Updated: Dec 1, 2020
The episode is rich in a lot of details as the multitude of relationships shifted against each other, against several thematic strains that are worthy of mention. It is Hande's moment to shine as Eda, as she discovers the truth about her parents' death, and has the boldness to confront both Alptekin and Kadir, the contractor responsible for the actual collapse of the wall that crushed them. Her anguish and grief feels touchable, as she relives the pain of her loss during these emotionally charged moments.
PC: @smoakfairchild/ twitter
At the same time, Serkan's journey of solitude and his deep desire to win back her trust, while he accepts any punishment she has for him as long as she remains in his life, is also portrayed very well by Kerem.
We do not get the much desired reconciliation between Serkan and Eda but it still offers plenty of growth in their relationship dynamic, and we see evolution in several of the important people who impact their lives. Like a novel, details unfold a little at a time and we get deeper insights into the characters as they make their choices at each fork they are faced with. As long as there is forward movement in the story, I do not mind dramatic turns in the narrative that lengthen the time towards a final union, which we know will be the pinnacle of their journey together.
NO ORDINARY LOVE
A big appeal of the love story between Serkan and Eda is the celestial nature of how their lives have intersected through various events in the past and the present. The interweaving strains make it a believable epic love story that cannot be swayed by mere storms or obstacles, but the two of them are yet to have that depth of faith in each other. Serkan feared Eda leaving him if she knew the truth, and Eda doesn't have faith in Serkan's way of loving that doesn't include her as an equal partner.
Serkan's admission that he would rather lose Eda than hurt her is touching but coming at a time when her wounds are raw, it doesn't have any impact. Eda is able to separate Alptekin's mistake from Serkan, but she is still livid that he made the choice for her. Hindsight is 20/20 and at the time Serkan made the decision, the evidence he had available was weighed heavily towards Eda's inability to forgive any connection to her parent's death. Nevertheless, he accepts Eda's decision to move away from him and gives her the space to choose her next course of action.
While Eda has her ready posse of girls always available to support her as needed, Serkan is a lone wolf who is unable to share his pain with anyone. They lick their wounds in their own ways and Serkan only emerges from his isolation when Eda is ready to talk to him. Her strict contract designed to limit their interactions is her effort to maintain a distance from what she thinks is a destructive love. She is so deeply in love with Serkan that she fears she will allow her essence to be consumed by a man she cannot fully trust anymore.
And Serkan, happy to have Eda in his life in any way possible so that he can regain her trust, willingly signs a contract he does not even read. And he willingly removes a ring that has been his talisman for hope since the time he put it on. When asked if he signed the holding away, he says she can have it for all he cares. And this is where the lyrics from Tolan Shaw's "Gold" has finally come to fruition, where Serkan will 'trade all his money for her gold'.
As Eda makes conscious effort to remain true to her clauses in the contract and maintain their physical distance, I love the push and pull of sexual tension and the muted mutual desire as both struggle to keep away. The most poignant moment is after Eda's outburst with Kadir, where Serkan remains by her side. One can see the physical struggle for both to keep away from each other.
They both needed to be held, but this is the power of two strong personalities who are able to take the reigns of their impulses as fate plays with them. It reminds me of Paolo Coelho's words from The Alchemist:
"At a certain point in our lives we lose control of what's happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That's the world's greatest lie"
Fate has played some cruel games on them both but I love how neither cower in the face of it. They focus on doing what they can by choosing love and kindness, empathy and compassion, and still work to hold on to each other, somehow.
Serkan also begins to appeal to Eda's knack for rising to a challenge and her sense of fairness, to gently coax her to understand where he was coming from, while he continues to respect the clauses she has put in her contract. He picks out the most important part from her speech to young girls and says that back to her:
"Do not be afraid to make mistakes as it can make us better people"
He asks her if it isn't possible for him to become a better person after the mistakes he has made. With Serkan's willingness to adhere to Eda's demands, she begins to see that he is not only putting on an act, but genuinely desires to please her. She understands this fully because she knows in her heart that his depth of feelings for her mirrors what she feels for him.
As the evening wears on and Eda sees the consistency in Serkan's demeanor, one can see that Eda begins to better understand Melo's words about how love wins over everything, and forgiveness is a part of the game. Serkan doesn't push her but invites her to be by his side. He buys the dinner auction to have it with her and tells her he will wait, this being his final gambit in winning her back. He resolves to stop pursuing her if she doesn't come.
Selin's scheming sends Eda to the wrong address, but both are still so restrained in their ability to reach for the other, neither wants to be the first to call and ask. Their pain is reminiscent of the despondence of Nickie Ferrante from An Affair To Remember when Terry fails to show up at their rendezvous point at the Empire State building.
Even though the end seems painful and futile, it also confronts the crux of the issue questioned multiple times throughout the episode and that is: TRUST. Serkan remains unsure because he does not want to force Eda into a decision she does not want. Will he trust his heart and know that his Eda would have chosen to come? Eda says she doesn't want to trust Serkan but does she trust him enough to know that he would never play this cruel game on her? Do actions really matter more than what we know in our hearts? I share another favorite Coelho quote:
"Ever since time began, people have recognized their true love by the light in their eyes."
And this is where Serkan and Eda will need to converge against all odds. Trust what they see in each other's eyes against all that they hear or are told. Theirs is no ordinary love that bends with the winds.
One of the most cheered moments of the episode is when Serkan finally puts Selin in her place, unwilling to let her run amuck with her twisted notions of what love and friendship mean. I share this clip with great glee because this is long overdue. I only wish this had happened in front of Eda:
Translation credit: @authorsanem/ twitter
Serkan had been patient with Selin, perhaps because he feels he had wronged her but with each one of Selin's underhanded decisions, he remembers why he could never fall in love with this woman. Underneath her carefully crafted persona lies an insecure and narrow-minded individual who is incapable of looking beyond the myopic view of her world. Her razor-focused obsession with Serkan has not changed even when the world has changed around her. Serkan realizes that Eda was able to break him out of a similar existence and he now defines a 'mukammel' or perfect woman quite differently.
Whatever the reasons for Serkan's indulgence with Selin's behavior, the truth remains that when there is awareness of feelings that cannot be reciprocated, it is better to nip it at the bud and establish healthy boundaries, rather than let it linger for some vested interest. Serkan allowed Selin's fantasies to grow and he inadvertently fed her obsession perhaps because Selin was always plan B. As he has morphed as a person, so has his notions of how to engage in relationships, and we see a Serkan who went from a dry, calculating businessman to a sensitive and loving man. Unfortunately, choices made in the past have unleashed a monster within Selin who is now incapable of thinking beyond all the ways she has been 'wronged', and has lost perspective on what boundaries can mean.
"True test of character is what someone does when no one is watching" is a quote by John Wooden, a renowned basketball player and coach. This episode exposes the worst of Alptekin and Selin, bringing to the fore dormant characteristics they have always had within. And with this artistic direction in their character arc, both have permanently entered unredeemable zones.
Alptekin's cowardice and his weak personality is captured in the exchange he has with Serkan. Alptekin had plenty of opportunities to take responsibility for his mistake and also be the one to tell Eda the truth, and yet he pushes the burden off to Serkan and focuses his time on getting his body back in shape. He is so out of touch with the reality in his home that he doesn't discern the changes in Aydan as she finally gathers confidence to go out by herself.
Driven by financial success, a low hanging fruit in the game of life, Alptekin ignores his responsibilities as a husband and father, thinking being a provider is enough. These dated, stereotypical notions cannot nurture a healthy family system, and we see the cracks almost immediately as he moves out.
It is sad that Aydan doesn't even look surprised when she discovers the woman in Alptekin's hotel room, perhaps suggesting this may not be his first indiscretion, and maybe even a contributing factor in them having separate bedrooms earlier in the series. Aydan's desire to hold her family close is better understood, especially if it's a family she chose to build after she turned away from her real love. How does she justify her life if everything in it is so fragile?
Underneath the comedy of her role, I also begin to understand her complete devotion to Serkan because he represents the best truth in her existence. Even though Aydan's character has gone through a major transformation that didn't follow a smooth trajectory, I like the essence of what is being done. Her inner soul is pure and that is why Serkan never left her side, something I mentioned in last week's review as well.
Selin's descent into this petty character is in contrast to the personality and character growth we see in Eda, and yet it also mirrors reality for many women. Pushed from many different directions while her entitled personality fails to get the one thing she wanted, Selin has lost touch with herself completely. She feels threatened by Eda and her unwavering self-esteem, and all the prestige of her own education and family pedigree is not enough to bolster her own lack of self-love.
Serkan had an Eda to show him that there is more to life than work, deals and accomplishments on paper; Selin seems to lack that in her life. She is very accomplished but empty otherwise. If she cannot be happy, she certainly doesn't want Serkan to be happy. If she cannot win, she certainly doesn't want Eda to win.
Selin has stooped so low that her low self-esteem is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. With each nasty action, she likes herself even less, and her focus has now become to 'win' at any cost even though if she were to be asked, she would fail to articulate what she's looking to win exactly. This brings me to a question I have often pondered about women:
"What bothers you more? The fact that she can or you can't?"
It would be good if Selin's character is given an arc that teaches her to love herself more as opposed to becoming the catch-all evil character whose only purpose as a plot device is to create trouble for the main pair. She needs to be shown to take some much-needed responsibility for her actions, so that she can step out of this haze of always being the 'victim'. She blames Serkan's inability to love her for their current situation, and Eda for 'stealing' Serkan from her, but the reality is that her personality never inspired him to fall in love with her. Will she continue to plod through life thinking the world ought to change around her flawed personality or will she finally look within herself and understand that the answers are within her grasp to fix?
Through the bickering between Aydan and Nesrin, and the clawing from Selin, we see the difference between destructive competition versus collaborative sisterhood as shown by Eda's camp. Everyone wants to find their place in the social pecking order and what I like is the consistent message that it is innate qualities, a strong sense of self and merit that gets you a place at the table. Fake notions of superiority will limit what one can do with their life (ala Selin), even if they have all the socially approved credentials. Melo has never been able to hold down a long-term job, she doesn't fit the social definition of 'beauty' and yet she trounces a Selin any time of the day with her simple and forceful personality.
And it is that confidence that gives her an appreciable place in the pecking order, where she is valued by those she loves, and respected by men like Serkan. Thematically in the background or what to some might seem like noise against the main love story, I find these to be interesting sociological arcs that add to the story.
One of my biggest draws in watching Sen Cal Kapimi is the strong female archetypes explored through the various characters. It has been a pleasure to see a story that shows a spectrum of these archetypes instead of creating a false sense of a world where only the positives exist. While we see women like Eda push the boundaries of traditional stereotypes in how she assertively protects and promotes herself, we also see Selin who doesn't know what to do when her role is not defined by her man. I like the focus on the meritorious young girls and Eda's heartfelt speech to them. Unlike Serkan, the line that resonated most with me is:
"When you get a taste of what it feels like to stand on your own two feet, rest assured it will be worth it."
Similarly, we are shown a spectrum within the males as well. We get enlightened men like Serkan, Engin, Ferit and even Efe who are not threatened by working alongside female partners, and know how to recognize their talents and leave them to flourish. Seyfe, as a paid companion to Aydan, also breaks stereotypes because we usually see female assistants being relegated to being ordered around. In contrast, we are shown Alptekin as well who embodies some of the worst traits in the male stereotype - someone who wishes to be relevant and powerful because of his financial prowess, but hides a weak personality under the elaborate façade.
Whether these illuminating notions are popular in a conservative society or not, they are necessary in the modern world. Without getting into the politics of religion, even the message in the Quran promotes an equality in thinking, with the theme that men and women were created as equals to complement each other. Social narratives have gotten defined over the millennia by positions of power primarily held by men, and it is understandable how it became easier to relegate women to being a second class citizen. Through stories such as Eda's I hope it inspires young girls to recognize that whether they have the financial means or not, it has nothing to do with having a strong sense of self and going out into the world to reach for your goals. Gendered roles can be redefined without it being a threat to social balance.
I have stayed away from making any commentary on the fashion choices in the show, primarily because for me it is part of the overall aesthetic of the show. I feel the selection of colors and styles have been complementary to the characters and the general, modern feel of the show. It is also an interpretive dimension, where certain styles will resonate with certain people because of their personal preferences. I take exception this week because of the many comments I read regarding Eda's pairing of white boots with her red dress for the evening event.
Having lived in Texas for many years, the pairing is quite appealing and communicates a bold confidence that matches Eda's personality very well. I am not trying to change anybody's mind but the conversation made me think of how we tend to revile what we do not understand. What I found natural because of my exposure to such styles seemed inappropriate to many who might have a stronger understanding of a classic styling. As with much else, when I do not understand, I try to question and it expands my thinking because in this vast universe I will never have all the answers.
Similarly, I wondered if my earlier frustrations with certain portions of the series were because they fell outside of the patterns of what I understood. After careful introspection, whereas some of the frustrations are justified some require me to change my expectations and focus more on the journey. And with that filter on, I thoroughly enjoyed this week's episode because as an episode it had everything that makes this show so special - humor, purposeful dialogue, character growth, love, desire, angst and truth. It also helped for me to revisit their love story through this beautiful video edit, which serves as a perfect reminder that Serkan and Eda are on an exploratory journey of love where admitting their love for each other is merely the beginning of the journey.
VC" @CoolCatKerr/ YouTube
Coupling requires earnest work and to see that work unfold through a varied plot and a set of complementary characters is an absolute joy. I hope the writing team is able to maintain this pace of creativity where each episode has enough variety and movement to keep the core audience coming back for more.
Till we meet again.
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