Wentworth Prison: Season 1, Episode 3

The Girl Who Waited (15 May 2013)
"Wentworth" The Girl Who Waited (original title)

TV Episode  -  Crime
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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Kris McQuade ...
Jacs Holt
Leeanna Walsman ...
Kate Atkinson ...
Celia Ireland ...
Shareena Clanton ...
Debbie Smith
Katrina Milosevic ...
Sue 'Boomer' Jenkins
Jacqueline Brennan ...
Linda Miles (as Jacquie Brennan)
Jada Alberts ...
Toni Goodes
Brayden Holt
Kim Chang


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Release Date:

15 May 2013 (Australia)  »

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References Prisoner: Cell Block H (1979) See more »

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Franky's Story - Worth the wait?
12 December 2013 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Erica Davidson has become the Governess of Wentworth Prison, and sets in motion a series of changes which, she believes, will win her favour with the public. However, the prison staff are displeased with the changes, and are becoming restless. Meanwhile, enigmatic firebrand Franky Doyle has to come to terms with her past, when her father comes to visit her, and Bea's daughter Debbie finally gets to talk to her face to face, but only after a difficult incident. But, whilst the inmates face their own personal problems, Jacs is gunning for Franky, and uses Bea as a pawn, making things extremely difficult for everyone. After a brutal demonstration of her authority, Jacs sets Franky – now becoming increasingly unstable – against Bea, who is moving into deeper and deeper trouble.

The title of this episode, it's worth noting, is a deliberate reference to "Doctor Who", and companion Amy Pond, who, being only three years old (created in 2010) suggests the immense cultural impact that that show has. However, in this instance, it refers to Wentworth's most iconic character: Franky Doyle. The one character per episode flashback style is now the pattern, with each episode providing the back-story of a single character, and episode 3 is Franky's story. It deals with waiting, and expectations; with her incredible presence, and unique mannerisms, Franky is already by far the most intriguing character in the series, and so it is inevitable that we have been wanting some background to her. However, the sad thing is, that her background is not only rather mundane and unoriginal, totally unlike Franky herself, but also faintly silly, especially in comparison with some of the darker flashbacks we get. It's a tribute to Nicole Da Silva's performance that she acts such routine soap-opera fare as this with such unerring conviction, but there is no escaping the fact that her story rather detracts from her character, rather than adding to it. Her family squabbles with her abusive mother, and her absentee father Adam Doyle, relegate Franky to just another tough-childhood, emotionally scarred young woman, and her reality-show background verges on the farcical. Throwing a frying pan full of boiling oil into someone's face may be very nasty, but in the world of heightened dramatic reality, it has an inescapable sense of being just a little too slapsticky - rather like being sat upon by an elephant. Painful, yes, but ignominious and not scary in the way that beating someone up is. It also rather takes away from Franky's seductive menace, especially when she's against this episode's pumped-up Jacs Holt. The only good thing here, is that we get a chance to see Franky's emotional side, and in so doing, we learn why it has been so carefully hidden. Her childhood is clichéd but disturbing. Her crime is original, yet silly.

It's also becoming increasingly difficult to see how, beyond her roguish charm and sex appeal, Franky retains such a position of respect within Wentowrth. Though she has a lot of pent-up anger (rarely displayed) and makes a few threats, she has done almost nothing to prove herself up until this point, and has already lost out to Jacs every time. It's still unclear exactly why Jacs thinks Franky's such a threat to her, to us at least. Because what friends Franky has, apart from her right hand woman "Boomer", seem to keep a respectable distance from her – even Rah Chapman's Kim, her girlfriend – whereas Jacs is never seen without a small army of followers. With Franky slightly messed about with, the rest of the episode follows a similar trend towards being disappointing. Erica Davidson has become far less of a menacing adversary in all but one scene, in which she uses her politician's wiles to totally distort Tony's confession. Rather than the manipulator, she has become rather more of a failure – her staff moan at her, Tony vomits all over her expensive suit, and she seems too eager to please. She even asks Vera for advice at one point, which, after the events of last episode, seems highly unlikely. Even her dialogue scenes with Franky lack the underlying sexual chemistry that they had in the previous episode, although there is a nice moment with a cup of coffee. Similarly, Will Jackson has been totally relegated to just another guard, only one episode after he was a rampaging, grief-stricken madman.

Danielle Cormack, though, is on fine form, arguably her best yet. She finally sees her daughter, although a rather perverse plot twist about Debbie being strip-searched is both contrived, and seemingly pointless, as it is intercut with the key confrontation between Franky and her father. But, we are introduced to Brandon Holt, Jacs' teenage son, who is destined for greater importance as time goes on.

The final confrontation, in which Bea is forced to turn on Franky, though, plays out as one of the tensest moments in the series so far, and is especially welcome, given the rather maudlin nature of this episode. Hopefully, it promises that nothing else will ever be the same, as friends turn against each other, and allegiances are redefined. Sadly, after the gleaming pinnacle of "Fly me away", this episode is something of a let-down, with a few good moments, but also a lot of contrived false drama. The acting award for this episode has to go to Nicole Da Silva, who gives a touching performance, but one which kind of takes away from the appeal of the mysteriously mesmerising Franky. A slight mis-step, but a strong climax, and intriguing story elements win through, and encourages us to forgive this as nothing more than a slight aberration.

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