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Wentworth’s Final Sentence: Tenth Episode

Vera, via Foxtel.

After nine seasons of lesbians and carnage, Wentworth is over for good. TV shows have a tendency to bomb in the last season but the only bomb in Wentworth’s season nine was actually an enriching part of a complex set of final storylines. 

You know you’re engaging with some good art when you draw parallels with broader society and contemplate new ways of thinking. Wentworth’s final season explored power, punishment, forgiveness, grief and the dichotomy of “good” and “bad.” 

Allie, via Foxtel.

The final episode begins with the preparation of, and countdown to, the bombing. While the bomb material dealer secures the delivery, Allie and crew are waking up to another day of being targeted and threatened after Rita is exposed as an undercover cop. Will proposes protection for Allie’s crew but the guards believe “Ann won’t have it.”

The buttering up through lunches and incentives aren’t working on the guards anymore. They’ve seen Ann’s true colors, especially when she continually punishes Judy — harsh and physical — at every chance. She walks into the staff room as Will advocates to protect Allie’s crew, she hears them question her approval, and announces she’s getting a promotion tomorrow and some of the guards won’t have a job anymore. 

The bomb, via Foxtel.

Even guard Miles questions Ann’s motives in this episode, when she’s asked to put Judy in a holding cell by 4:45pm, despite no documents to support Ann’s claim that Judy has a meeting. Miles represents those corrupted by money. Now that the lavish lunches and hefty incentives for unethical missions are over, her empathy has kicked in again. 

What does this mean about what people in the world will do for money? Is financial security an excuse to do corrupt acts? To what extent should we have empathy for those willing to harm others for money or other rewards, such as climbing the ranks?

Despite Judy attempting to murder Allie a while back, I think she was being honest when she said the NSO had set her up over certain terrorist activity. I don’t think she was part of the terrorist attack that killed Ann’s daughter years ago. However, Ann’s looking for someone to blame, and is willing to explode the entire prison if it means avenging her daughter’s death through similar destruction.

Will and Joan, via Foxtel.

Joan decides to begin helping Rita uncover Judy and Lou’s plan after Will tells her she’ll be transferred to a padded cell the next morning. When Rita asks why she’s changed her mind, Joan adds “I have no love for Lou Kelly,” showing her scolded hand that Lou squished in the steam press, “and she killed my goldfish.” Rita needs Lou’s phone in order to retrieve the proof she was undercover, to help her case. Joan pretends to faint so Rita can escape her locked-down cell to grab the phone.

Rita manages to put Lou (and herself) in solitary confinement, by fighting her. It’s in the hopes the upcoming bomb won’t go off because Lou can’t make it to the visitors’ center. Meanwhile, the bomb is sitting in the van. Lou doesn’t need to be there for it. Lou’s angry because being locked in solitary confinement means there’s more of a chance she’ll die. Rita tries to talk to Lou, through the vent, about why the destruction of the bomb isn’t going to bring Reb back. “My hope ended up with a rope around his neck,” Lou says.

Van with bomb inside, via Foxtel.

When the bomb goes off at 5pm, Rita doesn’t let Lou out when she has the chance. She leaves her there for dead. Rita is not only an undercover cop, she’s also the morality police, apparently. Later on, she still takes it upon herself to chase down an escaping Lou, who must have got out of solitary a different way, when she’s almost at the barbed-wire fence. “You’re under arrest,” Rita says. Cringe. Rita’s hypocrisy is often hard to watch. 

As Vera walks through the rubble, looking for signs of life, she sees a dead Judy in the holding cell. She keeps walking through the ruined prison to see Ann rummaging through the office for documents on Judy she plans to salvage. To Ann’s relief, Vera tells her that Judy’s already dead.

Ann, realising Vera now knows too much, chases her down and attempts to strangle her. While Vera’s on the ground, losing consciousness, anti-hero Joan Ferguson comes from behind and rips Ann, by the hair, away from Vera. She then carries Vera out and lays her gently on the grass. Before escaping, she tells Vera that the reason she saved her in court was because “a child needs her mother.” 

After years of dehumanizing Ferguson into some one-dimensional Marvel comic villain, it was nice for her ending to be a bit more complex. She has done evil things. But she’s still a woman who saw her father murder her mother. Her dad was emotionally abusive and, if he was convicted, she would have spent her childhood years in foster care. 

Lou, via Foxtel.

Grief defined this season, which is fitting, considering it’s the end of Wentworth too. Grief was the reason why Lou turned “bad,” willing to kill the entire prison to feel better about Reb’s death. She self-harms by sleeping with Marie and becoming murderous. Allie’s grieving the loss of her independence. She self-harms by picking at old wounds. Ann’s grieving her daughter’s death. She self-harms through a range of risky behaviors. Joan Ferguson has been grieving the death of her mother since childhood. She decided to become the perpetrator, to avoid the same fate.

Will we grieve Wentworth’s end? I don’t think I will. I’m glad that the final season was one of the best, which we can’t say for the last episodes of many other much-loved TV shows. A spin-off about Joan Ferguson would be nice, however!

AJ Kelly

Contact AJ at [email protected] or view the rest of her work on aj-kelly.tumblr.com

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