Wentworth Prison: Season 1, Episode 4

The Things We Do (22 May 2013)
"Wentworth" The Things We Do (original title)

TV Episode  |   |  Crime, Drama
8.5
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Ronnie forces her young daughter, Amy, to smuggle heroin into the prison, but when Amy goes into cardiac arrest, Ronnie is harassed by the other women. Doreen and Boomer conspire over home ... See full summary »

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Title: The Things We Do (22 May 2013)

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
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Kris McQuade ...
Jacs Holt
Leeanna Walsman ...
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Celia Ireland ...
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Catherine McClements ...
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Derek Channing
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Debbie Smith
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Vinnie Holt
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Jacqueline Brennan ...
Linda Miles (as Jacquie Brennan)
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Storyline

Ronnie forces her young daughter, Amy, to smuggle heroin into the prison, but when Amy goes into cardiac arrest, Ronnie is harassed by the other women. Doreen and Boomer conspire over home brew that has been fermenting for months. Bea begins to doubt whether she can take on Jacs after Jacs threatens the life of Debbie. Liz is told that her parole is being looked over and she organisms an afternoon for the ladies to talk about their problems. We discover that Liz is an alcoholic and after drinking all the home brew, she reveals her story - she killed her mother-in-law. Erica and Vera butt heads over the running of the prison. Will continues his search for Meg's killer and discovers Matt and Meg had a peculiar relationship. Written by Anonymous

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prison life | See All (1) »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

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Release Date:

22 May 2013 (Australia)  »

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The original Liz in Prisoner Cell Block H was a drinker and alcoholic as well and often stole booze from the doctors office See more »

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Bleak Expectations: Liz's story
30 January 2014 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

After her encounter with Jacs, Franky has become aggressive towards Bea, and Bea realises she's in dangerous territory with her fellow inmates. Erica is planning a public speaking event to gain support from important officials, but a drug-smuggling operation goes dangerously wrong, threatening the life of a young girl, and setting the inmates into fits of anger. Also, liaison officer Liz is facing her own personal demons, as the event stirs a bad memory of her past, and finally sends her over the edge. With the prison in turmoil, Erica goes ahead with the speeches, with disastrous consequences. Bea, meanwhile, has a meeting with Jacs, in which she learns more about her. Tensions escalate, as Wentworth prepares for its' darkest hour.

"Things we do" is perhaps the darkest episode yet. The one character-per-episode flashback has become the standard format by now, and this time, it's Liz Birdsworth's (Ceila Ireland) turn. Liz comes across as a relatable, well-adjusted mother figure for the more unstable inmates, the only one who seems totally normal. So then, her back story is the most shocking of all, because it is buried so deep. Doreen was shown taking drugs whilst driving and having lost her child through a moment of irresponsibility. Liz is an alcoholic, whose drinking ultimately costs the life of her child. But, unlike Doreen, Liz's drinking is totally self-destructive; she is deeply troubled, self-loathing, afraid and depressive, and her flashbacks are tragic to watch. Her plight, in this episode, is the most empathic moment in the series, as she struggles with her own self. To her credit, Ireland, a relatively generic character thus far, gives a tormented performance that's near perfection. It's resolution is totally believable, and deeply sad. Equally intense, is the sequence in which a drug-smuggling attempt goes wrong, and nearly kills one of the visitors' children. It's self-consciously dramatic, but has a definite impact. More importantly, though, it reminds us that not everyone in Wentworth is suffering from some deep emotional tragedy; some of them are just simply evil, deserving to be locked up. Ambiguous, unfortunate characters are all very well, and have been believable thus far (Bea, Doreen and Liz – even Franky to an extent), but remember this is a prison. Not everyone inside is innocent, or likable.

Also, Jacs has far more to do this time, and is played for all the manipulatory menace she can get. In her confrontation with Bea, there is a crackling tension, as she gently worms her way into Bea's confidence, and calms her down. Her dialogue is sparkling in this episode; "It's not a strong woman who survives in here, it's a smart one. One who knows the right moment to act, and can handle the repercussions if everything goes wrong." Whilst Ceila Ireland gives a beautiful account of herself, the acting award for this episode has to go to Kris McQuade, for her seductive, sustained evil. She, too, is betrayed by her husband, a rather disappointing individual who cheats on her, and doesn't have the guts to admit it. We see who's in charge (no surprises here), and get an insight into the bigger picture concerning Jacs, as someone with a lot of anger, but too smart to let it out. She also has her funniest, totally in character moment, whilst being strip-searched by Vera, and gives her a face full.

Her rival, Franky, is also on excellent form: she's minimalistic, and yet, gets a chance to display her more dangerous side, after her violent encounter with Jacs. More importantly though she's getting a chance to flirt more openly with Erica, which she does confidently, yet we can never be sure how much is bravado and mind games, and how much is for real. The emotional tension is played opaquely by Da Silva and Wallsmann, although we're definitely getting the feeling that it isn't simply a one-sided affair. In an oasis of threat, tragedy and violence, their scenes provide a welcome reminder of humanity. Chances are, this is more Nicole Da Silva than Wallsmann. Erica is increasingly becoming a less practical and intimidating character. She doesn't display the same ruthlessness as she did in part 2, and instead, has just become more and more antagonistic. It seems a lot less likely that such a character could succeed in this environment, and her domination of sweet-natured Vera is the only strength she still possesses. Which is something of a shame, because the cold, manipulative Erica is a brilliantly realised character, instead of the slightly inept, gung-ho-rights-advocate she's turning into.

Also, Bea is substantially side-lined in terms of storyline, as the anthology format begins to question whether this is indeed her series, or not. Her daughter, Debbie, on her own, has become whinier and more annoying, and will continue to become more so as the series progresses. Her husband, too, has vanished, taking the edge off their dangerous, adult relationship. Once more, she's become reduced to a cypher, to allow the others to say things, whilst her own character is buffeted about, and still lacks clear distinction.

Overall, though, it's a step up from the last chapter. Liz's dilemma is far more relevant, and interesting, than Franky's rather tired, yet emotive, parent issues, and far more gripping. The world is a lot grimmer and darker, with only Franky and Erica's chemistry, and Boomer's speech as lighter, nicer moments. It promises a more fraught, pessimistic direction, and a less conventional take, with Liz's bleak fate a reminder that things don't always go right, a main theme for the show. At the same time, a stronger focus on strong, central plot threads would help: there's little advancement in this episode, beyond the stunningly written characterisation. Both Erica and Bea suffer accordingly, as there's maybe a bit too much dwelling on peripheral characters. But, dramatically, this episode is sound, and easily one of the most engaging stories so far.


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