Join us for the the wrap party to end all Talking Teal wrap parties, and let's celebrate the end of the Wentworth era.
*Make sure you stay to the very end because there are surprises all the way to the last second. It's not over until you see the bunny!
Read David's full final thoughts below:
This for me was the peak of the show.
When Wentworth began in 2013 I was a reluctant Prisoner fan heading into the unknown. I found Season One utterly captivating. Bea was a really strong character to lead us through our introduction to the world. Danielle had the right amount of vulnerability and inner strength. We had an excellent villain In Kris McQuades, Jacs and a wonderfully ambiguous character Frankie Doyle. The Prison felt threatening and dangerous. This was the rise of Bea.
Her arc in season 2 was even better. It was one of the strongest and best plotted storylines I’ve seen in any show. A brilliantly laid trail of bread crumbs that flourished in its reveal in Season 2, Episode 11.
Season 2 also saw the arrival of the shows biggest asset. Pamela Rabe swept onto the screen with a menacing elegance. She was quiet and considered and there was no doubt when Joan Ferguson was around who was in charge. She exuded authority.
It was here we began to see Frankie’s vulnerability. She was a swan in her first two seasons, Composed on the surface but paddling furiously to stay afloat under the water. Everything that happened in this season served the plot as it headed towards its violent and shocking finale. Its only on repeat viewing do you pick up on the cleverly dotted clues throughout the season to Beas ultimate plan. We all cheered loudly when Braden Holt was finally blown away by Bea. Another excellent villain
Season 3 we began to see the unfortunate unraveling of Ferguson. When Bea lay down the gauntlet at the end of season 2, I thought we were in for a long rivalry. In the original Prisoner, Ferguson stayed on top until the very end. She was always one step ahead. I had anticipated that we would be in for a similar arc with her in this show.
For me Joan as a villain worked better as the Governor. I loved the power struggle of having the biggest threat at the top of the food chain. No one could challenge her and she could literally get away with murder. I remember the finale of Season 3 and being completely engrossed to the point I didn’t draw breath for 20 minutes.
I so badly wanted Ferguson to get away with her crimes. Alas she didn’t. One of my favourite scenes of the whole show is Joan being lead away in handcuffs as the women watch on. To see such a proud and powerful woman disgraced and reduced to a haunted, limping shadow was captivating television
I’ve said this before and ill say it again. I think the reason Joan’s governship arc was wrapped up so quickly was that they were never guaranteed another series and wanted to give her a proper ending. All of the problems in Season 4 and 5 stem from this decision. They wrote themselves into a corner and struggled to make her presence in the series authentic.
That being said, Season 4 was another incredible run of episodes. But Bea no longer felt like she had purpose. I loved Bea, but I found her humanity diminished the longer she was incarcerated.
By the start of Season 4 she was a ghost. Empty and cold with no focus, she’d gotten her revenge on Braden Holt and taken Ferguson out at the end of Season 3. Bea’s true nature was kind and loving and caring and protective. So Introducing Allie and giving her something different to focus on only served to enrich her character.
Seeing a damaged woman experiencing real and true love, potentially for the first time was so beautiful. Alas Bea’s storyline was destined to be a tragic one. I was one of the few at the time who really did respect the decision and saw the potential of clearing the playing field. I wasn’t sad at her passing, just utterly shocked that the powers that be were brave enough to remove the character from the board all together. A great character that experienced all she could in her 4 Season long stint and went out on her own terms in blaze of glory.
That being said I was sad that Joan fell victim to her own murderous instincts. She was so close to walking back into the Governors office. Now she would never be free….
By the time we pick up in Season 5 it started to feel like the writers had done almost everything they had wanted to do with the show and were now struggling for content. Season 5 was the weakest series IMO. Ferguson became too monstrous; the storylines grew too gothic and heightened. Even introducing Frankie back into the mix didn’t give it the shot in the arm it needed.
Kaz really turned a corner here and her growth as a character really ramped up after Will saved her life in the crashed brawler. Seeing her vulnerable side make her so much richer and so much more likeable. Sonia was a compelling villain but it was here that Liz and her obsession with Don really started to grate on me. Sadly Liz had become irritating and whiny. Everyone struggled to make it work. Still Wentworth at its worst is still better than most TV shows out there.
And at least Season 5 ended in an epic way with Ferguson supposedly murdered by Will. At that point it felt like this was the natural end for her character and that was purely down to how monstrous she became in season 5
Season 6 was a clean slate, introducing Rita and Ruby into the mix. We were all instantly drawn to Rita, mainly down to the parallels drawn to Bea in her first few moments. Rita’s secret connection to Ruby was revealed and I’m sorry to say we didn’t like it.
I’m never a fan of two people knowing each other from the outside playing together in prison. It never strikes true. I enjoyed the Rita was revealed to be a cop and was intrigued by the implications of what would happen when the women found out. A question that wouldn’t be answered for 4 more years
Wills breakdown and his relationship with Kaz was beautiful and then MARIE ARRIVED. Two souls struggling for human connection falling into each others arms. My heart broke for Kaz. She put so much trust in Will.
Sonia storyline ended it camp fashion with her pirouetting off of the prison roof. And Liz’s dementia placed her character on a very short shelf life. It was only a matter of time before it would be her end.
Season 6 had some strong moments and characters. Drago was menacing. Marie was mesmerizing. I saw even then she wasn’t an out and out villain.
The stalker storyline was brilliantly plotted and executed and the reveal, whilst underwhelming, made a lot of sense. I say it was underwhelming because at the time it was. It became much more intriguing when you discover the truth about Joan later down the line. The season ended with battle lines drawn across the isolation unit between Marie and Rita
Season 7 began and at this point we had all assumed this would be the last. You could tell in the writing that they were throwing everything they could at it. Kaz’s death was shocking and heartbreaking, we discovered more about Boomers past, Liz storyline reached its end and the final 2 Part siege episodes were some of the strongest episodes in the shows history. This was season 3 level storytelling.
Then those last 5 seconds through me and the fans into an utter tailspin and we spent the last year theorizing how on earth Joan could have gotten out of the box,
SEASON 8 AND 9
This was sit. This was going to be the final 20 episodes. I had pondered how they might finish the show and was excited they were given the opportunity to wrap things up properly for everyone. The direction they took Ferguson was so profoundly unexpected and I didn’t know how to react to it at first. It was an utter gift. Allowing that character the chance at redemption was the best decision they could have gone with. We definitely didn’t want more of the same from Season 5 Joan. It was a breath of fresh air.
Marie also strove for redemption. I knew she always had it in her and I’m so glad other fans saw that she was fundamentally a nice person who was a victim of circumstance.
Lou, Judy, Reb and Ann were our new cast members. Amongst them only Lou and Ann I felt had any real impact. None of them where likeable, which made the fact that they sidelined our beloved Boomer in favour of these newbies all the more heinous.
Waving Marta Dusselldorp and Tina Bursill in our faces and then only going them breadcrumbs was probably my biggest gripe though. They could have been spectacular given ample opportunity. As it stands they turned out to be fillers in an already over stuffed turkey.
We raced to a finale with zero nuance, zero focus and left everyone with more questions than answers.
They really did fall at the final hurdle
The true star of the show was and always will be Pamela Rabe. Her storyline was the longest running and most captivating.
There were 4 stages of Joan. The Governor, the Prisoner, Kath Maxwell and the Hybrid. And she was compelling in every stage.
Bringing her in as Governor was such a strong decision. I adored her elegance, her power and her effortless dominance. She was intimidating. It broke my heart to see her reduced to a lowly prisoner, complete with Teal uniform. I enjoyed her Season 4 Scheming, but by season 5 she was truly unleashed. A monstrous unstoppable entity, Almost not human.
Resting the character was a great idea. Allowing us to believe she was dead was a genius one. It delivered the best shock of the entire run.
Part of me wanted to keep out of prison and scheming to get Baby Grace but then seeing how they delved so deeply into her psyche made me do a complete 180 on that idea.
The decision to redeem her so completely in season 9 was the best thing they could have done for the character. It renewed peoples love for the character. Even those who had really disliked her in Season 4 and 5.
.Seeing her accepting her own traumas and successfully curbing her murderous instincts without the help of drugs was the happiest ending in the whole show for me. Vera was the beacon of good she saw in the darkness and she willed herself so much to get there. Seeing the darkness emerge in Vera towards the end also served to show that anyone could fall given the right incentive. As Joan was buried and disappeared she arrived in Vera.
Distill her character down and I think Motherhood and the importance of that bond is the true essence of Joan. Everything that went wrong in her life stemmed from her mothers murder. Once she accepted that she was able to start the healing process.
THE DEVOLUTION OF THE WRITING
What started as a nuanced, subtle and captivating story, ended its run as a tangled and confused web of motivations and redundant threads. In its prime Wentworth was able to craft beautifully woven storytelling. Plaiting each story thread together until they all converged on the same grand finale. By season 8 and 9 there were too many plaits to thread. To many loose hairs getting the way. If they had just had faith in the storylines they already set in motion, if they trusted that the fans were on side and believed in the success of their own product then I think things could have been very different.
I love how they have always been brave in their choices. They never shied away from delivering a gut punch or three. Killing their main character at the halfway mark was about as brave as you can get, its testament to the writers, to actors and the show itself that it continued to stay strong.
Less is definitely more though. So many threads were redundant in the end, So many unnecessary characters.
WOMEN AT THE TOP
Stories about women have always drawn me in more than stories about men. Women were for so long hidden away in conservative supporting roles. We finally get to see the beating heart and racing minds of our sisters. As a writ