Updated: Dec 1, 2020
Professionally, I am trained to be a left-brained, data-driven, deeply analytical and methodical individual. Passionately, I pursue right-brained activities in writing, photography and branding. And this episode led to a battle of these two brains like no other. My struggle in internalizing the episode is reflective of the struggles experienced by our characters, as they ponder about logic versus love and the difference in interpretive skills between the sexes. Without further ado, I will dive into the various threads and themes that stoked my thinking cap this week.
PIVOTAL MOMENT: LOVE VS LOGIC
The most important exchange in this episode happens in the first ten minutes, as we are shown Serkan and Eda’s reactions to the Ferit/ Selin wedding news. Eda interprets Serkan’s reaction to be distress over losing Selin to Ferit but in reality, consistent with Serkan, he is distressed about 1) Ferit’s entry into the holding and 2) his time with Eda being cut short from 44 days to only 7. Eda is also sad, but more so thinking that Serkan chooses Selin over her.
Translation credit: www.expressdizi.com
Eda refuses to acknowledge Serkan’s gestures towards her because she doesn’t trust herself to be a better choice for Serkan than Selin. It doesn’t matter that she wants it with all her heart, she cannot imagine that Serkan is capable of an irrational, illogical decision when the ‘perfect’ Selin awaits him.
Serkan, as well, cannot imagine that a free spirit like Eda can fall in love with someone as rigid as himself and she has been very vocal about her desire to leave. She says “God forbid” to the notion of having a family with him, “No” to his question of whether she would stay if asked, and provides incessant reminders that they only have one more week of this game.
Serkan embraces the changes Eda has brought in him but he is so afraid of being rejected by Eda, he hesitates to express himself lest she tramples over his heart with her usual impulsiveness. As he says, he's not the kind to ask someone to stay when they want to leave.
At the crux of Serkan/ Eda’s inhibitions is fear of rejection. Sometimes one can only win a game by having the willingness to lose, and both need to lead with their hearts and express themselves, even if it means their feelings are not reciprocated. Since they both believe they have already lost, what more do they have to lose by baring their hearts?
TRUTH VS GAME
I liked that Serkan is honest with himself and doesn’t try to deny his feelings when Engin asks him questions regarding his relationship with Eda. He says that even he has lost track of what is truth and what is a game. He is so convinced that Eda does not want him that I found both his exchanges with Engin to be heart-breaking.
This is a man who struggles to express himself emotionally and he is overwhelmed by the depth of feelings he is experiencing for the first time. To feel that the one he loves cannot possibly love him back is debilitating. In his language of love, he has expressed to Eda repeatedly how much he cares and how important she is to him, but Eda has selective reasoning when it comes to Serkan. Perhaps she is also inhibited by her own depth of feelings and cannot think beyond the fact that she entered this agreement as part of a game, and she cannot overstep her boundaries. This leads to a dilemma I’m experiencing that I discuss further in the next section.
I have been bothered by a fundamental premise in the last couple of episodes. If Eda truly believes Serkan to be in love with Selin, then why the flirtations or the closeness when people are not looking, until she put the brakes on in Episode 7, which led to the angst in 8-9? In addition to violation of contract, it is unethical on her part. This aspect of the story arc needs to be reigned in.
Given her emotional intelligence in her other human interactions, her knowledge of how to nettle Selin, it is inconsistent to show Eda to be so emotionally obtuse when it comes to Serkan’s attention towards her. He couldn’t be more obvious if he tried and these are just in this episode:
“Selin is not my problem.”
“I need for you to be by my side at all times”
“Selin, have Ferit sign this prenuptial agreement. You know that I will make both your lives difficult at the holding if you don’t” - he aggressively states to Selin in front of Eda
“At this rate, we will wake up married, with two children” – with no hint of anger in his voice
“You will be with me as my future wife; I will take care of the rest.”
“In a week from now, if I ask you to stay, will you stay?”
“Why would I be mad at you? I came here to be with you.”
“You make me do things I would never do; how do you do it?”
“I wish we had more time so I could help you with your phobia.”
“You are really a strong, amazing woman, Eda Yildiz” while he holds her.
“You could not look more beautiful... I say it because it’s true”
And the kicker that she actually hears:
You cannot put such elements into the story and expect the audience to believe Eda’s notion that Serkan is doing all this out of his love for Selin. You do not show Eda to be gleeful when she thinks of how Serkan imagined their married life to be. If Eda fell in love with Serkan for his caring mannerisms and kindness, which are obviously reserved for her with or without Selin in the scene, AND she believes he was acting in all of those because he’s really in love with Selin, then her falling for him is rooted in her false perceptions of Serkan and cannot be love. Her love for Serkan and her belief that he still loves Selin are mutually exclusive. I would like to see a better resolution to this conundrum.
Eda misconstrues all the clues from Serkan and thinks 1) he wants to get Selin back, 2) he’s jealous of Ferit and 3) it is the loving thing to do to sacrifice her own love. I have noted the pattern before as to how Selin proves to be the plot device for Serkan and Eda to make progress in their relationship, and I realized that Eda has given a whole new meaning to the #MeToo movement (no intended disrespect towards the important and real movement against sexual abuse and harassment).
At their engagement party, Selin says that post-engagement Ferit and Selin are living together. Eda says, “me too!”.
Selin comes in and says we are getting married and Eda says, ‘me too!!!”.
Granted that in the latter case she is using it as the only ruse she knows how to get Selin to acquiesce to a pre-nuptial agreement with Ferit, the pattern is funny nevertheless. For all her claims about understanding Selin’s jealousy and playing with it, and accusing Serkan of being jealous of Ferit, in reality it is Eda who is the most jealous of Selin. She wants for Serkan to come and claim her, state that he doesn’t want Selin and yet, at every instance, she finds ways to convince herself of Serkan’s non-existent love for Selin. This is another kind of #MeToo – while Selin wallows in self-pity about how Serkan loves Eda, Eda wallows in her insecurities about how Serkan must love Selin.
Now that Selin has come out and stated her feelings to Serkan openly, will Eda be inspired to pull a #MeToo and tell Serkan how much more she loves him instead? We can only dream.
Diziland overuses eavesdropping as a plot device to shape the trajectory of the narrative and this story is no exception.
Ferit and Eda overhear Serkan/ Selin in episode 8, where they discuss love versus logic in choosing their partner. This unleashes a whole slew of events, including Ferit’s eventual marriage proposal because he’s so desperate to hold on to Selin, knowing that she really loves Serkan.
Selin eavesdrops on Serkan talking to Engin and desperate that she is, she misconstrues Serkan’s words to be about her, and that propels her to state her intentions of leaving Ferit if there is a remote chance for Serkan and Selin to be together.
Eda comes in and eavesdrops on Serkan and Selin, waiting desperately to understand the one question she has been asking for days, “Does Serkan love Selin?”
This is an interesting read about the Exact Eavesdropping as a tv trope, but in stories like Sen Cal Kapimi, where there is occasion for exploration of relationship dynamics, I prefer the interpretive opportunities within direct communications as opposed to these contrived situations.
INTEGRITY IN COMMITMENT
As a woman, I have mixed feelings about Selin’s character. I appreciate her professionalism and very much empathize with her arduous efforts to move away from Serkan while she still feels she loves him. However, the way she is using Ferit is unconscionable. This is a man who is openly accepting her feelings for Serkan and still willing to love her. He is protective of her and puts himself in the line of fire with buying out Kaan to protect her. He’s willing to be humiliated by Serkan but still make overtures of friendship with Serkan because he knows Serkan is important to Selin. And after all this, for Selin to clutch at straws and offer herself to Serkan in the remote chance that they can be together is callous at best and indicates a kind of obsessive love that is unhealthy.
The only aspect that I respected is that even when she knows that the chance of being with Serkan is slim, she is willing to take the risk and express her true feelings instead of being a martyr in the game of love. This is much more than we can say about our main pair.
In this episode, I loved the parallelism across the various relationships and the spectrum of possibilities in male/ female dynamics when miscommunication remains as a deep chasm to making forward progress.
We have the obvious dynamics between Serkan and Eda, discussed at length throughout the post.
We have Selin and Ferit, who have the potential to be a good couple but are inhibited by mismatched feelings.
We have Aydan and Alptekin trying to rekindle their love but not able to talk to each other directly about it. After so many years of marriage and the passage of grief, they need to rediscover how to communicate.
Translation credit: www.expressdizi.com
And Engin being caught between Pyril and Ceren is hilariously funny. His childlike innocence in how he tries to wriggle out of the situation rightfully warrants the wrath of both women, and he just has to fumble through and realize the truth. If something was meant to happen with Pyril, it would have happened in the past decade. Much like the comfort zone Serkan and Selin have, where shared interests and life situations make it seem like the ‘right’ fit, Engin and Pyril are the same.
Maybe we still see Engin and Pyril end up together anyway because Pyril’s personality is less able to find new paths for herself as opposed to the vivacious Ceren. Nevertheless, I like that this question is asked over and over again through different scenarios – do you choose logic or passion?
We finally get some insight into Eda’s tragic past, in a beautifully executed scene. Serkan’s compassion and Eda’s willingness to share illustrate an innate trust and love that they feel but do not express. It is heartbreaking for such a young child to suddenly become an orphan in this manner, and as I mentioned last week, Eda has a hole in her heart that is not easy to fill.
Translation credit: www.expressdizi.com
During the bridal gown trials, Eda pretended to be unaffected by Aydan’s obvious favoring of Selin but there were moments I felt that she desperately wanted to be the one Aydan approved of instead. The effort to hide behind her laughter took its toll as Eda eventually couldn’t get out of the charade fast enough, especially when coupled with her moment with Serkan. She wants to be loved and wanted by all the Bolats.
At the mountain house, Eda finding comfort in his arms, with him acknowledging her contributions to his mother, carry a depth of exchange under the words that is subtle. Within this tenderness, there shouldn’t be any doubts about Serkan’s feelings, but Ms. Eda has parked her astuteness on her stubborn need to hear him say the exact words she needs to hear.
It is interesting that Kaan’s character got written out of the show. It is not something I have touched on before, but I found Kaan to be a one-dimensional character, the chosen Bogeyman for the show. Almost every evil can be traced to Kaan and it is a limiting way to create a character. Part of the appeal of Turkish drama is how characters are created in shades of gray, and yet Kaan had no redeeming features. There were insinuations of a shared childhood and a depth to relationship dynamics, but that was unexplored such that it left little room for the character to change and grow. It is better for the actor and the character to no longer be a part of this otherwise dynamic project. Ismail Ege Sasmaz, who shared screenspace with Kerem Bursin in Gunesi Beklerken (2013 - 2014) as an important co-star, somehow failed to make it into the 'happening' crowd of the backstage crew in Sen Cal Kapimi.
I recently made this point in my review for Bay Yanlis – most Turkish dramas lack a balance of angst versus happier times. It is not only conflict that moves a story forward. There can be a mix of creative scenarios that are funny, builds on a couple learning to couple and that is also a celebration of love within the challenges of daily life.
We have 10 seasons of a masterpiece like Friends, or six seasons of HBOs Sex and the City, which have undertones of romance but also blend in many comical takes on real life situations. I fear that by taking so many episodes for Serkan and Eda to confess their feelings for each other, marred by the barely plausible notion that Eda believes Serkan to be in love with Selin despite his many clues otherwise, by the time they finally come together it will feel overdue and anticlimactic.
For now, the trailer for Episode 11 foretells a continuation of the rather implausible scenario that Eda STILL believes Serkan to be in love with Selin and I can only hope that we will not have another entire episode belaboring the same point. I am missing the clip pace of Episodes 1 – 4, and 6– 8. It is by no means an easy task to create a balanced script but once you have ensnared a global audience with a certain promise, the onus is on the producers/ writers to maintain the pace and details of storytelling, consistently.
This is especially important as we head into intense competition for ratings with Dogdugun Ev Kaderindir and Kurulus Osman coming back on air soon. A fatigued and a continually misled audience will be only too happy to have choices. Her Yerde Sen made the same mistake between episodes 15 – 18 just as Hercai came back on air, and the story ground to a halt with the entrance of Demir’s ex-fiancé. As the ratings fell, it led to an abrupt cancellation announcement by episode 20, the morning after the show won an important award. This year as well, with an oversubscribed fall lineup (more shows in the portfolio than there are nights in the week), FOX will be understandably brutal to maintain dominance in the weekly viewership.
The support for the love between Serkan and Eda exposes an overt desire in the audience to believe in and cheer for true love. The crazy, all-consuming kind that makes us become the best versions of ourselves as we shine in the light of the other’s love. With bright and cheerful aesthetics of the sets and the happy vibe from the cast, the story is well complemented with all the elements to keep it going as a success story, and I hope the sketch for the next few episodes contain enough plot variety to keep audience interest and loyalties intact. It was particularly nice to see a parallel between the original promo teaser and a skit in the show, where Serkan and Eda talk about "Love".
There are many of us who are irreversibly scarred and wounded by life. And yet, we reach deep within to wake up to a new day, to try and make the most of what we are given. For some, there are constant reminders of our wounds, and for the lucky ones we are able to leave the painful mementos behind, hold the hand of someone who heals, and design a new path in life. When a chance like that comes along, as it has for Eda and Serkan, even though self-preservation teaches us to protect ourselves from anything that might open new wounds, it is worth every risk to take that hand. What is the point of living if it will be lived within a shell?
Till we meet again.
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