A SUNDANCETV ORIGINAL SERIES
Starring Iain Glen (Game of Thrones), Frances O'Connor (The Missing), Hunter Page-Lochard (The Sapphires) and Rob Collins
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CLEVERMAN Recap: Episode 101 (First Contact)

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In the not-so-distant future, a not-quite-human species long thought to exist only in indigenous Australian mythology has recently been discovered living in tribes deep in the outback. With centuries-long lifespans, superhuman athleticism, claw-like nails, and coats of hair that cover most of their bodies and faces, the “hairy people” are feared and hated by the Australian public. “Hairies” have been deemed sub-human and restricted to a dangerous, overcrowded ghetto known as “the zone”, which is also home to a sizable population of mostly indigenous humans.

Prime Minister Geoffrey Matthews (Andrew McFarlane) announces a crackdown on out-of-bounds hairies, as well as increased rewards for anyone who turns them in.

Former zone dweller Koen West (Hunter Page-Lochard) and his friend Blair (Ryan Corr) meet a family of hairies inside the zone in the middle of the night: mother, Araluen (Tasma Walton); father, Boondee (Tony Briggs); son, Djukara (Tysan Towney); and daughters, Latani (Rarriwuy Hick) and Jirra (a very young child). Koen smuggles the family to a secret apartment outside the zone. Afterwards Koen reports the family to a pseudo-governmental agency called the Containment Authority for reward money, despite Blair’s moral objections.

Koen’s older brother, zone community leader and hairy rights advocate Waruu West (Rob Collins), wakes from an extramarital liaison with TV reporter Belinda Frosche (Leeanna Walsman) and makes a curt exit.

A Containment Authority squad raids the family’s apartment and arrests all except Latani, who manages to hide. Belinda arrives with a news crew to cover the arrest. When CA officers try to separate the family, violence breaks out. Djukara overpowers several humans. An officer tries to shoot him but misses and kills Jirra instead in front of the horrified family and Belinda’s cameras.

Minister Matthews calls TV mogul Jarrod Slade (Iain Glen) and threatens to revoke his broadcasting license if he airs footage of Jirra’s killing. Slade calls Matthew’s bluff, pointing out that the move would be seen as censorship and only make Matthews look worse.

Waruu watches the killing on the news with wife Nerida (Jada Alberts) and daughter Alinta (Tamala Shelton). Waruu’s right-hand-man, a shaver who goes by “Harry” (Isaac Drandic), complains about Waruu’s failure to solve the zone’s overcrowding crisis.

Koen and Blair see the news at the bar they bought with the profits from their smuggling business, along with Blair’s girlfriend Ash (Stef Dawson). Blair and Ash are horrified but Koen is unrepentant.

Koen’s elderly Uncle Jimmy (Jack Charles) shows up at the bar unexpectedly to give Koen a wooden, club-like object, which Jimmy says Koen’s father would have wanted him to have.

Waruu oversees a dispute being resolved by combat between a large hairy and a group of human “skins” in the zone. After the hairy starts winning too decisively, Waruu breaks the fight up and unites the divided crowd with a rousing speech reminding hairies and skins alike that the government is their common enemy.

Jimmy and Slade meet in secret, where Slade wires Jimmy a large sum of money and Jimmy tells Slade, “I’ll give you the spirit, but then I’m finished.” Jimmy tells Slade he’ll have to find himself a new Cleverman (a traditional Aboriginal spiritual leader and shaman).

Jimmy breathes life into the fresh corpse of a young woman to give Slade a host for his spirit. Afterward, Jimmy starts a fire on the beach and burns a crow while reciting an incantation. A shooting star appears in the sky and splashes into the ocean. Jimmy continues to chant and bares his chest as whatever’s in the water swims rapidly toward him.

Meanwhile Koen and Ash secretly have sex in the back of the bar until Koen inexplicably faints.

Uncle Jimmy’s corpse lays on the shore, his chest viciously ripped open and his bright blue eyes rapidly clouding.

Identifying Jimmy’s body, Waruu guesses the origin of the horrific wound: the legendary Namorrodor, a creature which appears in times of cosmic imbalance and eats human hearts.

Harry discovers that Koen was the smuggler who reported Jirra’s family and informs Waruu of the betrayal. The two pay Koen a visit at his bar after hours. When Koen flips Harry the bird, Harry tears off Koen’s middle finger. Waruu leaves, warning Koen that next time he’ll be killed.

Ash and Blair rush to Koen’s aid, hearing his screams, but as they hold his finger to the stump the injury magically repairs itself. Koen tests his newfound power by slicing a cut in his arm, which heals too. Blair points out that one of Koen’s (normally dark) eyes has turned bright blue.

Waruu delivers the eulogy at Jimmy’s funeral, praising Jimmy as a great Cleverman and stating his intention to carry on Jimmy’s legacy as the next in his line. He’s surprised to spot Koen in the crowd, and even more surprised when Koen removes his shades to reveal his blue eye and flips Waruu off with his uninjured finger.

View photos from CLEVERMAN Episode 101.