As much as any novel has made its mark in history, so too are some television shows primed to do just the same. Every once in a while, a show comes along that so captures viewers’ attention that it’s practically a phenomenon. What do these shows manage to universally succeed at? Crafting compelling narratives, introducing great characters, and delivering unpredictable twists that form the basis of watercooler talk around the world. Wentworth, an Australian drama that’s now watched around the world, is one of those shows. Its fourth series just finished airing in 2016, and as expected, it has ended with an utter shock to most viewers. Wentworth protagonist Bea Smith appears to be dead! Is she truly gone, however, or will she be back for the fifth series of this popular show?
Of course, only the series’ writers can say for certain. However, we’re here with a few juicy tidbits of gossip to tide you over, and plenty of speculation as to the fate of Bea Smith.
Who exactly can we blame for this sudden proliferation of cliffhanger endings and clever twists in our favorite television shows? Regardless of that, it feels like they’re everywhere. This speaks to their popularity with viewers, apparently; we just can’t get enough of having the proverbial rug pulled out from beneath our feet. Wentworth has done it. The Walking Dead has done it. Game of Thrones has done it. Orange is the New Black has done it. The list could go on and on, and one of the unifying things about these well-written shows is that they amass tons of viewers.
Perhaps it’s simply due to the fact that we’re familiar with every type of narrative under the sun. It’s hard to throw anything at us that feels truly “original,” and so instead, television writers force us to reckon with the unknown. We can imagine how a story might end, or a character might grow, all day long, but if the truth of it is withheld from us, we’re driven blissfully mad in our anticipation.
Here’s where we should put in a brief disclaimer, before continuing. This article is going to contain spoilers for some of the hottest shows on television right now. It’d be impossible to talk about twist endings and where they lead without sharing a few critical secrets, so consider this your final warning. We’re going in deep, and going to have a blast!
What is Wentworth?
One of the things that we can continually thank Netflix for is the fact that it’s given us a wealth of shows that we might not otherwise have had access to. Programming from countries outside of the US that’s easily as good as anything being made here, but simply doesn’t air on our cable networks. Since it’s made in Australia, Wentworth is one of those shows. As you’ll see below, it has many of the familiar elements that other extremely popular shows tend to have, these days.
It’s a show about Bea Smith and the people who enter her life. However, this isn’t your typical slice-of-life drama; it’s primarily a prison story. Wentworth begins when Bea is convicted of attempted murder against her husband and sent to prison for it. She’s taken away from her “life outside” that was so familiar, away from her daughter, away from her friends, and sent to Wentworth prison.
With Bea, we get a glimpse at the hierarchies and dangers of prison life. She faces life-or-death scenarios frequently and has to adapt and adjust to an entirely different way of living, over the course of the show’s four seasons.
Who is Bea Smith?
The protagonist, Bea Smith, is played by Danielle Cormack. She’s a particularly powerful character, and it’s hard to describe her narrative arc over the course of Wentworth as anything other than purely tragic. Though the charges which sent her to Wentworth Prison were legitimate, Bea was an abused woman; she constantly faced the threat of violence in her own home, by the hand of the husband she tried to murder. As is commonly the case with many abused women in domestic relationships, Bea Smith stayed for the sake of her daughter.
Her story at home is told through a series of flashbacks over the course of the show, and it doesn’t get particularly brighter. She endures further violence at the hands of other inmates, is forced into rivalries and conflicts that are part of the prison hierarchy, and eventually, suffers the trauma of learning that her own daughter committed suicide. Also while in prison, she’s found guilty of the murder of another inmate—Jacs, who seemed to be one of the main antagonists during the show’s first series.
The current question is whether or not Bea Smith’s character narrative has come to an end with the final episode of series 4. The reason? We last saw Bea Smith lying very still, in a growing pool of her own blood, after being stabbed several times.
What About Series 5?
Without any doubt, series 5 of Wentworth is on its way. Filming began back in August of 2016, and the new episodes will be airing within 2017. Eventually, we can anticipate them making their way to Netflix, where the show itself has picked up a ton of its popularity.
This isn’t a rumor, either. While other parts of this article are filled with unconfirmed speculation, the fact that Wentworth is returning for a new season is solid gold fact. In 2017, we’re going to learn about the repercussions of series 4. We’ll also see other characters react to Bea Smith’s death…or her miraculous survival.
Is Bea Smith Dead?
Let’s get one thing straight—we don’t have a real answer for you. All that Wentworth fans have is a wealth of speculation; hints drawn from Danielle Cormack and casting rumors for the upcoming series 5 of the show. Anything that follows is going to be just that—speculation. It’s as good as anyone has, so let’s get to it!
For all intents and purposes, we’re meant to think that Bea Smith is dead. Though no confirmation has necessarily been given as to the character’s death, it’s what the show has given us as an assumption. One thing that modern viewers have learned over and over again, though, is that until someone is confirmed to be dead, there’s a chance that character may end up coming back. Or, as was the case with Game of Thrones’ Jon Snow, the character literally came back from the dead.
Since a supernatural twist isn’t likely in Wentworth, we have to operate under the presumption that Bea was either mortally wounded at the end of series 4, or just barely managed to survive. Danielle Cormack, the actor responsible for Bea’s award-winning portrayal, has been seen in a few reunion photos with other cast members. For some, this has lent credence to the idea that Bea might be alive. For others, it’s simply an actor enjoying friendships formed on the filming set of a great show.
There’s also another likely possibility—that Bea Smith is only returning to series 5 of Wentworth to appear in flashbacks. Because the show already takes advantage of this narrative tool on a regular basis, it would be a good way to keep Bea in the picture, even if her character has, indeed, expired in the present.
Any of these scenarios is just as likely as the other. The show’s producers are understandably keeping any hints as to the reality of Bea Smith’s future under careful wraps. That’s par for the course when you’re using cliffhanger endings like we saw at the end of series 4. Thankfully, we’re not going to have to wait too much longer to find out, for certain!
More Twist Endings & Cliffhangers
If you’ve developed a taste for this particular type of storytelling, you don’t have to look very far to get more of it. The closest thing to Wentworth that’s currently airing is Orange is the New Black, a Netflix original series that also takes place in various women’s prisons. It’s dark, compelling, tragic, and oddly full of similar humor and storytelling methods, down to the cliffhanger endings, surprise twists, and flashbacks galore.
You could also tune into AMC’s The Walking Dead. Two hugely impactful character deaths took place in the show’s most recent season, but they were teased every since the very end of the previous one. It was a storytelling move that drove audiences mad. However, much of that audience reluctantly returned when The Walking Dead began airing again; they were eager to find out the truth of how died and wanted to see the repercussions such an incident had for the overarching story.
We’re looking forward to the next series of Wentworth, and finding out everything that’s in store for the show’s surviving characters. We don’t know the fate of Bea Smith, for certain, since the finale of series 4, but dead or alive, we can almost guarantee that what follows is going to be both compelling and interesting. If you have any questions about Wentworth, or even just want to talk up other aspects of this well-regarded show, speak up in the comments below!