Love and Hate
Divide and Conquer
With Franky (Nicole da Silva) released from prison and Ferguson (Pamela Rabe) becoming a prisoner, Season 4 mixes up the dynamic of the show to varying degrees of success. On the one hand, Season 4’s slower pace and more sombre tone gives room for new sub plots to crop up and the constant shifting focus to drama inside and outside the prison is still endearing but it’s also a much more sporadic season; the ever-changing pace gives a much more uneven feel than it did in the past.
This year in particular sees a much greater emphasis on relationships between the women. Franky tries to adjust to life outside the prison with Bridget (Libby Tanner), Bea Smith (Danielle Cormack) finds herself in an unlikely romance with Allie (Kate Jenkinson) and Boomer (Katrina Milosevic) and Maxine (Socratis Otto) become entangled in a possible situation involving a child. The theme of love runs strongly this year and by the end it becomes clear why. A shocking finale raises interesting questions around what direction the show’s likely to take from here and what fate awaits the characters depicted in the final scenes. To give much more away would be spoiling a massive twist in the story but suffice to say, it’s a strong final episode and brings the entire season’s slower pace and thematic emphasis into perspective.
Although Season 4 feels like a much gentler season with its changed focus, there’s still pockets of tension and drama that’s become a staple of the show. Bea’s confrontations with newly imprisoned Kaz and her crew The Red Right Hand are intense and this year Bea’s status as Top Dog comes under serious jeopardy as Kaz rallies the women against her. Although certainly no Ferguson, Vera’s (Kate Atkinson) increased authority as Prison Warden adds another interesting dynamic to the show as she tries to emulate the same iron authority her predecessor wield. Whilst she struggles to depict the same scene-stealing presence as Ferguson, she still does a pretty good job with the script and plays the role well. The rest of the girls all slot into familiar roles and the tiny pockets of humour mixed with the intense drama is really well written once again.
Season 4 of Wentworth feels like a transitional season in many ways. The slower pace and changed thematic emphasis may disappoint some people looking for the same intensity that bleeds through Season 3 but the chaotic confrontations and uneasy alliances that’s become such a staple of this show are still here and when shown, are just as intense as they’ve ever been. The finale throws some very interesting questions around what direction the show is likely to take from here on in but with a fifth season green-lit and a return for most of the cast members, we may not have to wait long to find out. If you’ve made it this far into the show, Season 4 continues the trend of producing some of the best prison drama on TV, even if it’s not quite as intense or strong as last year.
Verdict - 8/10