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Series / Cape Town

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Cape Town is a 2016 joint German-South African TV series, based on Deon Meyer's novel "Dead Before Dying".

Veteran detective Mat Joubert (Trond Espen Seim), despondent after his wife's death in the line of duty a year prior, is given an ultimatum: either he gets back into shape or he will be forced to retire. Along with his wife's former partner, Sanctus Snook (Boris Kodjoe), Joubert is directed to work on a murder case involving an unusual firearm and a cardboard mask of Albert Einstein left on the body of the victim. And when the body of a drugged and strangled rape victim is found along with a Ukrainian passport, Joubert's boss assumes the two cases are connected.

The series contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: the series remove the B-plot of bank robberies and include three new ones: the murder of Lara Joubert (explained in the novel), human trafficking and political machinations of ProGas.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: MacDonald's particular wound isn't explained in the series as in the novel, it's him who rapes Hanna, but that role in the series is given to van Rees.
  • The Alleged Car: Joubert's second-generation VW Jetta. It's just as beat-up as its owner.
  • Armored Closet Gay: Charlie Zeelie, cricketer and former lover of the second victim, Drew Wilson.
  • Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: cut to two of the Big Bad's bodyguards outside shrugging because they think their boss offed Joubert. The Reveal has Hanna Fortier, Joubert's shrink, standing over van Rees' body with a Broomhandle Mauser.
  • Big Damn Heroes: when Joubert is cornered on van Rees' farm and deafened by a gunshot, Snook suddenly arrives with the cops in tow. And that roughly five minutes after Joubert is saved by Hanna Fortier pulling a Villainous Rescue (or Anti-Villain-ian)
  • Calling Card: cardboard celebrity masks left by the Mauser killer. The last scene of every episode shows the killer removing one of the six masks from the wall.
  • Canon Foreigner: Wernicke, Coolidge, Moorfood and van Rees do not appear in the novel.
  • Composite Character: Sanctus Snook. His role in the novel is divided between several characters.
  • Cool Car: Snook's red Audi A5, confiscated from a criminal in his introduction scene.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Norbert Wernicke, a representative of the oil company ProGas. Also, the boss of Rinkhals, Robin van Rees.
  • Da Chief: Colonel De Wit.
  • Death by Adaptation: Hanna Fortier.
  • Defective Detective: Joubert. A chain-smoking, alcoholic, overweight, self-loathing wreck after his wife Lara was killed in a sting operation thirteen months before the series start.
  • Dirty Harriet: Lara, Joubert's wife and Hawks member, seduced a suspect in a drug smuggling case as a part of a sting operation and was murdered along with him.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Christian Coolidge, the head of Rainbow Academy, hates being called "David".
  • Driven to Suicide: Carin Oberholzer, when she realizes the connection between the Mauser Killer victims. She is afraid that the Killer may be going for her as well.
  • Going Cold Turkey: we first meet Christian Coolidge as he stumbles out of what seems to be a cell, visibly hungover and disoriented. Turns out he's trying to kick his drug addiction.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: Hawks. While it's a real division of the South African Police Service, it's never referred to as its official name, Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation.
  • Groin Attack: MacDonald, the drug smuggler, is shot in the crotch by the Mauser Killer.
  • Internal Affairs: De Wit wants Snook to investigate whether Joubert played any role in his wife's murder.
  • Overly Long Name: Marcus Andreas Theobald Joubert, goes by Mat.
  • Paparazzi: the sleazy reporter, Dries Moorfood, who outs Charlie Zeelie and then tries to destroy Joubert by running an article accusing him of murdering his wife.
  • Papa Wolf: Joubert's late father was this to Mat's older sister Ruth.
  • The Place: the setting is Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Private Military Contractor: Robin van Rees' company, Rinkhals.
  • Rape as Backstory: Hanna Fortier, who hunts down the six men who raped her, and puts the masks they were wearing during the rape on their corpses. Earlier, it is revealed that Robin van Rees also raped Joubert's sister Ruth and was strangled almost to death by her father.
  • Redemption Equals Death: The Reveal has Hanna Fortier having her revenge on van Rees, the last one of her rapists, but then she dies as she and Joubert fend off Rinkhals mercenaries on van Rees' farm.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Betsy, the office worker at the precinct.
  • The Shrink: Hanna Fortier, Joubert's psychotherapist and love interest.
  • Squad Nickname: the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation is referred to only by its nickname, "Hawks".
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Joubert and Snook come to blows twice.
  • That Man Is Dead: Hester Clarke, AKA Hanna Fortier.
  • Third Line, Some Waiting: the series-exclusive mystery of Lara Joubert's murder is the one that drags on the longest, but the other series-exclusive case, murders of human trafficking victims, is given almost as much prominence as the Mauser murders, if not more. In the novel, the B-plot of a string of bank robberies is more of a Two Lines, No Waiting case.
  • Vehicle-Based Characterization: Defective Detective Mat Joubert owns a junker VW Jetta, while the hip young Snook drives a sleek modern Audi A5.
  • Wham Line: "Do you know anyone who wears turtlenecks?"
  • White Bread and Black Brotha: Inverted with the old, gruff, white Defective Detective Mat Joubert and the young, hip, black By-the-Book Cop Sanctus Snook. Joubert is a self-destructive alcoholic, while Snook, coming from an elite investigation unit called the Hawks, is there to keep an eye on him.