At 51 minutes, “Coup de Grace” is one of the longest episodes this season of Wentworth. We needed every one of those minutes set things up for next week’s season finale.
And if this episode is anything to go by, it’s going to be an absolute doozy as we finally get resolution to some of the plot lines, while others are deliberately left opened ended to potentially fuel Season six.
Again, the machinations of Joan Ferguson continue to dominate, but rather than just lurking in the background, she’s now front and centre.
Much of her plots centre on Vera Bennett, who’s having a bad day at the office. Actually, she’s having a ‘Magnitude 10’ bad day as Wentworth careens out of control.
She’s still blissfully unaware of the ‘real’ Jake Stewart and remains peeved at Will Jackson for his accusations that have seen her sidelined and her lover investigated.
Jake’s been having nightmares about Vera being murdered. A guilty conscience, a premonition or a plot? With Jake it’s hard to know for certain.
Whatever is driving him, he wants out of his arrangement with The Freak. But she has her claws in deep and he really should know better than to try to reason with a sociopath.
“No-one deserves the shit we’re putting her through”.
“How would you know what Vera deserves? I lost everything when she betrayed me”.
“Everyone betrayed you”.
“But not you. Because you know you’d be dead without me”.
“Death would be better than this”.
“You know, if you’re going to kill yourself, make it count. Do it in Vera’s bedroom. Nice and messy….Let’s just finish what we’ve started, huh? Break up with her. Be cruel. Make her suffer”.
Rather than breaking up with her, Jake instead tries to get her to resign, suggesting they run off together. He really should try to understand the women around him. As if Vera would ‘run away’.
“I can’t just up and leave when things get tough, Jake. I just don’t work like that”.
Told you so, Jake. She walks off smiling (because he said I love you), while he just looks concerned/confused.
Vera runs into Will Jackson and the smile quickly disappears. “Thanks to him” she’s no longer Governor, which means she can’t just order Franky’s release from solitary confinement.
And it’s not that she doesn’t believe Franky’s allegations that Joan murdered Iman, she just knows that nothing good will come of them both being in the general prison population.
Nothing good will come of her little chat with Channing, either. Martin Sacks is wonderful as the slimy regional manager of prison and is obviously enjoying playing a shady character.
And of course, he takes some of the loved-up glow out of her day as he let’s her know she won’t be back sitting in the big chair.
Yep, her day is off to a flying start and it will only go downhill from here. But in the meantime, she makes a bee-line for Jake to take him up on his offer to run away.
“Stuff this place. Stuff Channing. A permanent holiday is just what I need. I love you too”.
“So, when are we going to do this”
“Today. Now. I am going to walk out of here, go straight to Channing and tell him where to stick his job”.
While the happy couple plot their future, Channing has Joan brought to ‘his’ office for a little heart to heart. He informs her that he has no option but to release Franky from solitary and suggests that it would be best if she goes into protection.
Of course, Channing has her signed waiver that should anything happen to her, the prison will not be held responsible. So, he really doesn’t care if Joan refuses protection.
The Freak’s in a right mood now and takes it out on Vera, who she runs into on the stairs. Our loved up Vera is a bit cocky as she and Joan trade barbs. But then The Freak lets loose with the truth, leaving Vera devastated.
“Goodness me, there’s such a glow about you. Don’t tell me. You’re in love. Oh, that is so sweet.
At least it would be, if it wasn’t all based on a lie. Hate to be the one to break it to you, Vera, but you and your Jakey; nothing about it is real. It’s fiction. Everything that Jake has said, everything that he’s done, it was all at my instruction”.
“I don’t believe you”.
“Yes, you do, because deep down you know that a man like Jake could never love you”.
With surgical precision she has absolutely destroyed Vera. But eventually, Vera rallies and confronts Jake and he gets his comeuppance. Finally.
The scales have fallen from her eyes and she sees Jake for what he is: a pawn of Joan Ferguson, who’s been messing with her heart and head.
What does she do? She tells him he WILL leave the prison. And despite his insistence that he loves her and wants another chance, she tells him if he doesn’t resign, she’ll have him sacked.
No second chance, Jakey-boy. Your goose is well and truly cooked. But he still has issues to resolve with both women who figure large in his life.
He confronts Joan in the laundry room and she makes it clear that there is NO escaping her web. A money trail from him to her lawyer means he is tied to her forever. There’s no hope of just walking away.
It leads him to a lonely car park where he puts a hose in the exhaust and turns on the engine. As tears fall down his face, the car fills with exhaust fumes.
As the camera pulls away, it seems Jake has done what Joan proposed: killed himself. But then the door opens and he falls out of the car, coughing.
Jake has decided not to end it all, which leaves him with just one option: pick up the pieces and move on. And that involves telling Vera he won’t be resigning and if she makes a move in him, he will retaliate.
He knows she was the one who got Bea Smith into yard with Joan Ferguson. Vera wanted Bea to murder The Freak.
Meantime, among the women of Wentworth, things are finally coming to a head. With a little help from the police, it’s finally dawned on Liz that Sonia and Don were playing her all along.
After confronting Sonia, she begins to flip out and even though she’s promised to be there for her, Boomer turns on Liz when she realises she was Witness X.
But even Boomer’s not prepared for Liz’s total breakdown as she pulls out her hair, screaming ‘I’m a f**k up, I’m a f**k up’.
The next we see of Liz, she’s heavily sedated in the hospital wing as Sonia comes to pay her a visit and it’s chilling stuff.
“You were the perfect, Patsy. So sad and needy. Such a desperado. Don’t worry about this Witness X business. I’ve told Boomer ‘mum’s the word’. I don’t want anyone exacting retribution for your betrayal. I want to deal with you myself in my own unique way”.
Now, if that’s not resolved in the season finale, then it’s clear it could be the thread that feeds through into season six. Dare I suggest that Sonia The Sociopath may be the next power figure in prison?
We shall see.
Kaz and Allie haven’t been idle and they’ve finally convinced Franky that they need to do ‘something’ about Ferguson. It won’t interfere with Franky’s escape plans, Allie explains. But she can give the other women a ‘parting gift’.
What they have planned is a kangaroo court; a trial for her many, many crimes. And there are a few of them.
The scriptwriters do give Pamela Rabe the best lines as the Freak. When she’s approached by Kaz and told ‘justice is coming’, she responds with:
“I’ll put the kettle on”.
How brilliant is that? The arrogance and the nonchalance are exquisite.
But eventually, they ‘get’ her and she’s dragged into the prison exercise and tied to a pole. It’s a little like a witch tied to a stake or a sort of crucifixion.
Officer Miles is taken hostage with a shiv at her throat as the other guards make their escape. Miles has managed to turn on her radio so they can all hear what’s happening.
But Channing, who did a few lines of coke before he started his day, refuses to intervene.
"Let’s see how this plays out."
The trial begins and Franky begins reading out the ‘crimes’, which includes the murder of Bea Smith and a long list of other deaths and mutilations.
As the women stand silent, Ferguson twitches and lashes out. And it’s not pretty. She starts all rational, but then completely loses her nut.
There are very few women willing to defend her, not even members of her crew will step in.
“You’ve been herded into cages, locked up alone, outcast, unloved, un-forgiven, unforgiveable. Simply because you lack the basic discipline and intelligence to conduct your lives responsibly”.
“You have the self-control of children, you’re emotional defective. I give you order. I give you structure. I give you strength. You lack the mental capacity. You’re incapable of forgiving yourselves.
You need me. Without me, you’re nothing more than pigs. Filthy, filthy pigs”.
And while Kaz declares the trial over, a rope and noose land at Joan’s feet and the women rush in to string her up.
And still Channing does nothing, ordering Vera to stand down and even Franky won’t intervene.
"They’ve made their decision, Kaz."
Joan is hoisted up and struggling to breath as the noose tightens. She’s going red in the face, then purple.
Vera finally convinces one of the women to drop the shiv and release Officer Miles. She runs to Joan and starts hacking at the rope.
Down drops Ferguson and Vera starts CPR as the women watch on. Will Jackson is in tears, while Channing just smiles.
And still Vera works on her, trying to blow life back into her and pushing down on her chest. The camera pulls back and Joan is surrounded by the women.
Then her eyes pop open and the credits roll.
Oh my stars. What a way to end the penultimate season of season five. How will Joan react? Will she ‘forgive’ Vera for her perceived wrongdoings? How will she exact revenge?
Just a week to go and all will be revealed.