Set in the future, Cleverman features powerful characters from ancient Aboriginal mythology, the Hairy people, who must battle daily to survive in a world that seeks to silence and destroy them.
As season two begins, the Zone has been razed to the ground by the Containment Authority. The humans and Hairy people who once called it their home have scattered, disappearing deep into the city in fear for their lives. Their only hope lies in Koen realising the full potential of his Cleverman powers, and using them to bring lasting peace to these warring cultures.
Koen, still learning to truly harness his powers as the Cleverman, is the only one who can stop the bloodshed between human and Hairy.
Ranged against him is the full force of government, aided by his brother Waruu, who shares this vision and is now empowered by Hairy strength within him. But Waruu has created the one thing which can negate Koen’s powers, and render him mortal.
Waruu's hunger for the Cleverman's power has twisted his soul, and his connection with the duplicitous and sinister billionaire Jarrod Slade will send the two brothers hurtling towards each other on a tragic trajectory.
The second season follows from season one which earned a prestigious Peabody Award nomination.
Episode 1: Revival
A new lab. A dead Koen in a body bag. A very happy Slade; nulla nulla in hand. But before he can get his hands dirty experimenting on the Cleverman, the body disappears.
Koen finds Auntie Linda camped out inside his old bar, but her story of what happened in the battle for the Zone is bleak: CA pouring in, armed to the teeth, Koen ambushed and shot, the rest of the Zoners surrendering, bundled into CA vans and driven out of the city, the van attacked by a strange Hairy (Jarli) who freed them all, then disappeared without a word.
Koen finds Mungo, who leads him and Auntie Linda to an old abandoned warehouse where a group of Zoners (both Hairy and human) have holed up, led by Harry. Nerida, Alinta and Latani, aren’t with them. They managed to flee into the city together, and found refuge in a suburban home, owned by CA officer Tim Dolan.
Meanwhile, Slade is delighted to welcome Waruu back to the fold – he’s still after Koen, and hopes Waruu will assist him. But Waruu doesn’t know where Koen is, nor, for that matter, his family. Keen to keep Waruu onside, Slade gives him something that used to belong to Uncle Jimmy – a large, impressive house, empty but for an old cardboard box full of bits and pieces of Uncle Jimmy’s things.
Slade also organises a meeting for Waruu with the new Minister for Human Safety, the tough talking Marion Frith . Both Frith and the rest of the government are aware that a new and very dangerous kind of Hairy has emerged. This is information they desperately want to keep hidden from the populace.
An anxious Charlotte is reassured that everything is fine with the baby, however Slade secretly discusses the possibility of forcibly removing the child from Charlotte early, why?
Episode 2: Bindawu
Koen vows to do whatever he can to help the Hairypeople, but they are unmoved – particularly an enraged Araluen, whose only comfort is the possibility that Latani survived. Harry catches a human girl, Audie, spying. She’s seen everything Koen can do with his blast of power. Can she be trusted?
After a successful pitch to Frith, Waruu takes a job in government as the public face of the Inclusion Initiative – a program of chemical assimilation for Hairies. Nerida is horrified to see Waruu on TV; front and centre of the official launch of the project, presenting a hairless Boondee as the exemplar of the program.
Jarli is enraged by what he sees as the living death of the Hairyman presented to the cameras. The Bindawu – Jarli’s clan – live in the same traditional ways they have for tens of thousands of years. They have no contact at all with humans, and any Bindawu who leaves Bindawu country is forbidden to return, a fact which Jarli is reminded of by clan elder Darana. But the look on Jarli’s face as he glares in cold fury at Slade on the screen, suggests Jarli might not have finished his business with the humans.
Still anxious about the pregnancy, Charlotte has had a full blood screening done on the quiet at work – it comes back as positive for Subhuman. When she sees Slade on TV as part of the Initiative launch, and hears that it is Slade Industries’ research which has enabled the Inclusion Initiative to be established, she knows exactly what he has done.
Episode 3: Dark Clouds
Keon learns about the power of the blue blast and understands that as Cleverman he can both see and hear the past. Koen uses the blue blast travel back to the aftermath of the car accident that killed his parents and pushed his mother into labour. He’s shocked to learn that the driver of the car that ran into them was Auntie Linda.
Frith puts pressure on Waruu to find Koen, unaware that they are brothers. Amongst Jimmy’s things, Waruu finds a story of two brothers, it leads him to a Dreaming tree, from which he collects blood red sap. Could this substance render the Cleverman mortal?
Alinta finds proof Dolan is a CA officer, and shows it to Nerida – who is shocked . They grab their gear, and run.
Charlotte confronts Slade about the nature of her child, he doesn’t deny that he has implanted her with a child bearing hairy DNA. Jarli heads straight back into the city and ambushes Slade. Satisfied he’s killed him, he turns his attention to Charlotte, who quickly holds him at bay by telling him she is carrying a Hairy child.
When a distressed Koen turns up on Waruu’s doorstep, Waruu slashes Koen’s throat, grabbing the lump of sap and holding it to the wound, willing it to work. Willing it to kill his brother.
Episode 4: Muya
After escaping Waruu once again, Koen examines his neck; he should be fully healed by now. Something is not right.
When confronted by a furious Koen, Auntie Linda doesn’t deny a thing about the death of Koen’s parents – she’s been waiting for this moment all of Koen’s life. Fearing a diminution of his healing powers, Koen nevertheless takes Auntie Linda back to the place where she was hit by the blue blast. All he has to do is kill her, breathe her muya – ‘essence’ – back into her, and then revive her. It works! Uncles Jimmy’s teaching is working.
Waruu takes the sap to Slade, to see if he can alter its composition and return it to liquid form. Slade is a wreck, the last sighting of Charlotte was with Jarli as they disappeared into bushland to the west. He orders McIntyre to find her.
On Bindawu country, Jarli hides Charlotte away from the others, and brings Darana back to advise him. Darana is appalled at what he has done and orders Jarli to kill her.
On the run, Nerida, Alinta and Latani are caught by a CA unit, which includes Dolan & Hendricks. Dolan frees Nerida, but Hendricks arrests Alinta and puts her through the system. Latani escapes into the bush. In an attempt to make amends for what he has done, Dolan takes Nerida to the house where Alinta is being kept. He doesn’t know whose house it is, and neither does Nerida. Inside are Waruu and Alinta…
Ready to fight, Koen emerges from the abandoned warehouse, his face painted with ochre, a long jacket disguising his form, and the nulla nulla glowing a pale blue in his hand. A man who has brought someone back from the dead. A warrior, ready to bring an end to the division between peoples.
Episode 5: Skin
At the lab, Waruu learns that Slade has successfully liquefied the lump of sap. They watch as the sap cuts clean through the nulla nulla. Waruu now has what can kill the Cleverman, and just as well - he is confronted by Koen, who demands he close down the Inclusion Clinic. Waruu is unintimidated – he has the weapon.
Knowing that Boondee and Charlotte’s captor are from the same tribe, McIntyre demands Boondee lead him to Jarli and Bindawu country. Charlotte warns the Bindawu that Slade will not stop as long as she remains with them. They are reluctant to let Charlotte go, but know they have little choice.
Having discovered the equipment from the city that Jarli has been amassing, Darana forbids Jarli to use Bindawu language again, strips him of his clan clothing and exiles him forever. Undeterred, Jarli asks Latani to come with him – they will free her mother and all the others trapped in Bennelong House, and bring them back to Bindawu land.
Charlotte appears in Slade’s lab. But his relief quickly turns to confusion when it becomes clear that she is taking the side of her kidnappers. Slade realises he has no choice but to remove the baby from her immediately. But at what cost?
Episode 6: Borrowed Time
Jarli and Latani break into Bennelong House. Inside the building they round up the residents. Latani opens a door to an apartment and finds herself face to face with a woman brandishing a knife – it’s her mother, Araluen. Koen joins them but the CA are quick to track them down.
Frith watches things unfold on the screen in the ministry war room. She orders that no shots are to be fired. She wants no bloodshed.
Jarli announces to the assembled CA officers, media and Waruu that the land they’re all standing on has been stolen from his people, and that he is claiming it back for the Bindawu. Seeing that Jarli won’t be swayed, Koen decides to risk using himself as a distraction, saving Araluen, Latani and the other hostages from being massacred.
Koen emerges to the watching eyes of the CA, and his big brother, Waruu. Koen demands negotiation between the government and the Hairies – a treaty to end the genocide. Waruu agrees, and Koen surrenders.
But the fight is not over for Jarli and to his surprise neither is it for Koen. Koen finds himself in a deserted industrial wasteland, face to face with Waruu, he’s holding a knife dipped in the liquefied sap and the fight is on.
- Adam Briggs - Maliyan
Alec Doomadgee - Darana, clan elder
Alexis Lane - Kora
Andrew McFarlane - Geoff Matthews
Clarence Ryan - Jarli
Deborah Mailman - Aunty Linda, knowledge keeper
Frances O’Connor - Charlotte Cleary, media mogul's wife
Hunter Page-Lochard - Koen West, Aboriginal brother and Cleverman
Iain Glen - Jarrod Slade, media mogul
Isaac Drandic - Harry
Jack Charles - Uncle Jimmy
Jada Alberts - Nerida West
Leeanna Walsman - Belinda Frosche
Luke Ford - Tim Dolan
Lynette Curran - Virgil
Marcus Graham - Steve McIntyre
Rachael Blake - Marion Frith, Minister for Human Safety
Rarriwuy Hick - Latani
Rob Collins - Waruu West, Aboriginal brother
Robyn Nevin - Jane O'Grady
Ryan Corr - Blair Finch
Stef Dawson - Ash Kerry
Tamala Shelton - Alinta West
Tasma Walton - Araluen
Taylor Ferguson - Audie, human girl
Tony Briggs - Boondee
Trevor Jamieson - Uncle Max
Tysan Towney - Djukara
Val Weldon - Jirra
- Release dates
- 28 June – SundanceTV, USA
29 June – ABC TV, Australia
- MA 15+ - Mature accompanied
- ABC TV
Language: English and Gumbaynggirr with English subtitles.
Filmed in Sydney's Redfern and surrounding locations including Parramatta, Coogee, The Rocks, North Ryde and the Southern Highlands.
Creatures and effects are by world-renowned Weta Workshop (Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit trilogy, Avatar).
Watch now or find a DVD/BlueRay copy
Browse a list of Aboriginal film suppliers and distributors
Other films by Wayne Blair & Leah Purcell
- 2002Black Chicks Talking
- 2004The Djarn Djarns
- 2009Aunty Maggie & The Womba Wakgun
- 2012Redfern Now (Series 1)
- 2012The Sapphires
- 2013Redfern Now (Series 2)
- 2013The Gods of Wheat Street
- 2014Who We Are: Brave New Clan
- 2015Septembers of Shiraz
- 2016Cleverman Season 1
- 2019Top End Wedding
- 2020Mystery Road (TV series, Season 2)
- 2021Firestarter – The Story of Bangarra
- 2021The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson
- 2021Total Control (Series 2)
- 2024Total Control (Series 3)
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