Black Earth Rising season 1 premiere recap: In Other News


This legal thriller with a conscience revolves around a conspiracy concerning the events of the Rwandan genocide and the role of British colonialism in Africa. Black Earth Rising opens with a black and white animation of a man pulling a child out of the darkness and into his arms, a lone survivor in a field of dead bodies.

Eve Ashby (Harriet Walter) is one the leading experts in international criminal law in Black Earth Rising, but there is a lot of controversy surrounding her because her prosecution of African war criminals can be seen as an extension of Britain’s colonialism. She maintains that she’s providing justice for people who do not have the means to achieve it themselves. Even so, much of the unrest and the resulting war crimes are related to African colonialism and her detractors let her know that. It doesn’t even make a difference that she has a black daughter from Africa.

Kate Ashby (Michaela Coel), Eve’s daughter, is a survivor of the Rwandan genocide and a legal investigator. She is having some mental health and substance abuse issues related to survivor’s guilt but has just been discharged after a recent suicide attempt. Eve meets her at the clinic to make sure everything is okay.

Kate arrives home to find Michael Ennis (John Goodman) sitting on her front steps. He’s looking for Eve and she’s not back in the office yet. There might be a big case coming in on Black Earth Rising. Meanwhile, at the Congolese border, General Simon Nayamoya (Danny Sapani) is stopped from bringing his troops and trucks into Rwanda because he doesn’t have the proper paperwork. David Runihura (Lucian Msamati), special aid to the Rwanadan president, is there to talk him in to giving himself up to the UN to be prosecuted for war crimes. He’s flown to the The Hague to face the International Criminal Court.

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A news report follows detailing the history of the Rwandan genocide in 1994, in which the Hutu majority killed 800,000 Tutsis over 10 days. Nyamoya was one of the Tutsi generals that helped to end the genocide, but despite his status as a national hero, he still has to face war crimes of his own. Today he is a mercenary who fuels war while stealing from the region’s mines. Charging Nyamoya is a controversial move, especially when the perpetrators of the genocide are still at large.

Eve is set to prosecute the case, which is a problem for Kate because she can’t understand why her mother would even consider helping to prosecute the man who helped her survive the genocide. Eve and Kate, who apparently live in an Ikea design model, argue about it. Eve claims, without giving reasons, that its the right thing to do for everyone.

In the Congo, UN officier Major Charles Bouchard (Nigel Whitmey) is visiting a clinic and happens to recognize Patrice Ganimana (Tyrone Huggins), a Hutu war criminal who arrives for treatment. He goes back to the clinic to try to apprehend him, but he’s already gone and one of his men are killed trying to arrest the wrong man and breaking protocol by firing his weapon without provocation.

Michael and Eve have a vague conversation about some secret, not only kept from Kate, but from the world. This case is about revealing the truth to everyone and somehow Nyamoya is the bridge to that. There are clearly deeper issues here, a decades old conspiracy that is being unraveled and that the historical facts are not what they seem. While Nyamoya might be known as a hero, Eve seems to know better. Its not about his war crimes after the genocide, it seems to be about his crimes during the genocide and the timing is finally right to uncover the truth.

Michael visits his daughter in the hospital. She’s in a coma and he trades off with her mother’s companion to keep her company. Meanwhile, Kate sneaks into Eve’s office to read the confidential case documents but doesn’t get far before Eve stops her, completely panicked that she will find out the truth before the right time.

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Kate doesn’t remember her country, or her family, or even her name, but she knows what was done to her and almost a million other people, and because she believes the cover story, she believes her mother is betraying her by prosecuting the man she thinks stopped the genocide. Kate says some awful things to Eve, but she can’t back down. And when Eve leaves for The Hague the next morning, Kate is too late to apologize to her.

The premiere of Black Earth Rising closes with Eve vowing to herself, “No matter what.” She has an envelop that contains some piece of damning evidence that she touches protectively. Elsewhere, a firing range dummy is shot in the face.