Netflix’s ‘Jiva!’ explores the hardships of a young talented South African street dancer juggling a stagnant job, family responsibilities, and the emotional baggage of a failed romance. She must overcome her fears, family objections and arch rivals in a dance competition that could liberate her from her restrictive working class neighbourhood.
Young and ambitious Ntombi (Noxolo Dlamini) has to give up her love for street dance called ‘Jiva’ and take up a job she hates. She is the sole breadwinner in her family of three; and works in a marine amusement park at Umlazi, Durban.
There comes a point when she feels she cannot live a compromised life any further. She intends to use her talent as a means to escape her insipid work life and to step into the limelight.
As soon as she learns about Jiva Loxion Dance Competition with a huge cash prize, she realizes it could be her only chance to redeem herself from this grim situation.
She, however, is too wary to go against her mother’s wishes and is often disturbed by flashes from her past involving Nathi Makheke, her high school boyfriend and previous winner of the dance competition, who is likely to participate again with his group called Soweto Cats.
She can’t forget the fact that he had stolen her life once by replacing her on a dance tour. Tragically, then her musician father had shot himself and left her mother crippled for life.
With some convincing by her long-time friend Vuyiswa (Candice Modiselle), she finally makes a decision to embark on this journey and attends the Jiva Loxion launch party hosted by DJ Sika.
Nathi, looking for some publicity for his reality show, makes a move on her at the party, but is busted by Vuyiswa who comes to her rescue and tells him to back off.
She, finally, registers her crew for the competition under the name ‘The Trollies’ and is on a lookout for dancers.
Vuyiswa is irate when she brings her frenemy since high school, Zinhle (Sne Mbatha), on board. Ntombi, however, succeeds in hashing out peace between the two and then picks Lady E (Stella Dlangalala) and Nolwazi (Zazi Kunene) to complete the rest of her crew.
Her mother does not want her to jeopardize her job for a competition that she thinks she might not win. But her father’s words, “If you dream it, you can live it” keep her going.
The Trollies have to clear the flagship round in the competition where their performance can either make or break their chance at going further in the competition. They need to perform in front of the judges at the club eRoyal and the fear and pressure of elimination looms large.
As one of The Trollies gets evicted in unfortunate turn of events, Vuyiswa pitches in at the right moment and saves them from elimination as they give a glorious performance.
Natombi’s mother has a concussion as she tries to walk after an altercation with her, who accuses her of using her wheelchair as her crutch.
Then, there is a political scandal involving the Mayor and business mogul Mzwakhe Gumede that throws Vuyiswa’s cushy lifestyle out of sorts as he is her secret lover and patron too.
Will The Trollies hold their own through the flash round? Will Ntombi be able to fulfill her dream of an escape from her miserable life?
Here is the ‘Jiva!’ ending explained in detail
Ntombi’s guilt and Nathi’s pride
Ntombi wrestles with guilt over her mother’s accident. Her mother still wants her to leave her dream and prioritize her family.
Short of options after her penthouse is locked down by authorities, Vuyiswa calls on an old friend Menzi who offers her his place to stay and helps to get her stuff back.
Nathi tries to smooth things over with Ntombi by visiting her at the hospital, to get a bite for his reality show. She is shocked at his brazen pride and reminds him of how he had deserted her when she needed his support the most.
The competition gathers steam and six regional finalists are called out to perform at Club Royal to secure their place for the Nationals at Johannesburg.
Ntombi, who has by now decided to quit the competition as she cannot lose her mother, is shuffling between the hospital and her job.
Her mother is happy with her decision as she does not wish her daughter to end up like her husband. Her uncle tries to assure her mother that Natombi is very strong, but she won’t give in.
Natombi breaks the news to her crew too. The girls are aghast.
Nathi’s betrayal and Ntombi’s return
A flashback reveals how Nathi had broken her trust and filled in for her when her father had died, by lying to the sponsors that she was not keen anymore.
Ntombi is desperately looking for a sign to make a return as her heart is still in the competition. Led by her uncle, the girls prepare to get Ntombi back for “Zulu girls never quit”.
The four transform a studio that he manages and start rehearsing putting aside all their personal conflicts as they have too much at stake.
They make a last ditch effort to get her back by appearing at her job with a choreographed dance piece and they succeed.
A budding romance and the final face-off
Ntombi listens to a CD mixed by Bheki, an aspiring DJ who secretly loves her, and is elated to hear her father’s song on it that brings back old memories.
Ntombi connects with Bheki who turns out to be her father’s fan, but, she is too afraid of any romantic involvement as it never ends well. He tells her if she finds the right person, who says it has to end.
Their bonding is something that audience would look forward to, if ‘Jiva!’ is reprised for another season.
The regional face-off approaches and the Trollies crew is back in action. With the best pantsulas and bhengas on display at the finals, the group holds their ground and steals the show, making it to the list of three finalists.
While Menzi surprises Vuyiswa by proposing to her, Nathi congratulates Natombi and tries to flirt with her as they both do a little dance. She seems happy as old sparks fly.
The series ends with Natombi writing a letter to her mom admitting that she has only one life to live and she cannot give up on her dream.
The ecstatic Trollies crew leaves for nationals at Joburg, perhaps for more action and drama as Bheki is left high and dry, and tensions between Nathi and Natombi seem to ease.