Outlaws Season 1 episode 1-2 recap: A gripping local drama unveiled

By Xabiso Ngqabe6 September 2023

Outlaws Season 1 episode 1-2 recap: A gripping local drama unveiled

In Showmax’s latest must-watch Original series, Outlaws Season 1 co-creators Phathu Makwarela and Gwydion Beynon immerse viewers in South Africa’s first contemporary Western. This epic drama promises a captivating blend of Western tropes and the rich authenticity of South African culture.

In this recap, we delve into the first two episodes, which waste no time in setting the stage for an epic journey. From the very first frame, viewers are drawn into a world of breathtaking landscapes and a compelling narrative, thanks to the phenomenal cinematography by Ntobeko Dlamini. The series kicks off with a raging storm that forces the family out of their slumber. Bandile Biyela (played by Thembinkosi Mthembu) faces a crisis when he realises that his family’s cattle are left exposed to the mountains. He then embarks on a heroic mission to rescue their precious herd. 

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The storm and Bandile’s heroic crossing

Thembinkosi Mthembu as Bandile in Outlaws

Outlaws’ first two episodes begin with a torrential storm that awakens the Biyela family, leading to a dramatic story filled with tension and intrigue. Bheki Biyela (played by Siyabonga Shibe) and his son Bandile wake up at night to check if the cows are safe at the kraal. 

Bandile’s shirtless dash through the rain with a chiseled physique is a sight to behold, a moment that sets the stage for the series’ thrilling narrative. Embodying strength and determination, he decides to brave the storm to save the family’s livestock. Thembinkosi Mthembu’s portrayal of Bandile is nothing short of exceptional, and his chemistry with Siyabonga Shibe is palpable.

Ts’eole family starts a feud 

Lehlohonolo Mayeza as Leruo and Mmabatho Mogomotsi as Moretlo in Outlaws

At the heart of the Ts’eole family is the queen pin, Moretlo (played by Mmabatho Mogomotsi), who has been running a cattle stock theft syndicate that has been bringing the Underberg region of KZN to its knees for years. She is supported by her son Leruo (Lehlohonolo Mayeza) and her power-hungry brother Leabua, and his war-mongering son Tlali (Keketso Mpitso).

When we first see Leruo and Tlali, the rivalry between the two intensifies, with Leruo initially resisting Tlali’s involvement in a raid, doubting his ability to use a gun. However, Leruo’s mother encourages him to mentor his cousin..

A tale of two families at war

Outlaws unfolds as a complex epic drama, presenting the story of two families at war with each other: the Zulu, cattle-farming Biyela clan and the Basotho, cattle-raiding Ts’eoles. Leruo assembles a team for a daring raid on the Zulus to steal their cattle. The raid unfolds with a bribe to a guard named Mafafa (Siyabonga Black Madondo), who allows the Sothos to enter and steal the cattle, leading to a dramatic shootout.

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The Zulus find out that their herd has been stolen, they retaliate, and a massive shootout ensues, leaving the fate of both sides hanging in the balance. The Zulus eventually surrender, after realising how outnumbered they are, and the fact that the Basothos ride on horses puts them at a clear disadvantage. This is where the gripping rivalry begins, as the series skilfully weaves together the theme of cattle theft with real-life issues, which has been a problem for centuries along the Lesotho-South Africa border.

Tlali kills the Zulus

Keketso Mpitso as Tlali in Outlaws

Tlali, portrayed as the tougher and more ruthless of the two cousins, remains behind in order to steal even more cows. When caught by Bheki and Nandi, he murders them in cold blood. This act leaves Bandile and Sihle without their parents, with Bandile determined to do whatever it takes to avenge his father.

Leruo finds out about the deaths of the Biyelas and starts questioning Tlali. He questions his decision to resort to violence rather than simply raiding. He argues that they are cattle raiders, not killers, setting the stage for a brewing conflict. Tlali downright denies it and says he killed them in self-defence.

A love story amid chaos

Amid the chaos and violence, a love story unfolds. Sihle (played by Nirvana Nokwe-Mseleku) shares a tender romance with Kwanele (Mnqobi Kunene) when he proposes to her on a weekend away. His proposal was met with approval from her family, just before they passed on.  

Mnqobi Kunene as Kwanele and Nirvana Nokwe-Mseleku as Sihle in Outlaws

However, now that tragedy has struck, with her parents brutally killed, Sihle struggles to be present in her relationship even though Kwanele is showing his full support. Kwanele is Dumisani Dlamini’s son, who wastes no time reminding Bandile of a financial debt of R2 million that his father is leaving behind. When Bandile insists on paying everything that his late father owes, Dumisani tells him not to worry about it as they are now family, since his son will soon marry Sihle.

Love at first sight 

Shortly after the funeral, Sihle, determined not to succumb to grief, chooses to go to work. It is here that she meets Leruo, who is unaware of her connection to the victims of the raid. As their paths cross, the chemistry between the two is established, as the Sotho brother is immediately lovestruck, noticing how beautiful she is. The episode ends with Sihle nursing Leruo’s wounds, not knowing that he is the cattle thief that has destroyed her parents’ farm.

Nirvana Nokwe-Mseleku as Sihle in Outlaws

Outlaws Season 1 delivers an emotionally charged experience with its blend of Western elements and African storytelling, promising viewers a riveting journey filled with action, love, and desire. Outlaws cast bring their characters to life in a way that keeps audiences eagerly anticipating the next episode.

Stream Outlaws now on Showmax. All the episodes are now streaming on Showmax. Witness the unfolding fate of these characters as it captivates viewers with its rich storytelling and powerful performances.