The Wentworth viewing experience is a full-body contact sport. I pull at my hair, I dart behind the couch, I punch the air (and occasionally my laptop). I go through all the physical manifestations of great excitement and great pain. I never, however, expected to find myself jumping into the air and doing a Snoopy dance of joy, and yet here we are.
What’s odd is that all that exultation comes in the midst of the darkest (and best) episode of the season thus far.
So. Previously on Wentworth, Liz’s daughter Sophie was incarcerated on a drunk driving charge, and caught the attention of some predatory butches infected with Hepatitis-C (a disease of which the first symptom is apparently soul rot). Franky rescued Soph and Liz but then felt that her pendulum had swung too far towards “hero” and corrected it by plying the alcoholic Soph with booze and possibly sex.
As many of you pointed out, this was a baffling decision, since Liz holds the truth about Meg Jackson’s death over Franky’s head. But if Franky is crazy like a fox, then The Freak is just plain crazy. She tortured Jodie to make her stab Bea, while also forming an alliance with Bea. She is engaged in a secret vendetta against Will, while supporting him publicly. She had Fletch hit with a van, for reasons I’m not sure she even remembers anymore. It’s like Joan keeps her revenge journal next to her bed, takes a fistful of Ambien every night, and then writes down her plans while in a fugue state. Oh, and Bea had a fan club of ultra-violent feminists called the Red Right Fist, who may have killed Harry. Or Will or Joan could have killed him. Fucking everyone hated that guy.
Meanwhile, out in the yard, Bridget the counselor just spent all her time watching Franky exercise and nearly drowned in a puddle of her own drool. Franky was flattered, but still missed Erica and was a little preoccupied with the other members of her harem.
Now it might be a heresy, but I love the guard-centric episodes, and this one in particular. As on-point as all the actors are this week, the day belongs to Fletch (Aaron Jeffrey). Jeffrey has gamely followed the writers’ lead when Fletch needed to be a misogynistic Neanderthal, a sensitive but troubled veteran, a maker of quinoa, or a collector of beer cozies. But he has never more fully embodied Fletcher than now, when he is struggling to recover from his accident and realizing the limitations both of his present condition and his former self. The pain, shame, and frustration in his eyes as he struggles to make his body and mind cooperate make him worthy of whatever Australia’s highest TV honor is. The golden monster-that-is-trying-to-kill-you, most likely.
In the first scene, Fletch is back at Wentworth and Channing encourages him to take his old job back. Fletch is understandably reluctant to return to this stressful working environment after his brief respite in golden sunshine land. (Actual dialogue: “Do I have to?”)
THIS LIGHTING IS NOT CONDUCIVE TO MY RECOVERY.
Joan pretends to support this idea but privately is all too clear about why Channing wants his “broken puppet” back in play.
Of course, it can’t be a Fletch episode without being a Vera episode too, and she may actually have it rougher than Fletch this week. So remember in the first episode, when the Hep-Cats (get it?) took Vera hostage with a hypodermic needle to the throat. I assumed the needle was full of poison or something, but it would appear that it contained their own infected blood. We make this deduction because this week, Vera is coming down with something she thinks is the flu, be we all know that in TV dramas there is no such thing as the flu: there are only Deathly Illnesses.
OH NO I’VE BEEN TRANSFERRED TO GREEN LIGHTING LAND. THAT CAN’T BE GOOD.
Again, the whole idea of scary lesbians looking to infect innocent straight people with their disease it a little problematic, but not nearly as problematic as ultra-violent misandrists with baseball bats, so we’ll table it for now.
Ultimately Fletch is drowning in debt and booze and has no choice but to return to work, though Joan keeps him on front desk duties and denies him the use of a swipe card.