TL;DR – Today we find out that there are consequences for actions and what happens when you push things too far.
Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars
So we have reached the penultimate episode of Cleverman’s sophomore season and we are starting to get a glimpse of the end game and how it presumes things are about to get significantly worse. So at the end of last week’s Muya (review), things reached a head and finally Koen (Hunter Page-Lochard) stood up to take the mantle of cleverman and you can tell he’s serious because he unlocked his superhero costume, and you only earn the superhero costume when things are about to get real. However, at the end of last week we find many of our characters are in precarious places, Nerida (Jada Alberts) has lost the two girls under her protection, Charlotte (Frances O’Connor) has been kidnapped by Jarli (Clarence Ryan) and her future is still far from being safe, and Alinta (Tamala Shelton) is now trapped in her father Waruu’s (Rob Collins) house, which should be the safest place in the world for her, yet somehow we can’t feel like it is. Now we will be discussing the episode in depth so there may be some [SPOILERS] moving forward.
This week Skin takes this starting point of confidence and on the other hand precariousness and uses it to propel the plot at the start of the episode. No better place do we see this than with the opening scene where Nerida confronts Waruu at his home after finding out he has her daughter Alinta. We start with Nerida arriving with Tim (Luke Ford) who found out where the Containment Authority had taken Alinta. As she walks up to the front door you can feel Nerida’s concern, just because she is in the right doesn’t mean much when someone else holds all the power. Men like Waruu, Slade (Iain Glen), Geoff Matthews, and even Koen have caused this war, but everyone got caught in the crossfire. So even here when we have a mother wanting her child she can’t get that because it could cause Waruu to lose some of his power, his respect. Now, this of course, leads to our ‘oh for crap’s sake Waruu’ moment of the episode where not only does he stop Nerida from taking her own daughter, he calls the CA to ‘remove’ Nerida discreetly. When you watch the scene, not only is it amazing acting by Jada and Rob, but the way everything is framed, you see the power play visually. Also, this is one of two times tonight that Waruu will be basically told he should know better, with the quite actuate “You’re not the man I married”, it is small things like this that make Cleverman compelling.
One of the things Skin finally confirms is what end game is for many of the characters, because that’s not something we’ve really seen before now. What are Slade’s motivations, we’ve know it has something to do with the Hairies and their DNA, but here we finally get the why. The world is a very unpleasant place and Slade is trying to, well in his words “Combat the wrath of a dying planet”. He is doing that through a form of crafted eugenics, blending Human and Hairy DNA, so at this point, it should be no surprise what Charlotte is carrying in her womb. Indeed it should also come as no surprise that you really shouldn’t be trusting Slade with a drink order let alone your future happiness, but now he has moved from being creepy, to really delving into that Nazi eugenics vibe, with the blending of science and religion well, really do not trust him with your drink order. As well as this, we get a little hint to what Jimmy (Jack Charles) was doing and planning with the Sun and the Moon.
Another thing Skin touches on is the core issue with Waruu and the Ministries plan for the Hairy people, because there be a big flaw in it. Waruu is insistent to continue on with The Inclusion, ok an aside for a moment, never ever trust anything called ‘The Inclusion’. What this process actually does allow people to clearly pick out who the Hairy people are and show that they can’t defend themselves as well anymore. It is a flaw so stunningly obvious that it is both surprising and also not surprising that no one in a position of authority considered it, or cared. If you still don’t see why, half way through the episode we see them compared with yellow stars, with all the symbolic weight that comes with that reference. Also Araluen (Tasma Walton), I see why you are doing it, but don’t.
Finally, we come to the end of the episode, so just a final reminder that [SPOILERS] will be present. While Skin follows the same trend of previous episodes by looking for more personal character moments rather than going for big set piece moments, it also follows the trend of previous episodes like Dark Clouds (review) by completely shaking up the world in the last ten minutes. This week it feels like the theme for this last ten minutes was consequences because a number of characters had their actions catch up with them. First, we have Slade’s lackey McIntyre (Marcus Graham) who has spent the last two seasons doing a lot of his dirty work so Slade can keep his own hands clean. Well, there are consequences on being on the wrong side of things and for McIntyre that was a spear through his chest. For Slade the consequences were a bit more personal, but no less devastating, when he forced Charlotte onto a gurney to prepare her to have her baby forcibly removed, instead, he got a scalpel to the neck. Though even though we see him bleed out on the lab floor, we don’t see him die, so to be continued. Finally, we have Koen, who after smashing up the integration labs, decides to not go straight back to where everyone is hiding, which meant there was no one there to protect them when the CA came calling. Some consequences you can see coming a mile away, others sneak up on you while you are not looking.
In the end, just like last season, it feels like all the players are moving into position for a major confrontation, but at the end of Season One we never got to see it, it all happened off camera. So as we move to the final episode of Season Two, I have to wonder, is anyone going to make it out of this, because it looks like a lot of people are taking steps down paths they can’t come back from.
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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Trailer – Click Here to View (all trailers have heavy spoilers)
Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Cleverman
Directed by – Leah Purcell
Created by – Ryan Griffen
Written by – Jada Alberts & Jade Allen
Cinematography by – Mark Wareham
Music by – Samuel Scott, Thomas Wedde & Lukasz Buda
Starring – Hunter Page-Lochard, Rob Collins, Tasma Walton, Rarriwuy Hick, Rachael Blake, Jada Alberts, Clarence Ryan, Tony Briggs, Luke Ford, Tamala Shelton, Marcus Graham, Deborah Mailman, Frances O’Connor & Iain Glen with Tessa Rose & Jack Charles