Previously on Cleverman, “First Contact”
Cleverman – S1E2 – Containment | Hunter Page-Lochard, Rob Collins, Iain Glen, Frances O’Connor, Ryan Corr, Stef Dawson, Tysan Towney, Deborah Mailman, Tony Briggs, Tasma Walton, Rarriwuy Hick | Writers: Michael Miller & Jon Bell | Director: Wayne Blair
If life seemed bad before, it’s gotten a hell of a lot worse far too quickly.
In the second episode, writers Michael Miller and Jon Bell ramp up the tension and timetable for Cleverman‘s complex leads, deftly transitioning between the respective strife of human and hairy protagonists alike. Under the shadow of yet another child’s brutal murder, “Containment” draws upon the traumatic upbringing Koen experienced from Waruu and how that made them the men they are today. Concurrently, the unchecked rage Djukara feels against everyone for his family’s displacement is subdued in a most heinous fashion.
After a flashback that highlighted the cruel behavior Koen endured from Waruu, it’s far more understandable why the half-brothers are barely on speaking terms. Try as they might to dismiss their relation, the two are more alike than they’ll ever care to admit. While Koen and Waruu are on extremely contrasting paths, neither is as clever as they believe.
Newly imbued with powers to access The Dreaming, Koen (Hunter Page-Lochard) still can’t come to grips with the gifts (and dangers) he’s inherited. While his best mate Blair (Ryan Corr) has a grand old time testing out his healing abilities, Ash (Stef Dawson) remains vigilant over her Koen because of his progressing signs of unease. The abilities of the cleverman become more prominent during Koen’s visit to Aunty Linda (Deborah Mailman), Waruu’s mother, to get any answers about why Uncle Jimmy chose him instead of her son. Unfortunately, Koen left with few answers and a suitcase full of mysteries along with knowledge that Linda has terminal cancer. Whether he can do anything for her condition other than see into her future remains unclear. However, a persistent voice in Koen’s head leads him to save a life in the present.
Given the unseen beast that’s lurking in the shadows, the future flashes and now the rescue of a Jane Doe, The Dreaming apparently has plenty in store for Koen and his friends. Having absolutely no training or desire to be the cleverman, West will likely have to call upon his sibling… that is if either one can stand being in the same room after their last encounter.
Although Koen is not close to being known as a scrupulous person, Waruu (Rob Collins) is certainly in over his head because of his massive ego. The older West, despite his disappointment in not becoming the cleverman, believes himself to the shining representative for those who live in the zone, whether they appointed him or not. Regrettably, his hubris has thoroughly damaged the public’s perception of the Hairypeople, as well as his integrity at home.
Poor, silly Waruu… for a man who claims to be for the people in the zone, he never seems to think ahead. As his opponent Minister Matthews (Andrew McFarlane) pointed out in a boastful manner, he was outclassed and outmaneuvered from the moment he decided to go on Jarrod Slade’s chat show. Try all he might, Waruu had been played from every angle by the government and its allies. Thanks to his efforts, the cause has been marginalized and vilified even further, and West’s abilities as a leader have been compromised. His wife may continue to support him but his daughter sure won’t after discovering his dirty secret. Not to mention the Hairies who are more than ready to match the brutality doled on them by the CA.
The meat of “Containment” focused on the Hairies under the boot of the facility’s detestable lead guard. Unlike the other guards, this human obviously takes great pleasure in drawing fear out of the prisoners and sets out to make an example out of Djukara (Tysan Towney). The young Hairy isn’t entirely motivated by his hatred for humans, but uses his unyielding resistance to every prisoner’s advantage by memorizing as much as he can about the facility. Nonetheless, Djukara’s impulse to fight comes at a cost: his father Boondee (Tony Briggs) is singled out and tortured to make him aware his resistance will cost any one of the Hairies.
Meanwhile Djukara’s mother and sister are being subjugated in different yet equally horrifying conditions. Araluen (Tasma Walton) is now seemingly under the ownership of a mysterious woman for an unknown purpose; Latani (Rarriwuy Hick) has been able to avoid any sweeps outside the zone by shacking up with her elderly neighbor Virgil (Lynette Curran). Although they appear to be in a better position than Boondee and Djukara, the women are equally at risk on the outside, exposed to evils that may cause more suffering than a single sadistic guard.
For most of us, the atrocities of generations past – i.e. Auschwitz, the Death Railway, Apartheid – can never be fully comprehended by anyone save for their remaining survivors. Yet that doesn’t dismiss any subtle feelings evoked from the extreme abuse the Hairies suffer. In spite of the programme’s supernatural roots, it’s clear that Cleverman doesn’t want to curtail from the vile, destructive attitudes that humanity has exhibited over and again. For some it may still be hard to believe, but whatever you see in the containment facility in regards to the treatment of the Hairypeople, somewhere across the world people are being violated exactly like that. For many who live comfortably and take for granted what they see on television as fiction, it’s a harsh reminder about the deplorable actions and schemes people are more than capable of enacting.
It’s likely Cleverman will reach a positive conclusion (fingers crossed), yet viewers would be remiss in gleaming past its commentary on the fervent discrimination and condemnation that persists among various ethnicities and nationalities.
The stakes have raised for both Koen and Waruu, as the government is readying itself for the extermination of the Hairypeople. With no other choice, Koen attempts to learn more about his powers and the girl he rescued. Meanwhile Waruu infiltrates the CA facility in “A Free Ranger” next Wednesday at 10/9c on SundanceTV!
Cleverman S1E2 = 8.7/10