For five seasons, the Australian prison series, Wentworth has consistently proved to be the "Top Dog" of drama on television. The internationally acclaimed show, sadly, reached its season five finale earlier this week.
If you have been emotionally attached to Wentworth from the start, it's normal to experience the Wentworth blues, now that the fifth season is over.
Before discussing why Wentworth is a bittersweet fan favorite, let's recap the unexpected plot from the season finale.
The manipulative Sonia Stevens (amazing Sigrid Thornto) gets the best of (usual) Mother Hen, Liz Birdsworth (Celia Ireland). As a result, Birdsworth's fight-or-flight response kicks in, and she works an inconspicuous ploy that leaves Stevens' as good as dead. If I'm being completely honest, I respect Birdsworth for finally standing up for herself. Maybe Stevens' will learn her lesson?
“Run, Forest! Run!” Franky Doyle (played by the gorgeous Nicole da Silva) successfully escapes prison. As if that wasn't pleasant enough to watch. We then see her run straight to her lover, Bridget Westfall (played by the gracious Libby Tanner). Westfall is in awe as Doyle yells from a distance,“I LOVE YOU! AND I’LL BE BACK!” How’s that for romantic, eh?
Allie Novak (Kate Jenkinson) trades in her opportunity to escape prison for the chance to avenge beloved, and terribly missed, Bea Smith (award-winning Danielle Cormack).
"Kill or be killed." Kaz Proctor (the vibrant Tammy MacIntosh) wins back her status as ‘Top Dog’ (let’s hope it stays that way). She then attempts to kill Ferguson while she's "sleeping" in her prison cell. We later learn that Ferguson is no longer there. GASP!
Of course I had to save the best for last: the infamous, Joan ‘The Freak’ Ferguson (multi-talented Pamela Rabe), is buried alive. YEP! BURIED ALIVE! That’s not the only important detail. Because I’m a sucker for irony, I couldn’t let pass the paradoxical observation that the person digging the hole is not Jake 'The Snake' Stewart (Bernard Curry). Instead, the man holding the shovel, and hiding underneath the hood, is no other than the benevolent, Will Jackson (Robbie Magasiva). Though this time, he is determined to get rid of Ferguson for good.
I NEED A CIGARETTE… DAMN, THAT WAS A LOT TO TAKE IN! The final scenes of
‘Hell Bent’ were so capturing that even an earthquake couldn’t interrupt me
If you have been a fan of Wentworth for all five seasons, then you understand that the show has been nothing short of the brilliant writing and producing of Jo Porter and Amanda Crittenden. They have made it almost impossible to choose what is most memorable about the series. Clever and creative writing has made many quotes from the show stand out because they intrigue us, but, more importantly, later play appropriately into the plot.
I was reminded of one quote, in particular, from season three as I watched the final scene of season five.
In season three, Ferguson mockingly tells Bea Smith, “IF YOU RULE THROUGH CHAOS, YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW.” At the end of the season three finale, Smith ironically repeats the same words to Ferguson, after Will Jackson saves her from nearly being reduced to ashes. It's only natural that I experienced an "I-see-what-you-did-there" moment as I watched Ferguson being buried alive by Mr. Jackson. On several occasions, Wentworth has reminded us that karma really is a bitch.
Even though most of us looked forward to Ferguson’s demise, I still couldn't help but pity her as dirt fell on her face, and as she struggled to accept her fate. "Whatever happens, your humanity always wins out. Is that it?" Ferguson almost doesn’t understand why (Ex-Governor) Vera Bennet (Kate Atkinson) would help her after all the harm and destruction she has caused. Ferguson even seems to esteem Vera, as she thanks her for resuscitating her after being lynched.
Is it our human nature to help others even when we clearly know they don’t deserve it?
Part of me knows that the only way justice would be served was getting rid of the Freak. In the past, everyone who has tried to take her down has either been hurt, killed, or extremely unsuccessful. I thought I would be all for raising my fist and asserting: IT’S ABOUT TIME THE FREAK PAID! To my surprise, I sat there in silence and actually sobbed. It wasn’t until I saw Smith’s drawing inside the box that something became very apparent: Ferguson is simply not a good person.
Wentworth writers created a distinct character like Ferguson, and have given her countless opportunities to redeem herself. Time and time again she has shown that she, “cannot deny the animal within.” As entertaining as her schemes have been for television; looking at it on a basic level of humanity, I have grown weary of Ferguson. How much evil can one take? She has relentlessly shown that being ruthless is her only way of existing. I had to come to terms that Ferguson lacks the things that make us human. Unfortunately, that means that she is incapable of loving or caring for another person. It’s not entirely her fault, though. There have been indications throughout Wentworth that she suffered a horrible childhood. I suppose it comes down to a matter of nature vs. nurture. But, even then, Ferguson is smart enough to know the difference between good and bad. Thus, I had to force myself to rationalize that concluding the fifth season of Wentworth with her trapped inside a box, underground was quite necessary.
I've realized that a show like Wentworth doesn’t aim to please the viewer. It gives us something better. It offers a range of eclectic stories that anger, disappoint, and even, keep us up at night. That is also what makes the show powerful, and what keeps us watching. Wentworth has been phenomenal at exposing the nasty truth about the world inside a prison. Sure with satire the show releases tension, but it does so in a way that never loses focus on the story. The creators of Wentworth are not afraid to be eccentric storytellers, and take the show to a level that makes the viewer regret watching it in the first place. As raw and upsetting as the show may be, the writers are also adamant in providing light at the end of the tunnel. Take for example characters like Franky Doyle and Sue ‘Boomer’ Jenkins (hilarious and lovely Katrina Milosevic). We love seeing a cast of multifaceted characters flourishing and transitioning for better.
The fourth season ended by tragically killing off its main actress, and protagonist, Bea Smith. The most disturbing part about Smith’s death is that she was given a taste of love, only to have it abruptly taken away. We were all shocked. I could scold and call Wentworth cruel for finalizing Smith in such an inconsiderate way. I was even certain that the show would suffer in ratings without Danielle Cormack. Boy, was I wrong! What series kills off its most prominent character, after four seasons, and still manages to be THAT good? My only trouble now is that I’m hesitantly asking myself a similar question: What is a storyline without a strong antagonist? Maybe Ferguson is on a similar path as Doyle: SHE LOVES US AND SHE WILL BE BACK!
Only a show like Wentworth could pull it off. They say patience is a virtue. The sixth season is worth the wait.