I tried Wentworth Prison a year or so ago while waiting for Orange is the New Black (speaking of, I should get on E2!) but a Facebook pal AK suggested it for a recap and I thought I'd take another run at it. Rolling No Place Like Home after the break!
We open with Bea Smith (Danielle Cormack) handcuffed in a purple shirt and cardi (that seemed particularly incongruous), riding in a van and looking out the window at all the free folk. Another woman dressed in much less...matronly clothing (guessing prossie) tries talking to her, but she can barely croak her name out. The other woman tells her to "soak it up, Bea Smith."
They stop and a guard opens the pack, drawing a "g'day Chris, fancy a gobby? It'll cost you." His blowie costs him a pack of smokes, same as in town, as he leers at Bea "you smoke?" I think he liked it extry because she was so weirded out.
They pull in to Wentworth Correctional Facility, on camera now, so no more bartering with your wobbly bits for awhile. Bea's freaking out in slo-motion while she is taken through the corridors, the crackling of the lights especially scaring her.
She sees a young woman with wild hair and spots, who turns slightly into a confrontational stance and pees, urine pooling on the floor by her shoe. It used to be you only saw peeing as an act of aggression as a result of the most unfortunate internet searches, now thanks to Wentworth, OITNB and Hustler, it's mainstream, so to speak (heh).
She's photographed and her information taken down, she's quite lovely but all I can think is that her makeup and hair dye isn't going to last very long in here. That's the sort of trivial shite I worry about with prison. A friend said they don't even give you bras and I've obsessed about it ever since. Not wearing a bra is not possible for me, so I feel like I need to be EXTRY careful about where I sell my illegal drugs. I'M KIDDING!
Bea loses it when the admitting guard asks who is her next of kin, she needs to talk to her daughter! She runs out into the hallway to be corralled easily by another guard, then another. She's completely lost the plot, though, screaming and kicking and senior guard Vera Bennett (Kate Atkinson) makes the decision to have her sedated. Everything goes blurry and we have credits.
I will try to not compare this series to OITNB as much as possible, but let's just say I love the credits music and how blue everything is. So calming.
Bea's awake and bring transferred to her cell now, carrying a laundry basket full of all her worldly goods. All she wants to know is when she can talk to her daughter, which will be after lunch. She thanks Vera, reprimanded with "it's Miss Bennett" and there you go. Boundaries.
Miss Bennett shows her around her new digs, the main door will be locked, but the individual women aren't locked in their rooms at night, which ratchets Bea's anxiety back up. Not to worry, there's a Panic Button, helpfully marked "DURESS" that can be pressed in times of worry.
This is a super chill remand facility, not gelling at all with what I've seen of American Prison shows. Bea can even wear her own clothes! But she doesn't want to, she wants a uniform, probably to blend in. Miss Bennett will have one sent over. She leaves and Bea is left alone in front of her cell, clutching her laundry basket.
She opens the door to find two women wrapped up in a tangle of legs, oh, er, she tries not to look, but the top one, Franky (Nicole da Silva) and I DO mean top one, says Bea can come on in as soon as they're done. When a stunned Bea doesn't move, Franky surmises she Bea must like to watch? And licks the length of two fingers before putting them to work in the comely young lass beneath her. Bea runs
Bea sinks down into a chair in the common area with her head down on her laundry basket of goods, while Franky struts out from her cell, tying the waist of her pants. She compliments Bea's hair colour: did she do it herself? Yes, she's a hairdresser, but yeah. Not right at the moment.
Bea's having a little bit of trouble adjusting, as to be expected. She's seen a lot today and it's not quite noon.
Franky taunts her a bit more, she likes to keep people on edge I gather, introducing her to Kim (Ra Champman), who she was just enjoying with the very hands she's shaking with Bea. I cannot help it, that's where I fixate. I'm NOT a germaphobe, I just spent five minutes mentally searching my brain for a sign of a sink in the cells.
Woot, we've got a kiddo! In remand? That would be awful and amazing all at the same time. Doreen (Shareena Clanton) is holding onto Kaiya (Tanika Fry) and Liz (Celia Ireland) is the Peer Worker (Australia accent made it "peeeyer wirkah" and I am almost hypnotised by the cadence), here to show Bea the ropes. Givver the tea, Liz!
Doreen's sorting through Bea's basket, pulling out a picture of Debbie, which Bea snatches back. Dory tries to reassure Bea, her daughter can come visit! Bea sneers, nah, prison's no place for kids, SHE SAYS TO THE WOMAN HOLDING A SMALL CHILD. "Stuck up bitch" and Dory is OOT.
Liz tells her not to worry, Dory's given up ciggies and she's a bit tense. Now the rules: count in 10 minutes, stand in the door. Don't close your door, don't borrow without asking and give Franky whatever she wants. Also, don't ever push the Panic button.
The warden (I fink) Meg Jackson (Catherine McClements) is keeping an eye on Franky running her network in the lunchroom; making notes of the runners, while the women pick through bowls and tubs of really disgusting looking food. I like a buffet as much as anyone but I'll take a hard pass, fanks.
Mr. Jackson (Robbie Magasiva) is the guard who checked Bea in, is it okay to say he's smokin' hot? He so is. He looks Hawaiian, or maybe aboriginal? Maori? Google says Samoan! ANYWAY, he lets Bea know she can call her daughter now, wow, that seems like a lot of personal attention for one prisoner, doesn't it?
Bea doesn't know where to sit but is motioned over by Franky, which puts her with Liz and right next to Dory. They all talk about Mr. Jackson's arse in basketball shorts, so it was not just me that noticed the cut of his jib.
Miss Bennett is filling in the warden in on Bea's transition, but the warden would like her to stop making friends with the inmates, yeah? And keep an eye on what's really going on here. She goes out in the lunch area and ohhhhh they call her Mrs. Jackson, which I saw, but didn't realise that meant she's probably married to the hawtie guard. Huh. ANYWAY, she's wrongfooted immediately, talking to Franky surrounded by all her gang, asking about Franky's old roomie Sharna, who Bea saw piss herself in processing. She was carrying drugs in, it would seem, and the implication is it's on Franky's behalf. I guess the warden wants to let Franky know she's on to her, and actively working against her, but it doesn't seem to slow Franky down much. She tells Bea to meet her in her cell after lunch for "dessert."
Someone would go back to jail to bring stuff in for someone on the inside? This Franky must have a longer, er, reach than usual.
The warden's debriefing all the guards on the developments. Franky's bringing in crystal meth now, which is impossible to deal with on the wards. Mr. Jackson is smirklaughing as she's talking, why? Is it because there's a phone ringing the entire time? Erica (Leeanna Walsman) speaks up, Franky's clean, but of course she is, says Warden Jackson. She can't run an operation like this pinned. She tells the guards to all ride Franky hard, picking at everything. Meeting over.
Mr. Jackson stays behind and they cuddle and talk about baby-making (I would not have thought she was of baby-making age, to be honest) as another guard enters. Huh. It's a male guard and he and Jackson seem to hold eye contact a little longer than absolutely necessary. This is Matt Fletcher (Aaron Jefferey - another New Zealand actor, this show is loaded with Kiwis!) and he has more information about Franky's network. He also has an opinion on her carrying on with her hubs like that in her office, she suggests he knock next time. They keep calling her the Guvnor so I will as well.
Bea waits in the phone queue after lunch, er-ooh, not in Franky's bunk as requested. Franky's mad but kicks Liz out of line (placeholding for Dory) so she can give Bea a visitor request form. It's so Bea can meet her new friend Craig and I respect Franky's hustle, but I don't see how she can think the guards aren't going to notice that complete newb Bea has a hardened criminal visiting her already.
Bea demurs, but Franky lays it out for her clearly; anyone who stays in her unit that wants to eat, sleep or...talk to their kids...will do what she says. Franky arranges to have the entire lunch room go in front of Bea in line. No call to Debbie today.
In the middle of the night, Dory wakes Bea up to explain about Franky. It's best to do just what she says. She's top dog since Jacs left; Jacs (Kris McQuade) is Benny Holt's wife and in the slot, but soon to be back. Bea just wants to talk to her daughter! She left her very poorly and she doesn't even understand what Franky wants her to do.
"You've got to choose sides in here," advises Dory. Franky will look after her, didn't see her on the TV? Franky's famous! Bea did see her and even felt sorry for Franky... which I'm guessing is no longer the case. What'd Franky DO????
Dory suggests she not share that feeling with Franky and that she sign that form if she wants to see her daughter. Bea finally capitulates.
The next day, it's visiting hours! Yay! Bea feels as though all the guards are staring at her, she's PANICKED. For one thing, she doesn't know the "friend" she's meeting, or how she's supposed to behave, hopefully he got a description? She walks up to one dude, whut he says? But no, it's a greasy wiry guy that tries to kiss her, which freaks her out. He's got the packet in his mouth, though, in twenty minutes they're going to try that again and she better not fcuk it up this time.
She's the worst drug mule EVAH, what was Franky thinking? She might as well paint "I HAVE A CAPSULE OF DRUGS IN MY MOUTH" on her forehead, the ridiculous way she's holding her mouth. Miss Bennett is watching almost as closely as I am. She takes Bea in the back for a strip search, she didn't figure Bea for the type to have a bit on the side? Has she had any trouble from Franky? Minimal answers, but Bea passes.
Bea is taken out into the yard after, and in the middle of the introduction to Miss Davidson, Guvnor Jackson approaches. She wants to search the prisoner again; open your mouth please. Bea swallows while Franky watches. Bea passes the most ridiculous looking mouth search possible as Franky waits.
She races Bea to the washroom while Bea freaks out "what did I swallow??" Bea manages to throw up with Franky's help and recovers it after to be confronted by Guvnor Jackson and Miss Bennett.
In the Guvnor's office's, Bea doesn't rat Franky out, which infuriates Guvnor Jackson to no end. I think she may be too high-strung for this job. She's wicket smaht, but she's all jagged edges, taking a run at Deputy Guvnor Bennett after. Is Bennett trying to make her look bad? or is she just not up to the task? This woman needs to calm down, she'll never take out a tactician like Franky with her blood up like that. She sends Bennett out on Dog Squad.
They're doing a Code Blue on the compound, tearing it about with dogs as Bea listens to someone sing in the Slot. That must be Jacs, who looks like Martha Stewart, but I bet she's at least half as mercenary.
Mr. Jackson brings Bea her breakfast, he offers her a ciggie and I am concerned about his motives.Oh this is neat, there are fire boxes on the wall that they put their cigarettes into instead of having lighters. Cool! He tells her she's doing the right thing with Franky, HAHAHA whut? What guard is going to counsel a new inmate to break the law? He's aware that she'll be in much more danger with Franky after her, though, so he passes that along as she coughs. She's not a smoker, she's just along for the fresh air.
Liz is complaining to Mrs. Jackson, they took all their extra blankets, Kaiya's teddy bear, everything! Mrs. Jackson's got a meeting with Liz's parole officer, though, with no information...it's not looking good for Liz. She walks out as Bea is brought back in by Mr. Jackson; she declines again to snitch on Franky, choosing the compound, earning a smiling nod from Hottie Confusing Guard. Guvnor Jackson tried to run the "the people on your unit are mad you had the place tossed" but everyone in that room and anyone who's tuned in for even 30 seconds knows that unit is fully aware what's up. That was exceptionally weak as a lever.
Bea approaches Franky and the gang warily, getting a "well played, Red" and "onya"s from the rest of the group while Guvnor advises everyone she will be releasing Jacs back into the compound a few weeks early. She's just rewarding good behaviour. Divide and conquer, better the debbil, ah those good old heroin days. You can't stop progress, Guvnor!
Jacs enters the lunchroom and it goes...quiet. Ish. Her Martha Stewart exterior has been restored and all I can think of are the old bulls in Casino. Those are what real hitmen look like, potbellied and stork-legged, slate eyes and massive hands. The Frankys of the world are a combination of sexy and scary, but Jacs is an old bullshark, no give anywhere.
Franky knows what that means, watching Guvnor Jackson with Miss Bennett, she's fcking with her. Jacs talks to Bea right away, now we'll see what side Bea picks. She tells Bea to sit with her, brushing aside Bea's objection that she has to sit with the women in her unit. One of her underlings takes Bea's tray and she sends Bea for a cuppa. She runs Franky's newest fish in a number of ways, will Francesca speak up? Experience always wins, she tells Franky, sending Bea off again. She doesn't take milk.
Franky had her framed, that's just good business, but she lost her temper, too. That's no way to run a business, promising things to the girls she can't deliver. I called Franky a tactician but I think I was mistaken. She's all figurative cock and calls, here's the real general. She sends Bea for more water, which reminds Bea of being assaulted by her husband for the exact same thing.
Liz gets up to help while Jacs stares at Franky, no matter, she'll do it. This is exactly what Bea's had to put up with at home, and this is why Bea's in here. She tried to kill her abusive husband, well, I thought she actually did the deed until she finally puts her foot down and refuses to "move her arse" to get tea for the 8th time for Jacs and lists off her offenses.
Jacs is in for the long game, though, she tells Franky her time is up, "cl*tty-licker", they're coming for her. Franky doesn't look worried, but you know she has to be.
Bea's running through the yard, reliving her attempt on her husband's life. Bea had him tied up with his mouth covered in the garage with the car running and ohhhh, her daughter found them. Was Bea trying to commit suicide? Why did she stay in the garage with him? Debbie ran in and saved her dad while Bea freaked out, as she is back in her cell.
Debbie covered for Bea at the time, calling it a suicide attempt, but there must have been evidence to the contrary, she's taken away by the police as Debbie screams. Bea's frantically searching her cell for Debbie's picture, but the guards wrecked it while tossing everyone's cell the night before. Liz and Dory come in with it, all fixed and Bea cries.
The next day in the yard is electric, even before Franky's henchman Boomer (Katrina Milosevic) starts handing out shivs and telling people it's on. She's really interesting looking, by the way, sort of looks like a different version of Mattie Breaux from Party Down South.
Jacs and her gang are waiting on the other side of the yard while Bea is lying and explaining exactly the opposite what actually happened. Bea's husband Harry (Jake Ryan) tried to kill himself, and no, he never laid a hand on her. We see what really went on; Bea's hubs arrived home to share what he said with the police, he copped to trying to commit suicide as a promise to Debbie, but after their daughter leaves...he grabs her by the neck and threatens her. I've said this on another recap; anyone who thinks that abusive men all suffer from low self-esteem and just need to be dished out a bit of their own medicine... don't do it.
Kim runs in; yard time! Gang warfare time, Dory runs to get Kaiya out of the way while the women assemble their weapons and Liz tries to defuse the situation.
Jacs and Franky stare at each other and then the battle is joined. Franky leads the charge while more cool-headed Jacs stays safe and watches her approach. This is just like the Battle of the Bastards on Game of Thrones! We just need Littlefinger to run in and save the day!
Holy shite, it's not funny at all, people are being murdered and it's ages before the guards arrive. Franky doesn't listen to the Cease and Desist, making after Jacs instead.
Bea searches for Kaiya's teddy bear, also lost in the cell tossing the previous evening, while Franky finds Jacs in her cell. Oh. But Jacs knew she'd be coming of course, perhaps even laid a trap for young bloodlust-ridden Franky. Two of Franky's henchmen grab Franky's arms and force her to drop the knife she's holding.
Jacs has the knife as Bea searches frantically for Kaiya, who went missing. Jacs slices the skin above Franky's breast as Boomer comes in and rescues her, beating the other women's heads against the wall.
Bea's running, tripping and falling just as she sees Kaiya, who's scared and scooped up by Dory. Bea comes up with blood on her chin, did she hit that hard? Oh noooo, that's not it, there's blood everywhere, who died?? Oh mein gott, it's Guvnor Jackson. Was that fight all a diversion so someone could kill her?
And there's Bea, covered in Jackson's blood as Mr. Jackson spies her, screaming over Meg's body and calling for an ambulance. They can't really think it's her, can they?? Who did it?? I guess Jacs, she's always two steps ahead it seems, but a can opener to the heart...I just don't see Franky taking the long game. Bennett was in the yard, and I think she's the only one with a non-jail related motive, straight advancement after being mocked for being a deputy Guvnor under so many successive Guvnors. We're oot.
I recapped this show as the suggestion of AK on Facebook, let me know in comments or on Facebook as Ginges BeCray or on Tumblr and Twitter @gingesbecray or by email firstname.lastname@example.org if there is a show you think would be a good fit, and let me know what you think of this one! Cheers, mates, and keep your eyes all the way open. It's brutal in there.