South Africans and the world are in for a treat with the release of Netflix South Africa’s The Brave Ones. The series follows a young woman on a journey to avenge her sister who was murdered but that’s not the whole story. She also needs to harness her divine powers and protect her family from destruction. The six-episode series airs September 16.
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Created by renowned actor and director, Akin Omotoso along with Portia Gumede, Steven Pillemer and Robbie Thorpe, the story is a fantastic one. The series centers around Ntsiki (Sthandile Nkosi), a young woman living in Ilanga, an informal settlement. She spends her days hustling to make money while having to deal with the perpetual disappointment from her mother, Thandaza (Sthandiwe Kgorge). To cope with her mother, Ntsiki at least has her sister, Funeka (Keke Mputhi) who always has her back. The two are very close and share a special bound. Funeka is also a community activist fighting against the corrupt politicians in the area. That is until she is murdered.
Far removed from Ntsiki’s world is the world of Ayanda (Nomalanga Nkosi) and Luthando (Tony Kgorge). The pair are married and live in a lap of luxury. Luthando works for a company that wants to put up a development … on the very land where Ilanga is situated. At the same time, Ayanda and Luthando’s child is dying from a mysterious illness. Ayanda is told by her spiritual doctor uncle (Yule Masiteng) that the cure lies with ancient beings called The Brave Ones who were created by The Wise Ones.
It is with this backdrop that these two worlds – the rich and poor, the spiritual world and the mortal world, good and bad – meet. The aftermath is where the drama and intrigue lie and that will be for the viewer to see. To go any further would be to reveal some serious spoilers.
The mix of experience and youth – both extremely talented – is the main standout of the show. The story of the series is gripping, beautiful, violent and more. However, it is the cast who truly bring it all together. The series brings together youthful exuberance and experience. Every single one of the actors – whether they are leading the scene or just playing in the background – manage to bring something special to the screen. From the villains to the morally gray characters to the good characters the viewers will be rooting for, great performances are delivered.
Of course Ntsiki is the standout star. This might be one of Nkosi’s first major roles – for Netflix no less – but she delivers with every scene. Ntsiki is no perfect character. She is quite flawed and very much human even as she discovers she is much more than that. But Sthandile Nkosi is great.
Whether she’s angry, scared, betrayed, in love, sad or everything in between, the emotions are clear to see. It’s also just really great to see a woman lead a fantasy show. There’s an abundance of men being the heroes of fantasy shows and saving the world from evil. It is so refreshing and important to see a black woman lead a show like this for the representation but also because it’s just so wonderful.
One of the biggest selling points of the show is that the magical or fantasy element is rooted in African spirituality, the ancestors and callings. There are The Wise Ones who are the ancient gods who created The Brave Ones when their power started to diminish. It speaks to the idea of how once corruption, greed, a love of power, violence and dispossession grew, people lost touch with their spirituality and ancestors.
At times, it does seem like the show took on a bit too much. There are too many issues. There’s the land dispossession, the corruption, love stories, affairs, secrets all with the big theme of magic and powers. It does fit in very well with the messiness of what it means to live in South Africa with many things happening at once. But it can be a little confusing at times.
When is season two coming out?
At the time of publishing, the series has not yet been released. However, for most viewers, there is likely to be a similar experience and question: when is season two releasing. The season ends on a slight cliffhanger that will leave viewers with many questions. There are many unanswered questions which to bring up would introduce spoilers.
If the show does get picked up for a second season, it will be good for more time to be spent expanding on The Braves Ones and The Wise Ones. While they are introduced and viewers get a bit of context, a lot more information is needed.
It will be interesting to see the response to the show from the world and from South Africa. In the past years, there has been a greater appreciation of stories from around the world rooted in particular experiences and cultures. The series wants to do that. All that remains now is to see whether they are successful or not in introducing the world to mythology rooted in African spirituality.