PIC 1 - Gail Mabalane plays Zenzi Mwale, who is described as “a nondescript cleaning lady on a dangerous path to find her husband.” – Photo credit - Netflix

Gail Mabalane plays Zenzi Mwale, who is described as “a nondescript cleaning lady on a dangerous path to find her husband.” – Photo credit – Netflix

By Themba Khumalo

Maybe, just like myself, you have been intrigued by the enigmatic energies that propel seemingly “ordinary” folks to engage in unlawful acts or the external influences that coerce individuals to act in manners that contradict their inherent disposition. As they traverse this road, they might discover themselves plummeting further into the murky depths of civilization. And behold, Unseen, an exhilarating Netflix series, explores a comparable story.

Unseen, which premiered on 29 March, is a dazzling rendition of the Turkish sensation, Fatma, with a distinctively South African flair. Gambit Films has masterfully woven its magic to create a captivating series that will leave you spellbound.

The series follows the journey of a maid called Zenzi (portrayed by the talented Gail Mabalane), who eagerly awaits the release of her beloved husband, Max (brought to life by the brilliant Vuyo Dabula), after his two-year imprisonment. While Max was behind bars, Zenzi kept the home fires burning by taking on part-time domestic jobs.

With a heart full of hope and a spring in her step, Zenzi rushes towards the prison gates, eager to embrace her beloved Max. However, her joy is short-lived as she’s hit with the unexpected news that he’s already been released. Refusing to give up on her quest, she sets out on a daring adventure, beginning with a visit to the local police station to file a missing person report. But also, her visit is riddled with challenges as she confronts bigotry and incompetence.

With an unyielding spirit, Zenzi embarks on a mission to unravel the mystery of Max’s disappearance. She combs through every nook and cranny of the city, tracing Max’s steps to his favourite hangouts and even seeking out his enigmatic confidant, Raymond, whom Zenzi cleans for every week. Zenzi confidently asks Raymond if he has any information regarding Max’s disappearance. To her surprise, Raymond says he is not aware of Max’s whereabouts, but emphasizes the importance of finding him before it is too late.

Zenzi illicitly acquires a firearm from the safe located in Raymond’s office. She subsequently convenes with Raymond’s previous associate, Jackson Thom (portrayed by Sherman Pharo), in hopes of obtaining intelligence on Max. However, instead of providing any useful information, Jackson becomes belligerent and tries to assault Zenzi, compelling her to defend herself by pulling the trigger. This incident marks the commencement of a series of events that spiral out of control for Zenzi.

As she becomes increasingly embroiled in the criminal underworld, her body count escalates, ultimately forcing her to flee from both law enforcement and her criminal cohorts.

Beguiling Gail

Gail Mabalane’s exceptional acting prowess is the driving force behind the series’ enthralling and spellbinding experience. Her debut performance as the leading lady was nothing short of a work of art. Her portrayal of Zenzi was a true embodiment of authenticity, rawness, and subtlety.

The sheer brilliance of her execution stands as a shining example of excellence and the cornerstone of Unseen, which offers a compelling and dynamic depiction of a woman who remains unseen due to societal prejudices.

Oh, the thrill of witnessing Gail’s performance as Zenzi!

She brings such a raw and genuine authenticity to the character, embodying sorrow, fortitude, and exasperation in every fibre of her being. It is all too common to see actors resorting to crutches like heated monologues or fake tears to convey painful emotions, but not Gail. She knows that true grief cannot be soothed by mere words or actions. You can see it in the subtle shift of her posture and the downcast gaze of her eyes when the topic arises.

The character was meticulously crafted, and to fully engage with the narrative, one had to be firmly in Zenzi’s corner. Gail’s portrayal was a deep dive into the multifaceted layers of Zenzi’s persona, showcasing
her as a devoted wife, loving mother, caring sister, and an often-overlooked or unseen member of society.

Unseen is a masterful work of pacing and tension, which left me on the edge of my seat every time Zenzi, our captivating protagonist, faced danger. What sets this series apart is Zenzi’s atypical nature as a killer, leaving me intrigued as to how she would navigate the murky waters of this shadowy world. Would she succumb to the darkness or rise above it? The suspense is palpable, making for an unforgettable journey.

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