It is good to see Netflix venturing into African territories and giving us original content from Africa. But it would be good to see good stories and good performances and not rely on dramatics to sell the story. Yes, African stories seem to have found representation, but they could have been executed so much better. “Shanty Town” is an original Nigerian series about a notorious mafia kingpin who is dreadful and brutal. Every escort and prostitute working under him is terrified of breaking the rules of his ring. Will the women be able to break away from the life of shackles?
Scar And His Women
The show begins with a woman waking up her two children, who are twins, for a day’s work looking ahead for them. They are a poor family living in a poor town in Nigeria, barely finding the means to survive. Their town is attacked by gunmen from a gang, and it is completely taken over by them. In the process of rescuing her kids, the mother loses one of her children, and they are stopped by the same gunmen in the middle of the river as the mother rescues herself and her other daughter. Years later, Inem is in prison, all set to be released for good conduct, and the police are wondering if releasing her would be a good idea. The police want to plant her as a mole so that they can pick up dirt on mafia kingpin Scar and find out who is funding his ring. Inem wants to get away from prison, and for that, she would do anything to get things done her way. Scar, on the other hand, is a notorious mafia drug lord who runs a large prostitution ring and a drug cartel. He is a despicable man who wants to behave like a god and push any button he wishes to, and he wished to make sure women would come under his thumb begging for work. Scar has a boss, but he himself is the lone man running this ring, and he knows he doesn’t have any competition so far, making it easy for him to oppress women under him.
There are plenty of women under him who would like to gain freedom from this life of sex and drugs and live their lives not being dependent on anyone but themselves. One of the prostitutes, Jackie, earns enough from prostitution that she can save enough money to set herself free from Scar and the ring. Scar accepts her debt repayment, and he agrees to finally give her freedom to leave his cartel and live her life on her own. Jackie, though, is physically and mentally harassed by Scar for a brief time before she is finally granted freedom by him. He is a dangerous man to mess with, and Jackie knows if she fools around with this man, it will lead to dire consequences. Jackie is careful when she hands over the money to him, and she lets him be, knowing he will grant her freedom as promised. Jackie is given a going-away party by everyone in the cartel, especially the women, who are extremely happy to know that Jackie can now be independent and make money without having to pay any commission to Scar. Jackie can do whatever she wants with her life from here, and all the women, especially Eniewan, the most senior of all the women working under Scar, are happy for her. Eniewan is informed of Inem’s release from prison. Inem requests that Eniewan pick her up from prison, for she is the only person she knows who could help her get back to the life she had before she was sent to prison. It is implied that Inem was sent to prison for prostitution and drug peddling, and Scar has never bothered to look for her since the sentence. Eniewan offers to help Inem and bring her back to Shanty Town. Inem claims she knows nothing but to offer her body for money, and this is what she wants to continue doing.
Jackie, meanwhile, encourages Shalewa, another prostitute, to free herself from the shackles of Scar by offering him the money she owes him. Jackie gives her some money, and Shalewa adds her savings to convince Scar to let her go as well. The whole reason Shalewa wanted to get freedom was that she always wanted to study mixology, become a bartender, and someday open a bar. She intends to become a successful business owner, and her first step is provided to her by Jackie. Shalewa approaches Scar, but Scar overpowers her by giving her a list of the debts she owes him, which goes up to 15 million. Feeling overwhelmed, Shalewa goes back to being a prostitute, not knowing how she will repay her debts or if she will be able to get out of this hell. Inem was picked up by Eniewan and brought back to Shanty Town. Inem is more than happy to have come back to her old life.
‘Shanty Town’ Ending Explained – How Do All The Women Of Shanty Town Save Themselves? Does Scar Kill Chief Fernandez’s Son?
As Jackie is all set to leave Shanty Town, the driver allotted to her to drop her off in the city informs Scar of the location. This is an indication of the fact that Scar does not intend to let Jackie break free of his ring and accepting her full repayment for her freedom is just a trick for getting money. Scar confronts Jackie in the middle of the road as she tries to find herself another cab to head to the city. Scar manhandles her and makes it clear that being a part of the shanty town means being family, and the only time someone can leave the family is when they die. Scar hacks Jackie to death. To collect her decapitated body, Eniewan arrives, from which it is understood that she was in on Scar’s plan to kill Jackie instead of letting her go. The whole point of Scar killing Jackie is to let her know he is still the one who holds the reins of her life, and by offering him the money, she cannot free herself from his shackles. Killing Jackie was a means for Scar to showcase his power as a mafia man who has a god-like complex. Her killing is also an indication that women in his ring might find it difficult to leave Shanty Town.
On the other hand, Inem reaches Shanty Town, and all the women are happy to see her back in action. Scar, though, is captured by Dame Dabota, a powerful lady in the state of Lagos who wants to bring down Chief Fernandez, the most powerful man in the state and someone Scar is afraid of. Scar is captured, tortured, and given options on how to get out of the situation. Dame Dabota wants to defeat Chief Fernandez and grab hold of all his power. For that to happen, only Scar, who is revealed to be Chief Fernadez’s illegitimate son, is made aware of all the brutal actions Chief Fernandez carried out and how they directly affected him and his life in Shanty Town. Scar is carried away by emotions so far and offers to help Dame. Scar is an emotionally wounded man, which leads to him becoming a monster who controls men and women in his life. But he can’t use his control tactics on Dame Dabota, for she is very powerful. Scar knows that decimating Chief Fernandez would mean ending his power in the state of Lagos. Chief Fernandez, long before Dame Dabota contacted Scar, laid out his plans to win the local elections, for he knows the real power lies with the people of the state, which he would want to taste. Scar lets Dame know about a ring that Fernandez wears that carries immense power. If he is separated from the ring, it would be easy to kill him. Dame Dabota offers Scar money and power in return for the ring if it can be stolen. His ring will bring him to the den, which will make him vulnerable. Scar takes up the offer because he knows a powerful Fernandez is a threat to his thriving business as well.
Shalewa, on the other hand, is mesmerized by Chief Fernandez’s son Femi, who is showing interest in her too, though he doesn’t know about her work so far. Their date goes well, and Shalewa hopes to get him to fall in love with her, which will help her get away from Scar. Femi and Shalewa are attracted to one another and head out on their next date at the insistence of Femi. Shalewa hopes Femi’s love for her is real and that he does not abandon her if he ever comes to know of her profession. Shalewa, on the other hand, is assigned to get close to Chief Fernandez and make him wear a powerful necklace that will let him get rid of the powerful ring that keeps him alive. Shalewa is taken aback by this assignment, knowing he is Femi’s father, but all she has to do is make him wear the necklace. Shalewa agrees to the assignment. Shalewa, at this point, would do anything Scar would ask of her to get into his good books after the debacle of offering him money for her freedom. She believes her good gestures will make sure Scar changes his mind. Shalewa can only hope Scar is nicer to her going forward. Inem, though, gets back in the ring, and it is made clear that Inem and Scar are in love, but Scar had never bothered to catch up with her after her arrest. Inem, after a brief conversation with Scar, lets the people in the police know about going ahead with their plans to capture Scar and whoever his boss is.
Inem, to get back into her job as a prostitute, is picked by Chief Fernandez to spend a night with him. Inem, though, did not expect Fernandez to unleash himself on her the way he did. He rapes Inem and her body, and her mind is crushed. Inem did not expect this to happen to her because she was familiar with this world. She wasn’t aware of the fact that men indulge in things with women without their consent in such a way. Inem is partially injured because of Chief Fernandez’s actions, and she knows he will never be punished for it. Inem is crushed mentally, and she conveys the same to the police who have hired her to go undercover. Inem is afraid of the fact that Chief Fernandez must be putting many women through the same, and now she is desperate to free other women from Shanty Town. Scar is on a mission to get close to the ring, which he has been assigned to get hold of, as told by Dame Dabota. As he meets with Chief Fernandez at the hotel, he witnesses Femi and Shalewa having a good time together. Realizing that Shalewa is dating Femi, he informs his half-brother/potential enemy Femi of Shalewa’s profession. Femi is heartbroken over it. Scar again wanted to showcase his power by revealing Shalewa’s profession and to make sure she never leaves Shanty Town to live a luxurious life, that, too, with the son of a powerful man, he is about to take down.
Shalewa and Inem run into each other, but Inem throws out the idea that maybe women released by Scar always go off the radar, including Jackie. Shalewa informs Inem that she has a voicemail from Jackie, which she never heard. The whole idea of Inem’s letting Shalewa know this detail is to make her aware of the fact that maybe Scar is killing the women who are being set free. As they listen to the voicemail, Inem’s worst nightmares come true. Scar indeed killed Jackie and other women who were given freedom by him. Shalewa is horrified to know this happened. They also come to know Eniewan was also involved in the murder of Jackie. Inem now knows there is no way out but to kill Scar, and Shalewa, on the other hand, is terrified of even thinking of leaving Shanty Town. She will have to reveal her true self to Femi and probably break up with him. Shalewa wonders if this is what her fate is going to be till her last breath. Serving men she doesn’t like and forever being under Scar. Inem confronts Eniewan about Scar’s truth, and she reveals her role in Jackie’s death. Scar, though, as a final act of revenge on his father Chief Fernandez, he captures Femi and Shalewa and blackmails Fernandez to reach the spot where both of them are kept hostages. Scar was right about the fact that Fernandez would come to rescue his son after all, for he is the only child who is the heir to Fernandez’s empire. As Fernandez reaches the spot, so do Inem and the police to rescue Femi and Shalewa. Meanwhile, Fernandez escapes the ambush, Femi and Shalewa are rescued, and Scar is gravely injured. As he reaches his den covered in blood and mud, asking for help, he is killed by all the women working under him for putting them through hell all these years. This was the ultimate power move by the women working under him to nab him when he was at his weakest, for he did the same with them. The women killing Scar means they are taking control of their life finally for without Scar there won’t be any empire to run.
Inem reveals the fact that her sister, who had survived the attack, was put through hell by Scar, and that is the reason she came in undercover to make sure she got her revenge. Inem also reveals to Femi that his father is a drug lord who runs an illegal market for human body organs and runs one of the biggest prostitution rings in the state. Femi allows Inem to arrest his father, but there is no closure to Femi and Shalewa’s love story. It is preposterous to believe that Femi was unaware of the illegal activities his father was involved in for years. But this gives power to Inem and the police to arrest Chief Fernandez. On the day of his election campaign, the video of him sexually molesting Inem is released for everyone to know his real face. Inem arrests Chief Fernandez, as a man like him needs to be behind bars and not permitted to sit in power. Their investigation also reveals that Fernandez was Scar’s boss after all, and he made sure his illegitimate son would stay under his thumb. As an act of power, Chief Fernandez never let Scar leave his sight. The entire ring is brought down, and culprits are arrested, but there is no certainty that the women who were forced to be a part of this ring will ever receive justice. “Shanty Town” is a dark tale about a ring that forces women into something that their minds and bodies are against, but to gain financial stability, they venture into prostitution to save themselves from death. Survival is the key word here, and many women survived the ordeal they were put through by Scar and his boss, Chief Fernandez.
“Shanty Town” comes across as a crime drama, but it is majorly let down by a haphazard screenplay that has no clear pattern. The scenes keep jumping from point A to point B without letting the viewer understand what exactly is happening or what is leading to this scene. The editing is jumpy too, and the direction is shaky to the point where it is hard to connect the dots the screenplay is trying to make. “Shanty Town” could have been a gripping tale of mafia kingpins if only the screenplay was tightly written, for the subject matter of the show is hard to look away from. The performances of all the actors do not help either; most of them go into ham mode. “Shanty Town” is again a good attempt to showcase Africa, its stories, and its culture per se, but strictly from an entertainment point of view, this show provides nothing. Such a letdown.