Wentworth is an Australian television crime drama set in a contemporary fictional women’s prison. The central character of both season one and two is Bea Smith. She is first introduced to the audience as a battered and sexually abused housewife, whom finds herself incarcerated after the botched attempted murder of her violent and rapist husband, Harry. Bea is a duck out of water in every sense of the phrase who finds it difficult to learn and adapt to the various aspects of prison life. Bea is eventually taken in by a group of prisoners that includes prison drug dealer, Franky Doyle, Franky’s strong arm, Boomer, peer counselor Liz Birdworth, and motherly figure Doreen Anderson. However Bea, due to her lack of prisoner code knowledge, soon finds herself caught in the middle of a bitter rivalry between Franky and prison inmate “top dog” Jacqueline “Jacs” Holt.
Bea’s daughter 16 year old daughter, Debbie, who has been left in the care of her abusive and negligent husband, Harry, eventually becomes a pawn in a game of revenge plotted by Jacs. In an unlikely series of events Jac’s son, Brayden Holt, forms a romantic relationship with Debbie enabling Jac’s to use threats of violence against Debbie to force Bea to do her bidding. Eventually Jacs orders Brayden to murder Debbie. Brayden disguises the murder as a heroin overdose and this pivotal moment in the narrative causes a major shift in the character of Bea.
|Bea Smith and Franky Doyle|
Bea is an example of character in narrative fiction that is driven mostly by causality. In the beginning of the narrative (season one) Bea’s actions are reckless reactions to being victimized. For example the botched attempted murder of her husband, her unbeknownst interference in prison politics, and her lack of thoughtful adherence to the prison code. She views herself as a victim and chooses to be thrown about in the chaotic waves of life rather than skillfully riding atop them. The murder of her daughter shifts Bea from victim to eventual victor. Feeling as if she has nothing left to lose after the death of her daughter, Bea’s actions become strategic, methodical and predatory. Bea’s self pity is replaced with a powerful insatiable need for vengeance. Bea makes it clear that she will not stop until she, “kills the fukka”, or in other words exacts her revenge against Jacs and Brayden Holt.
Upon the beginning of season two Bea launches an elaborate plan to reach her goal. The preparations concerning this plan are spread out across the twelve episodes of the season two. Bea is no longer a frightened figure. She is fierce. She kills Jacs brutally by stabbing her in the neck with a pen. Bea then carefully plans an escape from prison and she able to finally hunt down her primary prey, her daughter’s murderer, Brayden. The final episode of season two ends with the climatic murder of Brayden. Bea traps Brayden in his apartment angrily confronts him about the murder of her daughter, Debbie. During the exchange, for a few brief seconds, the old Bea begins to surface. Brayden tearfully pleads for mercy on his knees before Bea and blames his action on his own fear of his mother Jacs. Bea turns and it looks as if she is about to back out on her original plan to kill Brayden.
|Bea escaped from prison and searching for Brayden|
|Sweet, sweet vengeance|
|Bea returns to prison after murdering Brayden|
But as Bea turns to leave the apartment Braydens’s pleading visage is replaced with a cold, coy smirk, the same smirk that he gave to Bea earlier in season one in the prison visitation room, when she discovered that he was dating her daughter. Brayden’s smugness causes Bea’s new true nature to rise forth with quick fury. She aims the gun at his head, fires and sprays his brains across the wall behind him. The news of Bea’s feat has been broadcast on television for all the inmates and staff to see back at the prison. Bea surrenders to law enforcement and upon her return to the prison she is crowned the new “top dog”. Bea garners the nickname from prison staff and inmate alike of Queen Bea. The climatic ending of season two of Wentworth gives birth to a new woman, a transformed character and while providing a sense of closure, leaves room to ponder how Queen Bea will reign over the narrative world of Wentworth in the soon to come third season of the series.
Seasons 1 and 2 of Wentworth are available now on Netflix. Season 3 will be available in the U. S. later his year. In the meantime check out the trailer for season 3 above.