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I thought Blood and Water was a South African version of Elite, I was wrong.

DOWNLOAD Mp4: Blood and Water (TV Series) - Waploaded

Synopsis 

Blood and Water revolves around Puleng Khumalo played by Ama Qamata who transfers to the prestigious Parkhurst High as she thinks one of the students there is her sister who was kidnapped 17 years prior.

Episode 1

Given the short amount of episodes, the show hits the ground running and we are thrown right into the story. We are introduced to all the main characters and are given enough backstory to get us to where we need to be. I was hooked within the first 10 minutes. Without exposition, you see what makes the characters tick and their relationship with those around them. By the end of the episode, everything is in motion and I can guarantee that there will be surprises.

Episode 2

This episode revolves around Puleng's move to her new school and making new friends, something that all of us have experienced at one point or another. You also begin to see how resourceful she is. Everything she is doing is a means to an end and while she says and does some things that made me raise my eyebrow and give her side-eye, it shows that she doesn't always know what she's doing. Puleng may be calm and collected but isn't an investigator and she is bound to make a few mistakes. You're also introduced to new characters in this episode and one of them does something at the end that sends ripples throughout the season and changes the pace of the story and makes Puleng's job a lot harder than it already was.

Episode 3

As mentioned earlier, an event from episode 2 makes Puleng's job a lot harder. She also has to deal with potentially telling someone about her reason for transferring to Parkhurst. This is the episode where you see Puleng navigating the rich kids and her own reasons for being at the school. You see the culture of the school and its students stand out. While this episode does have its share of drama, it also focuses on character relationships. You see how different friends treat each other and how others are trying to build their friendship. Up until this point Puleng has spent a lot of her time alone, yes she's been to parties and met other characters like Fikele, KB, Chris, Wade and Wendy, but she has spent a lot of time on her own but in this episode you see her forming relationships in the wake of some of the mistakes that she made in the previous episodes.

Episode 4

This episode is a turning point from the show and also happens to be my favourite episode, while everything before has been leading to this point, this is where the showrunners ramp up the drama. Secrets are revealed, friendships crumble and information is gathered. This is also the point in the story where you're not sure how everyone is going to get out of this because it seems as though the characters have backed themselves into a corner and in some aspect they have. The characters on the show find out a secret about Puleng that we the audience know and watching how people react to it breaks my heart because there was a valid reason for her to keep the secret in the first place. This is where I praise the writing, as the story starts to show that there are no good guys or bad guys. A lot of the characters including our protagonist do things that are morally grey. You see the allegiance people have to their friends and while some of their actions may be questionable, they show the way people act. Sometimes with the intention to hurt others, other times it's a harmless prank.

Episode 5

This episode is titled "Frenemy No. 1" but a more accurate title should have been "When shit hits the fan" because that is exactly what happens in this episode. Something happens at the end of episode 4 which causes a bigger problem in this episode. It might make life a little harder but the shock factor alone it worth he drama it caused. Of all the shocking moments in the first season of Blood and Water (and there are a few) this is definitely in the top 10 ( Entertainment Weekly listed a few here, beware of spoilers) it is something rarely ever happens on a tv show. The best way to describe watching this episode is like watching a slo-mo car wreck. You want to look away but you can't. This is also another episode that shows the moral grey areas that these characters live in. You see Puleng and other weighing doing the right thing with the kind thing, both have positives and negatives and neither has a happy ending and watching her make the decision is what makes the show complex and entertaining.

Episode 6

Episode 6 doesn't really feel like is a season finale. I wish there were a few more episodes because it never really feels like anything has been resolved, and I know we're supposed to have questions going into the next season, (which we will hopefully, probably get) there also should be some sort of middle ground where some of the issues that were raised come to a conclusion. What I'm trying to say is that I think the season ended too abruptly. We find out new information within the last 10 minutes of the first season that sheds a completely new light on the situation at hand and I'm hoping it will all be addressed in the next season. That gripe aside, I really enjoyed this episode especially the second half. It feels as though everything is imploding but in a good way and the final shot is my favourite of the entire show as someone's world is turning upside down, both metaphorically and physically, as the camera pans and turns the two characters on their heads, a visual way to hammer home the point. I think it was a nice touch.

Overall Thoughts

When I saw the trailer for Blood and Water a week or two ago I thought it was  South African version of another Netflix show, Elite and that is because of the trailer and how it was cut. Here is the trailer in question.



I am 99% sure that the trailer was edited that way so people would draw comparisons and seeing as Elite is a good show, having a version of that in South Africa would be sure to bring curious eyes. It worked. Though the two have similar story threads (the different ways those in different class groups live in their respective countries), Elite is much more of a thriller while Blood and Water is more of a drama. The two also explore concepts and themes that we've come to recognise in teen dramas, family struggles, sex, drugs and the hierarchy within schools.

The stand out performance is without a doubt Ama Qamata who plays Puleng and Khosi Ggema who plays Fikele is a close second. The two of their characters have a very rocky relationship and they manage to walk that fine.

Ama Qamata and Khosi Ggema is Episode 6 of Blood and Water

The cast as a whole did a fantastic job whether in the light-hearted moments or the drama-filled moments. They managed to translate everything their characters were feeling onto the screen. No one ended the story the same way they started it and the actors are able to show that change not only in their appearance but in their delivery as well. No one ever looked as though they were phoning it in or not putting in the effort. They made their characters real people. Which leads me to the writing.

What makes Blood and Water so unique is its backdrop, the show manages to tell a coming of age story, tackle social commentary and talk about issues prevalent in South Africa without alienating its audience or coming across as too preachy. It's only 6 episodes long and because of that, the story only ever focuses on the main story beats. You see some of the struggles of the side characters and I do wish the writers would have explored that more because there are really interesting characters, but I see how it would have taken away from the tension of the main story. Another gripe I have is the seemly abandoned plot threads, in the first few episodes, Puleng does something but it is never mentioned again and there are no reputations even though I'm sure she would have gotten in trouble for it. It brings me back to the number of episodes, maybe if there was more time we could have seen the consequences of her actions.

It has become a running joke that Netflix's black female leads are never darker than a paper bag and while I didn't notice it till my attention was drawn to it, it became jarring how every single black girl in a Netflix doesn't wear a foundation shade darker than Fenty 390 or Mac NC45. That changed with this show. Puleng is dark-skinned and it means so much to watch a show and have a main character who not only looks like me but wears her hair the same way I do, and if the statistics show anything, a lot of people are happy about it too.



All in all, I really enjoyed Blood and Water, it has a compelling story, great acting from its leads, a good soundtrack, stunning cinematography and manages to capture teens angst in a way that doesn't come across like it was written by a 40-year-old who knows nothing about teens. It also ahs story beats that we are all familiar with from shows like Elite and Gossip Girl and while some of the things that happen aren't new the originality of the premise draws you in and given the way the story unfolds, you, much lie Puleng, aren't sure of the answer to the question, Where is Phumele Khumalo?

Blood and Water is streaming on Netflix, you can watch it here.

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