Nthathi Moshesh as Mary Ndlovu in BET’s ’Isono’. Picture: Supplied
Nthathi Moshesh as Mary Ndlovu in BET’s ’Isono’. Picture: Supplied

‘Isono’, BET’s 1st telenovela, is addictive in its dark and twisted way

By Debashine Thangevelo Time of article published Sep 29, 2020

Share this article:

Nthati Moshesh is a revelation as Mary Ndlovu in BET’s “Isono”.

Her Machiavellian manoeuvres in the telenovela don’t only leave jaws dropping, it cements her ranking as one of the country’s finest actresses.

And it is bound to overshadow her previous roles.

Clive Morris Productions also deserve high praise for such a bold kick-off episode where viewers witness Mary hacking a body.

The steely determination in her eyes is wonderfully offset by an aura of coldness. She doesn’t flinch when committing the crime.

Her ruthlessness is akin to that of Mr Kaplan (played by Susan Blommaert), who was Raymond “Red” Reddington’s cleaner in “The Blacklist”, but multiplied by 10.

Mary is fondly referred to as a “Mother of the Nation” in Vosloorus on the East Rand, Johannesburg, where she runs the House of Grace, a centre helping the youth, especially those at life-changing crossroads in their life.

The truth, however, is far more sinister and dangerous where this philanthropic socialite is concerned.

Mary is the secret head of a criminal empire and operates under the name of Vorster.

Her biological daughter, Esther (Didintle Khunou), 25, is an aspiring musician dealing with emotional setbacks and insecurities.

She has two adopted sons: Simon (Tokollo TK Sebothoma), 18, and Gabriel (Bohang Moeko), 26.

Of the two, Gabriel is the most trusted and favoured. He is Mary’s right-hand. Although he does Mary’s bidding, he is conflicted by it, which leads to him making a decision that causes the biggest upheaval in his life.

Bohang Moeko as Mary’s adopted son, Gabriel, as well as her right hand. Picture: Supplied

While Esther’s career is nosediving, she keeps her spirits up by popping pills. Her romance with Makwande Mabongo (Anga Makubalo), a famous soccer player, provides some comfort and stability but her strained relationship with her mother weighs heavily on her.

In last night’s episode, the duplicity of Mary’s character came through strongly as she got ready to accept the Community Builder of the Year honour at the Gauteng Excellence Awards 2020 while, at the same time, facilitated an illegal adoption for a prominent businessman (played by Luthuli Dlamini) and his ex-porn star trophy wife.

However, there was a hiccup with the deal - the mother of the baby had a change of heart.

This didn’t sit well with Mary and, with her back against the wall, she does what she does best - eliminate the threat.

“I intend to have it all, Gabriel. No one will stand in my way,” Mary ranted.

Although Mary takes with one hand, she is very generous with the other, especially when it comes to the church.

Rami Chuene adds comic levity as Jumima, who means well but she can’t help but put her foot in it.

There are plenty of twists in the pipeline, one of which includes the arrival Abednego (Senzo Radebe), 26, a former child from House of Grace, after a decade. He was romantically entangled with Gabriel when they were teenagers.

His return has a ripple effect on the lives of several characters.

“Isono” covers a wide gamut of motifs from corruption, true love, forbidden romance, justice, sacrifice, betrayal, to loyalty as hidden secrets result in many tragedies.

Overall, “Isono” shifts the paradigm in storytelling and this is a testament to Neil McCarthy’s prowess as a writer, too.

The telenovela, which enjoys an unchallenged late-night timeslot, boasts an incredible cast. The adroit direction and phenomenal musical score are bound to leave audiences enthralled and on tenterhooks.

“Isono” airs on BET (DStv channel 129) from Monday to Thursday, at 9.30pm.

Share this article: