Warning: Spoilers ahead for Blood & Water season 1 finale, “Trippin'.”
“I don’t want to lie to you. I want to be honest here,” Blood & Water heroine Ama Qamata told Refinery29 on a recent phone call. Considering the gravity of her boundary breaking South African Netflix series — about a teen girl’s methodical search for her long lost sister Phumelele, who was kidnapped 17 years earlier — Qamata could easily sound deadly serious. However, there was an obvious wry smile in Qamata's voice.
“I was like, So this girl went through this whole journey from just someone mentioning the fact that they look alike?” Qamata recalled with a laugh. “That’s a bit extreme.’
Blood & Water is unapologetically extreme from the jump. Within the first episode of the teen mystery, Qamata’s character, 16-year-old Puleng, is rearranging her entire life to find out if wealthy high schooler Fikile Bhele (Khosi Ngema) is actually her sister Phumelele, all grown up. What begins as a familial inking at Fiks’ birthday party soon turns into a full-fledged investigation — an investigation Fiks is horrified to learn about, in painful photographic detail, in the closing seconds of finale “Trippin’.”
The ending of “Trippin’” is mortifying. Puleng is forced to quickly divulge the full breadth of her cloak and dagger behaviour in under a minute to the subject of her research. Fikile’s delicate world is shattered — after her illicit relationship with swim coach and expectant dad Chad Morgan (Ryle De Morny) is outed to the whole school. The mystery of whether Fiks really is Phume, and therefore Puleng’s sister, still isn’t solved.
The cast is here to remind us there is a small silver lining hiding in all of this emotional horror.
“I feel like Fikile might have felt at some point through her life that something was missing or maybe she felt like something was wrong in a way,” Fiks’ portrayer, Khosi Ngema, mused over the phone. “So even though she might be creeped out, she might — I don’t know — she might believe Puleng. But, at the same time, [she might] be in denial.”
That means if Blood & Water were to get a season 2 (which Netflix has yet to order), we may see Fiks come to terms with Puleng’s big news — or even help her maybe-sister get to the bottom of her parentage. However, both Ngema and Qamata are quick to point out just how unsure the future of Blood & Water can be.
“We all have our own theories and ideas. You might think you know. But no, you don’t,” Ngema quipped. A few minutes later, Qamata echoed her friend and co-star, saying she has had precisely such a perspective shifting experience with the Blood & Water bosses. “I also had a theory, but I don’t want to indulge into that,” Qamata revealed. “I mentioned it to the writers, and they were like, ‘Uh. No.’ That was cancelled.”
As you watch “Trippin’,” it is easy to start cooking up theories like Qamata. The finale ties together multiple pressing threads from the season, as Puleng and her detective partner/love interest Wade Daniels (Dillon Windvogel) fully crack the case.
Earlier in the episode, Puleng notices a suspicious marked car following her. Wade realizes the vehicle belongs to the law practice owned by Matla Molapo (Sello Maake Ka-Ncube), father of Puleng’s boyfriend KB (Thabang Molaba). Years earlier, Mr. Molapo defended Point of Grace agency, the company that was accused of trafficking babies and criminally swapping out identities. Mr. Molapo is also a longtime close friend of Fiks’ mom Nwabisa Behle (Xolile Tshabalala), who had known difficulty getting pregnant before “having” Fiks. Mrs. Behle behaved dubiously during a “Payback’s a B*tch” meeting with Puleng’s family — specifically when Phume’s kidnapping came up — and in “Frenemy No. 1” when pressed for photos around the time of Fiks’ birth. Fiks’ birth certificate also has the wrong date and was signed by Brenda Jaxah (Faniswa Yisa), a now-imprisoned woman who was bribed by Point of Grace to approve birth certificates without the necessary scrutiny.
“A lot of boxes were being ticked in Puleng’s mind,” Qamata explained of the episode, which was written and helmed by award-winning director Nosipho Dumisa. “I don’t know if Puleng and Fikile can be sisters. I think only Nosipho knows.”