I really enjoyed the episode this week, watching both Serkan and Eda bring their fire despite the emotional pain they are in. And, with this, we are back to being a RomCom that makes us laugh, cheer but also empathize with the characters as they push through their separation.
From Eda’s vantage point, she is rightfully angry and her feisty response is fully aligned with the Eda we fell in love with. Passionate, impulsive, intelligent, self-assured. We only witness Serkan’s brokenness when he is alone and get insight into how he has to navigate the hell on Earth he has created for himself, where he can neither leave Eda nor be with her the way he wants.
Last week, I asserted that we are now at a junction where Eda will need to grow, which is not to be mistaken with Eda bearing the full burden of Serkan’s decision. She is so willing to believe that Serkan does not know how to love, she also believes that while she thought of him as her soulmate, he didn’t love her at all. In contrast, Serkan knows how much she loves him and that she is his soulmate, but he could not burden her with the conflict associated with thinking of her parents every time she would look at him. Her love for her parents is so pure, he could not make her choose.
Eda being Eda, she takes things at face value and reacts accordingly but she needs to start asking more questions of why. Her modus operandi this week is predicated on her prejudice against Serkan, as well as her pain from what he did. I will delve into this more as we discuss where we have arrived in the Serkan Eda saga, which continues to evolve.
"BETTER TO BE BLIND AND SEE WITH YOUR HEART, THAN TO HAVE TWO GOOD EYES AND SEE NOTHING" - Hellen Keller
Eda’s charm resides in how passionately she engages with the people in her lives, willing to take things at face value and give of herself as necessary. Eda’s weaknesses also reside in the same. Last week, I already spoke at length about Eda’s coping mechanisms with her parent’s death and how that affects how she relates to anything regarding Babanne. Through Eda’s exchange with Ayfer, we see Eda finally be willing to accept that someone can be cornered into having a connection with Babanne. And once she understands the depth of Ayfer’s despair with her mounting debt and her conflicted desire to attain the best for Eda, she not only forgives Ayfer for her actions, she also acknowledges that she didn’t see all the moving pieces.
This gives me hope for how Eda will eventually embrace Serkan despite his connection to her parent’s death. She will hopefully have the maturity to understand that he cannot help being his parent’s child, that he loves her with all his heart, and that the cosmic occurrence that they fell in love with each other is the universe’s ultimate play in healing the wounds of the past. She was forced to grow up without parents because of Alptekin’s ineptitude; he was forced to grow up without parents because his parents lack the ability to think beyond themselves.
For now, all she sees is Serkan being the unfeeling brute she always thought he could be. She does not think to find out why. She goes into the reactionary mode of not withering from his decision, taking the reign of her lives and become responsible for completing her education, but we also get glimpses of her vulnerable moments when we understand the depth of her sorrow.
I am looking forward to Eda remembering why she fell in love with Serkan, the man she discovered underneath that armor, and just know in her heart that for an introvert who could say he cannot do without her, there had to be a compelling reason for him to suddenly want to move away from her. That he was fully ready to welcome her into his life when he did but that something happened afterwards that affected him. Expecting an apology from Serkan is like asking for a band-aid for a broken arm, and even though he will willingly offer the words as a salve for her wounds, they will remain inordinately inadequate.
Eda will need to see with her heart and be willing to forgive, and this is the growth I allude to. She will need to understand the intent behind actions, and have the compassion to understand the depth of someone else’s story. For example, it is not clear to me that she understands the depth of his broken relationship with his parents; she just accepts that they do not understand each other. For her to be his partner, she will need to have a better understanding of why Serkan has the vulnerabilities he does. And since no two people are the same, she must also understand that it is not in his personality to come out and offer such epiphanies by himself.
She has two beautiful eyes that she needs to start using to see what lies beneath.
Let us recognize that a scripted show will use dramatized versions of real life scenarios and as such the characterizations are also far-fetched. Nevertheless, it provides a framework to assess dysfunctional family systems and identify some worrying factors that do exist in the real world. An important one of these is how parents choose to parent and how they relate to their children in the context of their own needs.
The Bolat parents are both painted as spineless narcissists, who are consumed with maximizing their own happiness or sense of self. It is flabbergasting that Aydan wants to cook, make clay figurines and resort to all sorts of interfering machinations just so she can pretend that her beautiful little world can continue at the expense of Serkan and Eda’s pain. That it is a small price for the children to pay. The way she keeps pushing Serkan to make peace with his father because his father is so sad is illustrative of how insensitive she is to Serkan’s broken heart.
Regardless of the miseries she suffered throughout her life, as a mother she cannot burden her child to make up for her life’s mishaps. She wants for Serkan to pay the price just so her family name and harmony can continue. Except, without Eda, Serkan has no incentive to want to make his parents whole anymore, and it is liberating to see that he gently but firmly establishes his boundaries with his declaration to move away.
In his younger days, Alptekin pursued his business without regard to what got in his way and compromised on his integrity that led to a tragedy. For years, he used his strength as the founder of the holding to keep needling Serkan and get a rise out of him. Perhaps this was Alptekin’s perverse way of connecting with Serkan because he had no other way of engaging with him. He wants to tell the truth to Eda and her family, but he passes the burden on to Serkan to make the decision. It has become about “I am losing my son again” as opposed to “How can I spare my son this misery?” He goes to Ayfer but when he realizes that Serkan didn’t sell him out, he doesn’t say anything. Even when he is handed an opportunity to be a parent, he slinks away.
In the dramatic world, it is easier to paint parents as the enemy in this manner so that the audience has something to point our anger at while we root for the protagonists. However, the sad part is that these dynamics are embedded somewhere within reality as well, where there are parents like the Bolats who understand the science of feeding and clothing their child, but doesn’t understand the art of nurturing his soul. When Eda asks Aydan, who had the gall to try and comfort Eda in her dejected state, how did your son turn out like this, that should have been a wake-up call for Aydan. Isn’t she very much the same and trying to force her way of being onto Serkan?
LIFE MEANS YOU
A theme that becomes obvious in this episode is how different Serkan and Eda are in their willingness to fight for their love. Unlike Serkan, who folded at the first sign of a major obstacle because he cannot believe an angel like Eda can truly love a man like him and still stay despite his connection to her parent’s death, Eda rises like a Phoenix and willingly heads back into the ring, undeterred. Believing that Serkan removed her from his life because of work, she also shows that she can equally focus on her career without being deterred by emotions. She ignores him in the office, remains absorbed with her project, only engages with him in the context of work, and shows no sign of being in pain while under his watchful eyes. She does not make it easy for Serkan to forget her nor all the reasons he had fallen in love with her. If she had rolled into a ball like Selin does, it would have fed into the only narrative Serkan knows from the women around him. Instead, she proves to him why she is a stand-out.
Already struggling to move on, Serkan is conflicted and cannot stop himself from pursuing ways to keep Eda within his world. He manipulates the presentations such that Eda will be forced to work with Serkan, he willingly accepts her rage and, in the face of the growing comfort between Efe and Eda, he makes it plenty clear that their break-up doesn’t mean they are unaffected by the other. He openly goads Eda into accepting the off-road driving challenge. He feels he cannot fully have her, but he cannot knowingly ever concede her to somebody else either.
Under their humor, bickering, and soulful moments, is this underlying sorrow that permeates their shared and individual scenes. When left on their own or when they think no one is looking, they seem as incomplete as they are. The most poignant scenes that capture this despondence is when Eda looks at Serkan's defaced photo after her friends leave overlayed with Serkan reading the excerpt from Kurt Mantolu Madonna (Madonna In A Fur Coat), which is a well known story about an unrequited love written by Turkish author Sabahattin Ali.
From these unguarded moments, it becomes clear that they put on masks when they head back into society. The effort to keep the mask on diminishes their soul, eventually forcing their raw emotions to come to the fore at the cliff. And it is during this moment that Serkan gets a glimpse into the kind of recklessness Eda will willingly indulge in because of her pain. When she asks back would it matter if anything happened to her, the wheels have already started turning in Serkan’s head. Perhaps leaving her is not the answer if it means the life he thought he preserved will take unnecessary risks so that it cannot continue.
As the episode ends on a cliched shot of Eda getting lost and falling into a pit, and it is only Serkan who discovers her by following his instincts towards the direction she might have gone, he is confronted with the ultimate question – if something happens to Eda, will it have been worth his restraint to keep himself from her so she can live? For them both, no matter what words are spoken, life means the other.
There are a few more obvious themes in the episode of Efe’s Mardin connection, Serkan’s awareness of Efe’s lack of transparency, the girls being a pillar of strength for each other in positive ways, but I like to focus on the factors that affect the evolution of Serkan and Eda. Their relationship has never been stagnant, and it is wonderful for them to have an opportunity to re-discover and validate that when soulmates unite and love each other with all their hearts, worldly things cannot sustainably interfere. Everything else will settle around them if they can stand strong together and I love how the direction of the story is changing towards such an outcome.
The production team dealt with many challenges this week and presented a great show in spite of those. It is the shortest episode yet at 1 hour and 50 minutes, whereas their longest was Episode 8 at 2 hrs 30 minutes. In a race against the ratings game, they most likely also took a hit on ad revenues as we didn’t head into advertisements at the beginning of the episode, which is always a good trick to draw the audience in while other channels are running ads.
The producers and the writer released their usual string of emoticons prior to the episode, and I have chanced upon discussions that are akin to PhD theses as to what all those emoticons mean. I have also found post-mortem discussions on how the actual story deviated from what was promised. The trick here is always to under-promise and over-deliver, and I am enjoying the slight but positive shifts in the PR strategies that are rooted in setting authentic expectations.
Within all these challenges, the team managed to raise the ratings by a notch, setting up well for next week’s episode where Eda will dig deeper into why Serkan did what he did. As well from next week, Sen Cal Kapimi will be the only summer romcom remaining on screen and as the story heads back into maintaining the essence of its genre, it will be a delight for the fandom to keep growing with our characters who have re-aligned with many of their quirky characteristics that were more prevalent in the earlier episodes.
Till we meet again.
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