When “Blood & Water” debuted on Netflix last year, it was a bona fide hit. Suffice to say, fans were over the moon when the youth drama series was renewed for a second season.
In between those Heritage Day braais, streamers bunkered down to catch up on the unfolding suspense over whether Fikile “Fiks” Bhele (Khosi Ngema) is or isn’t her Puleng Khumalo’s (Ama Qamata) sister, who was abducted at birth.
I don’t blame them, though, Gambit Films don’t disappoint. The writers have ingeniously penned this web of intrigue, laden with stumbling blocks, intense drama and a sprinkling of light-hearted moments.
Every character, no matter their questionable actions, has a redemptive journey.
The new 7-part series picks up several weeks later as everyone prepares for their first day back at Parkhurst High.
It gets off to a bumpy start for Puleng as Fiks has taken out a restraining order against her after that #sidechickchronicles debacle.
The bad blood between the two puts Karabo “KB” Molapo (Thabang Molaba) in a tricky spot as he is struggling to wrap his head around the beef with Puleng and his ex Fiks.
Wade Daniels (Dillon Windvogel) and Zama Bolton (Cindy Mahlangu) are Puleng’s ride-or-die, while Chris Ackerman (Arno Greeff) plays overprotective “big brother” to Fiks.
Meanwhile, Tahira Kahn (Mekaila Mathys) succumbs to her feelings for Wade while Reece van Rensburg (Greteli Fincham) expands her drug-dealing side-hustle and recruits some newbies to help.
Wendy Dlamini (Natasha Thahane) is usurped as the chief editor of the school magazine and has to go back to the drawing board in figuring what she wants to do.
And the new guy, Sam Nkosana (Leroy Siyafa) has taken a shine to Fiks, much to the annoyance of Chris.
In a recent Zoom chat, Windvogel, Qamata and Molaba opened up about the journey of their respective characters and cracked up recalling the behind-the-scene fun during the shoot.
Windvogel shared: “I’m naturally an extremely shy person. So definitely during the shooting of season one, I didn’t show a lot of me to my fellow castmates but, heading into season two, we were quarantined together.
“So we were in a bubble in the same place and we were able to bond a lot. We played a lot of games, from 30 seconds to hide and seek in one person’s apartment, to Jenga and Xbox… we played a whole host of things every single night.
“I think that definitely helped with the bonding and the chemistry as well. So even heading into the set, the behind the scenes was extremely fun. The gelling was smooth and I’m very grateful for that and hopefully, it shows in season two.”
Qamata’s breakthrough role was on this show after playing Buhle in “Gomora”.
She’s not much different from her character in terms of her confidence.
She added: “I definitely agree with Dillon and he summed it up pretty well. Season two gave us an opportunity to really grow closer as a cast because we were all in the same apartment building and not really allowed to go out just to minimise the risk of catching Covid.
“So we definitely grew closer as a cast and I got to find out more about my fellow castmates.
“I think when you share a certain vulnerability, when you know someone a bit more, you trust your scene partner and the process because you’ve built a relationship that is so solid.”
Molaba, while no less talented, was the more reserved of the three.
He said: “Yeah, the connection that we have off set made it easier for us to work with each other. It was a great experience.”
And there’s plenty of conflicts this season. Wade has feelings for his best friend while embarking on a relationship with Tahira.
It is heightened by their crime-solving shenanigans and when they become parents to Spiyoyo (an egg) in their life orientation class.
“Wade finds himself stuck between his crush and someone who really likes him back,” explained Windvogel.
“I can’t speak for everybody but, in my mind, when you have a crush, you sort of want to end up with that person and you keep that crush until you end up with them.”
And Molapo’s character flies into a jealous rage
In the interview, the actor glanced over to Qamata and laughed: “I mean it is quite annoying to have your girl disappearing on you the whole time with this other dude. It is frustrating.
“We see KB going through a lot of confusion, being gaslit and just trying to figure it all out. I feel like in season two, he’s quite lonely because he doesn’t have his mates anymore cause of Puleng.”
And KB’s decision to pursue a career in music leaves him at a stalemate with his influential businessman father, Matla (Sello Maake ka Ncube).
Molaba continued: “It is an internal turmoil that he does through. Also with the issues of choosing a career and trying not to disappoint his dad much because of what he chooses to do. It’s a mess for him.”
And despite him being the school stud with all the girls gaga over him, he struggles.
“Isn’t that pretty much the life of a teenager,” he added. “You have all these people around but you just feel alone. You go through things on your own. You can’t say much. You don’t know who to trust.”
In the new season, Puleng is relentless in getting to the truth about Fiks.
Qamata explained: “She compromises her relationships in all spheres of her life and I think that is what makes her want to prove this even more. It’s like, I’ve really lost so much, her back is, literally, against the wall and the stakes are quite high. It’s a life or death situation.
“She puts herself in very dangerous and compromising situations to prove that Fiks is her sister.”
The actress added that she admires her character’s boldness and never give up attitude.
As for the new additions to the cast, Windvogel admitted to bonding with Siyafa. Qamata, who shares a close bond with Mahlangu in real life, took the opportunity to tease him about their “bromance”.
He responded: “We surprisingly got extremely close, I actually just got a call from him now and told him, ‘Nah I’m in an interview, I’m going to call you back. I consider him a very good friend of mind.”
And then she brought up his fake British accent on set.
Windvogel laughed and explained: “During the lockdown, we had a lot of time and I’m a huge fan of ‘Peaky Blinders’ and I like Brish shows. The accent just came and it just so happened that is carried over to behind the scenes.”
To prove his point, he broke off into a posh British accent and left us all cracking up. The timing was perfect as our time for the chat was over.
Aside from the dope soundtrack, “Blood & Water” has a sublime cast delivering unparalleled performances. And behind the scenes, they are clearly pretty fun, too.
“Blood & Water” 2 is currently streaming on Netflix.