“The Aboriginal people of Australia are the longest surviving culture on earth with over 60,000 years of stories known as The Dreaming. The Dreaming is the spiritual realm that binds the past, present and future together. It is inhabited by incredible creatures and spirits.”
More blood is spilled this episode as the Namorrodor claims yet another victim. This time we’re teased with a shadowy silhouette and clawed foot before a poor old woman is snatched away for some unexpected open heart removal. It’s the most we’ve seen of the creature so far but with it’s speed and ferocity already displayed, I don’t envy any Cleverman that has to go up against it.
Back at The Zone, Nerida (Jada Alberts) pleads with Waruu to seek out Koen but her husband isn’t trying to hear any of that. He’s still upset about not being chosen as Uncle Jimmy’s successor and his snark is strong when asked to reach out to his brother. Waruu still thinks that only a political fix is the best way to go and wants to reach out to Slade for a possible news crew to come and show how the Hairies aren’t to be feared or treated as something other than human. However, there’s a huge mob of angry protestors at The Zone checkpoint that are making their point that the Hairies should go. There might also be some internal problems brewing in The Zone aside from Waruu’s narcissism and it’s that Djukarra has been welcomed by his fellow Hairy brother, Maliyan (Briggs), who doesn’t seem to like the idea of integration. He’s young, angry, and has too much idle time on his hands which means he has more in common with Djukara. All of which is just a recipe for trouble.
So later in the episode when Nerida brings reporter, Belinda Frosche, to meet Hairy people in The Zone things go downhill quite fast. Though she’s also part of the reason angst against the Hairies has been on the rise since she hasn’t painted them in a positive light on television. What makes this entire scene great is when Latani (Rarriwuy Hick) comes in and masterfully disarms the situation. This little girl lets the truth fly to the massive and intimidating Maliyan effectively ending the giant’s tirade. Then she turns her attention to Froshce and once again Rarriwuy steals the show. Laying down a harsh reminder to Frosche that she didn’t do it for her and then rips into the reporter with a verbal onslaught that is just jaw dropping.
This episode also begins to shed some light on Slade’s motives as he actually is playing almost every side. This charming puppet master has already alluded to working with Uncle Jimmy in secret before his death at the talons of the Namorrodor. Now we see that at least part of that was to derive some sort of compound that will heighten the physical abilities of the human body, dubbed “Hairy Juice”. Kind of like the Super Soldier Serum from Captain America. However, just like with most scientific trials of this nature the first volunteer doesn’t fair so well. Slade shows little emotion but does want the man’s family taken care of as a form of restitution for being responsible for his death. As deplorable as this act may seem, it’s still hard to really hate him as you see also see the other side of him that is desperately trying to start a family with his wife. Something that has been an emotional weight on both of them after so many unsuccessful attempts.
Remember how Minister of Immigration, Matthews hates the Hairy people? Well, after spewing all of that hate and propaganda he’s not above sexually exploiting Hairy women. In particular, Araluen (Tasma Walton), who is the Matriarch of the family that has already been torn apart due to the actions of the CA. This doesn’t come as a huge surprise that Matthews is a vile human being as this is history repeating itself with men in his position of power. However, Araluen is determined to escape and see her family again and I can’t wait till that happens.
Waruu does eventually get to Koen but even then he’s too much of a jerk to properly ask for help. But the glimpse of their past we saw in flashback sets the precedence for their relationship now and it probably won’t get better anytime soon. However, Waruu does attempt to open Koen’s eyes and have him see that it wasn’t “just stories” and the Namorrodor is out there killing people. Not only that but it’s up to Koen to do something about it since he’s now the Cleverman. Waruu also draws a picture of the Namorrodor on a napkin and slams it on Koen’s chest to make a point and we get a better look at what the creature is supposed to look like. Collins and Page-Lochard are great onscreen together and you’re half expecting their characters to rip each other apart at any given moment. At the same time you’re also hoping that they might be able to put aside their issues for the greater good because even though you have two very flawed characters here each has the capacity for something more.
Slade’s enforcer, McIntyre (Marcus Graham), who we’ve seen do some terrible things in past episodes has a larger role here. Along with maintaining the Containment Authority and keeping an eye on all of the moving pieces he kidnaps Waruu in attempts to blackmail him regarding the breakout at the facility and murder of one of the guards. However, Waruu has an ace and plays it to perfection. McIntyre also goes to Koen’s bar to retrieve Kora who was taken from one of Slade’s private facilities. He’s got Ash (Stef Dawson) at gunpoint and is willing to trade her for the girl. If you’re paying attention to the scene you’ll see that Ash is wearing the same dress as in Koen’s visions which have all ended in alarms, blood, and Ash lying on the floor.
As much as Cleverman has impressed over the past several weeks that was one of the scenes that bothered me. Koen has had multiple visions of Ash in peril so upon seeing her in the same outfit that day it seemed odd that he didn’t worry until McIntyre shows up with a gun to his friend. He might not have wanted to tell her that something bad was going to happen but to be that unprepared to save her seems woefully incompetent. There’s also the question of why hasn’t Waruu made the recording public because it would assuredly help clear the boys of murder and shed light on the horrific conditions the CA keeps the Hairies housed in. If not on television then just upload it to the internet, right? He’d have to edit out the part where he went a little overboard but it’s an easy fix if you think about it. There’s still a chance for this to happen but if it doesn’t there better be a good reason why not.
Aside from those missteps Cleverman still manages to deliver another hard hitting episode week after week which keeps you coming back. Though some themes are familiar the traditions surrounding and fueling the story itself are handled with respect and introduces audiences to something new. So thanks to Ryan Griffen for bringing this story to us and making sure there’s representation in front and behind the camera on Cleverman!