Stan’s Romper Stomper
Episode 2: “If Blood Should Stain the Wattle”
Directed by Geoffrey Wright
Written by James Napier Robertson
* For a recap & review of the premiere, “Arrival” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Poetry” – click here
At a stop, a woman’s attacked in her car by a bunch of girls – it’s Cindi (Markella Kavenagh) and her escaped girlfriends from the juvenile detention centre. They rob the woman, getting a purse with some tampons and $90. The ladies are running around aimlessly now that they’re free. But the cops are already on them, and they’re quickly arrested, except for Cindi who slips free once more using hairspray and a lighter as a makeshift flamethrower. Tough as fucking nails, that lass.
Zoe (Sophie Lowe) is playing a dangerous game right underneath the nose of her husband Blake (Lachy Hulme). She’s clearly emotionally distanced from her man, and having met Kane (Toby Wallace) recently, a man with a sensitive side – y’know, for a fascist – it’s more than obvious she’s finally getting the attention she deserves/needs. Yet both she and Kane are still wrapped up in the world of neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and, above all else, violence. So, despite their passionate lovemaking and their burgeoning connection, it’s tough to root for them. Perhaps they’ll begin to question why they’re involved in such a world.
Then again, perhaps not. And perhaps not everything is as it seems, anyway. Zoe jokes with Kane, saying what she told him about Eddy was a lie. She takes it back, as if it’s funny. But lord, is it ever not funny. It’s unsettling. A little later, Kane meets with Lyno Canning (Fletcher Humphrys), who fits him up with a bit of work. Although I’m curious – Lyno mentions “getting [Zoe] up this early” as if it’s a feat, and Kane shrugs it off. Wonder if he might be suspicious about this new lad amongst the Patriot Blue ranks. Hmm.
Farid (Julian Maroun) is still hard at work in the care home, looking after the father of Gabrielle Jordan (Jacqueline McKenzie), Martin (Cliff Ellen). Speaking of, Gabe tells dear ole dad: “He‘s back.” And down at the gym, Farid doesn’t get any sympathy for his smashed face from his brother. He calls him an “easy target,” condemning him for not being tough and looking after Laila (Nicole Chamoun), which is brutally unfair.
There’s another curious character cropping up now, Jago Zoric (David Wenham), a right-wing talk show host with a show called No Quarter. He tracks down Laila, and he’d like to invite her to come for a chat on his program. Jago spouts more of the “fake news” and “mainstream media” rhetoric of new post-Trump fascism. While Farid’s pissed, believing it reflects on the Muslim community as a whole should she accept, Laila will not let any men dictate what she will or will not do/say.
Antifasc become aware of Laila’s decision to go on No Quarter. Petra (Lily Sullivan) and the others think she’s making a big mistake. Across the political aisle, Patriot Blue’s big man Blake has his own stake in things: he’ll be on No Quarter, too. Promises to be unforgettable live television. Backstage, Laila must sit next to Mr. Farron, and it’s an intense moment to witness.
The show starts. Laila’s questioned first about her perspective on Patriot Blue. She barely answers before Blake pushes in about “untruth” and other nonsensical, jingoist rhetorical techniques employed by white nationalists. Worse, Jago only uses this as an opportunity to smear Muslims by using Laila as a scapegoat. Jago, nor any of his viewers, have any intention of listening. What this host has done is enable the “public execution” of Laila and her reputation in the court of public opinion. As well as empower Blake and Patriot Blue with promotion. An ugly reality of how the media plays into these views. Clearly Jago is an actual fascist, as well. But there are many bigger things at play, such as those with money + power allowing this under their company’s names. Those are the real enablers.
Tragedy strikes in the street. Farid’s brother Malik (Jamie Abdallah) and his friends are out. One of them makes an obscene gesture to a white girl, which prompts the boyfriend to start a brawl. Malik doesn’t want to get involved, but the boyfriend comes at him. So he punches the guy, and fucks him up horribly. This is going to turn ugly, quick.
At the Farron home, Zoe gives a racist Christian speech about values being “under attack.” Always the same old horse shit, isn’t it? Never anything fresh in terms of perspective. Funny Zoe calls herself religious – in one breath she praises Jesus, while also calling politicians “soft cocks” + other such insults. After that, prior to BBQ, Blake reads more Henry Lawson; “Freedom on the Wallaby,” to be exact. Typical sentimental racist nostalgia, looking back to a mythical time that never truly existed, only in the eyes of white men. They all get the word soon from a guy called Beau (Lester Ellis Jr.), whose brother Jimmy is the guy that got beaten by Malik. This has Patriot Blue frothing at the mouth. Violence is imminent. Kane himself gives another speech that’s merely a prejudicial echo chamber about Muslims. He suggests not going after a single Muslim, but beginning “patrols” for all the “scum” on the streets, and taking care of the perceived white victims out there.
Meanwhile, Malik is repenting at the mosque. He prays, feeling guilty for hurting another man, even if it was only in self-defence. It’s clear, though, when we see his violence juxtaposed with the racist violence of Patriot Blue, that Malik does not enjoy violence; he only fights to protect himself, not to hurt. Whereas those white nationalists want to harm and to destroy. An important distinction to see real Muslims, too, and not the extremists who pervert Islam to use in tandem with their terrorist ambitions.
Patriot Blue begin patrolling the streets, beating anybody of colour, and even those who they perceive as scum, like taggers, or people cooking drugs. Kane leads the crew in the streets, ingratiating themselves to anyone with white skin in sight, as if they’re saviours of Melbourne. This will only serve to embolden Kane’s racism and xenophobia. Definitely causes mixed feelings for him when fugitive Cindi arrives.
Antifasc are still out there, as well. Their latest plan sees them hack into an electronic billboard in the city, replacing the sign with stop-motion sign of their own, and it is brilliant. All the while fighting against anti-immigration and fascism. Beautiful! And sure to piss off both Jago and Farron.
Fantastic follow-up to the first episode. Truly stunning work in terms of writing. The pacing of the series is brilliant, too. They don’t give over too much in exposition, so it keeps a bit of mystery between certain characters and events that I enjoy; 6 episodes ought to work perfectly.
“Poetry” is the following episode.