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All Hail Queen Vivian and her delusions. Woof!
Someone get Vinette Ebrahim a SAFTA now.
Day 2 behind bars and "7de Tronk" makes its first mistake. It interweves itself with a few boring scenes from what's happening back home in Hillside.
We don't really want to see the day to day borings of the people left behind there.
We pick up with Miems' self proclaimed return from her parole hearing where she announces that she's been granted parole.
Whoopi for the girls in the prison who clearly bow down to our new Emma, but does this mean she'll return to Hillside - and if she does - can she return as Miems? There's a few characters I need her to shake to their cores.
Yesterday I said that I wanted Miems to be Gita McGregor, but I am actually glad Miems is Emma. 7de
is breaking an age old trope that a fearful villain needs to the big evil.
There is something about the writing about Miems in this episode which paints more shadows and gives Emma layers which allow the audience to connect with her, but at the same time feel Miem's fear from the other prisoners.
It's refreshing to see the show take the not easy path of an actual villain or a terrible antagonist playing the role of Miems. In fact, even Liefie is painted with brighter colours than your average television trope villain.
What makes Miems interesting is that we know who she used to be
. Besides the occasional pop up since her lock up, we haven't really got into the mindset of Emma.
Amanda struggles in this episode without Bonta, but wastes no time being a voice of reason with her wit and still engaging herself really well.
Miems allows us to actually see how dark prison is that it changes a person - without fundamentally doing a 180 on her character. There's the Emma we know and love still there; there are just a lot more layers there and some pain, which has created Sister Miems.
What is interesting about Miems is if we really look at it, all these women do deserve to be there. Emma suffered the fate of a terrible lawyer in her self defence murder trial, landing her behind bars.
For the show to take a loved character, and a seemingly innocent inmate and escalate her to the level that is Miems, that inmates like Natalie fear - makes this great writing.
The cast involved in this
storyline and the writing and directing team involved are clearly putting a lot of effort into differentiating these characters, letting these actors shine and getting into these lovely characters we have just met in this new surrounding.
It gets even better - the extras used have personalities, back stories, and act in the scenes. 7de Laan's extras were basically Lissie's husband; mannequins and just set a scene whether it be Oppie or Beleef, just froze in the background on a loop - these extras come to life and bring character and depth to the scenes.
While I don't particularly want a backstory epsiode on how Emma morphed into Miems, we are treated through the episode to glimpses of Emma, and glimpses of Miems and there's dialogue which paints a picture as to how Emma became this loved yet feared leader.
I love that the show isn't painting her with a heavy hand, making her feared or a complete antagonist or villain for these inmates, but rather there are layers and depths of Miems which scare these inmates - and that's handled quite nicely in the writing.
As predicted yesterday, the voice in "The Hole" is Vivian; Charmaine's evil (brilliant?) twin who's incarcerated due to her previous attempt to get out of the mental asylum.
Vivan shot Charmaine's husband Neville back in 2015, but she's not all there mentally. However she clearly is the better of the two. A true testiment to Vinette Ebrahim, who plays the dual role effortlessly.
Vivian may be cuckoo; but she clearly has not forgot that two years ago Bonita tried to break her out of the asylum to kill her - to save Vince's life. Gotta love a girl that holds onto grudges.
If Vinette ever needed to submit a scene to the SAFTAs to earn her Best Actress award; the confrontation with Bonita in The Hole would be it.
Despite her shining consistently throughout the episode, there's a youthful, playful, crazy and menacing energy from her - Vivian brings the fun and the crazy which this spin off is only getting better and better from.
While I alluded and was sure Bonita was going down the path of crazy for the last few weeks, she pales in comparison to Vivian - who owns the title of Queen Crazy against Bon-Bon.
She literally barks
at Bonita before exiting The Hole. Seriously might be my favourite soap moment. Ever.
I don't know what grudge Mariaan is still holding; maybe she's upset that she was the only one scrubbing the floors yeserday - but she's giving Natalie the cold shoulder.
Note how Dora (see above) is still pissed off at Natalie and wants no part of conversation to her, and would rather sleep.
The show paints how lonely and isolated prison actually is. It's a welcome introduction. I did not enjoy Xander's prison stint a few years ago when Natalie framed him for rape and that made me dread this storyline.
However it shows that some good writing, brilliant cast and letting go of the norm can really create a true gem.
Today's exposition is done through Mariaan and Natalie getting the audience up to date with who Miems is, including where she got her name from - named from the Valhall Family - and is on a power trip. We do delve a bit more into Miems' pysche a bit later.
Having been exposed to Vivian for a while and knowing her stern no bulls**t approach to life, I was excited to see how the show handled Vivian and Miems' interaction.
They did not fail. In true Vivian fashion, she questions Miems' false sense of authority and reminds her that she is one of them.
It's not until, in a non-menancing moment, that Miems - who is truely motivated by her wanting to do more good - threatens Vivian with her meds that Viv eventually bows down to her.
It's chilling, but it's done so nonchalantly and not in a 'twirl your moustache evil' soapie trope kind of way.
Miems actually thinks she's bettering Cell Block 23 - and maybe she is. And just maybe that's why her kind of crazy actually works for her as an antagonist.
Anyone who can knock Vivian down in a 15 seconds earns my fearful respect. I don't blame these girls.
I need to petition for 7de Laan to swap out Alexa for Amanda when this storyline is done. Even without dialogue and being in the background, Carina Nel shines as Amanda.
She really proves what an excellent actress she is - and clearly is having such a lot of fun in the role. It shows that writing can ruin a character - not the actress.
Since Bon-Bon's stint in The Hole and Amanda having lost her new BFF seems to now team up with Lissie and her fake husband.
However Miems will have none of Lissie's crazy and brutally attacks Lissie's mannequin. I feel bad for him.
I feel awful for Lissie but I can see Amanda knows some sort of Crazy is about to hit the fan now. (See above)
Miems is ruthless.
Vivian makes her return from the hole and dramatically announces it to the other inmates.
But before that Sister Miems demands Vivian apologise for her recent spate of offences against the other girls. It's rather hilarious for the level of menacing crazy she has inflicted.
Here goes her apology:
- Sorry Des, for breaking your arm
- And Layla for ripping up your book
- And Charlotte for biting you
- Faye, sorry for peeing on your bed
Then declares she's a new person!
I had to watch this scene 6 times because I couldn't help but laugh each and every time!
This scene is Absolute GOLD! Vinette plays Vivian to such an extreme crazy, yet childlike character, that you have to give her serious props and fall in love with Vivian.
Also some of the other cast/extras reactions to her in this scene is priceless
. (I am now convinced Dora is a mannequin too!)
Every single cast member, and extra here in this spin-off is doing a 300% better job and more animated than anyone on 7de Laan!
I was worried about which side of the Amanda vs. Natalie feud Vivian would be part of and I'm glad she's also #TeamAmanda!
They also seem to have a beautiful friendship at play. There's a genuine care from Vivian to Amanda when she is informed of her fall.
There's also a beautiful moment where Amanda knows more about Vivian than Charmaine seemed to have and does her make-up for a special crush Vivian has.
These two have such a beautiful relationship and friendship that you feel more of a mother daugther bond between Vivian and Amanda than you ever felt with Charmaine/Vanessa or Mariaan/Alexa. The chemistry between Carina Nel and any actress here is electric!
Vivian scales back her crazy and actually shows some human emotion when Amanda informs her why Bonita actually is in jail and there's a rare flash of empathy without putting a show on.
This shows how good Vinette is, as you still see Vivian behind the eyes, but a softer character much closer to Charmaine.
Amanda eventually gives Vivian a makeover for her special someone - but we will get to this later. In the interim see how beautiful she looks here.
Argh, all fun and games have to end sometime. 7de Laan scenes started appearing in this show. And we're treated to more Xander and Vanessa.
What I enjoyed about this scene was the contrast as Charmaine was in the scene as well, but it was clearly two seperate characters in every sense. Kudos Vinette.
Notice how empty Oppie looks in that scene below - everyone must be home watching "7de Tronk"
rather than hanging out in Hillside.
There's baby Daniel drama too and at least the writer of this episode haven't written Xander and Vanessa at odds.
The amount of growth we've experienced with Vanessa and even her relationship with Xander in the past few months is quite lovely.
The two play fake house again in their Penthouse - I'm starting to think Vanessa steps up to the game and takes Daniel under her wing and maybe starts caring for him in Bonita's absence?
I wouldn't be opposed to that storyline as it would be beautiful.
I was on a 7de Laan hiatus during the last few years of Emma in the Laan so I am not sure what her relationship with Bonita was.
But knowing 7de Laan, well what it was; everyone was chirpy and friendly with each other back then.
Emma/Miems and Bonita finally have thier reunion.
It's a beautifully written scene; as Emma acknowledges Bonita and their Hillside friendship, she notes in jail, it's a different ball game.
You see flashes of Emma come through and it's rather beautiful how torn Bertha is between the two.
Bonita quickly realises Emma will not be saving her from The Hole, and in fact, in her own Miems way with some Emma heavy handing; warns Bonita that the time in The Hole will change her.
I love that the exposition isn't heavy handed and there's a lot of interpretation that the viewer takes in. Perhaps the director and writer actually trust their cast to deliver the message.
7de Laan used to be heavy handed with telling the audience rather than showing
the audience. "7de Tronk"
does the opposite and it is really appreciated. It adds value overall.
You get flashes of old Emma coming out from Miems and the hurt of what prison has done to her. She brings her wall down enough for Bonita to understand her and for the audience to connect that maybe Miems is actually a severely damaged version of Emma trying to survive.
Day 2 of playing loyal husband, Chris visits Mariaan again despite him telling her yesterday - she does not want to see him.
Clearly she was lying as Mariaan tried to escape choir auditions quickly to see Chris - but we will get to "7de Tronk: The Musical"
when we see the rest of the inmates audition for Liefie's Choir.
Chris suggests that he is going to arrange a Prison Break for Mariaan. Who are these people?
The reward; apparently Mariaan is only work a quarter of a million! Even Daniel's shoddy surgery was worth R300k - clearly for such an affluent family, they don't want Mariaan to return home that soon.
Kudos to the "7de Tronk
" writers for blowing me out of the water twice with Vivian.
Firstly she has a heart. Secondly she is represting the LGBTQ+ community. There's a hint at the soft Vivian with her crush earlier in the episode when she sees her in the 'Prison Oppie'.
Viv decides to spruce herself up and gets a makeover by Amanda and gleemingly glows whilst doing her chores with her crush.
She's interrupted however by Sister Miems on her previous push on Mariaan - which we all thought was welcomed.
Annoyed Vivian shows her face for all of three seconds before she remembers to keep herself in place before being sedated again.
Sister Miems breaks the special moment up before her crush drops Viv a note telling her how beautiful she looks. It's so sweet and beautiful seeing a school girl giddy Viv light up at the note.
Mariaan Welman clearly hasn't learnt the trade of prision and announces her plan of Chris wanting to break her out for R250k to the most untrustworthy person.
We're left with Natalie calling out to Warden Liefie to spread the word.
It's fun being double crossed, isn't it Mariaan?
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Jump ahead to Bonita's darkest hour in Day 3 >>>
*** 7de Tronk - Monday to Friday 18h00, SABC 2***
* For SABC reasons also known as 7de Laan