REVIEW: ‘The Brave Ones,’ Season 1 Begins A Mystical Journey

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The Brave Ones - But Why Tho

The Brave Ones Season 1 is a South African fantasy series streaming on Netflix. There is disquiet in the town of Ilanga. Big business is trying to force the locales from their homes to build a lavish new casino for the super-rich. With all this turmoil swirling around her, Ntisiki Gasa is simply trying to live her life as best she can. But the future of her town, the lives of her family, and the mystical Tree of Life, which sustains them all, are about to fall into her hands, whether she wants it to or not.

The Brave Ones Season 1‘s six-part journey covers a lot of ground in a short amount of time. With numerous plot threads surrounding the casino, Ntisiki’s family, and the mystical machinations of those seeking to protect the Tree of Life, the series rarely leaves much time for its narrative to breathe. While other series manage to make a truncated run time work despite the difficulties, this series never really recovers from it. This failure to make its pacing work comes largely from the tone the series struggles to create.

Frequently, The Brave Ones Season 1 feels like it is striving to be an HBO-style drama series. While the intricate plotting and character conflicts are there, it falls short of managing to fully develop its tone because of the fast pacing. When a character is captured by someone, roughed up, and thrown in prison, rather than lingering there for a time while others search for them, allowing their plight to sink in, the individual is out within mere scenes of their incarceration. This makes such moments’ impact pass far too quickly to give the drama and threat that the show wants it to impart.

While the moments move faster than I would like, the series nevertheless delivers an engaging tale of mysticism in the modern world. I would never call any episode boring or wasted, and where the series ends up leaves plenty of questions to be answered in a potential follow-up.

The only other moderate problem I have with The Brave Ones Season 1‘s narrative is several smaller moments that seem to magically come together without any explanation. A person escapes a pair of handcuffs with no explanation as to how. Doors that have no reason to be unlocked conveniently are, allowing the heroes to smoothly access what should be secured. These sorts of moments don’t hurt the series too much but just feel like sloppy writing that exists to keep the narrative moving fast enough to reach its conclusion in time.

The acting throughout the series does a good job of delivering the story’s many emotional beats. I highly recommend watching The Brave Ones Season 1 in its original Zulu langue. With so much local lore at work throughout the series, it feels right to have the langue in the local tongue. And there is a fair portion of the series that’s still spoken in English, in case having to read everything feels a bit too daunting for you.

Lastly, let’s talk about visual effects. While the moments where they are utilized are few, the series does a skillful job of implementing them given the budget it is clearly working within. While none of the special effects will blow you away, they never take you out of their moments either. The production feels like its designers had a good grasp of what they could reasonably accomplish and never stray from it.

The Brave Ones Season 1 delivers an enjoyable if rushed story. The blending of modern politics and greed with ancient mysticism is done well, and there are plenty of twists and turns in the plot to keep you guessing. If only they could’ve had a few more episodes to flesh some of the turns out.

The Brave Ones Season 1 is streaming now on Netflix.


The Brave Ones Season 1
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

The Brave Ones Season 1 delivers an enjoyable if rushed story. The blending of modern politics and greed with ancient mysticism is done well, and there are plenty of twists and turns in the plot to keep you guessing. If only they could’ve had a few more episodes to flesh some of the turns out.

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