This article contains spoilers.
Cleverman ended its first season last night with a smoking finale that brought all the show’s potential to the table and gave us both huge payoff and a hell of a cliffhanger. Among all the bombshells was a major one about the elusive Jarrod Slade, whose motives have been shifty all season long.
In a way, it’s been difficult to determine where each character’s alliance lies because the majority of the series has been about drawing those lines out of shifting chaos. Episode 1 dropped us into a near-future dystopia that was still in development, the central strife being the treatment of the Hairypeople, discovered just six months prior. The short timeline means we don’t have a typical hero with strong convictions, but rather a cast of characters still working out where they stand. Slade was the most enigmatic; he clearly had an agenda but we weren’t quite sure how sinister it was.
The line is firmly drawn now, and it turns out that Slade has masterminded much more than we realized. In order to serve his personal agenda of conducting unethical and scientifically dubious experiments on the Hairypeople, Slade has actually manufactured the public fear and government action against them. The Containment Authority serves primarily as a pipeline to provide him with test subjects.
We’ve known all along that Slade is a media mogul and a billionaire, two traits that rarely make a good guy. But Cleverman maintained our hope that he might not be so bad, mainly through his friendliness with Waruu and his eagerness to help him renovate the Zone. Even when we saw he had taken Boondee for experimentation, there was hope that our favorite Hairy patriarch was better off than before. It was fun to make jokes about how Jorah Mormont really would do anything to cure his greyscale.
The most humanizing and redeeming thing about Slade was his treatment of his wife, Charlotte. Initially, I found it off-putting, considering how rarely we see powerful white men who genuinely love their wives portrayed on tv. Yet Cleverman insisted on Slade’s tenderness for Charlotte, their love, their devotion to having a child despite failed rounds of IVF.
That went out the window when he tricked her into another round of treatment, that was actually some wild experiment of his own creation. The fetus, which is growing at an accelerated rate, is some sort of hybrid with Hairy DNA, most likely a mitochondrial DNA transfer. This betrayal will surely result in Charlotte aligning herself with the people of the Zone in fighting against Jarrod. As for what happens with her pregnancy, we expect it to play a big part in Season 2. Losing the fetus would be counter productive; a child would certainly go a long way in negotiating with Jarrod. Hopefully, Charlotte catches a break, but it seems unlikely.
Overall, Slade has been wildly irresponsible with the science. So far we’ve seem him test his theories on one human subject, who dies, and then immediately on himself, and his wife, without her consent. Fortunately, it seems to have worked out okay for him; he’s feeling grrreat. If Slade is this reckless with himself, there is surely some very dark stuff he’s covered up during his trials. We fully expect more horrors will come to light in Season 2. We also haven’t seen much of Boondee, who we know is in Slade’s lab. His character would be an excellent way for Cleverman to expose more of Slade’s shady doings in Season 2.
Slade’s shady science also leaves Waruu’s fate in balance. At the end we see him drink the Cool aid as it were, and attempt to seize Koen’s powers for himself. He fails quite spectacularly, and so becomes more of a wild card than ever. What will wounded, jealous Waruu do now that he’s lost all his family ties and gained super human strength? We think there may be a super villain in the making; his self destructive rampage isn’t over yet, and his pride has proved a powerful monster to tackle.
Season 2 is still in early development, but Ryan Griffen assures us that he’s working on it.