Ladies, it’s time for an update to the sprawling Enemies of Lesbianism list. Get out your compendium and clear a space right between “Billionaire Hong Kong Fathers Who Try To Buy Husbands For Their Lesbian Daughters” and “Cars (specific to British television)” because we now must add “Busybody Prison Guards.” Treachery, thy name is Vera.
Previously on Wentworth, Jodie Spitteri had the dizzying experience of being loved and cast aside by Franky Doyle, only to find herself tortured to insanity by The Freak. Doreen gave birth, but made the fatal mistake of letting Joan know that she didn’t appreciate being kissed/wearing a nametag that said “Jianna.” Fletch and Bea bonded over being nearly killed by the same henchman. Vera just did not know what she was doing anymore, but she knew she was angry and someone (anyone) needed to pay. And Franky and Bridget agreed that at the very least they wanted to touch boobs and at the very most they wanted to have a house and babies and a three-legged dog named Freud.
With so much going on, we can be forgiven for forgetting about Jodie for a little while. But while others have been birthing children and fending off Hep-C attacks, poor Jodie has been squirreled away in psych, left to the tender mercies of Joan Ferguson. As before, the bulk of the torture is left to the imagination but there is an implicit sexual component. One thing I applaud Wentworth for is its refusal to link Joan’s behavior to her sexual identity. Self-loathing lesbian she might be, but the pain she inflicts on Jodie is a separate sort of pleasure. It’s possible it’s revenge for Jodie having the temerity to testify against her, but Joan also seems to externalize her own feelings of worthlessness onto her victims. The best part of the torture scene (my, that seems a crass way to begin a sentence) is when it flashes from Jodie to Vera, an obvious but effective way of showing that each of them is a pawn in Joan’s game.
Out in the yard, Fletch tells Bea that the stubbly potato-man who mowed him down is the very same one who drugged Bea. Both of them are at a loss as to what Joan’s personal beef with Fletch might be, and it’s hard for them to trust each other. Their alliance closely resembles two sports teams who are usually rivals but band together to boo a shared enemy (in this metaphor Joan is Duke basketball; one must admit she has a certain Krzyzewski-ness about her).
Okay, so remember way back to Season 1 when the adorable little Kaiya was living in Cell Block H with her mum? And even though her presence was both a ray of sunshine and a reliable source of dramatic tension, I was glad when she left because I just couldn’t take the worry? Well Joshua, Doreen’s baby, is like Kaiya but ten billion times worse on account of he cannot even run away.
The trouble starts from the moment Doreen brings him home from the hospital. Just when you thought the humiliation of the strip-search scenes had been milked dry, you’re proven wrong when Doreen leaks actual breast milk on the floor. Even more painful is when she has to prove she’s not smuggling drugs in her own infant’s bottom.
One heart-warming little subplot this week is Franky helping Sophie prepare for her sentencing hearing, which she does from a previously untapped vein of altruism that Soph somehow brings out in her. Sophie isn’t sure if legal advice is all part of lesbian seduction, and she also isn’t sure if she wants it to be, but Franky’s romantic energies are currently all occupied with a close subtextual reading of every interaction she and Bridget have ever had. But Liz notices Franky’s good deeds, and starts to consider trusting her again.
We are also treated to the sight of the ladies greeting Wentworth’s youngest inmate. The best part is when Franky says that the kid is so good looking she must be the father, and the second best part is that Bea can’t bring herself to hold him. This season has been pretty light on Bea’s character development, but Danielle Cormack knows how to make the most of her moments. But the warm and fuzzies come to an abrupt halt when Jess arrives and immediately snatches the baby out of Doreen’s hands, supporting our fears that her greatest display of baby fever is yet to come.
Speaking of crazy, over in the psych unit, Jodie manages to do herself a pretty gruesome injury, thanks to Joan’s goading.