After three captivating seasons, Isithembiso has come to an end, which can only be described as a tearful, if not heart-warming moment. Its final three months were unlike the usual slow pace synonymous with the soapie. The pace gathered momentum in the final month, during which you could not afford to miss an episode. Here’s a recap of some of the moments that stuck out in the seasons gone by.
Good Versus Evil
Like the classic story on human nature, Isithembiso was founded on the age-old conflict between good versus evil. Kero Kunene wears the figurative white hat, always trying to do right by people, sometimes at great personal cost. His polar opposite, Zwelibanzi “Banzi” Motaung, is the sinister
opponent. For almost the entirety of season 3, Banzi appeared to have turned a new leaf.
He not only became a preacher, but gave up his night club for use as a prayer meeting venue. He survived a revenge killing attempt by Simlindile, the university student whose innocence he had forcibly taken.
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The Bomb Shelter, the producers of Isithembiso are fond of symbolism. After being raped by Banzi, Simi literally shafted him back – with an actual spear – before shoving him into a river. The apparent symbol for washing away her troubles away.
For weeks, Banzi’s enemies lived in blissful ignorance of his miraculous survival. And, when they eventually found out – Kero accompanied by the reformed Karlujah, Diamond and Zamani, who himself survived Banzi’s bullet – they went to him with guns drawn, only to find the man had no recollection of his sins.
Banzi Motaung – A Reformed Man
Banzi’s memory returned, but he appeared repulsed by his former life of murder, rape, theft and greed. He had found God, thanks to his childhood sweetheart, Lihle Khumalo (Palesa’s biological mother) who herself was a reformed killer. Together, they took over Pastor Absolom’s church when the congregants fell for Banzi’s charm and healing “miracles”.
At first, Banzi was unaware of his devious mother’s hand in his healing powers. Mam Ethel had paid people to feign illness and disability. But, when he realised Ethel’s trickery, Banzi saw that there was money to be made in making the blind see. Assisted by the equally materialistic Cheeseboy, Motaung raised over a million rands in a night of televised “miracles.” The night of miracles was Banzi’s way of raising money to save his mother from cancer.
Mam Ethel beat the cancer, and there was plenty of cash left over from the TV campaign. Motaung then moved from his squalid flat into a gleaming penthouse of marble, steel and glass, all the while telling himself that he was reformed.
Motaung Versus Ramakgopa
Once installed in his ill-gotten palace; Motaung, encouraged by the manipulative Lihle, announced his intention to become mayor. Naturally, this made David Ramakgopa leap from his mayoral chair, like someone had lit a fire inside the cushion. Ramakgopa made pre-emptive moves to neutralise Motaung by freezing his assets and clamping down on the dubious church.
While Ramakgopa’s cops attempted to arrest Banzi, his mother, the khanda-shisa Ethel, wrestled with Detective Jackson – the nephew of Ramakgopa – for control of his firearm. The gun went off, shooting the elderly woman. With her son in prison, Ethel succumbed to the gunshot wound. As a condition for his release, Motaung agreed to behave himself. He was broke and without the resources to challenge
I love it when a plan comes together…
Kunene, who on any other day despised Banzi, learned of Ramakgopa’s theft of R50,000,000 that was meant to benefit varsity students. Kero, who needed Motaung’s underworld connections, made an alliance with Banzi to steal back this money and use it for its original purpose. The ever imaginative Bomb team gave viewers a humorous, if not heart-warming surprise, by using a replica A-Team van for the heist. But immediately after the robbery, we were reminded that honour among thieves is as mythical as mermaids.
Motaung betrayed Kunene and made off with the spoils. Seeing the broader view of the political chessboard, Motaung promptly donated the stolen money towards student accommodation, turning himself into a hero overnight. As the story reached its pulsating climax, Motaung would later appear on television, giving his first speech as mayor.
It is during Motaung’s mayoral speech that we are reminded of the central characters in the story. Simlindile Ngema and Zamani Dlomo, the young couple who are bound by a vow to look out for one another – Isithembiso – that they made to each other in season one. A further pledge made by Zamani was to always protect Simi’s son, Sithembiso, the offspring of the rape by Motaung.
Just when everyone thought Zamani had finally walked away from the harmful relationship with Simi – Zamani had been shot in the chest by Motaung, held hostage and beaten by Karlujah and chased by an angry pimp as he brazenly rescued Simi’s drug addicted mother from a brothel – and promised marriage to the less tumultuous Ayanda, the two ex lovers began to drift back towards one another. Ayanda seemed to have gotten her wish of marriage, but Simlindile gate-crashed the lobolo talks and declared her love for Zamani.
I forgive you – not
Amidst all this, Ramakgopa, attempting to neutralize Motaung, discovered several bodies in various stages of decomposition in a dumpsite. After connecting the corpses to Karlujah – Motaung’s former righthand man – Ramakgopa pressed the hitman to admit to carrying out the murders under instructions from Motaung.
A murder conviction would have ended Motaung’s mayoral aspirations. But, during witness transfer under police escort, Detective Jackson, fed up with being browbeaten by his exacting uncle, turned on Ramakgopa and handed Karlujah over to Motaung. Apart from financial incentive, Jackson had hoped to appease the imminent mayor whose mother he had accidentally killed. But honour among thieves is a mermaid.
Motaung, still mourning his mother, rewarded Jackson with death by strangulation. But, it is in the execution of Karlujah that Banzi’s true nature is revealed. After “forgiving” Karlujah, Banzi offers a conciliatory prayer. While reciting the prayer, with Karlujah’s eyes shut, Banzi shot and killed his former enforcer, much to Lihle’s pleasure. This brought another romance subplot to its sad conclusion; Chunks, sat at home, waiting for Karlujah to run away with her and start a new life, only for her to learn that her sweetheart would never be seen again.
The one improbable aspect of the Motaung story is how, from the loins of someone so evil, came an angel. Enter Palesa Motaung, SRC president, fighter for the oppressed, voice of the voiceless. When Palesa learned of her father’s actions, she feigned forgiveness for Banzi. He gave her a position in the mayoral office, which included high level security clearance. It was Banzi’s fatal mistake.
Palesa recalled that Banzi raped her friend Simi, killed her stepmother Claudia without compunction – he even used her ashes for muthi – caused the death of her brother Junior and also attempted to kill her stepbrother, Tshepo. She decided her father had to be stopped. With nobody suspecting Palesa, she admitted an armed Kunene into the mayoral office, where Motaung died from a gunshot to the chest, more dramatic symbolism. But, Motaung’s heart is not the only thing that Palesa pierced. She framed her mother, Banzi’s Lady MacBeth, for the death of the new mayor, putting Lihle back in prison. Good had triumphed over Evil.
Meet Mr and Mrs Dlomo
The show came to its end, mixed with joy and heartbreak, as Palesa rejected the public marriage proposal of Cheeseboy – her father’s Mini Me – on graduation day. Feeling sore, Cheese shot his love rival, Nhlamulo – another genetic anomaly, the kind-hearted offspring of evil Ramakgopa – but thankfully he survived and Cheese was arrested.
We see the duplicitous Cheese, who pleads multiple personality disorder, standing forehead-to-forehead with his mirror image in the police interrogation room – another of the ubiquitous Isithembiso dramatic symbols. But, the highlight is the storybook wedding of the reunited couple – Zamani and Simi – whose pledge formed the basis of the story.
At the wedding, we also see the tying up of other loose ends. Khensani, Abednego’s grasping wife, made off with his lottery winnings. Perhaps stung by guilt, or maybe because the money had run out, she phones Abednigo during the wedding reception. Oscar, his security desk partner, snatches his phone away and disposes of it, implying a rescue from falling back into Khensani’s web of deceit and manipulation.
Vivian, who lost her first pregnancy is with child and – reach for your Kleenex – Chunks, who will no doubt grieve Karlujah until old age, holds in her lap a piece of murdered fiancé, the child she birthed, nine months after his death; a precious gift from beyond the grave.
If I were to erect a monument in honour of Isithembiso, what would be appropriate for the epitaph? Every 21 minute episode was loaded with not only with enthralling story, but also social issues, tackled without being too preachy; sexual exploitation, rape, homophobia, single motherhood, teen pregnancy, corruption, accommodation shortage, unemployment, suicide, HIV.
I will miss Zamani’s selfless courage, Palesa’s will to fight for the downtrodden, Kero’s forgiving heart, Vivian’s inextinguishable allure, Diamond shouting evacuate and Banzi’s creepy voice. Rest in peace Karlujah. Rest in peace Isithembiso.
Squid Game Ending Explained; We’ve Been Scammed
We’ve been had, and Squid Game is here to prove it.
When the end of the South Korean horror drama arrives on the ninth episode, the winner finds himself harrowed by what the coveted prize has cost his soul. In the rat race for survival, along with a better life that hinges on the never ending hustle, there’s no time to stop and see the horror our lives become. By the end, we see how the winner has sold his soul for a crappy deal that came with a few toys, and a happy meal.
A group of 456 players are mysteriously invited to take part in a set of children’s games for a grand prize of $38 million, which will be enough to give the winner the financial freedom they desperately need. The players are selected from different walks of life, with the burden of excessive debt being their biggest motivation to give the Game a go.
The first of deepening terrors comes during the first game, when the players discover that penalties for losing in the challenges will be death. DEATH. Horrified, the players initially vote to leave and return to their lives.
This noble departure doesn’t last long; their material realities as fugitives on the run from debt collectors only highlights the glow of the precious promise they’ve now left behind. When they return for the second time, they now consent to their highly probable deaths.
Led by Lee Jung-jae, who plays Seong Gi-hun, a taxi driver with a gambling addiction, the South Korean series has become somewhat of a global phenomenon. Now the most streamed Korean series of all time, Squid Game is also said to be on pace to dethrone Bridgerton as the most streamed series in the history of Netflix. And it’s with good reason. Squid Game is a trip.
Survival is the drive. The blues of a broke life pile up for Seong Gi-hun, who’s daughter is being taken away to the US by her mother and step father. His mother is battling deteriorating diabetes and even in her frail condition, is still working hard to make ends meet. It’s during the peak of his frustrations that Gi-hun is randomly invited to take part in the Game.
After accepting the offer, he finds himself in a discreet location along with 455 players, who are also drowning in debt. The players are kept under an authoritarian system of surveillance. Masked guards in pink suits keep the scene under control under the supervision of the Front Man. Gi-hun allies with other players, including his childhood friend Cho Sang-woo, as a the most strategic way to survive the bloody challenges.
Amongst those that end up in this team is player 001, a frail old man who who became his “gganbu”. Sae-byeok, who was also in the team, was killed by Sang-woo, Gi-hun’s childhood friend, team member and flip-flopping ally. Several other team members had to be killed by their team mates, which revealed the wickedness of the games.
In the end, Gi-hun’s victory came without an apology. He had to defeat a close ally in the games, the old and frail player 001. They’d bonded throughout their time, but in the end he had to advance himself against those he’d built alliances. As the games progressed, the players found themselves having to face tough calls. Someone else has to die for you to make it another day.
After a series of brutal games, it comes down to childhood friends Gi-hun and Cho Sang-woo. They’d played different games, with Sang-woo having played hard and stopping at nothing to win. Gi-hun is mad at Sang-woo for a series of betrayals, including him stabbing Sae-byeok to her death. In the end, Gi-hun wins when Sang-woo apologised and kills himself.
Yet despite emerging a winner, Gi-hun finds that the cost of becoming an overnight billionaire has bankrupted his soul. For a year following the day his bank account was loaded with a nine zero figure, he didn’t touch the money. After all, he returned to find his mother dead on the floor. One of his motivations was getting the money to get her medical help over her advancing diabetes.
Gi-hun is clearly troubled by the bodies upon which his new wealth rests. A year passes and he hasn’t touched the money – even oddly reverting to old patterns of asking for loans to get by. It might be late to be so concerned about the moral questions surrounding the games now – the long and short of it is he won and his life has changed.
Later, he is shocked to find out that the “gganbu” who had to be killed after losing to him in a game of marbles, was never really killed.
In a shocking plot twist that changes everything – he also finds out that the old man is in fact the creator of the games! Finding him in a medical bed after receiving a mysterious invite to the location, Gi-hun discovers that the man’s real name is Oh Il-nam, an obscenely rich fella who created the games in 1988 (the same year Korea hosted the Olympics for the first time) purely for their entertainment. We already know by now that ‘the VIPs’ are a bunch of morally bankrupt elites who find pleasure in watching the poor masses slaughtering each other for money in a broken system. Where have we heard that before?
Although his participation in the games as player 001 was a farce, what he told Gi-hun back then, that he had a brain tumour, had been true. And of course, he challenged him to another sick game. A man had been freezing to death on a street pavement, and Oh Il-nam challenged Gi-hun to guess to bet on the odds that someone who help him when the clock strikes 00:00 at midnight. As Gi-hun wins, Oh Il-nam dies.
We assume this marks the end of the games. However later in the episode, Gi-hun sees the man who recruited him doing it to someone else. He runs to stop what is happening, but arrives at the exact scene late, the train has already taken off. Later on the way to boarding a flight, he turns and calls a number. “I can’t forgive you for everything you’re doing,” he tells ta man we assume to be In-ho. He turns back, clearly about to begin his new mission.
What we know now, is that Oh Il-nam created the games to tickle the sick tastes of his sick rich network. But he is now dead. Who is now behind the games? This, and Gi-hun’s passionate manifesto, are strong indications that next season of the series is already shaping up to a different arc. It’s his final transformation, and he is ready to take down the operation and those behind it. He won’t allow people to be “horses” for the entertainment of wealthy elites.
We know that In-ho shot Jun-ho in a bid to stop him from alerting the police about the games. The signal was bad, delaying the delivering of the evidence Jun-ho had been trying to send in several texts, right up to the moment the moment he plunged from a cliff and hit the water. What we don’t know is whether the messages were really not delivered. There’s also no conclusive evidence that Jun-ho is dead.
Potentially, the biggest lesson from season one is that our relentless pursuit for material success in a punishing money system kills us.
First Look at HBO’s Game of Thrones Spin-Off ‘House of The Dragon’
Things look promising for HBO’s upcoming drama series, The House of Dragon. The highly buzzed Games of Thrones prequel’s first visual teaser has been met with much fanfare, raking in more than 8,6 million views on Youtube within two days of its arrival.
First reactions and buzz around the epic teaser have been strong indications that the series, slated to premiere in 2022, is off to a good start despite the infamous final season slump suffered by G.O.T. And it could mean that maybe, just maybe, the world ready to let old baggage go.
The House of Dragon, created by an entire different team, will arrive about three years since the cold winter. The cast includes Matt Smith, Paddy Considine and Sonoya Mizuno who will be bringing to life a different era of Westeros.
Midnight Mass is Creepy With A Dark Subtext and You Need To See it
‘God’s angel’ had sinister plans for the town.
The reign of terror plunges a small and quiet town to ashes when the arrival of a charismatic yet mysterious priest coincides with the return of a disgraced young man who has just been released from prison.
While Riley (Zach Gilford) initially finds that Crockett Island and its 127 residents – along with his childhood sweetheart Erin (Kate Siegel) – still conduct a mundane existence, Pastor Paul (Hamish Linklater) soon changes that.
When the island’s much loved Roman Catholic senior priest takes a trip to the pilgrimage and never comes back, an energetic new priest takes his place at the Holy Land church. And while his arrival brings with it a new wave of spiritual revival amongst the island community, something sinister begins to haunt the town.
With each episode, the esoteric occult that powers Paul’s ability to perform astounding miracles and mesmerise the islanders, slowly gains dominion over the unsuspecting community. Instead, they begin taking up a renewed interest in the church as word of mouth spreads about the signs and wonders. Much like Jesus Christ was able to draw crowds wherever he went, the appearance of Paul’s supernatural power is able to attract even those who’d remained sceptics their lives.
It’s the blending of the sacred and the sinister. The taking of communion that has been contaminated with demonic blood, which functions as the miracle drug promising eternal life.
We soon find out the miracles come at an unthinkable cost.