It's baaaccckk! The not-so-little Australian show that could and did has returned for a second season, in Australia and on Sundance.

For those just tuning in, Cleverman is a weird cross of Harry Potter, Heroes, and Alien Nation. To American audiences, most of the faces probably aren't that familiar. Iain Glen (Jorah, Game of Thrones) and Frances O'Connor (The Missing, Once Upon a Time in one episode) are probably the familiar ones.


Cleverman focuses on Koen West, the son of an aboriginal shaman who has inherited his family abilities. Much to the dismay of Koen's half-brother Waruu. In Season 1, Waruu was heavily into supporting the cause of the Hairies, a race of mythical beings that were discovered living among humans. They showed up in Australia, and the Australian government has done its best to ghettoize and demonize them. Iain Glen is Jarrod Slade, a rich guy who was initially a supporter of the Hairy cause. He has since embraced the dark side, or always has, allying with Waruu and Koen's Uncle Jimmy, and using Hairy DNA to give himself Hairy-like abilities. He's also secretly impregnated his wife Charlotte with Hairy DNA for reasons that we haven't been told yet.

Season 1 ended with Koen defeating yet another creature from Aboriginal mythology--the Dream Time, doncha know--and becoming the defender of the Zone where the Hairies are kept. "Revival" and Season 2 picks up shortly after that, where we see Koen's body being zipped into a body bag and taken to Jarrod's top secret laboratory. Ruh-roh! However, Koen turns into a... falcon? and flies away to the Kora tree that seems to be a gateway to the Dream Time. He's reborn and goes looking for the Zone survivors.


Meanwhile, a Hairy warrior, Jarli, frees the imprisoned Zone members by stopping the military convoy and killing the soldiers. We then go in about five different directions. Nerida, Waruu's wife takes her daughter Alinta and Hairy girl Latani to the home of Tim Dolan, I think, knocked him out, and moved in. They tie him up and feed him while using his house. It's not clear who he is, and they don't say his name that I could catch. He's played by Luke Ford, a new series regular, so I assume that he's important.

The government minister, Geoff Matthews, was killed at the end of last season. A new minister, Marion Firth, is appointed and she's apparently even more anti-Hairy than her predecessor. Besides not liking the Hairies, Marion also fires McIntyre, the head of the Containment Agency (CA). McIntyre was secretly working for Jarrod, who is trying to keep his industry involved with the CA so he can get more of that sweet sweet Hairy DNA.


Marion also doesn't want to have anything to do with Waruu. Since he's on the outs with Nerida, and getting injections of the DNA from Jarrod, Waruu is in Jarrod's pocket. Apparently he has his own plans for grabbing some power. Thanks to the DNA injections, Waruu is also apparently mutating into a Hairy. Like I mentioned earlier, Waruu hates I mention he hates Koen because Koen got the shaman (i.e., Cleverman) powers when Waruu thinks that they should have gone to him?

Jarrod is still having his wife Charlotte's pregnancy monitored. The pediatrician secretly works for Jarrod, and Jarrod is making noises about having the fetus removed prematurely after Charlotte's dramatic season 1 cliffhanger collapse.


And hey, look, there's Dr. Knowby from Ash vs. Evil Dead!

And finally, Koen goes back to his bar and finds Aunty Linda (Deborah Mailman) waiting there. It's not clear what her thing is, but she's always been a strong supporter of the Hairies. Koen and Aunty check in with the Zone survivors and then go to sell some booze from Koen's bar to raise money for the survivors. A young Hairy, Mungo, goes with them. Two passing humans beat him to death while he waits in the car, and Koen unleashes some magic mojo to blast them down.


Oh, and Jarrod spends a lot of time looking at Koen's staff. Not that, you pervs! His nulla nulla, an aboriginal wooden war club that seems to have mystical powers of its own.

"Revival" is as big a dog's breakfast as last season. Credit to the creative team, which assumes that the audience will keep up with them. There's minimal introduction to the series' concepts, and they toss in new series regulars Marion, Dolan, and Jarli. They also kill off Djukara from last season, and Koen's buddy Blair off-screen. "Hit the ground running" pretty neatly sums up what they do here. And they only have six episodes in their season.

Hopefully they won't fritter away those six episodes like they did last year. Several of the episodes basically tread water, which you wouldn't think a creative team would want to do when they've only got six episodes to get in and out.

Since there's so much reestablishing what happened last year, resolving the cliffhangers, and picking up the plot threads, there's not a lot of room for characterization. Nobody except Waruu really gets any, and he's all "I'm tired of being pushed around and rejected: now it's my turn to do some pushing around and rejecting!"


Koen is still a guy who seems to have just lucked into powers. He seems to have gotten them just because Waruu was the alternative, and Waruu is a jerk. Koen is a little more dedicated to the Hairy cause now. But he's basically unkillable, since he heals and resurrects. It makes for a rather boring protagonist.

Although Tasma Walton is credited, I didn't see her character Araluen. The Hairy who was sold into sex slavery last season, killed Matthews, and escaped. Pity, as that was one of the more interesting subplots last year the way that it played out. Her husband lies on a slab in the lab, her daughter sits around and makes one vaguely threatening speech but that's about it, and her son is dead. That leaves Araluen to give us a "face" for the Hairy people.


Hopefully this season will see a little more of the Aboriginal Dream Time creatures and a little exploration of the Hairies. The presence of Jarli, who seems to be a Hairy warrior, suggests that but who knows?

Overall, "Revival" was a decent reentry into the show. I'll continue to review it, and am a few weeks behind since "Revival" premiered on 6/28/17. Blame the fact that I live in the U.S. rather than Australia, don't get Sundance, and Cleverman airs originally in Australia. Because of all that, it's not on my radar. But it's already half over once I catch up on episodes 2 and 3, so only three more episodes to go. I'll probably do one more Saturday night on the 15th, one in the next couple of days, and then pick up the series at episode 4 on Wednesday of this week, 7/19.

But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?

-----

Who knew summer could be so busy, TV-wise? I've got Wrecked, Blood Drive, The Mist, Zoo, and Wynonna Earp. And The Strain if no one on staff does it. And Cleverman. And editorial busywork on Stitchers and Preacher. And pickup reviews and editing on whatever other summer viewing catches my fancy. Busy busy busy.

Thanks to @sroberts461 for pointing out to me that Cleverman had returned. And tv.com staff (@jessicakroeber?) for updating the new episodes anyway. And absolutely no one for submitting, because then I would have noticed that it was on.
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