Zinhle Mahlati In ‘Fatal Seduction,’ Explained: What Happens To Her At The End Of Season 1?

South African Netflix original, Fatal Seduction has plenty of complex and morally gray characters. Even though there was not much to offer when it came to the story and the screenplay, the arcs presented by the makers had plenty to showcase. Fatal Seduction begins as a steamy thriller and quickly transitioned into a murder mystery whodunnit. Zinhle is the only daughter of Judge Leonard and his law professor wife, Nandi. She has been raised with many privileges. Initially, Zinhle does not come across as a brat who does not care about life in general. It shows she was raised the right way by her parents, who never had any financial issues.

Zinhle comes across as a young woman who loves expressing herself through her out-of-the-box makeup, and she wants someone who will like her for who she is. Her best friend Laura, who happens to be gay, is always by her side but does not hesitate to question her moves as well. Laura secretly has a crush on Zinhle, but apart from that, she never lets the love she has for Zinhle interfere with the friendship they share. Zinhle is close to her parents, especially her mother. She has been far more sympathetic towards Nandi since the miscarriage, and she understands the amount of pain that she went through while receiving no support from her father.

Zinhle, in the first half of Fatal Seduction, seems like a good kid because she refuses to get carried away until Jacob Tau walks in and creates mayhem. Zinhle was randomly texted by someone, and the two of them started chatting regularly. It seemed harmless in the beginning, but after a point, it felt as if the person chatting from the other end was stalking her, which Laura found very disconcerting. Laura is the more mature of the two, as she was right about not falling for the nameless user who randomly disappears as well. Zinhle doesn’t take her advice because every girl her age loves the kind of attention an anonymous person is showering her with. She feels validated by his attention, even though she has Laura around to do the same.

Laura’s concerns grew over time as the messages kept getting more random. Zinhle is still not seeing any red flags. She claims to have a connection with this person. It is not made clear why Zinhle feels attached to this stranger. It could be because she has never been in a relationship before. It could be because she was always given a certain freedom, and for the first time, she wanted to explore that. Laura, being a good friend, found a solution to track this person by getting a geek classmate from their university to track the phone number. The number takes her to Jacob’s garage, and unbeknownst to her, the man has been sleeping with her mother as well.

The twisted man is in pursuit of revenge when he manages to trap two women of the same family to teach Leonard a lesson. Jacob seems like a petty man who would go to any extent to seek vengeance; and he was close to pulling it off too. Zinhle probably behaved for the first time like a naive person because, she was charmed by Jacob’s words and willing to date him. She probably saw his willingness to open up as a green flag, even though she forgets the fact that he is still a stranger and she practically knows nothing about him. She was quick to refer to him as her boyfriend as well, which again seems a bit too quick for someone she has just met.

Zinhle goes one step forward and plans to spend a day with Jacob because she thinks they are dating. Jacob manages to get closer to her, and he gets rid of her phone to avoid being traced. Thanks to her mother, who knew Jacob’s identity, she was quick to track her down. She and Leonard were worried that the boy had kidnapped her, and on finding him, he was beaten black and blue. This chain of events happened mainly because of Jacob, who wanted his plan to work without being busted by her parents, and he was successful in doing so as Zinhle lost her virginity to him. This was either Jacob’s plan to get back at Nandi, or he probably wanted to prove to Leonard that he was capable enough to ruin the lives of two women close to him.

Zinhle is kept in the dark about her mother’s brief affair with Jacob and his obsessiveness towards her. This was for her own good because she did not want things to get weird. Zinhle rebels just like any other girl of that age in love, but the situation around her comes crashing down much sooner than anybody anticipated. Zinhle overhears Nandi speaking about her affair with Jacob. This piece of news breaks her heart, for in her eyes, her mother and father are perfect, and her mother cheating might add the fear of her parents getting divorced. Her pain and disappointment can be felt because she is just a youngster.

She is angry, confused, livid, exhausted, and in pain. She has an ailing father on one hand, and a mother and a boyfriend who betrayed her on the other. It will be hard for her to recover from it or have another serious relationship with another man. The news keeps piling on her as she realizes Jacob was with her only to exact revenge, and he loved his mother more than anything. Ever since Zinhle has been unable to speak to her mother normally or have a decent conversation. They spent most of their time fending for Leonard as he showed signs of recovery. Out of sheer sadness and the emotional turmoil that she faces, she ends up kissing Laura, but she refuses to have a relationship with Zinhle. It is obvious the girl is vulnerable, and Laura will not want a relationship to begin this way.

Sadly, things go south rather quickly for the whole family. Zinhle initially dreams of killing her mother. When Leonard, after evading arrest and running away from the hospital, comes to meet Nandi, Zinhle is under the impression that Jacob is discreetly meeting her mother, and she accidentally stabs her father with her weapon, the katana. This happened because, over a short period, she shamefully became insecure about the fact that Jacob wanted Nandi and not her. Even with Jacob gone from the country, things between the mother and daughter will never be okay. Nandi accepts responsibility for the crime to safeguard her daughter’s future. Zinhle should have seen this as a sacrifice her mother was willing to make. She tries to confess her role in her father’s stabbing, but it is considered irrelevant at this point. Zinhle was not made aware of her actual parentage until the end.

As revealed in Fatal Seduction, Vuyo was her biological father from the one-night stand he and Nandi had years ago. The familial dynamics here are weird, and she shouldn’t be informed about them. It will devastate her further. In the event that season two of the show is announced, the writers might explore this as a subplot. Zinhle has had her life turned upside down, and there is only hope that she will feel better soon.

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Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan is a cinema enthusiast, and a part time film blogger. An ex public relations executive, films has been a major part of her life since the day she watched The Godfather – Part 1. If you ask her, cinema is reality. Cinema is an escape route. Cinema is time traveling. Cinema is entertainment. Smriti enjoys reading about cinema, she loves to know about cinema and finding out trivia of films and television shows, and from time to time indulges in fan theories.

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