When it comes to second chances, just be careful what you wish for.
At least, that’s one of the lessons carefully threaded through the Stan Original Series Bloom, the intoxicating drama that lays out exactly what is at risk when you’re granted a do-over.
Season one of the award-winning series introduced viewers to the small Victorian town of Mullan, with it’s residents still in mourning after a devastating flood tragically killed five locals a year earlier.
Amid the destruction left by the flood, a mysterious new berry begins to grow that, once ingested, has the power to return the person to their younger body, but we discover this is only temporary.
The brand new season of Bloom kicks this idea up a notch – the berry’s power is now enhanced, and can grant seemingly endless youth to those who swallow them – but this time around, there’s a much higher price to pay.
This evolution has given Gwen another chance at recapturing her youth, an intriguing twist for viewers since they last left an older Gwen (two-time Oscar nominee Jacki Weaver) and her husband, Ray (AACTA Award winner Bryan Brown).
Season two opens to reveal that Ray and a young-again Gwen (Phoebe Tonkin) have fled Mullan, with Gwen and her newfound vitality hitting the dance floor while Ray valiantly tries to keep up in the big city.
However, the embattled couple, know that their time together is limited now that they are once again on different ends of the age spectrum. And so, after much pleading, Gwen convinces Ray that it’s worth quietly making their way back to Mullan in search of just one more berry for him.
In terms of what lies in wait, and how their search will affect not just them but the wider community, actress Phoebe Tonkin says the stakes are ‘much higher’ this time around.
Especially for Gwen who, in a change of heart from season one, is much more focused on losing her existing life than the new one that she was desperately reaching out for.
“At the end of season one, Gwen had made the decision that she was not going to cause any more pain and suffering to her husband; then we find out in the second season that she does end up taking another berry,” Phoebe told Mamamia while filming Bloom season two in Melbourne.
“This time around for Gwen it’s not so much about regret but wanting to experience this new surge of vitality and youth with the person she loves, and the struggle of wanting him to have the experience with her. It’s much harder than she anticipated.”
While the themes of loss, regret and death still linger in Bloom‘s new season, Phoebe also points out that Gwen and Ray’s enduring love story provides a welcome burst of light.
“The scenes in season one… those were very rough scenes for me to film,” she said. “So I’m also grateful that this season feels a little lighter, in some parts.
“What Bloom does really well is having this big supernatural theme as the anchor of the show but then grounding it with real situations, emotions and characters.
“This season is about hope and also love, that’s the biggest thing for Gwen. I will also say Bryan Brown is a magical man and I’ll be sad when the time comes to stop playing his wife.”
As the story progresses, it becomes clear that Gwen and Ray are not the only people who are on the hunt for the elusive, second-generation berries.
News of the berries’ restorative powers has slowly trickled out into the world, drawing former biotech CEO Anne Carter (Jacqueline McKenzie, in her second Stan Original Series appearance since Romper Stomper), to Mullan, along with her daughter and her friend’s teenage son Luke (Puberty Blues star Ed Oxenbould).
The family claim they’ve made the move to the country for a much-needed “tree change”, but their unnerving dynamic says otherwise.
Other new cast members joining this season include veteran Australian actor Gary Sweet (House Husbands), Jackson Heywood (Home and Away) and Neighbours star turned Hollywood actress Bella Heathcote.
With its all-star cast and ambitious, cinematic style, this season of Bloom is set to up the ante and engross us completely, just as we settle in to spend more time at home.
With an epic love story at its core, a supernatural twist adding a flare of unpredictability, and a plot that will make you look inside yourself and ask just how far you’d go, for a second chance, it’s safe to say that the latest installment of one of Australia’s best original dramas in recent years will be a must-watch.
Published April 8, 2020
by Laura Brodnik