Even though it lacked the overall cleverness and creativity of Episode 17, as a stand-alone episode, I enjoyed this week's installment for the #EdSer interactions (off the charts chemistry), the take down of Efe and Aydan's foray out into the world after years of imprisonment within the grounds of her home. Thematically, there are a number of things I enjoyed and just as many issues that bothered me. The cinematography with the autumn colors, Aydan's slow transformation into a chic, loving mother and champion of the #EdSer future, Serkan's expressed trust in Eda, the comedy of the whole office watching the video footage together are all great highlights of this episode. I also enjoyed the general theme of showing how men and women are drastically different in how they process the same stimuli (Aydan/ Alptekin and his workout buddy; Piril/Engin and their decision to live together). There are a few arcs, however, that sent me into a tailspin with my musings and those are the ones I want to focus on for this post.
Any relationship can only survive meaningfully when there is a balance of power and mutual respect for each other. A difference in age and experience cannot allow disrespect to seep into the interactions and this is an issue that irked me during this episode.
Serkan made a unilateral decision to break-up, and when Eda didn't fade away into the background, he chooses not to take active steps to maintain their distance; in fact the opposite. As I have said in past reviews, the onus is on Eda to dig to understand why he could have done this but his dedication to his work is the one constant in their relationship, and it is not a stretch of the imagination for her to believe that his stated reason for the separation could be true. In addition, he has resolutely remained silent for multiple episodes when she did ask him. Similarly, the onus is on him to make the transition as painless for her as possible as her sorrow is a result of something he chose to do. Given their circumstances, the way Eda stepped in to prove Serkan's innocence should tell him how much she still loves him (using Eda Yildiz star coordinates as his password is a very cute touch).
With that knowledge, I despised his choice to scold Eda in front of Selin in such a public fashion when he didn't have all the facts i.e. Eda did not accuse Selin; she simply asked some questions that triggered the power-tripping Ms. Perfect, and Eda has good cause to doubt Selin's integrity. His constant assumption that Eda is reactive and not deliberate in her actions is a reminder that despite his great love for Eda, he does not view her as an equal. For as long as he keeps seeing her as a mentee, someone who needs to be coddled and directed, whose insecurities he can ignore at will, their relationship will not sustainably move in positive directions regardless of the truths from the past.
I also despise Eda's choice to simply accept his excuse that 1) he felt she was wrong and his reaction is because he loves her so much and never felt that way about Selin 2) he keeps hovering around her because he cannot stay away. I called out Serkan for a similar high-handed attitude in Episode 13 where he blows off steam with Eda and huffs off to his home, and Eda follows him and gives herself to him. The underlying assumption that women will excuse all manner of behavior out of their love for the man is a narrative I would like redefined.
Knowing how much he has hurt her by shoving her aside and then to hurt her even more in front of someone who is an obvious sore point for her, whether her feeling is justified or not, are red flags for any woman. Serkan is so self-absorbed about how the world occurs to him and how the world has wronged him, he truly lacks empathy for what Eda is going through or how much effort it might take her to come into the office with a smile everyday. Eda's call for this empathy got buried under the sexually charged interaction at the library but Serkan needed to genuinely apologize and be shown to become more mindful about protecting Eda's peace of mind that he is responsible for breaking.
Serkan's obtuseness about Eda's annoyance with Selin has dragged on long enough. Selin's passive aggressive behavior hasn't escaped Serkan's notice, but he chooses to ignore it because in his mind Selin poses no threat to Eda. In her mind, neither does Efe or any other male for that matter. I am glad she is finally pushing back and plans to give him a taste of his own medicine.
In past reviews, just as I called out Eda's bad behavior that Serkan shouldn't have accepted, as an equal opportunity lover, I'd like to express the same about Serkan's choices. There has to be fairness in their interactions that are rooted in respect and faith in each other. Serkan's imbalanced choices about how he treats Eda is unfair to their love. He cannot continually take out his frustrations on her in this manner just because she is the only one he values, loves and trusts. Trusting someone doesn't mean that one pushes the limits of that trust just to figure out where the other person's breaking point might be. It's a vicious cycle that becomes toxic quickly and it is only the fairness directive in a relationship that can keep both sets of eyes trained on nurturing meaningful interactions.
SELIN: REALITY CHECK
In the initial episodes, I could respect Selin for her conflicted emotions, for her desire to still try for Serkan even though she knew he loves Eda, in her decision to move away from Serkan by selling her shares. Since then, her character is a like leaf in the wind, changing tone and personality in ways that are giving me whiplash.
At the moment, she is an egotistical, bitter and desperate woman who needs to feel wanted by someone. She has shot herself in the foot by hanging onto her feelings for Serkan, who obviously does not see her as anything but a colleague and a friend. Maybe she's hoping now that Serkan has broken up with Eda, he will settle for his logical choice and marry her so that the Bolat empire and holding can continue.
We need to have an exchange where this festering blister called Selin's unrequited love gets put to bed permanently. Serkan offering her empty rooms at his house is ridiculous, especially in front of Eda, while the option of a hotel is just as viable for a woman who swims in designer clothing. His smirk when he sees the red cup in Eda's hand soon followed by his offer for Selin to stay with him is in the vein of my feeling in the section above: Serkan revels in knowing that Eda loves him but chooses to ignore Eda's sadness in dealing with their separation, even though Ayfer requests him to stop confusing/ hurting Eda. If he is going to be this insensitive anyway, might as well have told Eda the truth.
Also, Selin belittling Eda at every given opportunity has gotten old and it is time that Eda consistently got to have the last word. Selin looks down on Eda because she's a lowly employee who charmed Serkan while Selin is an equal in every other way. The reality is that in an architectural design firm, Selin is a manager and is not able to contribute anything to the core function of the firm. Her work is a derivative of the work done by the designers. Selin's talent is not hard to replace but the value of high-performing designers for a design firm is immeasurable in many ways and talented designers are not as easy to replace. This angle needs to be highlighted further so that this implied imbalance of power between the two women disappears. Serkan feeding this friction with his selective reasoning skills also needs to stop.
THE BATTLE OF THE EXES
Serkan and Selin are more similar than I would like to admit. Both are working in the same office with two of their exes; both only love one of those exes; both have issues with their egos. For lack of a better theory, let me chalk up their privileged mindset to their upbringing where both have been raised with the notion of being born with the silver spoon in their mouths and a sense of entitlement about their place in life. Serkan's childhood is skewed because of losing his brother and we don't know anything of Selin's family, but both behave in self-absorbed ways. It would be good to see Serkan begin to truly respect Eda's feelings and desires, without the filter of what he is likely to lose in the process.
It is obvious through all the ways Serkan and Eda have to interact, either for work or through Eda's selfless help with his mother, neither are close to moving on from each other. Serkan's choice to separate has put both in perdition. Even when Eda is in a situation where she is hurt by Serkan's continued set of choices, her loving heart cannot help but find some sense of comfort from his closeness. Insisting upon finding the saboteur in the company, accepting his gift for her first day back at school, accepting his invitation to go to his house for work, accepting to collaborate in framing Efe all lead to 1:1 interactions that they both want to minimize but cannot walk away from. To feel that kind of yearning for the other while needing to pretend life is normal is painful, especially when it is a result of a possible error in judgement. Serkan simply assumed Eda will never forgive him and made the choice for them both.
This forced normalcy puts a strain on the viewer because we are aware of how much the characters love the other, and every one of these interactions that has a hint of romance seems superficial because of all the hidden truths in between them. This prolonged lie has overstayed its welcome and Eda's "Noldu?!" has run dry. Even this sexually charged interaction rang hollow for me as the chasm between them is so wide.
PACE OF STORYTELLING
Since Episode 13, there is some evolution in Eda's relationship with Serkan, but the pace of the overall story has been stalled for several weeks now and that needs to change going forward. To watch the main pair unable to confront the elephant in the room for so many episodes is stifling, forcing us to accept the pretense of normalcy just as the characters are being forced to do. With so many meaningful arcs at our disposal to move the story forward, I am unable to understand the creative choices being made. Have Eda learn the truth already and have them experience the angst on the other side. To spend five episodes on the same vague topic seems indefensible. If finding an appropriate actor for Babanne is a problem, have her conduct her business over the phone as she has done so far, but move the story forward.
I have mentioned this in the past but will reiterate that Selin has ceased to be a strong enough character to be a credible threat to Serkan and Eda. As mentioned above, her purpose should be the plot device that allows Eda to shine as a professional against her and for Serkan to realize that certain relationships need to change when one has a new love in his life. He and Selin cannot have the same closeness they shared before Eda came along and he needs to be one to set the boundaries Selin will have to learn to accept. They have no need to spend any more time together than is absolutely necessary.
I hope the pace of the story will pick up in Episode 19 but I fear that we have already been shown the episode finale. If my prediction about Selin's outburst being the finale ends up being true, I declare defeat here today and will make this my last post about the show. Just as much as the creators are putting in the effort to produce something beautiful, we are putting in the effort to consume it with love. Without audience support, the most expensive production has little value (otherwise known as box office failures) and it is painful for me to watch a show falter even when there is so much potential in the plot and the characters. The drastic fall in the ratings this week suggests I'm not the only one who is noticing the stagnation.
Till we meet again.
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