Cleverman season one, episode two recap black sites and beasties
The plot of the Australian superhero show thickens as the Hairies are tormented in secret sites and the Namorrodor rips the heart out of a teenage football player
Episode two of Cleverman opens at soccer training. The playing fields are flooded with light but danger is lurking on the murky periphery. A teenage boy is copping a serve from his coach about his inability to kick straight. Fed up, the kid gets stroppy and petulantly roosts the ball into a fringe of scrub. Unimpressed, his coach commands him to retrieve it. But within the bush loiters our mysterious beastie, the Namorrodor, and with a savage squawk it suddenly snatches the boy from view.
After the titles Koen is heading back inside the Zone to visit his stoned, cancer-stricken Aunty Lynda (Deborah Mailman). Hes seeking answers about why Uncle Jimmy passed the Cleverman powers down to him specifically. We get the impression its been a long while between visits as he wanders about trying to locate his aunts flat.
We get a flashback of him on the estate as a boy being bullied by his older brother Waruu. Its a vastly different perspective on Waruu the community leader as set up in episode one. Young Koen struggles under the weight of his big brother, who is bullying Koen into admitting that Koens mother was a white whore. Then Waruu drops a gooba in his little brothers face. Oh, and he also calls him a coconut which means that although Koens skin might be dark, hes white on the inside. Which is a more insidious insult.
In the flat, Aunty Lynda also has a chuckle about the irony of Waruu being overlooked by Uncle Jimmy before advising her nephew that his new powers have provided him with the opportunity for a fresh start. She then passes their fathers university keepsakes on to the younger of the brothers as well, informing us all that she found the case after the accident. Mysterious, much?
Its little wonder that over at the West household, Waruu is having an ego crisis. He decides to compensate by agreeing to appear in a live debate with the flat white immigration minister, Geoff Matthews, on a news program on Jarrod Slades television network. Waruus henchman Harry, a shaved-down Hairy, has provided him with some solid intel to expose the CA disappearing large numbers of Hairies (even from inside the Zone) and detaining them in isolated black sites.
The live debate was Matthews idea in episode one. Slade agreed at his grand cocktail party after his network broadcasted the footage of the CA shooting the little Hairy girl. Matthews intends to use the appearance to announce a $107bn commitment to containment and resettlement efforts, and also a means to discredit the work of Waruu. While rejecting Waruus appraisal of the predicament of the Hairies and the allegations of the black sites, Mathews still cant discuss operational matters; a phrase that unmistakably mirrors the arrogance of successive Australian immigration ministers who refuse publicly to disclose details of on-water matters concerning their questionable tow-back policies for refugees entering Australian waters.
Slade has his own agenda too, as he connives to sensationalise the Hairy issue with a live cross to his intrepid reporter Belinda at the playing fields, where the body of our wayward kicker Cameron Wells is being loaded into an ambulance, sans his tender heart, which could just as easily have been removed by a sharp-nailed Hairy as, say, any intergalactic-type monster.
Thats the way Matthews is spinning it too. Incensed at the stitch-up, Waruu confronts him off camera and is belittled when Mathews questions his leadership credentials: You never finished high school. You dont have a job. You live on government handouts and your wifes salary. Which sits in contrast to the little we now know about Waruus father, and on top of the whole being overlooked for the Cleverman gig, sure, is gonna sting that battered ego.
Within the clandestine prisons the Hairies are subjected to varying torments. Djukuru is in solitary, but doing his best to memorize security codes for an impending escape and taking on the CA guards in a fight scene that evoked the recalcitrant brutality of career-criminal Mickey Peterson aka Charlie Bronson. If only somebody could watch Djukurus back, eh? This leads to the guards torturing his father Boondee in front of him and forcibly shaving Djukuru down in front of the other Hairy detainees so as to shame him into submission. King of the Rugs, indeed.
Life isnt getting any rosier for Djukurus mother Araluen (Tasma Walton) either. After having her hands and pelt sized up by a severe madame, she did manage to avoid the perfunctory execution that befell her counterparts, but comments like, And what is it you think youre volunteering for, love? do not bode well.
Meanwhile Latani, Djukurus younger sister who avoided containment in the last ep by hiding in a cupboard, is now aided by a kindly neighbour, Virgil (Lynette Curran). Virgil is sympathetic to the plight of the Hairies due to the discrimination her own people have experienced in the past. She is a character who, like JF Sebastian the genetic designer in Blade Runner, also makes things. In addition to feeding and sheltering Latani, Virgil makes her some fake identification and a set of contact lenses either to use as disguise or to foil future retinal scans.
So, what is Slades agenda? His wife, the doctor Charlotte (Frances OConnor) from the community clinic inside the Zone, is having trouble conceiving. Slade finds the discarded home pregnancy test in the bathroom bin and then tries talking Charlotte around for another attempt, but its a hard sell even for the silver-tongued media mogul. Later Slade lets slip that hes building an ark. Yep, suitably intriguing for the bloke that had a couple of irons in Uncle Jimmys campfire last week.
Which brings us back to Koen. Hes finding torn pictures of his parents from their university days and still hearing that eerie voice calling intermittently. The episode rounds out with him and his menage a trois partner Blair tracking the voice to a secret, makeshift laboratory. They discover the body of the girl reanimated by Uncle Jimmy last week. Shes hooked up to all the machines that go bing! As they escape with the girl in tow, Koen sees her visage flicker into a much older woman, which to me suggests she may be the embodiment of an ancient spirit, perhaps to counter the loitering Namorrodor?
So I was left wondering mostly about Slades ark. With Koens repeated exposure to the surveillance technology of the CA and now the secret lab, coupled with his fatefully grim visions of his partners Blair and Ash, Slade has to be some kind of demented messianic figure, right?
- Cleverman is on Sundance TV at 10pm on Wednesday nights in the US and on ABC TV at 9.30pm on Thursdays in Australia. It will screen on BBC3 later this year