Episode 23 as a stand-alone episode was adequate and makes an attempt to focus on the concept of trust, but no particular theme seemed profound from an analytical standpoint. A simple summary of the episode is as follows:
1. Eda continues her diffident attitude towards Serkan, except now Balca – the woman Eda insists on hiring - is the excuse. They make a wager on whether Balca is pursuing Serkan for love and Eda’s reactions are a comic mix between jealousy and her great need to prove herself right
2. Eda is well aware of her power over Serkan and tells her posse that she trusts his eyes not to wander elsewhere
3. When Serkan wanted to review the final selection criteria for a business partner, Eda brow beats Serkan into accepting that he must trust her to do the job and not look over her shoulder. The reality remains that if mistakes are made, Serkan and his reputation is liable, not the employee. Besides, I would like to know where else do interns get away with talking to the boss in this manner? Out of respect for Eda, I will not define the kinds of relationships that open doors to such level of defiance in the professional space and it would be good if the writers also remembered that fact. Separation of personal from the professional is a far more empowering message
4. Serkan goes through a sensual explanation of what it means to him for a woman to truly love him, and since he doesn’t feel any of that from Balca, he doesn’t put any stock in Eda’s allegations about Balca. He says, “The new Serkan wants to enjoy life, especially when seated across from the woman he is in love with”. Eda makes an excuse about work and walks away
5. When talking about Efe, Serkan once again expresses that he doesn’t trust Efe and Eda responds with “I know my right from wrong”
6. After Balca lies to her about an ex-boyfriend, Eda concedes defeat on the wager, agreeing to go to dinner in Paris with Serkan
7. Serkan invites himself to Ayfer’s birthday party which leads to a fun-filled evening on the ice rink, ending on some alone time where once again Serkan expresses that he always wanted to do special things in Paris with the woman he truly loves and that woman is Eda. He also tells her in French, “My love, I love you” and Eda accepts the adulation but once again turns the conversation with nervous laughter and ends it by saying it is time to leave
8. Eda tells her posse that after their time in Paris, she will let their relationship take its course. These are conversations she should be having with Serkan
9. We learn that despite Balca’s meddling, Eda managed to dig deeper and select the right business partner for Art Life after all. Serkan makes a public announcement praising Eda, thereby validating her rude behavior in #3
10. Babanne finally makes an appearance in front of Eda, revealing herself as Efe’s secret partner
This episode is unlike some of the best episodes in the series that made me ponder for prolonged periods of time on important themes in love and how two loving souls inadvertently keep colliding into each other because neither have any other place to go.
Instead, there is an unexplained literal portrayal of two characters who are performing in disparate skits that do not always build on their emotional depth from the knowledge they acquire about each other at various points in time. Eda remains seemingly unaffected by each of Serkan’s love confessions, providing no explanation nor suggestion on where the next positive step for him is. Every new interaction is an unknown of whether we are heading into another meaningless altercation or is Eda willing to shed her pride to reach for the man she loves?
In contrast, we have a short but mature exchange between Ceren and Ferit, where they have a straight-forward conversation about their feelings, and Ceren kindly but firmly asks for more time to think about next steps.
WHERE IS #EDSER?
In appreciation of production and filming challenges, for the last few episodes, I am driven less by a much-awaited reconciliation than I am with seeing consistent character growth in both Serkan and Eda. In the early episodes, through a strong, nuanced script and performance, Serkan and Eda had been firmly established as two personalities who were different but complementary, where both had something to learn from the other. This is fundamental to what drew a large following for this show.
As they navigate the various pitfalls in their journey together, it is natural that as they grow into a relationship, they incrementally evolve to continue finding a fit with each other. However, if the relationship dynamics reach a point where they begin to lose touch with themselves just so that the relationship can survive, one needs to start thinking deeply about why they are on this path.
In recent times, I cannot recognize Eda or Serkan as an extension of the person they used to be, and it seems it is due to a culmination of factors:
· In the script, their characteristics have been modified such that the character evolution is not organic, perhaps forced by a need to plan for more episodes than originally anticipated
· The actors have become comfortable in the characters and each other such that the lines are becoming blurred between fiction and real life, seemingly demanding less as actors
· There are thematic inconsistencies across the plot devices used within an episode that in chronological order does not always support the changing dynamics between the main pair
Accepting that the writing team for Episodes 22-23 is different than the original team, today I wanted to explore the various ways the character evolution seems to have veered in unexpected directions and take a walk down the memory lane to better articulate the confusion many fans have been feeling.
UNCONDITIONAL, COMPASSIONATE LOVE
Serkan has always been upfront about his strict principles and work ethics. Eda fell in love with him anyway, while believing that he may love someone else. There is yearning, desire in her soul and deep compassion when he shares pieces of his broken childhood. In episode 6, when Serkan tells Eda about his brother, the way she holds his hand and cries for him is what we expect of the Eda we had come to know. She saw the man underneath the prickly exterior and loved him more.
In episode 10, when Eda talks to Ceren about Serkan being a father, she accepts him as the controlling workaholic he is and says how amazing he will be in teaching the children a sense of discipline and integrity.
In episode 11, out of her unconditional love for Serkan, she is willing to concede him to Selin and move away to Italy, but still rushes to his side when she learns he has fallen ill. She stays all night to care for him.
When they finally come together as a couple and is almost immediately challenged with the truth about Eda’s parents’ death, the Eda and the Serkan we had come to love disappeared almost overnight. Serkan becomes a shadow of his former self, who cannot walk away from Eda nor tell her the truth. Who begins to wallow in self-pity of not being able to live the love he was meant to. A man to whom integrity, honesty and sincerity is above all else, is reduced to blowing with however Eda starts to react to the situation.
And Eda, in her shock at being jilted, becomes an abrasive, caustic young woman who seems to have forgotten why she had fallen in love with this man. A man who was indeed a workaholic, but who had the kindest heart; who was gruff but was the most considerate towards his loved ones; who was crippled by the fear of loss, but still went after her to express his love. Even though she supports him during the explosion crisis in Episode 18, Eda allows herself to believe his lies until she learns the truth in Episode 20.
With the truth, Serkan expresses with the deepest sadness and regret that even though he loved her so much, he separated to spare her pain, and also in the fear that she would leave him when she learnt the truth. This confession comes after Aydan shared the depth of Serkan’s childhood wounds with Eda. And yet, regardless of words said, Eda’s anger supersedes her compassion and she sets a contract in place in order to punish him. As a woman who loved so deeply, she turns a blind eye to the pain Serkan has experienced since the time he learnt the truth himself.
VC: @authorsanem/ twitter
In Episode 21, when Serkan and Eda learn they went to separate restaurants, Serkan acknowledges the depth of their love, and asks her to just be by his side. After this soulful exchange in the kitchen, Eda tells Can the photographer that she is still single.
Serkan has put himself in perdition during their separation, predicated by a past event he had no control over, and he also severs his relationship with his father, and all we see of Eda is being on her arc of teaching him a lesson, and keeping him at an arm’s length. Where is the woman who said “I will be your breath whenever you need it?”
Is it only Serkan who has to accept her as she is or is Eda also supposed to love him with all his faults, including his acknowledged bad decision to separate, rooted in his abandonment issues?
In Episode 22-23, Eda insists on expressing that she can co-exist with Serkan without being in a relationship with him. And Serkan, contrary to the man who had believably blossomed from a rigid introvert to an expressive lover between episodes 1 – 12, has now willingly become a punching bag for Eda’s various whims. As though he had been spiteful in his decision to part ways, making him deserving of the repercussions. And now, someone who couldn’t even ask another to stay if they wished to leave, is showering words of love and laying the red carpet out for Eda for when she wishes to come. This complete reversal in the power dynamic erodes the initial characterizations of the two characters the most.
In Episode 6, when Eda bites into more than she can chew with the project she undertakes, Serkan does not reprimand her cruelly, but explains the realities of the professional world and then steps in with additional crew to help her achieve what she had promised.
In contrast, this same girl - who is yet to graduate and has no real project experience other than the couple she has worked on at Art Life - does not take any professional input from Serkan in doing her assignment. Serkan has always treated her abilities with respect, especially in public, but Eda is publicly erratic in showing the same respect for Serkan. In fact, knowing that she has him in a bind, it is almost as if she uses his weakness towards her as she deems convenient.
On this topic, I really like this quote:
Real love is knowing someone’s weaknesses and not taking advantage of them. knowing their flaws & accepting who they are. ~ Anonymous
In the earlier episodes, whenever Serkan hurt Eda’s feelings by being himself, we are shown his journey of understanding his mistakes and learning to reach her in the ways she needs. “Can you forgive me, fairy girl?” was completely in character for Serkan and did not diminish him in any way. It showed that Serkan’s bad behavior was unacceptable and that the two needed to have a more equitable relationship based on more respectful communication skills.
Now, Eda can say hurtful things as she wants, walk away haughtily, have smart retorts to any reasonable thing Serkan might say, belittle his feelings and we are not shown him being crushed by nor react to her demeanor. This subtly communicates that it is acceptable for Eda to treat her lover in this manner because this is who Eda is, but Serkan cannot express himself in his natural ways.
In real life, this would not work.
They are both hurt and wounded from the separation, and the compassionate but quirky Eda we had come to love would not let her Serkan remain in so much uncertainty and pain about their relationship. Under the guise of comedy, Serkan’s journey has been completely devalued, and the narrative has become about Eda wielding her power over the direction of the relationship.
SHOW OF STRENGTH
Eda has often yelled at Serkan about being controlling, but this is true in many relationships with two strong personalities. One feels controlled and pushes back when one is unable to assert his/her own control. It is easier to point out faults in others and not look within ourselves. She is doing the very things she accuses Serkan of – making decisions for the both of them, undermining him in front of colleagues, being a closed book when it comes to expressing her emotions, and finding it difficult to apologize for any mistakes she might have made. This is so far from the Eda we had known that it is almost as though I am watching a different show.
In my review for Episode 7, I had said, “The reality is that there are no winners or losers in the game of love – you either win together or you don’t”. In a person, man or woman, having the ability to throw our weight around is not our measure of strength. Exercising our power to make dignified choices, having the humility to accept ourselves and others with our flaws, being able to love despite faults and mistakes, being able to focus on the positive for a brighter day, giving others the kind of respect we would like for ourselves, knowing how to set our boundaries assertively are all in the realm of what it means to be a strong person.
This is especially true in love, where trying to assert our power over the course of the relationship and punishing one another is a downward spiral that may work during courtship but will be the cause of devastating failure in long-term relationships. And it is this lower level, tactical game of punishing Serkan for his mistakes, while both the characters’ original admirable characteristics have been suppressed, that I find both unrelatable and troublesome.
In an age where media plays an increasingly important role in shaping social behavior among the youth, producers of popular entertainment are no longer absolved of the responsibility for messages conveyed through their productions. Gender equality, rules of engagement, healthy relationship dynamics, respectful social conduct are all themes that get incorporated into these lengthy shows, while the actors gain iconic status by adoring fans. It is both interesting and worrying how much social media engagement blurs the line between reality and fiction, more acutely felt during this pandemic when many of us only have our digital lives as a social outlet. During this period, it is even more important to convey healthy relationship goals that we can aspire to. I have been feeling seeds of confusion about my interpretation of the characters for quite some time, but I could not fully articulate it to myself. Perhaps with the change of writers over the last two episodes, some themes became more obvious.
I am always very supportive of strong female characters, but I do not see the need to emasculate male characters to achieve that goal. I feel it healthier to show how two strong personalities can learn to build a life that is rooted in trust, mutual respect and love. That is a big part of why I had loved the script from Her Yerde Sen, and thought the writers did an excellent job of showing two emotionally intelligent characters learn to come together without diminishing either. I had felt a similar promise with Serkan and Eda, and I still believe in that direction.
With Babanne’s arrival, this is a prime opportunity for Eda to acknowledge that humility is a virtue and demonstrate that she can navigate a complicated situation in a mature fashion without dissolving into anger and resentment. It was because of her resentment towards Babanne that Serkan could not muster the strength to fight for his love. It would be good to show her realize that by continuing her resentment against Serkan, she hurts their future. They are far stronger together, and Babanne has no ammunition if she doesn’t have Eda on her side.
For someone who claims to know her right from wrong, Eda didn’t know that she had put her faith in a wrong person like Efe. She continually belittled Serkan for his trust issues regarding Efe and didn’t realize that for all the distance she wants to keep from Babanne, she has been eating out of her hands for months. It is important to use this new plot device for Eda to reconnect with the more down-to-earth, compassionate and loving personality she used to be. Sometimes our confidence needs to get shaken for us to reinvent ourselves, in better ways.
With Ayse and her team back on Episode 24, I have great hopes that we will get a more natural transition in our beloved characters, and we are again able to feel the depth of their love they are simply unable to resist. I look forward to them holding onto each other with equal fervor, where they cannot be cowered by threats or uncertainties, and they do not need to stop being themselves to weather the storms living their love brings on them. Where understanding their love truly does not need language.
Till we meet again.
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