In the action-packed return of Australian drama Wentworth Prison, Bea Smith (Danielle Cormack) was regarded as a legend by the public and several of her fellow inmates. The previous series concluded when she successfully organised a spectacular escape from jail to seek revenge on her daughter’s killer, landing her a life sentence without parole. Bea’s arrival in the new season’s opening episode made the prison politics more complex than ever before and not everyone welcomed her back with open arms. Her breakout had repercussions on prisoners and staff, leaving her top dog status unstable.
Pamela Rabe’s performance as the villainous governor Joan Ferguson was satisfyingly chilling. The cold and calculating tyrant was scathing after receiving a final warning from the chairman; her alliance with board member Derek Channing (Martin Sacks) was the only reason she didn’t get the sack. Ferguson’s lip twitched dangerously throughout the episode, a sure sign that trouble was on the horizon. She punished people close to Bea and liaised with Bea’s enemy Franky Doyle (Nicole da Silva) in order to bring about her downfall.When a law was introduced to prevent smoking in prisons, Ferguson used it as a weapon. Rather than gradually phasing in the ban, she decided it should take immediate effect. The women had already lost some of their privileges and the confiscation of their cigarettes caused outrage. However, Ferguson’s plan to re-establish her authority failed; she didn’t anticipate the resistance that would follow. Bea cleverly orchestrated an all-out riot which humiliated Ferguson and secured Bea’s powerful position. Bea’s character has reached an important turning point because she’s no longer a vulnerable underdog who can be easily manipulated. She has nobody left on the outside she cares about, which means her competitors have little ammunition.Viewers were also able to catch up with what had happened to some of the other characters since the series two finale. Matthew Fletcher (Aaron Jeffery), a former prison guard, was hospitalised due to an “accident” arranged by Ferguson. It was unclear how permanent the damage was, but the writers will undoubtedly have something exciting in store. Doreen Anderson (Shareena Clanton) was heavily pregnant, which may give Bea’s rivals a reason to target her in future. There was also an addition to the staff: Bridget Westfall (Libby Tanner), a psychologist who seemed to be keeping a watchful eye on Ferguson. Could she be a spy appointed to catch Ferguson up to no good? We’ll just have to wait and see.
The latest season of Wentworth Prison already looks promising; waiting an entire week for each instalment is going to be tough. At this stage, it’s difficult to determine how events will unfold because the array of complicated characters keeps the show fresh and unpredictable. Only one thing is for certain: Queen Bea’s reign is going to be explosive.