Much of Sen Cal Kapimi so far has been about Serkan’s journey, as he transforms with Eda’s vivacious touch in his life and eventually learns to embrace love. He is a mature, repressive man whose life’s trajectory got defined by his brother’s untimely loss and his parents’ inadequate coping mechanisms with their grief from such a loss. To watch him slowly come in touch with the living and find joy in Eda’s simplicity and kindness has been a beautiful journey. For this man to be confronted with losing this talisman of hope, after finding a lifeline for the first time in his adult life, is another beautiful journey, albeit woven in grief. And it is this grief-stricken journey that we begin to witness in this episode, where Serkan struggles to understand his future path with Eda.
Thematically, the melancholic strains are in conflict with romantic comedy as a genre and there is some audience apathy that an atypically beautiful fun love story has fallen into the typical dizi formula of an impossible love fraught with angst, especially when there is so much potential for an innovative path to their story. However, there is also the point of view that says that memorable and meaningful love stories are sagas that will have a spectrum of emotions that provide depth to that love. More than joyful times, it is sorrow and grief that help one to internalize what they are willing to lose in order to gain what they might truly want. And we are now at a stage where we will begin to witness Eda’s journey in this saga. Let me delve into the various themes that stood out to me as the building blocks for how this story now should turn towards an exploration of growth for Eda.
NEVER SAY NEVER
Even though Serkan starts from a place of taking a stance against his family and fight for his love, he changes through the course of this episode as a result of two things. 1) He comes to understand that for Eda, her loss of her parents are so black and white that, the only way she has learnt to deal with it is to cut off from anything that is remotely attached to her parent’s death and 2) Disclosing the truth to her will destroy her innocence about life, the very thing that makes him love her so much. He would never dream of hiding the truth from her so that their relationship can continue. In the end game, he hid it from her so that Eda can continue.
Aydan’s words about her juvenile love story only helps Serkan to believe that someday Eda will move past him and will build a life for herself that can still be meaningful. He doesn’t leave Eda to take on his family’s burden as Aydan pressures him to do, but he sacrifices his love so that Eda never has to come in conflict with herself. To him, his parents stole his past and now his future.
Serkan struggles to let go as he tries to maximize his time lived within the innocence of their love. His pained expression throughout the episode is heart-breaking especially when interspersed with moments where he still smiles despite himself. Such as when Eda gives him the robot, when she lays her head on his shoulders at the movies, when she reminds him that she knows he has magical hands. These are all sweet reminders for why he fell in love with her and also painful moments where he tries to convince himself to let go so that all of Eda’s smiles maintain their innocence.
Compilation of moments; VC: www.expressdizi.com
When he eventually musters the courage to let go, it takes all his resolve to go back to his mechanical ways and revert back to his coping mechanisms he had developed throughout the years of his loneliness. Her tears are more devastating to him than his own loss. Given the thoughtful planner that he is, he not only prepares himself for being the one stuck with the beautiful memories, but he also prepares himself for Eda’s wrath as she tries to move on from him. He will probably even stoke that anger so that she never dreams of coming back to him. And this is where I see opportunity number one for Eda’s growth.
She glibly tells Serkan on numerous occasion, “Never Say Never” and yet when it comes to protecting her own notions, she holds on to her motto of “NEVER forgiving anyone connected with her parents’ death” because it is difficult to forget. One can learn to forgive even if they cannot forget and a heart that harbors so much resentment cannot also be a heart that loves completely. Her anger against her grandmother is her coping mechanism of accepting her parent's death. Being able to blame someone for what happened is a way to move on but she doesn't make room for the fact that her grandmother also lost a son and her whole family as a result of this tragedy. Sometimes, accidents happen and there really isn't anyone to blame other than fate, but Eda lacks the emotional maturity to see beyond the pain she endured. On the surface, Eda is the one that loves freely and without bias, but in reality, it is Serkan who loves deeply and without reservation when he loves.
We see this in Eda’s reaction to Serkan’s monologue about the break up. For someone who asked Serkan to “look with his heart and not with his eyes”, when the tables got turned, she only looked with her eyes. She herself has so little faith in their love that she allows herself to believe that these words from Serkan are more true than all his words and gestures of love.
When a partner is so willing to believe in the fruition of their worst fears i.e. Eda’s belief that Serkan will always prioritize work, or Serkan’s belief that Eda cannot love him enough to get over this obstacle, the relationship still has a long way to go. One cannot have so little faith in each other. Just as Eda is incredulous about how Serkan could have believed she would steal and sell his designs, Serkan should be equally incredulous about how Eda could believe his love for her is so shallow.
As I have said before, love is not a zero sum game. Like many life situations, things are not black and white, or an oscillation between NEVER and ALWAYS; it is a journey through the gray where the couple understands their trade-offs to nurture the love they wish to live. I am looking forward to Eda learning to grow beyond what she understands, and dig deeper to have a glimpse of the depth of Serkan’s despair. It is not only about Serkan changing himself for her. A relationship demands that she also learns to morph with the needs of her partner.
No character annoyed me more in this episode than Aydan. This woman is so ego-centric, she has created a whole world that revolves around her needs and twisted notions. She is still so attached to her martyrdom of her young love, that she thinks Serkan should experience the same thing for the sake of his family. She forgets that there is significant difference between a youthful first love with the household help and the love Serkan has found as a mature adult after years of solitude.
Once again, she manages to have a singular view of the universe, through the narrow lens of the few things she holds dear. She rushes in to dress Serkan’s superficial and bloody wounds, but she seems clueless about the ways she crushes his soul.
If Aydan believes that she managed to reign in Serkan so that her fantasy kingdom can continue, it further paints her as the delusional woman she has become who has begun to thrive on her insulated world within the gates and makes sure that her loved ones remain ensconced with her within the same boundaries. Neslihan’s portrayal of Aydan is excellent and perhaps opens the eyes of parents everywhere as to how self-centered parenting can destroy the lives of their children in irreversible ways.
One of my favorite parenting guidelines come from Kahlil Gibran in his section on Children in the famous story of The Prophet:
To this end, I respect Alptekin for his willingness to sacrifice his relationship with Serkan so that he can live his love with Eda. He is willing to take responsibility for his past mistakes, both with Eda’s parents and with Serkan. Unlike Aydan, he is not focused on protecting his fragile house of cards, but to make the path easy for Serkan to find his happiness. And this is what it takes to be a parent - being able to suppress our own egos when our child needs it. I will relish the moment when Aydan recognizes that the time has come for her to look beyond her myopic world.
In the same vein, Ayfer proves that just giving birth does not make one a worthy parent. Eda’s grandmother could not overcome her ego and accept Eda’s mother before her untimely death; Aydan cannot overcome her needs and focus on Serkan’s. Ayfer, on the other hand, sacrificed her adult life to be a parent to an orphan like Eda and paint her world with color and love, protecting her from cynicism and broken dreams. For the most part, her parenting has been exemplary in how she stands up for her ward, and how she trusts her to make the best choices for her future. This implicit trust goes missing in many parent child relationship, and certainly illustrated in Aydan’s approach to Serkan. She doesn’t trust Serkan’s own judgements about his life.
Thanks to Ayfer’s protective parenting, Eda’s idealistic view of the world demands that no matter how difficult the childhood, Serkan’s relationship with his parents is sacred. She sees the danger of her grandmother repeating herself in Aydan, but she looks beyond all that to try and connect with his parents as surrogates for the parent figures she missed in her childhood. When she learns of the role Alptekin’s company indirectly played in her parents’ death, will she be able to have such an indulgent view of Serkan’s parents? That mistakes should be forgiven because a child always needs a parent? Will she continue to sermonize that he should try to have a better relationship with his parents? Or will she begin to understand that some parent child relationships are irreversibly difficult and sometimes it is valid for the child to have thick, impenetrable walls when it comes to dealing with his parents? Another area of growth for Eda.
Along with his welcome new hairstyle and more preppy styling, Efe Ackman reveals himself more as a character. He is like a chameleon who tells people what they need to hear to be on his side while it is obvious that his goal is to undermine Serkan in any way he can. While he tries to distract Serkan with offers of friendship and a true partnership, he attempts to acquire majority shareholding through buying out Ferit, he discredits Serkan in front of his team by appearing to be conciliatory with the eco-hotel project while making pointed jibes through Eda, which Serkan is astute enough to understand.
As we know, Efe is already aware of the holding’s role in Eda’s parents’ death. Most likely, he has surmised that Serkan has valid insecurities about his relationship with Eda given this past. He has also taken the lay of the land and understands that while Eda is talented, she is inexperienced – something a senior partner like Piril sees as well. Since they have become a couple, we have also had many episodes of Eda speaking up to explain, defend and/or nullify Serkan’s assertions, as she does with Efe multiple times during Serkan’s interactions with Efe at the brunch. It would be good to see her grow out of this habit of speaking for him and for her to understand that Serkan is really not as emotionally or intellectually obtuse as she might think and that there is a method behind his madness in appearing difficult to deal with in the professional space.
Shrewd Efe is able to take stock of all these variables, and like a predator who knows to pounce on his prey at their weakest moment, he addresses all these fissures in the team dynamics when he positions himself as the affable and competent peacemaker in the face of Serkan’s unreasonable attitude, projecting himself to be only focused on doing the best for the team. Through his discourse, he is already building his alliance with Piril, capitalizing on Eda’s admiration for his talent and thereby creating dissent within Serkan’s ranks.
Fruits of Efe's machinations
Serkan is experienced enough to understand this turf war and while he is already emotionally disturbed about telling the Eda the truth, he feels misunderstood and isolated, lacking the language to explain all the ways he feels threatened. His dialogues with Engin are illuminating and shed light on the depth of his struggles and, through these two men, we see something that I wish men would turn to more often in real life. And that is to take the opportunity to address their emotional distress in ways other than through physical aggression or territorial wars. It doesn’t make them any less of a man to try and keep in touch with their emotional side; it makes them human.
However, society is still a long way from normalizing gender stereotypes to where men and women can express themselves in the ways they need to without being termed as ‘too feminine for a man’ or ‘too masculine for a woman’, and as such these gendered arcs in the story are far from over. I can already imagine Efe being only too happy to become part of Eda’s reactionary need to make Serkan suffer for his choices. And while this faith in humanity and innocence in Eda is her strength, it is also her weakness. It blinds her to crooked intentions and lends to her proclivity to believe that Serkan is being his usual difficult self. She did the same thing with Kaan. It is a gift to always want to believe the best in people, but it requires one to grow with life experiences and recognize that not everyone comes with the same pure intentions.
ALLIANCES & BOUNDARIES
I found it revealing that Serkan tells Efe how he only has three friends in this world – Engin, Piril and Sirius. He does not include Selin in this mix despite their long history together. And this lends to the notion of trust. Their shared childhood and family entanglement tie them together in life’s web, but Serkan doesn’t fully trust Selin’s methods. At the moment, he is obliged to keep her close to him while he tries to protect the interests of the holding, but if she didn’t have any remaining shareholding I don’t think he would have implored her to stay.
Even though Serkan has been unequivocal about his feelings towards her, she still keeps a glimmer of hope within as she refrains from desecrating her photos with Serkan as she does with Ferit’s. She cannot pretend to be a friend and continually violate the boundaries Serkan has set for himself. It is unhealthy and, for lack of a better word, unethical.
Selin is shown to be a good person and is trying to be introspective about the role she has played in her current predicament. She is also egotistical and cannot fathom how lovesick Ferit can move on to being the self-confident assertive person that he is. She wants him to cower to her unhappiness and leave, and the more resolute he is, the more agitated she becomes about not getting her way. Over time, it would be good to see her fully accept her responsibilities beyond lip service, and she can only do that when she has nothing to be ashamed of. She is irked by Ferit’s understanding that if Serkan had selected Selin, she would have had no issues with Ferit showing his face at the office. The imbalanced power dynamic that proves that she is the one in the wrong keeps a dour expression pasted on her face the whole time she is at the brunch. Over time, it would be good to see her grow out of her sullenness and be the professional, capable and self-assured woman that she can be in every sphere of her life.
It is really great to see a male example like Ferit, who is driven more by fairness than by his ego. It is because of this strain of fairness that he still respects Serkan because he recognizes that Serkan did nothing to feed Selin’s obsession and that, in spite of his competitive ways, Serkan is a fair man. Over time, as Ferit discovers that he has underestimated the sinister Efe just as he had underestimated Kaan, I can see the potential that he aligns with Serkan and becomes a part of the team that brings Serkan and Eda back together. Especially given that we have seen no evidence thus far of Ferit trying to misuse his knowledge about Eda’s parents’ death, it is likely that he will come clean with Serkan both about Efe and the press leak through Kaan, and try to help protect the holding.
It is also interesting that we see all of Serkan, Ferit and Ceren trying to create their professional space outside of their parents’ endowments. It speaks to a certain work ethic and ambition to be recognized as one’s own person while they protect their personal boundaries. This is in contrast with Selin, who actually enjoys the position afforded her by her father’s hard work. She is professionally competent at her job, but lacks the creativity, ambition and the entrepreneurial spirit to strike out on her own and build her own empire. It is far easier to lord over something that has been created for her.
These underlying and subtle dynamics continue to build the characters as they morph throughout the story, and even the lesser characters play a role in illustrating human behavior in interesting ways as we all try to navigate our worlds and learn to establish our boundaries. It would be good to have Eda back to becoming more perceptive about the moving pieces around her, understand people’s motivations better and begin to have a deeper trust and appreciation for the love Serkan has for her.
Wednesday nights have gone from an open field for Sen Cal Kapimi to a battlefield of excellent dramas and other competing programming. Two weeks in a row, there has been an important football match, eating into the ratings as well. As one of the sole romantic comedies still on air, and up against hard core dramas, it would be good for Sen Cal Kapimi to find its way back to its core values of being a romantic comedy. It will easily appeal to the niche that is not interested in high drama, instead of becoming diluted about the genre it is supposed to be. While the relationship angst is realistic and the layers beautifully portrayed, it is the strain of humor and lightheartedness that had drawn the show’s initial audience. I believe this was part of Afili Ask’s success. Even when the plot lines became convoluted and loud, it never lost the strain of a slightly slapstick comedic couple that continued to do silly things in face of the life changes around them.
It would be a strategic mistake to draw out the angst in an effort to lengthen the story. In fact, keeping the angst as short-lived as the period of one episode long bliss will be a more balanced approach and once they come back together, have Serkan and Eda get into all sorts of escapades that push the boundaries of office and family politics will be a fun and refreshing take for a romcom. They are both strong personalities and I feel episode 4 is the pinnacle of the potential of their dynamics. There is a mutuality in their growing respect and fascination for each other, which is the charm of a fun love story.
I am so vested in the characters and the ways their lives can grow together, that I will continue to watch the show despite the tears I shed this week. It was great to see a more animated Eda back on display, and her final outburst on the same terrace where she thought she is at her happiest, is very well done. Kerem’s portrayal of a conflicted and lost Serkan is excellent, especially during subtle moments when he silently watches Eda as though trying to commit to memory every little detail about her. His pain and loneliness are palpable, and it makes me think of someone holding onto his last branch at the edge of a cliff, before he finally lets go so that his beloved can be saved. As my heart fell into the chasm with Serkan's final declaration of 'bitte', I leave you today with the stellar final scene as we await our next sojourn with our hard-working team.
Till we meet again.
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