea and Allie that have made the audience fall in love with this love story. Meanwhile, Jake and Will are on the defense when the drug test comes around; Will is concerned he’ll still have stuff in his system but Jake assures him he’ll get the nurse to swap them out. Well, he does, but meanly only gets his swapped out and leaves Will to deal with the consequences. I knew Jake was bad news, I knew it. Elsewhere, Ferguson readies herself for trial, leather gloves and all but not before she leaves Bea with a parting message. She reveals to Bea that it was her who is responsible for the attack, and that Allie is just collateral damage on the way to bigger and better things. Bea is shocked, appalled as the audience stops and waits to see how she’ll use this new information. What she does, is jump into action.
After a short conversation with Bridget (Libby Tanner) in which she encourages Bea that if she needs to talk, to talk, Bea admits to Will about Ferguson. She did it, she has a plan for the outside, I just need a phone, are just some of Bea’s requests. Will, although wanting to help, denies her the help. Speaking of help, Liz has her weekly meeting with Detective “Donuts and Coffee”, and during their time together is asked to forge her statement. Admit that Sonia is responsible for killing Helen. Celia Ireland is powerful in this scene, laying down the law to the Detective once and for all; she’s embarrassed that she let herself be played, and it’s both heartbreaking and inspiring all at once. With the situation with Ferguson, and Allie’s life on the line, when Will returns to give Bea a mobile we all breathe a sigh of relief. Calling Franky (Nicole Da Silva) that something is going down, that Ferguson is plotting something is enough to get the ex-inmate to work. Franky, after searching everywhere, eventually spots Shane in the crowd at the trial. Pulling him into a side alley, the two get into an incredibly heated exchange. Nicole Da Silva is such a force in scenes such as these, committing every part of her being to Franky; through her delivery, the mannerisms, and emotionality, Nicole is at times unrecognisable and she dissipates into Franky’s world. Thankfully talking Shane down and retrieving the gun he had pointed at her, Franky has done her part.
Back at Wentworth, Maxine’s hair has started to fall out, and upon sharing this news with the others, decides it is time to shave it off. Socratis Otto has delivered such poignant work this season, delving into the psychology of Maxine while manifesting her internal pain so physically. His work has made waves, started conversations and is a testament to his belief and commitment to honest story-telling. Sonia offers to shave it – Boomer (Katrina Milosevic) struggles to start – and while doing so reveals a very telling piece of information. As she shaves the hair, she talks the others through it; there is no question that Sonia gets some sort of thrill/arousal out of shaving heads. Cue Liz’s look of recognition and also fear. She returns to the Detective straight away with this information, to which he responds by kissing her. In the meantime, Bea (who’s retreated to Allie’s cell) gets a message from Franky saying that everything is fine. But in all honesty, it isn’t. It seems as though Shane was just a distraction, because elsewhere Nil Jesper’s van is hijacked. It is driven to a deserted location, where a masked gunman opens fire and kills him. He even goes as far to burn the van; meticulous this killer. And this killer, not to my surprise, is Jake. Oh buddy, you bad. (Note: Joan hears the radio call, and knows. She knows she isn’t going to be charged).
And she doesn’t get charged. She returns to Wentworth as proud as we’ve ever seen her look. Could she be anymore unstoppable? With the news rifling through the prison, Will is suspended when his drug test returns positive and Jake is therefore the new Deputy Governor. Oh Vera, could you day get any worse? Also, can we just give it up for Kate Atkinson’s solid stink eye in this scene; she communicates how fed up Vera is, with one magically crafted facial expression. Elsewhere in the visitors centre, Franky is paying a visit to Red to update her on all things “outside prison”. She warns Bea that everyone is danger, now that Ferguson is free, everyone’s life is on the line. Unfortunately, Bea can’t think about anything else but Allie, and Franky knows. Talk about intuition and chemistry; from day one Nicole and Danielle have inhabited these roles so fluidly and collectively the dynamic, be it at each’s other’s throats or side by side, jumps off the screen. Bea feels so comfortable with Franky now, that she’s able to really admit how deep her feelings for Allie go. She’s in love.
With the episode coming to a close, thus the season, when Will interrupts Franky and Bea we know something isn’t right. There’s a phone call, its Maxine and she’s at the hospital. Holding the phone to Allie’s ear, Danielle Cormack delivers a scene on par with when she found out about Debbie, equal parts painful and soul-igniting. She talks to Allie, encouraging her to wake up, that she is stronger than all of this. Maxine takes the phone and speaks again; Allie’s lungs are failing and there is not much more the doctors can do. With that, Danielle Cormack breaks my heart, and those of Wentworth audiences everywhere. Talking again, through audible sobs, she tells Allie…
“You just fly. Be free. Go find Debbie and look after her. Wait for me. You wait. I love you, beautiful girl.”
I’m not sure I’ve ever been more taken with a love story, than I have with Allie and Bea. It may be Danielle and Kate’s undeniable chemistry, or the individual evolution of Bea Smith, but whatever it is, their love story is one for the ages. A love that awakened Bea’s soul; Allie recoloured Bea’s life in a way she never knew it could, feeling things she never believed possible. So when faced with the loss of that, the pain feels insurmountable. The brokenness in Danielle’s performance as she says goodbye to Allie is enough to make you cry, but when the camera slowly zooms in on her eyes, the pain that slowly turns to anger and determination becomes apparent. She’s now even more determined to get justice. Immediately meeting with Vera, to inform her of a plan to once and for all, take Ferguson down. They make a deal – Get Bea alone with Ferguson, and she’ll make her talk, recording every admission on the phone in her possession.
Kaz is now the newly appointed Top Dog, and in probably the tamest exchange we’ve seen all season, Bea urges Kaz to look after them. Them being all the women, but most importantly her family, with whom she shares, what feels like one final look. Unfortunately though, Bea leaves the phone in her cell instead, picking up a screwdriver and hiding it down her sleeve before making her way to meet Ferguson. Alone, Ferguson exits the prison and with no one to be seen or heard immediately becomes wary. It takes a moment, but eventually Bea joins Joan in one last stand-off. Bea is bringing the fight to the Freak and isn’t backing down, lunging forwards with the screwdriver. It doesn’t take much however, for Joan to overpower Smith and get the screwdriver. And this is when it happens. Sitting here writing this review, I still can’t believe this is how it ended. As Joan wields the Screwdriver, Bea runs towards her, straight into it. For a moment they both just stand, shocked to realise what is happening but when The Freak awakens and stabs Bea, over and over again, the audience is left reeling. The brutality of this scene, violent and unbelievably confronting in every way possible, was enough to stop me in my tracks. Bea, after saying goodbye to Allie, had nothing to live for. She wanted to be with Allie, and she wanted justice for her, this is why she did what she did. Why she sacrificed herself, and why we heard her utter the words “I win”. We were told that Bea Smith would be a tragic hero come season’s end, and she was. As she lies on the ground, bloodied, and looking to the sky she watches as two clouds turn into seahorses, linking their tails. While she experiences this, Allie flat lines; again, bravo, to the Wentworth creative team for such flawless editing. Bea continues to lie on the ground, bleeding profusely as Will and Vera come to her aid. Allie continues to flat line. As the life in Bea’s eyes fade, the screen goes blank and the sound of the flat line continues. But then we see Allie, eyes open. One will fall, one will rise, and one will die. Joan Ferguson fell, Allie rose and Bea Smith died. I am deeply wounded that another character has been killed off in this way, but let’s look at the bigger picture. Danielle Cormack and Kate Jenkinson delivered one of the most inspiring, heart-awakening, humanising love stories Australian television has seen. Danielle Cormack, for 4 Seasons has taken Bea Smith on an evolutionary journey. She’s inhabited each story arc, each scene, and each relationship with intelligence, passion and knowingness. No one else will ever come close to Bea Smith. She embodied power, passion, light and shade, loyalty, and deep, complex, layered love and devotion.
To the entire Wentworth cast and crew, bravo on an intoxicating, socially relevant and depth-defying fourth season. Reviewing the show each week has been one of my greatest honours, and as an Australian creative myself, the work you continue you deliver season after season is profoundly inspiring. And Danielle Cormack, you are an absolute force, an actress for the ages and a storyteller so timeless. Thank you, thank you, thank you for Bea Smith.