By TVPlus6 December 2022
Donkerbos episode 2 recap: Didingwe
The discovery of six dead children at an abandoned farm continues to mystify the townsfolk of Donkerbos as well as the detectives working the case, who are chasing any lead they can find. Here is everything that happened in episode 2 of the chilling Showmax Original thriller, Donkerbos.
“This is bigger than us”
Episode 1 of Donkerbos (read more here) ended with a shocker as Detective Fanie van Wyk (Erica Wessels) found the embalmed bodies of six children at an abandoned farm. Her last words, “Lord help us,” have lingered with us, and with the start of episode 2 we hope to see Fanie start coming up with answers.
Episode 2, titled Didingwe (the meaning will come out later in the episode, but Tshivenda speakers will recognise the word for leopard), starts with Marietjie’s (Nicole Holm) domestic worker Sara (Peggy Tunyiswa) waking up in her bed. Pictures of a boy, most likely her son, are placed above her head on the wall. Could this be another clue – or worse, is he one of the six?
Watch the trailer for Donkerbos episode 2
Dressed and ready for the day, Sara enters the garage of Marietjie’s house, where Marietjie greets her and asks her to prepare bacon for “the baas”, Marietjie’s husband, retired reverend Koos (Mathys Roets). While Sara is busy, Marietjie’s 15-year-old son, Francois (Marko Vorster), arrives on his bike, sneaks into the garage and, not seeing Sara who’s standing off to the side, strips down and throws his clothes in the washing machine. The little sneak is startled by Sara, who greets him with a disapproving glance, but he shrugs it off and heads into the house as the background music warns us that he is up to no good.
Meanwhile, at Fanie’s house, her 15-year-old son, Kallie (Steph van der Merwe), wakes up to an empty house. We know Fanie is at the crime scene with the six children, but where is Jaco (Jacques Bessenger), Fanie’s dad? While eating breakfast, Kallie sees Fanie’s crime scene on the news, and when he phones her, she’s shocked to hear that Jaco has gone AWOL. Another one for the sneaky suspect pile.
As ominous choir music sounds, we see Fanie sitting at the crime scene, examining the body of one of the six children. Police officer Wolf (Stian Bam) sits to her right, shaking, distraught and sniffing to swallow down his tears. No “toughen up” cop nonsense here – Fanie consoles him and advises him to rather look away. She curses and tells Wolf, “We are not supposed to be able to cope with this.” Even a veteran detective like Fanie must be wondering how much sicker the world can get.
When Captain Didie Baleka (Thoko Ntshinga) arrives at the scene, Fanie tries to keep her from looking, too. Bettie, her granddaughter, is one of the six. On hearing the news, Captain Baleka collapses, just as the press starts to swarm in on the scene. Fanie takes her to the station and as Captain Baleka says a prayer against this evil and wipes away her tears, she makes it clear to Fanie they need help.
“This is bigger than us,” she says. And we have a sinking feeling that she’s right – there is much more to this crime than what we see on the surface…
The story picks up again as we finally see Jaco, who’s busy stoking the coals in a furnace at the flower and timber farm. Spook (Eben Genis) – who we learned in episode 1 is the paedophile who Detective Sybrand Pieterse (Wilhelm van der Walt) assaulted – scurries in, late for work again, which angers Jaco. Jaco would love to show him the door, but Spook laughs it off. He eagerly asks Jaco what his wife, Fanie, found in the bush, but Jaco seems clueless. Jaco is clearly too preoccupied for the news or his wife’s business. But what, or who, is keeping him so busy?
Sybrand and his brother Braam (Edwin van der Walt) watch the news confirming that the six bodies that were found in Donkerbos were those of children. Braam asks whether Sybrand will be working the case (even though he doesn’t have his badge back), but Sybrand just says Fanie will call on him if she needs help. The conversation shifts to their dog, Speedo. Braam says they would have to euthanise him that afternoon, it’s for the best. Sybrand pets Speedo and agrees, but something tells us Sybrand won’t be there to say goodbye to his best friend.
Far away from others
A new character with dark eyes makes his entrance (could this be the help Captain Baleka was talking about?). He checks into a lodge and makes it clear he wants a room far away from other guests. As he enters his chalet, he tests the mattress with his fist (not firm enough for you, sir?) and then ventures to the river nearby and sinks his hands into the water, seeming to draw a calming effect from the water. (The plot thickens).
Back at the police station, journalists accost Captain Baleka demanding answers but her cold “no comment” hints to them to back off. Fanie gathers paperwork and leads a meeting in the bullpen. She deciphers some of the German words that were inked on the children’s bodies. As she works, we see what others are up to with a scene between Kallie and a distracted looking Francois at school, Sybrand staring at his police cap and then at Speedo, before saying goodbye to his dog and walking out, knowing they won’t see each other again.
Cause of death still undetermined
At the medical examiner’s office, Fanie asks doc Claire (Anthea Thompson) to shed some light on the bodies of the six children. But Claire stresses she needs more time, that the causes of death are still undetermined and just then, our new character with the dark eyes enters. He is Detective Tsedza Tshivenga (Sanda Shandu), who’s just there to introduce himself to Fanie.
As he walks away, Claire utters the word “Didingwe”. It stops Tsedza in his tracks, but he just flashes her a quick glance, before turning and walking out. When Fanie questions her, Claire just tells her that Didingwe means leopard. But why would she say that to him? Does she know him? Is that his nickname? Is it a clue? It’s the “all questions and no answers” phase.
Killers don’t sleep – or do they?
Fanie and Tsedza size each other up when she returns to the station. Tsedza is from IPS (Independent Police Services) in Pretoria, where Fanie used to work. He comments that she was a legend there, but Fanie ends that conversation before he can say more. Captain Baleka reveals that Fanie and Tsedza will be the lead investigators on this case, and Fanie addresses the rest of the bullpen to report that while three of the children were reported missing, the other three have no records.
She divulges more about the case, including some leads, and a pathology report. As she’s speaking, officer Wolf enters and whispers something shocking to Captain Baleka. But everyone freezes when Sybrand enters and tells Fanie, “You overlooked something.” He hands a wrapped piece of evidence to Fanie and when she opens the cloth, it reveals a rock with an eye painted on it, which Sybrand found buried beside the tree trunk where the six children were found.
Captain Baleka reveals she also has a rock with the same eye painted on it, which she found in her granddaughter Bettie’s bedroom (could the eyes be the key?). She reinstates Sybrand, and gives him back his police ID, but not his gun (which is perhaps for the best).
Meanwhile, Braam says goodbye to Speedo at the vet’s office.
What are you doing?
In the final 20 minutes of the episode Fanie heads home to find Jaco, Francois and Kallie chatting and enjoying a braai, while Sybrand returns to find Braam digging a grave for Speedo. He joins in with the digging but starts sobbing over his beloved dog as Braam comforts him.
Kallie and Francois have a sleepover in Kallie’s tree house, and Kallie stares at Francois while he’s sleeping, clearly troubled about his friend. In the main bedroom, as Fanie and Jaco get ready for bed, Jaco asks whether her new partner, Tsedza, knows about Wim (Fanie’s previous partner) and Fanie replies that he might (another mystery for our detective notes). Jaco urges Fanie to be careful as he kisses her shoulder, but when things get frisky, he halts any further bedroom activity claiming to be tired (from what, though?).
Tsedza’s bedtime routine includes moving the chalet’s bedding to the floor, choosing to sleep there rather than the bed. The next morning, Fanie and Tsedza head to a nearby rural area to follow a lead. They arrive at a dilapidated house, where they find a little girl who runs away when she hears they are police. Inside the house they find the girl’s mother passed out, surrounded by drug paraphernalia. Fanie tries to alert her to tell her that they’ve found her son’s body (he was one of the six) but when Fanie touches the women, she starts to scream and convulse. Just then Tsedza calls Fanie outside to the back of the house where he’s found a big painted eye, just like the ones on the rocks.
Leandie du Randt as Pattie in Donkerbos
In the final scene, Spook’s sister Pattie (Leandi du Randt) arrives at his dump of a house to ask whether she and her daughter Zellie (Amelie van Heerden) can stay with him for a while. When Spook asks Pattie whether she didn’t also have a son, she says nothing but pain flashes through her eyes. The episode ends with Spook’s gaze lingering on Zellie – which Pattie doesn’t notice. Something tells us Zellie might be better off sleeping in a ditch than being haunted by uncle Spook.
Looks like we have some detective work ahead of us until the next episode of Donkerbos airs on Tuesday, 13 December.