8 December 2022
Blood Psalms Ep 11 recap: End of daze
Blood Psalms is set at a time of upheaval in Ancient Africa, around 11 000 years ago. Five tribes – the Akachi, the Uchawi, the Ku’ua, the Chini, and Great Nziwemabwe – whose ancestors all fled the destruction of Atlantis together before the story begins – share a prophecy about the end of days. And it’s finally here … the apocalypse.
Episode 10 in 10 points
- Under the Temple of Heka, Burutti smashed through the ceiling of the Chini cave system to bring down the burned corpse of Princess Zazi, hoping that the Chini’s Mother Superior would be able to revive Zazi in their sacred pond, The Swirl of Zam-Zam.
- Senator Jabari of Great Nziwemabwe ordered his Golden Army to massacre the Akachi palace guards, watchmen and soldiers, and take the palace servants prisoner.
- Senator Jabari greeted royal bride Thozama, her mother Queen Assili of the Uchawi, Akachi high priest Mfengetho, and King Letsha’s uncle Nkamanzu with a declaration of war when they returned to the Akachi citadel after executing Princess Zazi.
- Jabari’s mistress (and Princess Zazi’s aunt) Sithenjwa saved Ku’ua heir Qotha from the Golden Army and led him through the Akachi palace’s secret passages.
- Senator Jabari taunted King Letsha as he lay helpless, muzzled and strapped to his bed after cutting out his own tongue on his wedding day, and ordered his men to kill Letsha’s god-panther, Sekhmet (they missed).
- Onyo Lord Of the Underworld and Kike the Chini werehyena saved newly promoted Akachi general Lekoya, as Lekoya and his men battled the Golden Army under the citadel.
- Senator Jabari announced his coup in the Akachi council chamber, revealed that it was Great Nziwemabwe who brought Assili to power, and took Nkamanzu, royal governess Madlamini, Assili’s son Prince Teborah, Assili’s husband Ntuka, and the Ku’ua leader Chief Xemantso hostage.
- In the Chini caves, the decision to resurrect Princess Zazi created a deep rift between the Chini loyal to the Mother Superior, and those loyal to her son, Overseer Mzini.
- iLitye of the Chini knocked MaDlamini’s daughter, Umna, unconscious before she could see the Chini resurrect Princess Zazi.
- The crocodile god Sobek dragged Princess Zazi through a red vortex into dark waters, where a black-winged boatman showed her two visions: one of her mother, Queen Ndiya Zazi, and another showing an eternity of apocalyptic human suffering. When Zazi challenged the boatman, he flung her back into the world of the living through the Swirl of Zam-Zam.
Now strap in, Blood Psalms fans, because it’s the end times and strange days lie ahead in this final hour-and-a-half-long episode …
A dream/a nightmare/a vision
Two Akachi soldiers are burying Chini corpses in shallow graves when a bright light shines down on them from an alien spacecraft and freezes them in time. A figure in a black space suit with an eagle-like headpiece with a curved beak emerges and scans the graves, then drags the dead Chini, including Burutti, Kike, Mzini, iLitye, and Mother Superior, onto its spaceship. At the stone circle at the Temple of Heka, the mystics, witches and the Nymph look up as the spaceship tears across the sky like a comet.
Inside the ship, a circular door opens revealing a mass of dark water, while in a laboratory, an alien looks into tanks filled with heads and faces (both human and alien) floating all grey and wispy like old lab specimens. The alien takes off his helmet to reveal a man with albinism, who dissects the Chini before tapping a sound system, which starts blasting Earth, Wind & Fire’s disco song, September, as he gets his groove on in the lab before pulling a lever and cavorting around in a shower of sparks like a Dr Frankenstein with his confused and terrified resurrected Chini experiments.
…And then she wakes up.
The vision, including Earth, Wind & Fire’s September, has been the Chini Mother Superior’s nightmare and she rolls over, wailing, with Burutti watching over her and the still unconscious Princess Zazi.
Malice in the palace
King Letsha wakes up screaming behind his muzzle, as Jabari insults him and the Akachi with revulsion. Before he’s called away, Jabari tells Letsha that he’s taken over his kingdom.
Great Nziwemabwe take their noble hostages, Prince Teborah and Ntuka, to a family reunion with Thozama and Queen Assili. Senator Jabari orders the handmaidens to offer food to the noble prisoners first, aware (as they all are) that every morsel from the palace kitchens has probably been laced with poison, and Mfengetho wards off Senator Jabari’s offer of a platter of olives with his ankh symbol.
Ku’ua leader Chief Xemantso and Madlamini plead to be released to tend to King Letsha, with Xemantso citing the conditions of the Ku’ua treaty with Great Nziwemabwe. And Assili and Nkamanzu highlight the importance of Jabari being able to present his council with a living king as prisoner, rather than a dead one.
But when Nkamanzu pipes up expecting special treatment as Letsha’s “only living relative”, too, an unimpressed Jabari orders him to take several seats, and even Mfengetho backs up Jabari on that one. Sithenjwa and Qotha eavesdrop on the meeting between Jabari and the hostages through a spy hole in the secret passage. And Qotha does just the sort of thing that might prompt his wife Lala to plot to kill him as he yells out at the Great Nziwemabwe guards manhandling his father, Chief Xemantso.
Dreams of the dead
During this tense situation, one of the handmaids, Ncedisa, whispers to her friend that she woke up with a strange old man in her bed, and that her husband has been missing for two days. She is the wife of Captain Ahadi, the soldier who aged overnight during his visit to the blue vortex created when Princess Zazi diverted a meteor from the Akachi citadel, straight through the island that the Akachi consider to be the entryway to the land of the dead.
In Ncedisa’s memory we see her screaming at the aged Ahadi holding their son, which brings the Akachi soldiers running to kick seven shades of hell out of this “intruder”. Later, Ahadi throws himself back into the sea in despair and he returns to the reed boat in the dark waters of the land of the dead, where he begs the god Muntu’s forgiveness.
In a flashback, we see Sithenjwa having sex with General Toka, but she turns into a vampire-toothed Princess Zazi. Toka wakes with a start to see Sithenjwa, who asks him what became of their child when he exiled her. The baby he thinks she’s nursing turns into a shrieking monkey before Toka shifts into his next vision, as he lies aboard the reed boat in the land of the dead.
Unconscious, Toka remembers pushing his Sithenjwa’s baby daughter, Burutti, out to sea in her basket and seeing a great crocodile swim out to get her. Toka wakes gasping and tells Ahadi that he has to go back, and after delivering a dire warning, Ahadi cuts his hand to call a shark using his blood, and he and Toka both plunge into the sea and struggle to the shores of the living again, this time as an old man, and a much, much older man.
Awake or dreaming?
At the Temple of Heka, the Nymph laughs in the stone circle. Princess Zazi is dreaming, seeing a star being born or dying. And Mother Superior, who seems to be awake, hears music as she sees the alien from her earlier dream, this time through the eyes of a werehyena. The alien walks through the caves carrying a trunk with an ankh on the lid. It contains nameless physical remains, which he tosses to the werehyenas in the caves. After “feeding” the werehyenas, the alien casually walks through the caves to the stone door with the ankh on it and uses an explosive charge to break the seal on the door.
Burutti and Mother Superior’s later conversation is interrupted by two young Chini who reveal that iLitye has captured a surface dweller in the caves, and they rush off, followed by Zazi, to stop the Chini from dangling Umna over a pit of lava.
At the Temple of Heka, the Akachi soldiers find one of the Chini trapdoors and launch an attack. Feeling the Akachi explosives shake the caves, Mother Superior realises that the end has come, and she calls her people to gather the children in a safe place and sound the alarm.
The Blood Psalm
iLitye and Umna join Princess Zazi, Mother Superior and Burutti at the circular underground stone gate with the glowing red ankh on it. Mother Superior asks Zazi whether she can read the inscriptions on the gate, and Zazi identifies them as a Blood Psalm, written in Ana’kh, the Language of the Gods (which Zazi was taught to read by the Uchawi).
Mother Superior tells her that salvation lies on the other side of the door, and they need to sing the Blood Psalm. As Zazi touches the rim of the gate, the ring of inscriptions lights up. And out in space, as Zazi sings the Blood Psalm, a spiral of energy starts gathering above the Earth. Zazi sings, “O you gates, you who keep the gates because of Osiris, O you who guard them and who report the affairs of the Two Lands to Osiris every day; I know you and I know your names…”
(This is Spell 44 from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. It’s a prayer said to each of the guardians of the seven gates that act as portals to the netherworld in ancient Egyptian mythology.)
Before the storm
Up on the citadel walls, Jabari demands that his watchmen bring the Ku’ua camp commander, Hlengu, to him. And a watchman from the Golden Army directs Senator Jabari’s attention to the blue vortex, which seems to slap the smirk off Jabari’s face for once. Meanwhile at one of the Akachi outposts on the dam wall, Overseer Mzini and his Chini ambush the Akachi, who’re whipping enslaved labourers, so that they can gather water for their people in the caves. But before long, they’re surrounded by Akachi soldiers.
Back at the palace, Sithenjwa loses patience with Qotha and knocks him unconscious in the secret passage just outside the King’s quarters. In the King’s bedchamber, Chief Xemantso suggests that he go fetch Letsha’s god-panther, Sekhmet, and while he’s off on that mission, Sithenjwa sneaks into the room and knocks out Madlamini.
Meanwhile, at the Temple of Heka, the Nymph and her escorts are watching the skies and the Nymph announces, “Cometh the hour of the Great Cleansing. As the Emissary of our God Heka has long foretold, without protection, ye shall all perish in the eternal glare”. She holds up a medallion with a glowing stone – a twin to the now-glowing medallion worn by King Letsha. Queen Assili wears the same pendant, and the sight of it glowing sends her into a panic.
Dust to dust
The spirit of Letsha’s father speaks to him at last, saying, “Hand of God”, before turning to ashes and vanishing into the air.
In the Ku’ua camp, second-in-command Xhosa calls Hlengu out to examine the disturbing blue vortex. While they’re standing looking, Lala walks between them and Hlengu picks a fight with her, accusing her of murdering his father. But Xhosa stabs Hlengu as he’s choking Lala to death. With his last breaths, Hlengu tells Xhosa to look out to sea, because the portal to the netherworld is open and they’re all going there. Then he, Xhosa and Lala all flake into ashes on the wind.
As the Golden Army soldiers who were sent to fetch Hlengu and bring him to Senator Jabari exit the citadel, Lala’s sister Kuthala slips into the citadel on a mission to assassinate Xemantso. And on hearing of the strange disappearance of the Ku’ua, Jabari and his Golden Army rush outside to see what’s afoot.
The soldiers who surprised Mzini and the Chini are told that they are under attack, and General Lekoya, Lord Onyo and Kike the Chini walk in on a battle between the Golden Army and the Akachi. But in the middle of the battle, Lekoya finds himself suddenly alone, before he too vanishes into ash.
In the council chambers, the palace servants shatter into dust, causing an uproar. Assili abandons everyone but her family, ordering them to hold onto her as she leads them out into the now-empty council chamber. They leave behind Mfengetho and Nkamanzu and we see that neither their ankh waving nor their bead swinging can save them from being dusted.
Having scaled the citadel walls, Kuthala slips into the palace, and lands directly behind Chief Xemantsu, but both turn to ash, as does the still-unconscious Qotha.
In King Letsha’s chambers Sithenjwa takes so long to say her revenge speech that before she can kill Letsha, she’s dust. Letsha struggles to his feet and sets off to take revenge, arriving at the balcony just in time to see Assili wave goodbye. Letsha is still watching when Senator Jabari runs into the now-deserted courtyard to confront Sekhmet. Jabari, like Sithenjwa, spends so long talking about what he’s going to do that he fades to dust before he can do it. And Letsha staggers out of his palace to find Sekhmet dying, and then dust. Even Toka turns to dust before he can strike Letsha. Alone in his empty citadel, alongside a broken statue of Sobek the crocodile god, Letsha weeps and crawls.
Meanwhile, in their carriage, Thozama asks what is happening and Assili tells her, “The beginning”. Prince Teborah looks at the purple vial that the Nymph at the Temple of Heka gave him to use against Assili, while Assili notices that the sky has turned red.
At the underground gate, Zazi sings the final phrases of the Blood Psalm: “I know you; I even know you by name. The bright road that leads us to the heavens. Open the channels to the astral domain. Reaches of the realms of possibilities. Guarded by the powers of the stars. Bonded to the vast territory of astral dimension…” and before she can finish, the Chini vanish. Then the door swings open and the monsters come out – a human-animal creature and a figure that looks like the black-winged boatman that Zazi saw in the land of the dead. Zazi flees into the crumbling Chini cave complex and surfaces at the empty Temple of Heka, where scrolls are blowing about in the wind, and ominous clouds in the sky. As she reads a scroll, Zazi realises that she has ended the world and fulfilled the prophecy … but did she finish the Blood Psalm?
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