Previously on Cleverman, “Skin”
In its second season finale, Cleverman deftly maintained a balance between its emotionally and politically charged critiques on institutionalized discrimination and racism along with fleshing out the show’s mythology with the merging of near-future tech and Aboriginal culture. For the most part, it was less of a treatise on social injustices as much as a survival drama as practically every lead suffer immense trauma, from others or by their own hand. As the finale drew to a close, viewers can rest assured the series will eventually reach a slightly upbeat resolution yet in the meantime, Koen and his compatriots are on the verge of death after fighting an overwhelming human force all season. Though significant strides were made in “Borrowed Time”, they may come at the cost of a few lives.
In the time that we realize what Waruu had done the worst had happened. No longer restrained by Jarrod Slade, West had taken upon himself to supervise the agenda of the Inclusion Initiative by acting as its true executive director, rather than its figurehead. Since Cleverman’s series premiere, no viewer was mistaken about Waruu’s intentions against his brother or the enmity that he held for Koen. It’s unclear when Uncle Jimmy and Aunty Linda figured out the older West was a bad seed but looking back at his failed attempt as a community leader, it was Waruu’s last desperate act to be the man he presumed he should become, rather than fully embrace his true character.
Once Waruu finally accepted who he is, it was a short easy climb to the top of the mountain. He burnt plenty of bridges in the process but that takes little effort when one is filled with unbridled rage against, well, everyone.
A faint glimmer of Waruu’s narrow vision and unchecked destructiveness was mirrored by Jarli (Clarence John Ryan), who tried to wield his self-appointed leadership on his Hairy brethren like a blunt object. Due to his reckless behavior the night before, the Containment Authority swarmed Bennelong House, ready and eager to neutralize every Hairy. For a person who first wanted to broker peace between Hairypeople and humans, Jarli had a massive change of heart after he was banished from his tribe.
Apparently his ouster gave him the motivation to adopt extreme measures to protect what remains of his people in the city; the only problem is they all realize his anger is exactly what they don’t need in a leader. Koen isn’t fully accepted as an ally, nevertheless his abilities and connection to The Dreaming is something Hairypeople cannot dismiss. Still and all, Jarli’s frustration is warranted: the DHS essentially made it legal to systematically eliminate his species. He was the one and only Add to the fact Jarli knew Slade used Charlotte to create a Hairy child with the intent to harvest its genes for biotech – thereby creating the prospect of diminishing their already small ranks with their own natural abilities.
Thankfully Koen’s vision of the future wasn’t as dire as the present although none of our heroes could speculate how they eventually achieve peace when chaos currently reigns. The second season of Cleverman ended how it began, with Koen sacrificing himself for the betterment of his adopted community, however with a slightly personal slant.
Now sporting a weaponized version of the sap he collect to negate Koen’s powers, Waruu – overconfident in his skills now that he’s gained Hairy powers – wanted to end their rivalry once and for all. And in the briefest of moment it appeared West finally ended Koen’s life for good. Knowing the future is relatively bright, Koen mustered the last of his strength to consume Waruu’s muya to ensure he’ll walk in darkness like Slade whenever he passes from this world.
It’ll be intriguing to see if this act will be free Waruu of his humanity completely next season, which, honestly, wouldn’t be take much given his ease in breaking his family apart and calling for the detainment and extermination of Hairykind. The more pressing issue is Koen and his faltering powers, now that he’s been wounded by the sap twice. Fortunately for the cleverman, his eclectic band of allies and freedom fighters have proven themselves capable of holding their own despite insurmountable odds.
That being written, the worst certainly isn’t behind them. Yet as the lyrics to the series’ theme goes, “cut the head and the body will follow”. Two heads of the CA’s unholy trinity have been dispatched in the last two episodes, which draws slight hope for a people in desperate need for a turning point.