Plot: Cleaver Greene (Richard Roxburgh) has always walked a line between upholding the law as a barrister and bending the law in his personal life, but now he sits in prison on manslaughter charges. Of course, he isn’t alone in the big house, as numerous folks he has pissed off also reside within the institution. So as if Cleaver doesn’t have enough to worry about with his freedom on the line, he also has to contend with being surrounded by people who would love to get some vengeance. But thanks to the efforts of his fellow lawyer Scarlet (Danielle Cormack), he manages to win an appeal and is once again loose on the streets. The months he spent behind bars have taken a toll on him, but he also learns a lot has changed since he was last a free man. Scarlet operates her own practice, his best friend is facing a medical emergency, and as if thought his reputation was bad before, now even the worst criminals are likely to refuse his services. When he gets a chance to at least start to rebuild, can he keep himself on the straight and narrow, or will he fall back into business as usual?
Entertainment Value: The first two seasons of Rake were fun to watch, as we wondered how much lower Cleaver could go in his shady shenanigans. So it seems fitting that in this third season, he hits all new lows and besides being locked up for a while, he is even shunned by the base criminals he could once count on. I don’t know if this is rock bottom for Cleaver, given his tendencies and all, but it does put him in a situation where if he doesn’t do something, his life will crumble into pieces. This allows us to see Cleaver like we haven’t really gotten a chance to see him to this point, still shady, but forced to make some good decisions. This season also brings Felecity back into Cleaver’s life, which opens some interesting threads, especially given Cleaver’s precarious position and his different mindset. So if you found the dynamics between those two interesting, things really get interesting in these episodes. I also love that we see Cleaver in a good place, which seems so odd and of course, you’ll likely be on edge all season, wondering when/if the other shoe will drop.
As always with this show, Richard Roxburgh is the central focus and he is fun to watch as usual. He has just the kind of roguish charm the role needs and in this season, we get to see him stretch his legs a little as an actor. Cleaver’s turn toward a more normal life opens some interesting paths for Roxburgh, who makes the most of them and adds a lot of depth to the character here. Not that I didn’t appreciate his work through the series, but here is given more to do and he runs with the chance. His interactions with the others proves to be as fun as ever, especially his colorful clients, Scarlet, and of course, Felicity. So some good performances and a chance to see Roxburgh develop within the role a little more than usual, which is always welcome. This season also has some good guest stars, but of course, Cate Blanchett shines the brightest. This third season marks a shift in tone somewhat, as Cleaver is taken on a wild ride that puts him in some unique situations, ones we are not used to seeing him in. At the same time, all the reasons we love the show remain intact. So if you’re a fan of Rake, courtroom dramas, or just good television, make sure you check out this series.