Shadow recap: season 1, episode 1 recap: Mary’s Blackmail


New to Netflix, Shadrach “Shadow” Khumalo (Pallance Dladla) is a former Johannesburg police detective turned private “fixer” after a personal tragedy destroyed his faith in the justice system.

Now he gets justice for others who the police have failed, aided by his police experience and a nerve condition that leaves him unable to feel pain.

The series opens with our hero, pulling up to a sketchy building and taking his gun out of the glove box. A woman tells Shadow that she’s been trying to evict some guys from the building, but they won’t leave and the police won’t help. He tells her not to worry about it, he’ll get them out.

When he goes in, there are two drugged out guys on the couch and one guy in the bathroom. He finds a gun on the counter and unloads it before telling everyone to get out. The guy in the bathroom comes out and tries to shoot Shadow with the gun on the counter. Without the bullets it obviously doesn’t work, then Shadow knocks him down and aims his gun at the other two druggies.

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The man on the ground grabs a random fork and stabs Shadow in the leg, but he doesn’t feel it. He takes the fork out of his leg and stabs the other guy in the leg. The two druggies on the couch are really freaked out by now and beg to leave.

Shadow impatiently tells them to get out. This is what He does: he fixes things.

Shadow gets back to his Batcave where he as an arsenal and a “murder wall” filled with articles about various murders and deaths. He has a pendant that matches one in a photo on the wall. Shadow has some kind of attack; he clutches his heart, focus racks in and out, and he has flashbacks of being struck by lightning as a child. He takes a pill and the attack passes.

He goes home to the apartment he shares with his wheelchair-bound sister Zola (Tumie Ngumla). She is pulling a hidden camera off the shelf that she’s set up to spy on their roommate Frank (Julian Kruger).

She thinks he’s up to something, but it’s not what she suspected. The footage shows Frank trying on Zola’s clothes and dancing around the apartment. It also shows him stealing Shadow’s father’s old watch, which is really what they take exception to.

Frank returns home to find that he’s been found out and flees down the hallways and, inexplicably, up to the rooftop. Shadow is an open-minded guy, he doesn’t care that Frank likes to dress in women’s clothing, but he doesn’t like being stolen from.

After much threatening, Frank gives the watch back and Shadow lets him go. That’s when Shadow gets a phone call. He listens patiently, then asks, “What kind of trouble?”

The next day he meets a woman named Mary (Lunathi Mampofu) at a bar. She got into some financial trouble and was able to take out a shady loan from a guy named Mandla (Nnekwa Tsajwa), but only if she let him take nude photos of her.

She’s paid off the loan, but now he’s using the photos as blackmail. He’s a real creep, but very dangerous. She wants Shadow not just to get her photos back, but the photos of any woman he’s entrapped. Shadow agrees, says it shouldn’t be too hard.

But when Shadow arrives at Mandla’s club, a policeman, Max (Khathu Ramabulana), who happens to be staking out the place sees him go in and goes to investigate. Inside, Shadow easily takes down the security guard and confronts Mandla about the photos.

When another of Mandla’s men gets the drop on Shadow, Max comes in behind the thug with his gun drawn and tells everyone to put their guns down. Shadow has Mandla safely in a headlock with a gun to his head, ready to handle the situation, but Max insists that all guns are dropped.

He arrests Shadow and tells Mandla that some officers will be by later to take his statement.

As Max drives away with Shadow handcuffed in the back seat, Shadow calls him by name and insists that he be let go. It becomes obvious here that these two know each other rather well, that they are old friends from the force.

Max thinks the situation is rather funny and that Shadow needs to be taught a lesson. Once Shadow crawls into the front seat and takes the handcuffs off, Max tells him that Mandla is more dangerous than he thinks.

He’s suspected in the murder of nine women, all of whom he was previously blackmailing. Mary’s reputation isn’t the only thing at stake.

Shadow tells Mary to stay somewhere secret for the time being so that Mandla can’t find her. But there’s another problem. Mary’s brother Reggie (Phila Mazibuko) thinks it’s his duty to confront Mandla and protect his sister.

Reggie does actually confront Mandla, who tolerantly tells him to get lost before he does something he regrets. When Reggie persists in his own weak threats, Mandla puts a gun to his head and tells him never to threaten someone unless he’s willing to shoot them in the head.

He yells “Bang!” and psychs Reggie out. He promises that next time the safety will be off. Say what you will about Mandla, at least he practices proper gun safety.

Back at the bar, the bartender Abby (Altovise Lawrence) is jealous of Shadow’s female client. Shadow tells her its just work, but it’s pretty clear there isn’t anything special between them. Abby tells Shadow that it’s her birthday and makes him drink a bunch of shots to celebrate with her.

A bizarre montage ensues where Shadow and Abby get drunk and party together in all sorts of crazy ways. As the night wears on and Shadow gets more drunk, he starts having flashbacks to what appears to be the murder of his wife and daughter (or at least a woman and a young girl who is close to him).

Shadow wakes up the next morning to find Abby in bed with him. He is relieved to find that they both have all their clothes on. Hungover, Shadow walks into the kitchen shirtless to get some water, unaware that Zola’s friend Ashley (Amanda Du-Pont) has come to talk about taking the vacant room.

Shadow is somewhat embarrassed, but more embarrassed when Abby makes her appearance. He swears it’s not what it looks like. I’m not sure why this whole situation is made out to be so awkward, but maybe its a cultural disconnect. Shadow may be shirtless, but he’s wearing jeans and they’re behaving as if he’s naked.

As Mary packs to leave her apartment, Mandla and his thugs come to take her. She leaves down the fire escape and evades capture. Meanwhile, Shadow tells Reggie not to confront Mandla alone again, that they can handle it together. Reggie is a proud man though and thinks he doesn’t need a stranger’s help to protect his sister.

Even with Mary trying to reason with him later, Reggie doesn’t back down. While she’s in the shower he gets Mandla’s number off her phone and calls him. Mandla is surprised and impressed. He tells Mandla he has his money and sets up a meeting, but intends to hold him at gunpoint to get the photos back.

Meanwhile, Shadow apologizes to Ash for how they met, swearing he’s not the kind of guy to have people over like that. They start over and bond over a couple of beers. Zola told her about Shadow’s accident and that he can’t feel pain.

As a medical student, she has a professional curiosity about this and asks him about it. They are interrupted when Mary calls, which Ash seems to find disturbing somehow.

Meanwhile, Reggie hypes himself up to confront Mandla. Mandla waits for him at the club and is impressed when he actually shows up. He buzzes at the front door and one of the thugs goes to let him in. Unfortunately for them, it turns out to be Shadow at the door. He knocks out the thug and heads upstairs to confront Mandla.

He gives him a packet of money and tells him to give him all the photos and shut down his business. It’s his only way out of this. The thug downstairs regains consciousness faster than expected and comes in behind Shadow opening fire with a machine gun. Shadow takes cover, waits for his opening, and takes him down with one shot in the head.

He turns and takes down the second thug with one shot while he’s reaching for his gun, and then its just Mandla, who is now definitely nervous. He promises to give Shadow the photos and all the money he has, supposedly reaching for the safe but really reaching for a gun under the bar.

Shadow knows better and as Mandla makes a grab for the gun, Shadow shoots him down.

Shadow takes everything out the safe and goes to meet Reggie who has finally arrived. He gives Reggie the bag of money and memory cards to give to his sister and tells him firmly that he never met him and he was never here. It’s all over.

Next. Shadow season 1, episode 2 recap. dark

Of course, he just killed three men and put his fingerprints all over the safe, but whatever, I’m sure he knows what he’s doing.

When Max is investigating the scene later, he finds a shell casing he knows is from Shadow’s gun and he quietly pockets it. Shadow, back at his Batcave, gets a phone call and listens intently. “What kind of trouble?” he asks.

Shadow premiered on Netflix on March 8.