The Aboriginal people of Australia are the longest surviving culture on earth with over 60,000 years of stories known as The Dreaming. The Dreaming is the spiritual realm that bind the past, present and future together. It is inhabited by incredible creatures and spirits. At the head of this realm is the Cleverman, a powerful man who is the conduct between The Dreaming and the real world.
In Sidney, four gangers get aboard a bus. They spot a woman listening to headphones and reading, and go over to harass her. The woman tries to ignore their leader until he yanks the book out of her hands. He finally gives it back but when the others come over, the woman pulls her sleeve back to reveal hair all over her arm. The gangers realize that the woman is a Hairy and back away, and say that she shouldn’t be out of the Zone. When one of them, Ludo Abbiati, insults her, the Hairy slashes Ludo across the face and another one moves in. She shoves him back and gets off the bus as it pulls to a halt.
The next day, Minister Geoff Matthews gives a statement to the press that the government is committed to keeping the Hairies confined to the Zone. A reporter, Belinda Frosche, asks if there have been any other reports. Matthews insists that there haven’t been and says that all humans are free to come and go from the Zone as they wish. However, any Hairies leaving the Zone will be detained. Matthews insists that their priority is protecting the rights of humans.
That night, Koen West and his friend Blair drive a van to an isolated spot and pull over as a police car goes by. Once the car moves on, the half-brothers drive on and get out. When they reach the spot. A young Hairy approaches them and Koen assures her that they’re not going to hurt her. The Hairy, Jyra, calls to two other and they come out. The father, Boondee, tells his son Djukara to get his mother and sister. Once Djukara brings the other two forward, Koen has Blair put their bags in the van. He then says that they have to hurry, and the Hairies get in.
Koen and Blair take the family to a building and Koen lets the little girl push the elevator button. They take the family to an apartment. Boondee objects that they’re only getting one bedroom when they promised three, and his wife Araluen reminds him that their girls aren’t safe in the Zone. Koen says that it’s the best he can do and he’ll get him something better as soon as it becomes available. After a moment, Boondee pays Koen and Jyra thanks him.
Later, Koen is at his bar and pays off Blair his half. Blair complains that he didn’t know they’d be dealing with children, and suggest that they let Boondee’s family go for once. Koen insists that they’ll get a warm cell and three meals, and it’s better for them. He then calls the Containment Authority and reports a Hairy sighting. The CA processes Koen’s reward and prepares the retrieval process. The CA head, McIntyre, tells his people to move in.
Media magnate Jarrod Slade soon learns of the incident and tells his people to have Belinda to report the incident and cover the human angle.
Belinda is in the apartment of married man Waruu West, a Hairy advocate, when she gets the call. Waruu hears her talking and heads to the address after Belinda mentions it. Waruu drive into the Zone with supplies for the doctor, Charlotte. Someone has given her an expensive car as a gift for her work, and Waruu tells the local boys to switch off the mag wheels.
Belinda arrives at the apartment with her camera crew and set up. The CA squad arrives and gets out.
Latani is trimming Jyra’s nails and telling her sister stories about their ancestors when the CA authorities pound on the door. As the others drop to the floor, Djukara grabs a knife as the guards break down the door. They order him to drop the knife and after a moment, he does. Meanwhile, Latani takes Jura into the next bedroom and hides in the closet, but her younger sister is too slow and the CA guards capture her but miss Latani.
Belinda gets footage of the CA guards dragging the family out and how they taser Djukara when he fights. They separate Jyra from her mother, and the guards taser Araluen when she tries to go to her daughter. Djukara breaks free and jumps the guards, killing one, and then goes to Araluen. Another guard attacks him and Djukara rips off his shirt and attacks the others. When they are unable to taser him unconscious, one of the guards shoots Jyra. Araluen runs to her and realizes that she’s dead, and Belinda makes sure the cameraman is getting it all. The guards take Araluen away as she sobs in grief
Soon, Matthews calls Jarrod and reminds him that he’s prohibited from broadcasting any of the footage. Jarrod points out that the Hairy people have been on the planet 80,000 years before they were. Matthews threatens to pull Jarrod’s license, and he invites him to do it after promising their party was open and transparent. He then tells his people to have the story running every bulletin.
Latani emerges from the closet and make sure the coast is clear.
At his apartment, Waruu is working with his wife Nerida and his assistant, a shaved Hairy named Harry. The news runs footage of the raid and Belinda reports that trouble began when the CA tried to separate family members.
Latani watches the news and sees her sister die.
Koen and Blair are at the bar and Blair is watching the newscast. Koen’s waitress Ash comes in, and Blair says that it was their fault Jyra is dead. Koen asks if he wants the cash back, and insists that after growing up in the Zone, he’s making a future for himself. However, Blair doesn’t buy it.
At his estate on the ocean, Jarrod meets with Matthews at his party and asks if he still has a TV network. Matthews says that he wants a prime-time spot from him on The O’Grady Show, and wants Waruu on with him. As Jarrod agrees, his wife Charlotte comes over to greet Matthews and shows him her artwork. Once they’re alone, Jarrod and Charlotte kiss.
That night at the bar, an old man named Uncle Jimmy comes to see Koen. He puts a bag on the counter, and Koen takes him to a table. Jimmy opens the bag and takes out an Aboriginal club, and says that Koen’s father would want him to have it. Koen says that he should give it to Waruu, and Jimmy tells Koen that he’s a man and needs to start acting like one. He says that Koen has to decide which tribe he belongs to, and Koen insists that he’s not going to join any tribe. Once Jimmy leaves, Ash asks if Jimmy is really Koen’s uncle, and he says that he’s his dad’s brother. Koen tells her not to worry about the club.
As Koen showers, he remembers the screams of Boondee’s family and Jyra dying.
Jimmy goes to the Zone and watches as Waruu referees a fight to resolve a dispute. Jimmy joins Aunty Linda as the fight begins and one Hairy takes on two human residents as the crow. Meanwhile, Jimmy approaches Waruu and says that he’s done something bad, and Koen will need Waruu’s help. Waruu doesn’t believe him, and Jimmy talks to Waruu’s daughter, Alinta. The Hairy, Mailyan, beats the humans but refuses to back down. Waruu addresses the crowd and says that fighting is how they resolve their issue, and the fight is over. He warns the crowd that it’s the government that loves it when they’re divided because it weakens them all. The crowd agrees that they have to live by their own rules and cheers
Later, Jimmy takes a helicopter out to the coast. He meets with Jarrod, who confirms that the money has been transferred to Jimmy’s account. Jarrod tells Jimmy that it’s all paid up front and everything is ready at the lab. Jimmy says that he’ll give him the spirit but then he’s finished, and tells Jarrod to find another Cleverman.
That night, Jimmy returns to Sydney and goes to a morgue. He opens the mouth of one corpse and breathes into its mouth. After a moment, the corpse starts to move and opens its eyes.
Later, Jimmy goes to the beach and starts a fire. He then places a dead bird on the fire, chanting that it’s all right and the circle is complete.
At the bar, Koen and Ash are pouring drinks. They’re about out of beer and Koen says that he’ll go, much to Blair’s surprise.
Jimmy faces out to the water and an object shoots out of the sky and slams into the water. It heads to shore and Jimmy bares his chest and laughs.
Koen is in the back having sex with Ash. He suddenly passes out, as Blair comes in to see what’s going on. Ash tells him what happened, and they help Koen up. He says that he’s fine, and Blair says that there’s some blood in his friend’s left eye.
On the beach, Jimmy lies dead, his chest torn open. His left eye turns white.
Waruu and Nerida get a call that Jimmy has been found dead. Alinta comes out and looks at her father for a moment, and Waruu then goes to the morgue with Nerida. He says that the only thing that takes a man’s heart that is Namorrodor, a spirit that turn sup when things are out of balance. Waruu then peels open the left eye and confirms that it’s white.
At home, Waruu tells Alinta that it’s up to the police to find out who killed Jimmy. He asks what Jimmy told her at the fight, and Alinta says that Jimmy told her the story about which of his two sons a grandfather has to pass his knowledge to. When the grandfather chooses the sun, the moon is angry, and that’s why it only comes out. Alinta wonders if she got the story right, and Waruu assures her that she got it right.
Koen is at home making dreaming of the creatures from the Dreaming.
In his bedroom, Waruu looks up at the moon. When Nerida comes over, Waruu insists that he’s not the moon.
Koen looks at his left eye in the mirror. He hears a woman’s voice, and goes to the next room where Ash and Blair are. They assure Koen that they didn’t say anything, and Koen goes back to his room.
The CA take Djukara to prison, and in the truck he’s locked up with two other prisoners, Kulya and Mungo. They say that Djukara is famous for fighting the CA, and explain that the CA separates all of them. Kulya warns that they haven’t seen their parents for months. The truck arrives at the prison and the guards get the Hairies out. They brand his neck so they can track him.
At the Zone, Harry tells Waruu that the Hairy people there are living in Third World conditions. There’s no running water and nowhere to go. Waruu warns that it’s safer than on the outside, but Harry says that the CA still raids the place when they feel like it. If Waruu doesn’t want the Hairies to deal with the smugglers, he’ll have to offer something better. Harry and Waruu find the phone number of a smuggler posted and Waruu takes it to investigate.
Latani goes through the garbage for food, and hears someone coming. She hides and a woman, Virgil, calls to her. Latani runs as Virgil calls after her.
Once Waruu traces the phone number, he and Harry go to his half-brother Koen’s bar. Koen says that he’s not welcome there, but Waruu pours himself a drink and asks if Koen likes trading in other people’s misery. Harry beats Koen, and Waruu says that Koen is a rat selling out Hairies. Harry rips off Koen’s finger, and Waruu warns that the next time he won’t be able to save him. As the two men leave, Ash and Blair hear Koen screaming and come in. When Ash checks the wound, she discovers that his finger is still attached but bleeding. Koen washes the blood off and realizes that his finger is uninjured. Blair points out Koen’s left eye, and he goes to the mirror to confirm that it’s now white. Koen cuts his arm with a knife. The wound heals in a matter of seconds, and Koen’s eye reverts to normal.
At Jimmy’s funeral, Nerida tells Waruu that their aunties are thinking that Waruu wants them to move out of their flats to make way for the Hairies. Jarrod offers his condolences to Waruu and Nerida about Jimmy’s death. Waruu gives the eulogy, saying that Jimmy was at heart a good man, and taught Waruu right from wrong. The Zone was his home and he was their Cleverman. Waruu says that as Jimmy’s next in line, he’ll do whatever he can for them just like Jimmy would have. Jarrod walks off and Waruu sees Koen watching. Koen gives his half-brother the finger with his restored finger, and walks off.
Koen walks to his van and hears a woman chanting to him in Aboriginal. There’s no one there, and after a moment he drives home.
At the lab, the woman that Jimmy breathed life into opens her eyes.
Written by Gadfly on Jun 5, 2016