Cleverman, Episode 5 ‘Terra Nullius’ by Michael Miller

Cleverman, Episode 5 ‘Terra Nullius’ by Michael Miller (GoalPost Pictures)

Judges' Comments

In the fifth episode of this high-concept sci-fi drama, Koen struggles with guilt over the death of two women: one, a young girl, the other, his friend’s lover. He discovers that Kora is an ancestral spirit which needs to be sent back to another dimension. Yet this only compounds the burden he feels over his powers as the Cleverman, and the fear that embracing them will bring him closer to what he sees in his visions — his own death. Koen attempts to summons the terrifying Namorrodor unsuccessfully, but ultimately uses his powers to heal a young boy. Meanwhile, the Zone that the Hairies occupy is on the road to being ‘cleansed’, and Araluen, a mother trapped working in a brothel, bravely plots her escape.

Michael Miller’s script is an exciting, entertaining read that also serves as a sharp allegory for contemporary issues: Aboriginal deaths in custody, race relations and refugee detention camps. However these touchstones never upset the thrust of the narrative or the emotional truth of its reluctant hero. From the unsettling opening sequence to the terrific climax, Michael Miller deftly steers the various characters and their conflicting agendas towards a satisfying conclusion.