Review: ‘In Your Dreams’ Is An Emotional, Thrilling Dream Come True

January 31, 2024

Written by Gareth Crocker and directed by Crocker and Fred Wolmarans, the six-episode South African television series In Your Dreams stars Didintle Khunou, Kiroshan Naidoo, Jesse Suntele, and Anthony Oseyemi. In Your Dreams is a streaming series released on Amazon Prime Video. This 2023 series tells the story of Marcus and Lloyd, two best friends who run a pest control service. When they reunite with their childhood friend Dineo, Marcus and Lloyd activate a powerful magic statue that makes their dreams and deepest desires come to life.

One of the first things that hooked me onto this show was the characters. Marcus and Lloyd are adults trying very hard to make a living with their pest control service despite lacking the funding and consumer audience they need. They are earnest as working adults and have an easygoing, sometimes tender dynamic as best friends that’s fun to watch. Moreover, each of them also has their struggles; Marcus is still coming to terms with the abuse inflicted by his Dad, and Lloyd is a former foster kid trying to find his birth family. 

Didintle Khunou as Dineo in a scene from “In Your Dreams”. Image credit Amazon Prime Studios.

As for Dineo, she is a beautiful young woman who collects relics to preserve the past and compensate for tragically losing her mother as a child. She is resourceful, skilled with self-defense and a bow and arrow, and has a strong backbone inherited from her late mother. She is also a daughter to a father battling dementia. Her friendship with Marcus and Lloyd is amusing, especially since she and Marcus have unspoken crushes on each other. Seeing all three of them find solace in each other despite their biological family problems is heartwarming.

Last but not least, there is Akin, the series’s main antagonist. He can be described as a relic bounty hunter and a hired hand for a wealthy white woman named Amanda. At first, he is satisfied with doing Amanda’s bidding until he learns there is more to the statue than Amanda tells him. From there, he slowly unveils his true colors as a selfish man ruled by greed and capital, willing to harm anything and anyone to get the statue. His character arc was satisfying to watch, especially since he has a surprise connection to one of the other characters.

When it comes to the fantasy aspect of the series, it is divided up pretty well during season 1’s six-episode run. Each episode is 45 minutes long, which gives the show plenty of ground to cover in terms of plot and character development. Starting from episode 1, each episode reflects Marcus, Lloyd, and later Dineo’s dreams, darkest fears, and traumas. After visiting a healer known as a sangoma, they learn that the Walala statue is testing them using a three-part trial that they must pass to have their deepest wish come true. Ranging from dead math teachers to past trauma, each character’s trial is engrossing, terrifying, and heartbreaking to watch.

Other aspects of the series that I enjoyed were the secondary characters and how they spoke a mix of Tswana and English. Regarding the latter, you can see an English translation of the Tswana phrases if you turn on captions. However, even without the translation, it was a beautiful language to hear in certain moments with the characters. This was especially true with the secondary characters, particularly the present and absent parental figures in Marcus’, Dineo’s, and Lloyd’s lives. In this way, Tswana felt like a literal language of love.

Jesse Suntele & Kiroshan Naidoo as Marcus and Lloyd in a scene from “In Your Dreams”. Image credit Amazon Prime Video.

A minor criticism I have is the casting for Dineo, played by a light-skinned actress, when both Dineo’s parents are dark-skinned. While Didintle Khunou did a fabulous job playing Dineo, this subtle colorism didn’t sit well with me. To give the show credit, this is somewhat amended by Marcus’ tenacious and caring mother, Palsea, portrayed regally by actress Nqobile Sipamla.

Another notable aspect of the series is that the ending potentially sets things up for a season 2 while providing a satisfying conclusion. Whether or not this series gets a second season remains to be seen, but I wouldn’t mind one if it did. A series like this is all too rare to see on a platform mostly geared toward an American audience, but it was an emotional and thrilling dream come true.

Latonya “Penn” Pennington is a Black-Asian genderqueer freelance contributor and poet. They’ve written a plethora of pop culture criticism at sites such as Popverse, Into More, Comics XF, and many more. As a poet, they’ve been published in places such as Black Sci-fi’s Scribes of Nyota, Fiyah Lit magazine, and The Daily Drunk. Check out more of their work on their website Words From A Penn.

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