TL;DR – ‘A Free Ranger’ is a quieter episode than last week, but in doing so it lulls us into a false sense of security so when the feels hit, they hit hard.
Score – 4/5 Stars
We have reached the half way point in the first season of Cleverman, and while ‘A Free Ranger’ is not as action packed as last week’s ‘Containment’, it deftly moves all the major players into position for the coming confrontation. People make choices that will no doubt come back to haunt them, players pick sides, people are being pushed aside, alliances are being sought, and double crossing is afoot.
This is the episode where some of the key themes start to really come together, and one of those themes is clearly destiny. As Aunty Linda (Deborah Mailman) declares proudly “It’s meant to be. You can’t f— with Karma” but as time goes on in Cleverman, the question becomes – but what if we can? And if we can what does that mean? So on one hand with Koen’s (Hunter Page-Lochard) powers we have destiny in the literal sense, we are getting to ask the question, is the future fixed?, something Ash (Steph Dawson) is quite interested in. However, there is also thematic destiny, the one we all think we deserve, for Waruu (Rob Collins) his destiny is to become the Cleverman, he has been training for it all his life, but in the end it was all for nought. Both of these create significant tension in the series. You can feel the brewing Cain/Able, Prodical Son, Sun/Moon clash, even though Koen and Waruu have very little onscreen interaction, and that is a testament to the writing of the show.
So while this was a quieter episode, it allowed for some truly wonderful moments of reflection. For example it becomes clear this episode that Araluen (Tasma Walton) might not be in prison, but she still lives in a cell. Those moments of horrific numbness are hard to watch, as you understand the full ramifications of what she is going through. Linda (Deborah Mailman) once again commands every scene she is in, even if that is just chastising someone whilst sitting on some stairs, or trying to hide the pain of the cancer running its course. Even the generally stern and commanding Waruu has some emotional moments as he contemplates what he has done and what it means for his life, indeed he bares his emotions at the end of the episode and you really feel for his predicament. Also one should always remember not all reunions are good ones.
At this halfway point I do hope we start to get some answers in the second half of the season. Jarrod Slade (Iain Glen) has been lurking around and clearly has his fingers in many pies, and has been dropping hints about the merging of Ancient past and the Future, and of course he know everyone. However, he has yet to really show his cards, and I hope we see that soon. Also they have been moving Latani (Rarriwuy Hick) around, but not a lot is happening, it feels like there is big moment coming where she will be unleashing her power, but it does not seem to be happening yet.
Given the title of next week’s episode I would take it that things are about to come to a head, indeed that a war is ready to explode, and ‘A Free Ranger’ deliveres in building the tension and moving everyone into place for what is to come, and I am really looking forward to seeing it all come to a head soon.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Written by – Michael Miller
Based on – an original concept by Ryan Griffen
Directed by – Leah Purcell
Staring – Hunter Page-Lochard, Rob Collins, Iain Glen, Ryan Corr, Tysan Towney, Tony Briggs, Deborah Mailman, Frances O’Connor, Stef Dawson, Tasma Walton, Rarriwuy Hick, Andrew McFarlane, Marcus Graham, & Jack Charles