‘Blood & Water’ Season 1 And 2: Recap And Ending, Explained: What To Expect From Season 3?


The Netflix original teen drama series “Blood & Water” is just like the very usual average works of the genre, intermixing crime thriller elements with the sensational, sometimes terribly silly, conflicts in a teenager’s life. The plot follows sixteen-year-old Puleng Khumalo as she strives to find her missing-since-childhood elder sister Phume and to clear allegations of child trafficking against her father in the process. Although this basic premise, added to the South African context, which is generally uncommon in the popular mainstream, is interesting in some senses, “Blood & Water” keeps stretching itself further throughout the first two seasons and possibly in the upcoming third season too.

Spoilers Ahead

Plot Summary: What Is The Series About?

High school student Puleng Khumalo hates the fact that her parents still celebrate the birthday of her elder sister Phumelo like a memorial to the girl, even after almost seventeen years that she has been missing. The Khumalo family, especially the parents, Thandeka and Julius, are still unable to move on from the dreadful past, in which their first-born child, Phumelo, or Phume as they call her lovingly, was stolen and abducted from the hospital within a day of her birth. A primary investigation into the matter had thrown the father, Julius, under suspicion, for the police believed he had sold off his daughter to a human trafficking ring. Shortly after Phume’s seventeenth birthday, or memorial, Puleng’s best friend Zama takes her to a party hosted by the rich kids of the city, and it is here that she sees Fikile Bhele for the first time. Zama jokingly mentions how Puleng and Fikile have similarities in their appearances, but Puleng gradually starts to question whether that is actually possible. To pursue this new, growing question in her mind, she convinces her mother to get her admitted to the prestigious Parkhurst College high school, the same one that Fikile attends. Puleng’s request is also helped by the fact that her father was recently arrested from the school premises in a rather public manner after the case had been reopened, and Thandeka agrees. Soon, Puleng starts to attend her new school and makes acquaintance with Wade, KB, Chris, Reece, Wendy, and, of course, Fikile, all of whom become important characters in her quest to find her missing sister. What she is not aware of is the fact that the answers to her question are rooted in a grand scheme of a conspiracy plotted by seriously powerful people many years ago and that there would be numerous attempts to stop her from reaching the truth.

Are Puleng And Fikile Really Biological Sisters?

Although this happens to be the primary question in focus from the very first episode, “Blood & Water” takes nearly a season and a half to provide a certain answer to it. Puleng starts off her investigation by going through the records and news cuttings that her parents had kept inside their house about the Phume case and going by the initial descriptions and probable face sketches, she gets more confident that Fikile perhaps is her sister. But the young girl cannot speak out about this suspicion of hers to anyone, friends or family, before actually finding any truth in it, for she knows that would mess things up even more. Her first move is to get hold of a DNA test kit, which she manages to do by forging her mother’s signature and also stealing money. But getting hold of Fikile’s sample turns out to be way more difficult than she had thought, and Puleng is ultimately unable to get the test done on her own. Gradually as her investigation gets more severe, she has to tell of this secret mission to her friend Wade, who happened to be her first friend at Parkhurst. Wade, who is also the son of the school’s principal, helps Puleng on every step of her search, and although he initially does so out of a romantic interest in her, the boy continues to do so even when Puleng gets involved with someone else. While some of these steps to find out the truth are relatively simple, like getting hold of Fikile’s records from the principal’s office or trying to find photographs of baby Fikile at her house, some involve dangerous situations too, like going over to a prison to meet with a woman who had been arrested for working with the human trafficking ring. As all these crime thriller plot points keep advancing, Puleng also goes through the general tropes of high school romance and betrayals. Despite having some interest in Wade, Puleng gets romantically involved with KB, another boy from the school. Although her first interaction with KB is only due to the fact that he happens to be a very close friend of Fikile, she grows a genuine interest in him after learning about his passion for music and poetry. 

However, her relationship with Fikile goes through shifting phases, ranging from close friends to bitter rivals. In order to find out more about her, Puleng interviews her for an article in the school magazine, as Fikile aims to become the head girl. But this article is sabotaged by Wendy, who sees Fikile’s rich family and privilege as something negative and oppressive. Despite having been friends, Fikile hates Puleng for this and, with the help of Chris, makes a video on Puleng’s parents and their suspected involvement in trafficking. This enrages Puleng, and she, in turn, reveals Fikile’s romantic affair with the school swimming coach Chad. For all this time, Puleng had never said anything to Fikile about her suspicions because she probably feared that the girl would not believe her. However, there comes the point towards the end of season 1 when Fikile finds out about Puleng’s secret investigation into her, and in fact, “Blood & Water” season 1 ends with Puleng telling Fikile that she suspects the two might be biological sisters. Fikile, of course, is taken by immense surprise, but she is unable to completely ward off the suspicion. “Blood & Water” Season 2 begins with her in an utterly confused state of mind and then gradually shows her beginning to question things herself. Fikile realizes that there is indeed no photograph of her as a baby in their house and, while going through her mother’s laptop, finds that there are no photos of her during pregnancy either. Ever since her mother, Nwabisa, had come face to face with the Khumalo family and realized the case they were involved with, even in the previous season, she had seemed nervous and tense about something. It is very apparent that there is some mystery about Fikile’s parentage, and the girl herself now agrees to get a DNA test done. With Puleng’s help and money from her parents, a DNA test is indeed done, but she also tells of all this to the school’s new counselor, Janet Nkosana. As it turns out, Janet serves a different, larger purpose in the Parkhurst school, as she, too, is involved with this case. When the results of the DNA test come out, it states that the two girls are not biologically related.

While this settles the doubt in Fikile’s mind for some time, she also gradually realizes that some kind of conspiracy might be working against them. Puleng finds text conversations between Nwabisa and KB’s father, Matla, who is the lawyer for the NGO accused of human trafficking. Fikile herself gets romantically involved with the new boy in school, Sam (both Sam and his mother Janet are new characters introduced in “Blood & Water” season 2), and from him, she suspects more that her school counselor might be working against her too. Investigating the matter, the two girls find a man who accepts that someone had paid him off to alter the DNA results and agrees to share with them the true result. It is from this real result that Puleng and Fikile learn that they are indeed biological sisters. Puleng lets her parents know that she has finally found her elder sister, Phumele, for she is her school’s senior, Fikile. As her father is a suspect, they let the police detectives know of the same, and the authorities now conduct a paternity test on every one of the Khumalo family and Fikile. By the end of “Blood & Water” season 2, the result of this paternity test reveals that while Fikile Bhele is the biological daughter of Thandeka, Puleng’s father, Julius, is not her biological father. This makes Fikile and Puleng half-sisters, with both having the same mother but different fathers.

What Had Actually Happened In The Phumele Kidnapping Case?

Along with the question of whether the two teenagers are blood sisters, what has remained a mystery throughout the series is what exactly happened in the kidnapping of the baby. Although the first question is answered, “Blood & Water” does not completely reveal the answers to the second question and stows them away for the third season of “Blood & Water.” To round up all the information that has been revealed so far, baby Phume was kidnapped by someone rather powerful and influential. Through the police investigation and court trials, Puleng gets to know that her father did not actually want to have baby Phumele and had asked Thandeka to get an abortion done. The reason was that Julius did not believe the baby was his, meaning that he suspected his wife of having had an affair, and this is indeed confirmed when Fikile turns out to be Thandeka’s daughter and not Julius’. The police believe that this was why Julius had sold off his newborn daughter through a fraudulent NGO by the name of Point of Grace. This adoption center, Point of Grace, was later found to be heavily linked with human trafficking throughout South Africa, but the company seems to have been in operation still and is represented in legal cases by KB’s father, Matla, who is a distinguished lawyer. While Matla himself seems very much involved in the kidnapping case, it is ultimately revealed that it was his wife, Lisbeth, who was probably the mastermind behind it all. A photograph of Lisbeth that Puleng finds matches exactly with the police sketch of the suspect in Phumele’s kidnapping case so many years ago.

Although links and events in between are still shrouded in mystery, Lisbeth seems to have been the leader of the human trafficking ring, and after Point of Grace had come under suspicion, she moved away from the country. Matla told everyone that he had separated from his wife, and his son KB did not have any idea about all this either. It was also Lisbeth, in all probability through Matla, who had hired Janet Nkosana to be the new school counselor at Parkhurst to keep an eye on whatever Puleng and Fikile had been doing. Janet works directly for the human trafficking ring, as she admits to her son Sam, and she tries to stop the two girls multiple times from finding out about their true identities. In the end, a man sent by the higher powers breaks into Janet’s house and hurts her as well, also taking away her laptop and all evidence that ties her to the kidnapping case. But the police decide to believe her and place her and Sam under witness protection, and the two have ceased to keep in contact with the rest of the characters since then.

After Fikile is found out to be the baby who had been kidnapped so many years ago, her parents, the Bheles, obviously come under immediate suspicion, and both of them are arrested by the police. It is now that Nwabisa admits that her daughter was adopted but keeps claiming that she had adopted the baby following complete legal measures. The woman now also reveals that her husband, Brian Bhele, had no idea of this adoption and always knew Fikile to have been his own biological daughter. While Nwabisa is kept in prison, Matla meets her a couple of times as her lawyer, and the interaction between the two makes it clear that Nwabisa is not so innocent either. Even if she had not partaken in any of the illegal acts, she definitely knows what had actually happened, as she threatens Matla to get her out of prison or else, she would tell everything to the police. At the very end of “Blood & Water” season 2, Nwabisa is taken out of her prison cell by some of the police personnel, and she is then taken into a van, seemingly to be transferred to some other prison. However, she is soon escorted to the harbor and then onto a boat, where arrangements are made for her to meet with someone. This person is soon revealed to be Lisbeth, who claims that she is back to clear up the mess created by Nwabisa, and she then demands the woman tell her about Puleng.

What To Expect From Season 3 Of ‘Blood & Water’?

The first and foremost reason to watch “Blood & Water” season 3 is to get a grip on the whole story of Phumele, or Fikile’s kidnapping as a baby, and the exact identity of the human trafficking gang involved with it. The true identity of Lisbeth is also something to look forward to, as she herself might be somehow related to the Bheles, or specifically Nwabisa. At the very end of season 2, Lisbeth suggests that she had cleared up Nwabisa’s mess earlier too, meaning that the two have a history going way back into the past. In both of the existing seasons, Matla has been portrayed in a slightly negative light, but the exact extent of his involvement in the whole matter remains to be seen. After all, he promises his son KB that he will sit down and explain everything to him once he helps the Bheles get out of prison. The history between the Khumalo parents also needs to be discussed, for we still do not know with whom Thandeka had an affair and, therefore, who the biological father of Fikile was. Along with all this, the usual drama and romance of high school life will also go on, as Puleng still has trouble choosing between Wade and KB as her boyfriend. After having been duped by the swimming coach, Fikile finds love in Sam, but the boy also goes missing by the end of season 2, as he has been placed under the police’s witness protection. Going by the trailer for the 3rd season that has been released, “Blood & Water,” is perhaps raising the bar of action some more in this new iteration. The old characters return with more shades, and Lisbeth will now take on a prominent role as she returns to KB and Matla’s house. On the other hand, Nwabisa Bhele still remains missing after she was taken to the boat, and she is suspected of having been kidnapped by the same human trafficking ring. Overall, it would be interesting to watch how things are tied up in “Blood & Water” season 3 and whether there would be newer or existing plot lines that would require further seasons to be explained.

See More: ‘Blood & Water’ Season 3: Ending, Explained – What Happens To Puleng And Fikile? Will There Be A Season 4?

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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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