The second season premiere gets off to a rocky start – the corpse of newly discovered Cleverman Koen West being zipped up in a body bag.
Meanwhile, a convoy transporting Sub-Humans as the powers that be call them (in spite of their being neither) is attacked by a single warrior – who sets them free.
Cleverman is set in the near future, when creatures from ancient mythology battle for survival in a world that seeks to silence and destroy them.
As season two begins, the Zone has been demolished by the Containment Authority. The humans and the Hairypeople – who are superior to humans in strength, agility and life expectancy– have scattered, disappearing deep into the City in fear for their lives. Their only hope lies in Koen (Hunter Page-Lochard) realizing the full potential of his Cleverman powers, and using them to bring lasting peace to these warring cultures.
But while Koen’s estranged half-brother, Waruu (Rob Collins), shares this vision, the lengths he is prepared to go to make it a reality are far more extreme. His jealousy Koen and his hunger for the Cleverman’s powers has twisted his soul, and his connection with the duplicitous and sinister billionaire Jarrod Slade will send the two brothers hurtling toward each other on a tragic course.
We learn more about Slade Industries and its CEO, Jarrod Slade who is attempting to find a way to give humans hairy abilities and are introduced to a new political mover and shaker in government, Marion Frith (Rachael Blake) who takes on heading the department in charge of removing Hairies from civilized society.
When Koen has come back to himself, its transforming into a hawk while inside the body bag – then flying away when an astonished Jerrod Slade (Iain Glen) unzips it (in the name of research, you understand). As the premiere progresses, it becomes apparent that this season will come down a brother vs. brother conclusion.
That the show rife with themes of prejudice, family, seeking knowledge, and what have been a Cain and Abel theme if the Australian aborigines’ belief system/mythology hadn’t been significantly older.
The second season premiere flips between Koen, Slade, Waruu and others – giving us an idea of how this situation (which is close to becoming a civil war) looks to people from all the sides.
This important because with the Zone gone, the Harrys and their few human friends no longer have a single place to meet (-10 points to the bad guys!).
And remember, this all began with Koen and two friends taking a shot at running a pub before Koen’s Uncle Jimmy (Jack Charles) – the tribal shaman died just after telling him that he was to be the next Cleverman.
Other points of interest: Slade’s wife is unaware that a tiny bit of Hairy DNA is a part of her unborn child; the survivors of the jail run see Koen alive (his Aunt Linda even fingers the bullet holes in his shirt – like, say, doubting Thomas?); the new head of the chase to capture and remove Hairies from society, Ms. Frith, isn’t about to sit through mansplaining – and she’s far more ruthless than her predecessor; Slade’s newly gained powers are gone and he doesn’t know why; Waruu has some powers too, making a potential grudge match between him and his brother an extremely intriguing one to wait for.
Writer Stuart Page and director Wayne Blair have created an evocative opening to Cleverman’s second season. The use of magic and science sets Cleverman firmly in the realm of science-fantasy – and at the top of its class in any genre.
The overall result is a season that shows even more confidence in its saga and the kind of storytelling that comes when that confidence is well-founded.
Final Grade: A