Réalisateur : Mike Adams / Scénariste : Maureen Chadwick
Alors que les détenues de la prison pour femmes de Larkhall sont occupées à la préparation de la présentation d'un défilé de mode, une jeune femme, Carol, est en train de faire une fausse-couche, enfermée dans sa cellule. Elle supplie l'officier Sylvia "Body Bag" Hollamby de l'amener à l'infirmerie, mais cette dernière ne la croit pas. Au petit matin, la malheureuse est découverte par le surveillant Dominic McAllister, baignant dans son sang mais encore vivante. La consternation règne au sein des détenues.
Helen Stewart, nouvelle directrice de l'aile G, vient de prendre ses fonctions à Larkhall. Elle demande à Sylvia pour quelles raisons celle-ci n'a pas fait de rapport sur l'état de santé de la jeune femme la veille au soir. L'officier principal Fenner défend Sylvia en invocant "un tragique concours de circonstances". Helen n'a d'autres choix que d'aller parler aux détenues afin de leur donner des nouvelles de Carol. Helen est chahutée par les détenues et surtout par Nikki Wade, une condamnée à vie pour le meurtre d'un policier. Helen, vexée, décide d'interdire le défilé de mode et envoie Nikki en isolement.
Shell, qui entretient une relation privilégiée avec Fenner, lui demande de faire quelque chose pour rétablir le défilé de mode. Celui-ci tente alors de parler à Helen, mais celle-ci restant impassible, il va directement parler au directeur de la prison, Simon Stubberfield.
Helen se rend au bloc pour voir Nikki et malgré l'agressivité de cette dernière, Helen essaie d'obtenir son aide. D'abord réticente, elle finit par accepter et Helen, ayant subit les remontrances de Stubberfield, réussit à tourner la situation à son avantage. Fenner va profite du désarroi de Rachel Hicks - jeune femme qui a été prise comme souffre-douleur par Shell - pour la tenir à sa merci.
Helen, la nouvelle directrice de l’aile G de Larkhall, est en route pour la prison. Elle profite d’un feu rouge pour se maquiller. Son superbe maquillage va laisser perplexe l’officier chargé de l’ouverture de la barrière :
Helen reçoit Fenner dans son bureau :
Fenner : Knock knock. Morning Ma’am !
Helen : Please Jim ! I’m not the bloody queen !
Helen organise une réunion avec son équipe et les prisonnières pour les rassurer sur l’état de santé de Carol. Elle promet de faire une enquête pour comprendre ce qu’il s’est passé cette nuit, mais elle doit conclure pour l’instant à un tragique concours de circonstances. Ce qui provoque la colère des prisonnières, en particulier Nikki qui est très proche de Carol. Elle se positionne en leader et prend la parole face à Helen en lui disant qu’elle ne peut pas faire fonctionner sa prison sans l’aide des prisonnières. Elle réclame le respect de la part des gardiens sinon elle promet de ruiner le défilé. Helen annule purement et simplement le show et envoie Nikki à l’isolement. Première confrontation, première rencontre, scène intense !
Helen : Thank you. Now, I'm sure you all know that last night, Carol Byatt suffered a miscarriage in her room which was not discovered until first unlock. Now, I know you must all be feeling very upset about this. I can assure you that I am, too, and so are my officers. I personally went to see Carol in hospital this morning, and I'm very glad to say that she'll soon be back here with us. I also spoke to her about what happened, and I promised her that I would conduct a thorough investigation into why and how she was left unattended. I have since interviewed all the officers concerned. But I have to conclude that what happened here was a tragic set of circumstances.
Nikki : A what?! She nearly bled to death. You should all be sacked.
Helen : I'm sorry, but as far as I can conclude, there are no grounds for disciplinary action. I promise you, I'm going to make changes to procedures so no more accidents like this can ever happen here again.
Nikki : What do you mean accidents ? That wasn't an accident.
Julie S : She was calling for a doctor !
Julie J : We heard her !
Nikki : And so did that cow there! So, how come she didn't lift a finger
Nikki : Now let me say it for her, well what she's telling us is that we're all the same, because even when we're bleeding to death, we don't get believed. Well I'm telling her from us, you can't run this prison unless we help you, and if we don't get respect from your screws then don't think that we're going to make you look good in front of your VIP visitors because we're not ! So, you can shove your stupid fashion show up your arse !
Helen : Fine, consider it cancelled ! This wing will not be taking part. You are on rule 43 !
Après une dure journée pour Helen, Sean la retrouve chez eux et elle lui suggère une soirée de beuverie...
Helen : Let's get pissed tonight.
Helen va voir Nikki au mitard et est surprise de la trouver sans vêtements. Nikki lui explique que c’est ce qui arrive tout le temps. Helen dit à Nikki qu’elle veut faire changer les choses mais qu’elle a besoin de son aide. Nikki se rend compte qu’elle prend son métier vraiment à cœur.
Helen : What the hell is she doing in strips ?? Well go get clothes here immediately ! I'm sorry this should not have happened.
Nikki : Happens all the time, didn't you know ?
Helen : Well it won't in future.
Nikki : Why ? You're gonna let us lot out and lock up your screws instead ?
Helen : Look Nikki, I intend to make a lot of changes here but I need your cooperation.
Nikki : Cooperation ?
Helen : You're right, I can't run things here without your help.
Nikki : Listen Darling. I don't even know how people like you can sleep at night if you believe in a system that locks up pregnant women.
Helen : Well you're just gonna have to trust me. I don't.
Helen et son supérieur Simon :
A la fin du show, Helen va remercier Nikki de l’avoir aider mais elle comprend vite que la confiance de Nikki n’est pas acquise pour autant.
Helen : Nikki, listen I just wanted to thank you again for helping me out.
Nikki : Don't think I did anything for you Miss.
ANALYSE DE L'EPISODE (en anglais)
(AUTEUR : JENNIFER T)
Voici la libre analyse de l'épisode en version originale mise en ligne par JENNIFER T.
The very first episode of Bad Girls establishes a theme of performance, of play-acting. The program opens with a fashion show rehearsal, featuring a brunette Shell dancing as if in a real nightclub. The audience is shocked when the lights are turned on and Shell’s wig torn off. Reality intrudes: we’re not in a nightclub at all—we’re in a prison. Shell is a blonde, not a brunette. Characters are performing, rather than being, themselves.
This theme of public and private selves pervades Bad Girls. When introducing a character, the show often filters that character through another character's experience or testimony. Most notably in this episode, we meet Denny through Rachel's experience of her: as a bully. Of course, this reveals one side of the character only, and the show waits until later to offer a more complex, three-dimensional depiction. These character filters wind up leaving us with so many question marks about so many characters. Are we to believe that Nikki is in a sexual relationship with Carol? Shell suggests as much with her "goodnight kiss" comment. Are we to believe that Nikki is a troublemaker (as Fenner suggests) or a heroine? The first episode suggests the latter interpretation: Nikki's dignity, her willingness to speak out against injustice are signs of a heroine. But by leaving many of these questions never definitively answered, the show highlights how all of the characters on Bad Girls (and more generally, we human beings) are so much more than what others perceive us to be, or accuse us of being.
The use of the ensemble cast as a Greek Chorus (most notably during Helen's wing meeting after Carol Byatt's miscarriage) further emphasizes the way the characters' selves are unavoidably defined by the audience for whom they are performing. In all the crowd scenes, the background characters are staged so that the reaction shots can be captured without an edit—all the director needs is a focus shift in order to switch from Helen to Sylvia and Lorna, or from Helen to Jim. The visual emphasis is on lack of privacy, of intrusiveness, of a lack of freedom for the characters to say or do what they want, without having others watch them, control them, or control the perception of them. The idea that the camera just has to move slightly to capture an entirely different point of view, rather than having to cut to the opposite angle—that is very telling: everyone's all on top of each other, no one has the privacy to establish their own identity or goals.
Helen is the most vulnerable to this intrusion. She's the heroine of the episode (and the series) and from the get-go she's always performing a role, implying that women are forced to play roles to succeed in patriarchal environments. The audience sees two different Helens in this episode: a public Helen and a private Helen. In private, with her boyfriend Sean, she's flirtatious and jokey. In public, at Larkhall, she's serious and critical. Our first glimpse of Helen is her driving her car and putting on makeup simultaneously, in an effort to make it to work on time. Two powerful pieces of symbolism define this scene. She's at a red light, facing oncoming traffic, an image which highlights the extent to which Helen will be driving upstream in her efforts at work. Makeup suggests a metaphorical mask, a false self which Helen presents for public viewing. This separation becomes more upsetting when we observe Helen's private reaction to Carol's miscarriage, her frustration at Sylvia's mismanagement of the situation and at the suggestion that Carol herself is to blame. This private reaction, so similar to Nikki and the other prisoners' frustration, provides a sharp contrast to Helen's public reaction to the miscarriage, where she echoes Fenner's assessment that the miscarriage occurred due to "a tragic set of circumstances." This disconnection is all encapsulated in the first image of Helen: she's running late and rushing to cover up her real self, almost not having time to do it, doing it wrong (the smudged mascara), not expecting to be recognized (by the guard), not even recognizing herself, and being late because of it. With this first scene, Bad Girls is establishing the need for Helen to make a journey towards becoming a more authentic person, one who knows herself, and who won't be delayed anymore because she no longer needs to wear a mask.
Complementing this imagery, the show begins outlining Helen's mask and its relationship to her sexuality. When her boyfriend Sean is introduced, he is figuratively an intruder, as well as a partner. In his first scene he calls when Helen is stressed preparing for the big wing meeting. She's somewhat friendly to him, but then rushes him off the phone in a harried manner. Later, in their first scene together in their apartment, a very strange flirtation ensues, where Helen pretends to be mad at him for bringing his work home with him, and then, in a very flirtatious manner, pretends she doesn't want to sleep with him. The words (which, in their explicit meaning, indicate a lack of sexual interest) don't mesh with Helen's actions and attitudes in the scene (which are flirtatious), but of course with hindsight we know it's the words which are true, and the actions and attitudes which are false, just a cover up, play-acting.
In contrast, Helen's interactions with Nikki are striking in their emotional honesty, from their confrontation on the wing, to Helen's request for assistance when Nikki is down in solitary, to Helen sharing her joy and triumph after the success of the fashion show. When the fashion show went well, when Helen thought she looked good in her boss Stubberfield's eyes, she raced to thank Nikki, to share her satisfaction with Nikki. She's not really sure why of course, and this is where the unconscious desire to have some sort of connection with Nikki begins. It's subtle, not overwhelming, but it's there. And then Nikki blows her off, replying "I didn't do anything for you, Miss." It's the first time we see Helen pursue Nikki, and in hindsight I think this is where her fascination with winning over Nikki begins, not in the initial confrontation on the wing, and not when she goes to see Nikki in solitary. Although Helen may be trying to co-opt Nikki to gain control of the wing, in this final exchange, Nikki offers complete honesty to Helen, and demands it in return—and Helen likes honesty being demanded of her. But of course, this is prison, and no matter what Helen hopes to be able to communicate to Nikki in private (in this case, her joy and thanks), someone (in this case, Shell) will always be watching over them, making any authentic and open interaction, any non-performance, a very risky endeavor indeed.