This episode provides a rich narrative and has a lot of the energy from earlier episodes captured in the love-laced tension between Serkan and Eda that is in sync with where they are in their relationship, including growth in characters and their arcs across the board. Blended in with some cute comedic skits, the episode captures a multi-dimensional shift that seems to have found alignment with its purpose of being a romantic dramedy targeting contemporary audiences, and I hope it is here to stay. Since I have been following the patterns in the story from the beginning, there are a few themes that caught my attention this week that I would love to discuss in greater detail.
FEAR IS ONLY AS DEEP AS THE MIND ALLOWS
- Japanese Proverb
We get great insight into Serkan's fear of abandonment with Aydan's explanation to Eda about his childhood. I will try to do this point justice, drawing upon personal experience, in the hopes that what fiction alludes to us through his story is better understood.
I lost my baby brother when I was 16 and as the child who remained with my parents (my other brother was studying abroad) and experienced their grieving process, I deeply empathize with Aydan's inability to connect with the world after the sudden loss of her beloved son. Her lack of emotional space to make room for her surviving child mirrors that of my mother, who was spent after fighting for a year to save baby A from cancer. As my mother struggled to hold on to life, I found myself become an isolated island, left to fend for myself and become emotionally self-reliant to a fault. As an adult, while on the one hand I would like to be taken care of, on the other I never want to be at anyone's mercy. These inner tensions define how I experience and express love.
Without going into the depth of pain internalized to get here, these choices define our actions in every dimension. The boldness in Eda and Serkan's inhibitions illustrate a deep difference in how their past influences their actions. Eda lost her parents abruptly and, while it is incredibly painful, the love she had from them during their life, and from Ayfer after their deaths, make her feel secure in the idea of love. She has no doubts in her mind about her lovability and as such she has no fear of accepting the burns that come with pursuing love. Serkan does not have this sense of security. His pain from being abandoned by his own mother, the one person we are wired to seek protection from, makes him distrustful of anyone's love and he is convinced that Eda cannot possibly love him enough to forgive his association with her parents' death. Having experienced abandonment before and knowing what to expect, he quits before he gets fired.
What he doesn't anticipate is the fear of the after. The fear of Eda moving away from him and finding her place in somebody else's arms, and it is this fear that propels his actions in this episode, where he tries desperately to connect with her so that she can understand why he chose to do what he did. This clip below captures his fear perfectly and is so poignantly portrayed, interspersed with moments when Serkan was deeply affected by Eda:
It is only through understanding the evidence in his relationship with Eda that he can begin to conquer this fear. He now understands what Eda has been trying to tell him in many different ways: no matter all the ways he has pushed her away, Eda never left his side and always came back with love. Her unwavering support during the roof collapse crisis gives him hope to overcome his fear, and he becomes willing to see if she is able to still love him despite the truth. Her words that he need not take on the burden of his father's mistakes also gives him courage.
Relationships are full of pitfalls that are remnants of our past. What I liked in this episode is the believable portrayal of how these pitfalls get shaped for Serkan and Eda, and what they are willing to do about it. It provides movement in their stories and gives the actors various dimensions to express the breadth of the emotions that come with these evolving feelings.
Just as Serkan is making choices based on the evidence in their relationship, so is Eda. On several occasion, Serkan has demonstrated his lack of boundaries when it comes to Selin, his ex-girlfriend, especially while he is aware of Selin's feelings for him. It is not unreasonable for Eda to assume that Serkan is trying to do the same with her by shoving her out of his heart, but wanting for her to still be a part of his life. She understands how jealous Serkan can get, and she assumes that he is chasing her all day long because he now has reason to be jealous due to a secret admirer and wants to confuse her thoughts enough such that she holds on to the hope of their relationship. She has seen Serkan pull similar tricks with Selin during their fake engagement, where their entire arrangement was designed to confuse Selin enough to part with Ferit.
Even though Aydan mentions the burdens of the past that is inhibiting Serkan, and Serkan also mentions how his father's mistakes are taking precious things away from him, Eda cannot possibly imagine that any of those have anything to do with her.
And yet, when Serkan calls her in his drunken state, she stills comes to him to take care of him. She nurtures him and we get this beautiful shower scene where both their guards are down. The way they miss each other is palpable in the ways they hold each other, full of a sense of ownership and deep yearning, yet unable to give in completely.
The fact that she wakes up on the couch the next morning suggests that not a lot more happened during the night, and Serkan is apologetic for calling her in that state because the purpose was not fulfilled.
The one good thing from the night is that he was able to tell her how much he loves and values her, but he couldn't yet tell her the more important part of why he chose to part ways regardless. The other great thing is that, since the break-up, this is the first time Eda also gets to express the depth of her anger and anguish at being separated. For all the time she believed Serkan consciously set her aside because that's who he is, she could continue with the charade of being unaffected. As soon as she understands that is not the case, her deserved wrath knows no bounds.
With her feelings exposed, it is the perfect timing for her to learn the truth about the past. She already acknowledges to herself that Serkan owns her mind, body and soul; she has insight from his mother about what shapes him and his fear of losing her will be in perspective; she now knows that he loves her as much as he ever did and all the steps that he has taken with her have come from a place of love. With this knowledge, the balance of power will finally be tipped in Eda's side so that she can make a meaningful decision about their future. Given Eda's character, once she is over her initial shock and hurt, she will remember that he loves her as much as she loves him and it will be a beautiful journey to witness her find are way back into his waiting arms.
WHERE THERE IS SMOKE THERE IS FIRE
In few of the earlier reviews, I had remarked how Aydan was being self-centered in her response to the Bolat family responsibility in the demise of Eda's parents, and how I felt Alptekin was genuinely trying to mend his distance with Serkan. One thing I had not articulated is my slight confusion with how Serkan was responding to his parents' respective stance. He remained loving and kind towards his mother, but he could not bear to be in the same room as his father. I should have taken those cues to understand that the river runs deep when it comes to the family dynamics.
Alptekin has proven himself to be a self-serving coward of the highest order. On the one hand, he spews platitudes about wanting Serkan to be closer to him, on the other he takes no responsibility in trying to mend the problem with Eda's family and taking the responsibility for what happened. He does nothing to clear the obstacle he has created in his son's life.
Alptekin gives himself away during the lawyer's meeting where he absolves the holding of any connection to the event, thereby proving to Serkan that his father is a man lacking in integrity, the kind of man he cannot whole-heartedly respect. Serkan does not have this problem with his mother, who is a loving person underneath her idiosyncrasies, who genuinely desires a happy life for Serkan. He sees her efforts with Eda and understands that she comes from a place of love. In contrast, Alptekin is far more concerned with protecting his self-image and the holding, shoving the debris of his mistakes under the rug as though keeping Eda ignorant solves any problems.
Illustrated through this exchange is the need for trust in a character's consistent behavior in relation to others. It is not that Serkan cannot trust anyone; he cannot trust Alptekin. Serkan's reaction to his father in the context of this debacle captures many years of frustrations and disappointments with his father. Even though Serkan was sent away so that Aydan could get through her grief of losing Alp, Serkan still identifies with her and sees her fallacies and difficulties as being rooted in real issues.
Side bar: Granted that several of the characters have wavered in their consistency, Alptekin's character also lacks clarity. Initially depicted as someone who desperately wanted to repent for his mistake and spent years trying to find the affected family, now he is someone who wants to pretend he had nothing to do with it, especially when his son is aware of the truth and he wants to mend his relationship with him. Sometimes deeply discerning, sometimes inordinately obtuse, I cannot perceive if he is meant to vacillate so much or is it artistic license to fit him into any shape of evil or goodness as required. It would be good to have his position and repercussions be more consistent.
Selin's character has been increasingly a sore point for the predominantly female audience for a number of reasons. In addition to being a repeated annoyance of different flavors to the lead pair, Selin lacks a sense of self other than her position of power within the company, trying to mold into whatever she thinks will get her Serkan. More than love, her obsession with Serkan erodes all her relationships and her self-respect. She keeps on putting herself in front of Serkan in desperate ways and her methods are unappealing, especially for a competent professional woman.
If she knows Serkan so well, she knows that his confession of love for Eda was not made lightly. For her to come and camp out at Serkan's house when she has so many other options is in poor taste. It takes him insisting that she go home, in a drunken stupor at that, for her to finally take the hint. When at home, which is miraculously no longer flooded, she again throws a temper tantrum at not getting what she wants.
I have already made this point on twitter, but worthy of making it again. There is no substitute for self-reflection and taking the responsibility for one's choices and actions. For as long as she blames everybody but herself of her string of failed relationships, she will not come out of the victim mentality. She looks at herself and talks about keeping her wishes and desires inside but that still does not address the problem. Nobody, including the man who left her at the altar, is unaware of her wishes and desires. She has hardly bottled it in or hid it. She cannot let go because she decided on Serkan a long time ago. People change and he did not grow in love with her. She cannot force him to do so, and wasting her life whining about what she didn't get is unproductive.
In contrast, we see Eda and Ceren work hard not to be defined by a man. They do not stagnate when purged; their streak of self-confidence and independence appealing to men of strength because such men seek partners and not subservient subjects. It is good that the viewers are shown such stark differences in traits so that impressionable minds can discern the positive ones that help women make positive statements in their lives. Being able to establish our boundaries assertively is incredibly important, both in our professional and personal lives.
A BOOK THAT DOES NOT END
This week's episode was great in so many ways - in plot variety, character and story movement, better alignment with the characterizations long-term fans have come to know, opportunities for the actors to show breadth of emotional capacity, set colors and wardrobe, and more. I felt this one episode did more than the last 6 put together, and I hope the production house can maintain the average pace.
It has far too many themes that I loved but getting into the details would be too time-consuming. There were several comic skits that were well executed such as the Barbarian Vs. Child, social media craze around Ayfer's Instagram account, the vapid women from the association and more, but my favorite is this because of the many ways it pokes fun at the production and use of its title in various ways:
I am looking forward to the show finding its rightful place towards the top for Saturday nights ratings, supported by a crisp, dynamic and intelligent script. By observing the heat maps of conversations across the various social media channels, it is obvious that the audience for this show love the story as much as they admire the cast. If the story loses its texture in noticeable ways, it affects the ratings almost immediately. I hope now that the competition for the night are other comedies, Sen Cal Kapimi will stand out as the one that maintains its original cleverness through inspirations taken from literary references and positive themes in gender diversity.
Till we meet again.
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