Wentworth: Is Joan 'The Freak' Ferguson dead or alive?

The moment Wentworth fans have been waiting for is finally here!

The moment Wentworth fans have been waiting for is finally here. And the most explosive scene in Australian television this year will finally answer the question: is The Freak really dead?
All season, the prison drama has teased out hints that Joan "The Freak" Ferguson (Pamela Rabe), one of the most hated characters on screen, might somehow have escaped being buried alive at the end of season five.
For years, Joan tormented the inmates and guards of Wentworth as both governor and then prisoner (after murdering a fellow jailbird). But when she was tricked into what she thought was an escape plan and hid in a wooden crate, it quickly became her coffin.
Left for dead in a bushland grave by guard Will (Robbie Magasiva) – his revenge for a long campaign of torture at her hands – we thought that was the end of The Freak.
But throughout 2018, we've had hints that she may somehow have survived. Joan has visited Will in a series of hallucinations, and at the same time, Vera is being stalked. Is it The Freak?
And now – at last – we will get the answers when Will's secret comes out and he decides to go back to see what happened after he left.
"I don't think Will even thought about the consequences [of burying The Freak alive]," Robbie, 48, tells TV WEEK. "Without even thinking, it was an opportunity, so he did it.
"And then afterwards he realised the enormity of what he had done. Put yourself in Will's shoes: he's fighting the demons, the voices, coming to grips with the guilt of what he did. He has to know."
But in typical Wentworth fashion, that moment comes at the end of a beautifully complicated plot.
The action begins this week when Jake (Bernard Curry) rushes to Vera's (Kate Atkinson) house. She immediately suspects he's behind all that's been happening to her recently, and that he was paid to be part of Joan's escape.
Later, when she catches him deleting video files that prove his guilt, Vera threatens to call the police.
"You can't do that," Jake warns. "Because Ferguson is dead and Will killed her."
"Vera's in this terrible triangle of silence, this conspiratorial alliance with Jake and Will," Kate, 46, says.
"Once she knows what Will has done, she's in a criminal position. Does she protect him? And if she does, she has to also protect Jake. This is one of the biggest lines in the sand she's ever crossed."
As an actor, Kate says she loves the dilemma Vera, Will and Jake find themselves in.
"It was such a great exercise in ensemble acting," she says. "So, for Kate it was fun. But for Vera? She was about as close to losing everything she had ever worked for."
But as much as she hates Jake, Vera wants to protect Will more. And as Jake points out, there's a simple solution: go back and dig up the grave.
That's not something Will wants to do, but having his character placed in such a position is something Robbie loved.
"It was a gift," he says of the storyline. "I think every actor dreams of getting a [story] arc like this, so I just had to do it justice, otherwise I don't belong here."
So with Jake urging and Vera finally agreeing, Will decides he will return to Joan's grave.
"It's the question that has burned through this season," Bernard, 44, says. "You never see Ferguson die. There has always been varying degrees of potential outcome of that situation, so it all comes down to this one moment."
And so, with pressure mounting, the three set out to the lonely stretch of bush where Will left Joan so long ago.
With the moon cutting through the trees and their breath hanging in the air, Will and Jake take turns digging into the cold ground as Vera keeps guard.
No-one wants to be here, but they all have to know: is The Freak dead?
Is her reign of terror over forever?
"This season has been the 'What Happened?' story," Wentworth executive producer Jo Porter says. "And of guilt – guilt about what they did, guilt about their inaction, and all the shades of that across all these characters."
It was inevitable, then, that they would have to find a way to get past that guilt. It all leads to the bush grave, where, finally, Will uncovers the crate.
"For Will, there's hope she's there," Robbie says. "Getting there, digging into that grave, is almost a relief, because Vera now knows that Jake knows he's released some of what he's been holding.
"At the grave, he's facing his demons; he needs to see whether she is there."
So with Jake and Vera anxiously watching and sweat running down his face, Will nervously reaches down to open the crate and looks inside.
And what he sees will change these three – and Wentworth – forever.
Wentworth airs Tuesday, 8:30pm on Showcase on Foxtel.
Want more exclusive access to Wentworth content? Pick up a copy of this month's issue of the new TV WEEK Close Up, where we take a look back on the show's biggest moments.

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