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Wentworth: Where is the Freak?

Wentworth is not only one of the best Australian drama’s in history, it is one of the best ever. But…WHERE IS THE FREAK?

Wentworth is a breath of fresh air in a TV environment that was exceptionally stale. For over thirty years Australian additions to the small screen were average at best; catering to an easily pleased demographic, with repetitive stories, the same actors (over and over again), with watered-down plots written distinctly for the ‘Logie-voting’ masses. Australian audiences hungered for something home-grown that was substantially more ‘ballsy.’

Then, along came Wentworth…

The cast of Wentworth Season 2, when the show really hit its stride after the addition of The Freak (Source: Foxtel).

Wentworth is dark, nasty and wickedly comedic; while at the same time highlighting the tragedy and desperation of women trying to survive in a brutal and unrelenting high-security prison environment. Every episode is a heavily thought-out, exceptionally paced and expertly crafted piece of cinematic TV that throws cheeky nods to the original network 10 drama Prisoner, which aired on Australian airways from 1979 to 1986, and from which Wentworth has been loosely reimagined.

Wentworth’s plot-lines are strong and patiently written, and the characters (good or evil – major and minor) are rock-solid across the board. Not afraid to drop the ‘C-bomb’ or to cut someone’s tongue out, this is savage new ground for Australian episodic TV.

We at Instabamm are what you would consider superfans – and not since seasons 4 & 5 of Breaking Bad have we been this excited about a show. The fact that it is written, produced and filmed in our hometown of Melbourne Australia just makes it all-the-more fist-bitingly awesome.

We’ll throw it out there and say that not only is this the best series to ever come out of Australia, it is also one of the best series ever. Our soft-spot for home-grown ventures aside, if you weighed up the all the factors that make a show great, Wentworth has them all in spades.

As a direct consequence of having so much love for Wentworth, we also have a soft-spot for every Australian’s favorite fictional psychopathic prison governor turned Wentworth inmate, Joan Ferguson (Pamela Rabe). She, who in all her schizophrenic tongue-severing evilness is frightfully known by her numerous victims, allies and enemies alike as ‘The Freak.’

The amazing Canadian/Australian actress Pamela Rabe taking the ‘Freak’ to new levels of terror (Source: Foxtel).

But…to our growing disappointment, the toxic bitch is nowhere to be seen in season 6, which is now two episodes deep on Foxtel’s quality Showcase channel. What the hell is going on here?

The last we saw of the Freak was in the 2017’s edge-of-your-seat Season 5 finale, where Ferguson and former top-dog Franky Doyle (Nicole da Silva) both escaped via prisoner-made plant-boxes, not unlike crude coffins. Well, exactly like coffins as it turns out!

Franky made it out, and she is still on the run trying to clear her name. While the Freak wasn’t quite so lucky. She was shipped out to an undisclosed location and buried alive Serpent and the Rainbow style by the formerly honest and upstanding prison guard Will Jackson (Robbie J. Magasiva). He and the Freak having a stack of deadly beef spanning decades. To cut a long and amazingly written plot short, Will carried out a highly illegal and potentially career-destroying plan, with life behind bars a certainty if discovered (assured death for a screw). He stepped up and took Ferguson out (or did he?). Now, this is great for everyone who’s ever been elaborately terrorized by the Freak inside and outside the walls of Wentworth – but for us, the superfans, not so much.

We want her back!

The Freak being buried alive in the Season 5 finale. (Source Foxtel) More below…

The Freak, since her introduction in Season 2, has become the lifeblood of the series. A walking, talking, murderous conflict-point for every single character.  As strong as every other element is in Wentworth, Pamela Rabe’s portrayal of Joan Ferguson is nothing short of spectacular, standing out remarkably in an already brilliant series, jam-packed with standout performances. She has taken what Maggie Kirkpatrick did the with the original Freak in Prisoner, then brought us something infinitely more malignant and terrifying. She’s now so fundamentally integral to Wentworth’s ratings, and so popular with the diehard fans, that she can’t just go out like that? Surely?

Is this Freak-hiatus just patient scriptwriting, building the new characters and solidifying the old, so that the Freak can return with a bloody bang?

Or, ding-dong, is the wicked witch really dead?

Various cast, writers, and producers of the show have been asked this very question repeatedly over the last year, and none have given a solid answer.

Wentworth’s executive producer Jo Porter has stated to multiple sources: “If anyone could (get out of the grave) it could be the – at times superhuman – Joan Ferguson!”

Though she refused to confirm whether The Freak is alive or dead.

“It’s definitely a storyline that continues on into season six,” Porter said. “The aftermath of the season five’s events will continue on into the next chapter of Wentworth.”

So, we wait. With growing impatience and ever-growing worry that they’ve killed off the show’s greatest asset. Yet, if we had to take a guess, and by the reluctance of Wentworth’s makers to give a definitive answer, and, with the complete silence of Pamela Rabe and her cast-mates on this big issue – it is a 9 out of 10 chance that the Freak will be back on TV very, very soon.

Our guess, as previously mentioned, is that they are giving the new characters some room to breathe and be established, while also being able to change the social landscape inside the prison to make the Freak’s return remarkably more exciting. On her return she will have to go to war with new character, and new top-dog in training, Rita Connors (Leah Purcell), which will be an all-out bloodbath. If it’s anything like the war between Connors and Ferguson in the original Prisoner, it will undoubtedly take things to new levels, and assuredly have us jumping up and down on our critics-couch with joy.

We just can’t wait to see what happens, and we hope the Freak is only an episode or so away from scratching her way out of the ground for some sweet, sweet retribution.

C’mon Joan, you can do it! (You evil c#@t).

Wentworth is aired Tuesdays at 8:30pm (Melbourne time) on Foxtel’s Showcase channel. 

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