“Wentworth” recap (4.3): Survivors


So yeah. Shit is getting real. But now we’ve gotta talk about the hard stuff.

That night, Ferguson requests a secret meaning with Bea (aided by the always pliable Ms. Myles).

She informs Bea that the next morning she’ll be alone in the showers, and requests that she do her duty as Top Dog and give her a beating.  Bea tells her she’s insane but takes the offer back to Maxine. And Maxie says, sadly but truthfully, that if Bea wants this problem solved permanently, she’ll kill The Freak. And her argument is very good.

I mean, it would save them from whatever elaborate revenge fantasy Joan is cooking up, it would appease the women, and it wouldn’t hurt Bea, because she’s already a lifer.  But then Bea laughs a scared laugh. Like a big sister being asked to act as a mother. Like an ordinary woman made into a gladiator. Bea’s mask of power is usually so firmly affixed to her face that I think we all forget from time to time that she’s just a human being under there. And as a human being, she would like to stop committing murders, because she loses a little bit more of herself every time she does. (Danielle Cormack has just owned every second of this season. I don’t want to say it’s because she’s not competing with Nicole da Silva for screen time, but Nicole is an incandescent ball of emotion, and her absence makes it easier to appreciate Danielle’s quieter brilliance.)

So in spite of Bea’s reservations, when the sun rises the next morning, she shoves a shiv into her sock and prepares to do what must be done.

Unfortunately, she is beaten to the proverbial punch. Juice (was that her name last season?) and her gang find Joan in the shower and brutally rape her with a broom handle. We are spared none of it.


And even as it happens, Joan is remembering the psychiatric hospital again, and the doctor there who said he would cure her by forming an attachment with her. And what he meant by that was that he would fuck her up against a wall while her eyes were dead and cold and she trained her mind to be somewhere else.


I’ve devoted many words to decrying television’s preoccupation with rape, and its failure to rape survivors. I’m sure in the future I’ll devote many more. But this particular depiction reminds me of another, equally heartbreaking one: Pennsatucky in Orange is the New Black. They are very different characters, but they’ve both played the villain at one time or another. Both their rape scenes ask us to focus on the eyes of the woman being violated. Both scenes remind us that this is not the first time in their lives these women have been raped. And of course, both scenes take place in prisons, where the omission of rape as a reality would be glaring. So despite being heart-stoppingly sad, this scene does the work of great drama. (As does Pamela Rabe, for whom no emotional rabbit hole is too deep.)

And it’s just as stirring what happens next: Bea rushes into the bathroom, ready to kill Joan. (Hand Danielle Cormack an award just for the look she shoots Ms. Myles, dutifully turning the cameras away.) But when she sees Joan, lying helpless, naked, bleeding on the floor, all thought of killing her is immediately out of the question. Because they are both women. Because they are both women who have been raped. Because for a moment, that bond is stronger than everything that separates them.

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