The series certainly held great promise, with a rich premise based apt for spinning a multiple season show around.
Last Updated: 06.55 PM, Sep 18, 2022
Ntsiki has big dreams of escaping her limited life in her small South African town of Ilanga. Coming off a slew of past mistakes which earned her the ire of her mother, the young woman lives in the shadow of her sister. The latter is an outspoken activist protesting against attempts made by their corrupt councillor to evict their fellow townspeople, an issue Ntsiki rarely has time for. When a series of personal tragedies mar her life, Ntsiki slowly discovers her connection to The Brave Ones, a mystical group of entities destined to protect the people of Ilanga. But as her powers awaken, threats start to come up, each of whom try to claim her power for their own.
One of the biggest elements that can make or break a fantasy series is definitely its basic premise. In a time where viewers have a plethora of options to choose from when it comes to the fantasy genre, it is quite a task to helm a show that has something new to offer. The Brave Ones definitely had a lot to offer in terms of its story. Borrowing from South African myths, the series starts off on a promising note, introducing viewers to a rich fantasy world that transcends the world of the dead and the living. We are introduced to the legend of the Tree of Life and its protectors, the Wise Ones and the Brave Ones, the latter forged from the roots of the tree by the former. Legend has it that the Brave Ones will make their return to the mortal realm whenever the people of Ilanga, or the Tree of Life needs their help.
Switch to the present day, where young Ntsiki struggles to escape her tumultuous life in Ilanga. After falling out of favour with her mother due to her past mistakes, the young woman seems to live in the shadow of her bolder elder sister, Funeka, whose activism against corrupt politicians earns her the admiration and respect of her fellow villagers as well. Ntsiki’s life is turned upside down when a personal tragedy occurs, one which she manages to miraculously escape. But her brush with death unlocks her latent powers, and it is revealed that she is one of the Brave Ones, destined to return as Ilanga is facing threat of destruction from the corrupt politician Nkomo.
The initial promise of the story comes undone very quickly, largely in part due to the bland and lazy writing. Viewers are treated to very two dimensional characters. The antagonists seem to be antagonists for no other reason than to further the plot, with vague, ‘super villain’ like motivations that follow cliched tropes. The lazy writing is evident on several occasions, from inorganic and forced conversations, to the dubious motivations of both the villains as well as heroes. Except for the plotline involving a grieving mother going to extreme lengths to protect her son’s life, the rest of the characterisations do not seem to have the gravity needed to carry the show.
It seems that a lot of the charm of the South African show has been lost in translation as well, as the dialogues come across as very dense on several occasions as well. Dialogues meant to be affecting, like ‘There’s a star in your heart’ or ‘The Tree of Life dies, magic dies, and our way of life dies with it’ miss the mark and end up sounding crude.
Although the cast do try to save the story from becoming undone on several occasions through their strong performances, it ultimately falls abysmally short. The bad writing seeps through every interaction between the characters, and even the chemistry and dynamic between the stars end up becoming washed up whenever they open their mouths.
The Brave Ones held a lot of promise, but the show’s potential ultimately comes undone by its poor execution and bland writing.