It’s no secret that Teddy (Sicelo Buthelezi) isn’t your ordinary teen. “He’s a special guy. He has been through a lot in his life,” explains Sicelo.
“His mom Zodwa (Sannah Mchunu) is the local alcoholic. He was taken away from her and has lived with the Dlamini family for a while. He isn’t like the other teenagers at school.”
So, when the school debate got students talking in episode 70, Teddy thought that he could shine and prove the other students wrong, students who mock him and speak down to him like ex-Sandton prep school boy Langa (Siya Xaba).
Teddy’s support system
Ntokozo tells his mom Gladys (Thembi Seete), “Your husband has forced me into the debate competition. What I’ll do is lose on purpose.”
Ntokozo’s dad, Melusi, hears his utterance and immediately interjects, saying, “You will do no such thing, my boy. This debate competition is about defying the odds. Our status in the world will forever be determined by that beacon, the school in our community, because it is more than just a building.”
That’s something that will spur Teddy on as the debate draws closer.
Teddy’s also going to get help from Langa’s sister Buhle (Ama Qamata). She has the hots for Ntokozo, but Teddy is heavily into her and will do anything to get her attention. He’ll even go against Langa in a debate. Realistically, Teddy doesn’t stand a chance. But he doesn’t know that, nor would he let it bother him. He has no grasp on what it will mean to be facing intellectual superiors, even with Buhle’s help.
While Teddy sees Buhle’s offer of assistance in the debate as a token of her romantic interest in him, Buhle is actually just trying to make Langa look foolish and cut him down to size. As she tells Teddy, “All you have to do is say the word and I’ll help you beat Langa.”
Doubt creeps in
Poor Teddy is brought down to earth in episode 71 while chatting to his mom. While Zodwa loves her son, it’s an unconventional love and it misses the mark for this average Joe. She tells him, “You might be blessed with a small brain, but you’ve got a big heart. You can do things other people can’t. You can play soccer, they can’t. Leave these silly debating ideas, it bores me.”
It’s only when Teddy mentions that he is getting support with his debating ideas from Melusi and Buhle that Zodwa gets riled.
“Which Buhle? The one that speaks English? Do you understand her when she talks?” she sneers. Shame, Teddy shrugs and sinks back into his shell a bit, saying, “Well she talks a bit fast. Her English is fluent.”
That’s the first time Teddy realises he’s heading into a fight he’s not prepared for, since Langa is Buhle’s brother and has the same education that she does.
It’s not going to get better anytime soon for Teddy either, despite his infectious self-confidence. Later in episode 71, while chatting to Ntokozo and Langa in class, he jokes about how Ntokozo got so drunk at a house party that “he was dancing like he didn’t have bones”.
Ntokozo, who tries not to be mean to his foster brother, snaps back, “You had one beer and it ended you… same time. You were talking to all the girls in Twanglish. It’s almost like you were talking English.”
The look of instant defeat on Teddy’s face is priceless, but Langa isn’t content with slapping down. He wants to crush as he asks Teddy in a rude, condescending tone: “Is that your winning argument? Your ability to put together an argument is practically non-existent. You stand no chance against me in the debate. I actually feel sorry for you.”
Teddy might not have the skills to tackle Langa in public debate in English, but he’s not going to back down from a challenge. Even when Ntokozo warns him not to rush into anything foolishly, Teddy ignores the warning and accepts Langa’s deal.
If Teddy wins, Langa will give him his iPad, but if Langa wins, Teddy needs to grovel on his knees and beg for forgiveness. While Teddy is stoic and answers, “We’ll see about that, boy,” the look of defeat already etched on his face tells another story.