Updated: Jan 27, 2021
I haven’t been as excited about doing an episode review in a long while as I am this week. I laughed, cried, and felt every emotion in between as I sat through a fast-paced episode that covered a lot of ground. My biggest issue in between Episodes 14 – present was how much Eda as a character had stagnated, even regressed, and it made me disheartened to keep watching a show where I could not genuinely root for one half of the main pair.
With this episode, we recover a chance to show Eda have the growth she deserves and learn to truly become an equal partner to Serkan. I far prefer watching female characters who learn to be empowered with an inner strength that has opportunities to flourish, rather than this self-entitled persona who saunters through life knowing she deserves what is coming her way. Learning to appreciate our gifts in life with humility is a beautiful thing and both partners in the relationship need to feel that way for the mutual respect to grow with them.
Coming out of the lull of several episodes, where we drowned in a singular issue, now there are multiple possible dimensions to their relationship and to the story that have been introduced, and I am looking forward to the dramatic experience that comes with it. Eda’s character now has an opportunity to break away from the shackles of the many things that contained her in a one-dimensional interpretation, and she can display many more qualities that establish why she is a woman of strength and the only one Serkan could and should have ever fallen for.
THIS IS CINEMA
Before I delve into the emotional strains that I find worthy of discussion, I wanted to articulate the broader reason for what I liked this episode. Sen Cal Kapimi is, and ought to be, a filmic space where we are shown slices of life in creative ways, played by talented actors. I do not want entertainment to emulate real life in its minutae, either in its full content nor in its pace. Unbelievable as it may be, having the same character face more than their fair share of conflict is understandable because the character is being used as a conduit to portray various aspects of life. As suddenly as they find themselves in a rough situation, they need to come out of it just as swiftly, so they can move onto the next layer of issues that create tension in plot and character.
The novelty of the storytelling lies in how the filmmakers pace out the tensions and what available cinematic elements they use to portray the story. This is why cliched RomComs of various kinds continue to find a place in their viewers' hearts. Don’t we all know the basic plot? Why do we keep coming back? It is because of some quirkiness in the plot line and some uniqueness in its portrayal that sets it apart.
I would argue that between episodes 14 – 25, the plot line came to a grinding halt and instead of the instant gratification we expect in the cinematic experience, the pace of character and plot growth was too much like real life i.e. moving at the pace of molasses. In the last couple of episodes, the shifts in the plotlines notwithstanding, the change of pace in both story and the potential for change in the characters are what has begun to appeal to me again. It has gone back to its cinematic roots, blending a bit of fantasy with make believe with light comedy, and this allows us to transport ourselves out of the daily grind of our lives and indulge in a few hours of entertainment.
This ability to forget reality is why I had been drawn into the first few episodes of Sen Cal Kapimi, and I would re-watch parts of the episode multiple times throughout the week. This desire to re-watch had evaporated over the ‘lull’ period and, after a LONG time, this week I find myself wanting to go back for a re-watch. And this couldn’t have come at a more opportune time as I was getting ready to make this week’s review my final.
Ultimately, as Alfred Hitchcock says,
“Drama is life with the dull bits cut out.”
And when I turn to entertainment, that is what I am looking for.
The kidnapping arc was desirably short-lived, and neatly served as the plot mechanism that got rid of Seymen, Balca and proved to be the catalyst for Babanne’s eventual departure as well. The most exciting part about that skit was the car chase in the garage, with Hollywood-esque screeching tires and sharp turns taken at high-speeds, that serve as great advertising for the BMW Z4 driven by Serkan. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was written with the express purpose of fulfilling one of Kerem’s childhood dreams. His car chases in Muhtesem Ikili were not nearly as exhilarating!
With the nonsensical threat of Balca removed, with much less fanfare than the fandom would have wanted, the rest of the episode did a great job of exploring pre-wedding jitters, humorous differences between men and women and how they relate to marital bliss, and the relationships among Ayfer, Aydan and Eda morphing in ways that allow us to see a beautiful future in their family dynamics.
TWO PLANETS COLLIDE
With the hasty decision to be married, both Eda and Serkan are overwhelmed with all that needs to be done. Eda is mired in the details of the wedding, while Serkan is focused on clearing his deck at work so that he can take time with his bride after the wedding. The difference in how they approach the idea of marriage leads to misunderstanding because while Eda keeps on throwing silly details at Serkan to get him to engage in the wedding planning process, Serkan’s reluctance to do so, coupled with selective eavesdropping, make her believe that Serkan regrets his quick decision to tie the knot.
Watching Eda get so worked up about the specifics, feeling pressured by his mother’s standards, Serkan also misunderstands Eda’s chat with her professor and thinks that she is feeling uncertain about their decision to be married.
Layered on top of this misunderstanding is the male nonchalance displayed by Engin and Ferit, who are planning a two week, men’s only bike trip through Europe. They serve as the quintessential male stereotype who are tone deaf to the emotional needs of the woman and get horribly bewildered by their resulting anger.
Without getting into the full details of the skits themselves, I loved the cleverness of how the different personalities played against each other during this time of comical confusion, until they reach the crescendo in Sapanca, where they finally make peace.
Serkan is very clear that because he is the one getting married, his needs are the most acute, and does not hesitate to throw the others under the bus as needed. The funniest was how the boys try to back pedal when caught as the jury for the beauty contest, and their facial expressions from the time they try to wriggle their way out to their contrite behavior when objectified by the girls, is sheer comic perfection!
However, underneath all the humor is the fundamental truth: the way men express love and wish to be loved is different from how women do so. A lot of what I have alluded to throughout these reviews are similar. Men and women coming together is really like two different planets about to collide. It requires mutual respect and understanding of such differences to navigate the inevitable chasms created when building a marriage. I laughed when Eda pouted. “Let us never misunderstand each other again.”
In how Eda and Serkan have been shown thus far, I cannot help but think of what Albert Einstein once said.
Men marry women with the hope they will never change. Women marry men with the hope they will change. Invariably they are both disappointed.
To be human is to change and it is important for both to be considerate of the space the other requires for that change. Part of Eda’s predilection of telling Serkan how to be, presuming that she knows best, and being portrayed as the perceived moral compass of the relationship was bothering me. Serkan has a lot of admirable qualities as well, that are not to be taken for granted, and it is only from the willingness to learn from each other will their relationship reach the pinnacle I had hoped for their characters. I hope we are shown more of this journey as the plot direction creates new opportunities.
TAPESTRY OF LIFE
With the tragic ending of the episode, which was not entirely unexpected, I am saddened for Eda’s trauma which seems a repeat of her parents’ accidental death. I found it particularly cruel and unfair to show someone who has had to survive the pain of sudden loss to be faced with a similar pain once more. As someone who has observed and experienced deep loss in close quarters through many life stories vibrating from a string of seemingly endless tragedies, I understand that my desire for Eda’s character is rooted in what I perceive to be fair in reward and punishment received in life.
And, in internalizing it, I am reminded of this beautiful paragraph I had read in Harold Kushner’s “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” where he uses Thornton Wilder’s “The Eight Day” as an explanation for how God’s pattern of reward and punishment can be arbitrary. Wilder likens it to a beautiful tapestry, which shows an intricate picture on the outside, but the underside is a ‘hodgepodge of many threads, some short and some long, some smooth and some cut and knotted, going off in different directions.’
Similarly, Kusher asserts that ‘God has a pattern into which all our lives fit.’ Looked from the underside (our vantage point), the pattern seems messy and arbitrary but from the outside (God’s vantage point), ‘every twist and knot is seen to have its place in a great design that adds up to a work of art.’
Seen from this perspective, not only can I make better sense of Eda’s suffering, I can also make better sense of the production. From our vantage point, many of the plot choices will seem ungainly and messy, but perhaps it has the potential to create a richer tapestry on the other side. The only caveat is that the producers are not God and as such cannot command a similar depth of faith from their followers.
PAST SHAPES OUR FUTURE
I loved both the conversations the mother figures had with their children. They both expose their own insecurities even though both are happy that their child is reaching for his and her happiness.
Aydan feels a piece of their family is missing because Alptekin cannot be here and even though Serkan says they are fine, for a mother and a wife, who made a life with the man for 30 plus years, it is not so easy to walk away so cleanly. Alptekin had been her safe haven for a long time and, regardless of the fractures in their family, they were her fractures to own. He is still Serkan’s father and her wistfulness at the new path they have been forced upon is played to perfection by Neslihan. When life throws us curveballs, we learn to eventually catch them, but it does not take away those unguarded moments when regret comes flooding in for all that we could not make right.
Ayfer’s demons are so different. We get further insight into her personality when she speaks with Aydan about following in her brother’s footsteps in defying her mother. When Eda is left an orphan, Ayfer’s decision to take Eda’s responsibility, away from the security her mother could provide, displays an inner strength that does not necessarily remove a woman who can still doubt herself. We see her insecurities play out in many ways in her adult life, but she is never shown to regret the choice to take on the parenting of Eda.
When Eda came and lay down in her lap, I shed a tear or two for what remained unsaid about all the holes in Eda’s universe she tried to fill without ever expecting much in return. To come to a day when she gets to hand off her assumed responsibility to someone else is emotionally overwhelming, and I see that love glow in Ayfer despite all the ways her character is often shown to be lost.
One of the scenes I can watch over and over again is the exchange Eda has with Aydan in the hammam. For all her idiosyncrasies, Aydan has such a beautiful heart and the way she wants for Eda to feel welcomed into her life, offering her the opportunity call her ‘Anne’ if she so chooses, is so poignant and heart-touching. Going against the stereotype of a draconian mother-in-law, who are often that way as they feel that they are losing their son and their known place in life, Aydan focuses on the happiness Eda brings to Serkan. It may be a subtle arc that gets folded into the fun night otherwise, but I found it noteworthy in a culture where the traditional relationship between the mother-in-law and bride are often depicted to be nasty and contentious.
I hope that we are also shown Eda change her derisive tone towards Aydan and respect her as the mother figure she is, both for Serkan and now for herself.
Another understated theme is the role Babanne played in the last few episodes. For all her powerplays, I do believe that she wanted the best for Eda. Given the tragedy in their lives brought on by Serkan’s family, she did not find justice in Eda and Serkan’s union but she changes her mind as she witnesses the strength of Serkan’s love for Eda. I also believe she bought the shares in the holding to be a balancing force against Serkan in case she is unable to change Eda’s mind.
Giving Eda her shares is a true gesture of love and I very much appreciated her words “you start your marriage on an equal footing.” Many women suffer great injustice in their lives because of their lack of financial independence or equality, and for Babanne to ensure that for Eda neutralizes one of the three main reasons for friction in a marriage (money, sex and kids). I loved the portrayal by Aysegul Issever, who looked appropriately formidable and regal in her short-lived role.
The chemistry among the full cast is at its best in this episode, and each one played to their character perfectly. A lot of Eda’s earlier feistiness is evident, but so is her compassionate heart as she makes Serkan include Erdem into their midst. Sarp Bozkurt as Erdem, with his dead pan expressions and deep desire to be one of the strapping boys, showcases an understated acting prowess that surfaces at odd times. The way he lies to Engin about how Serkan invited him, and then to Serkan about how Engin included him, makes me laugh and cry at the same time. How can one be so endearingly pathetic?
The departure of Fifi is surprising and left with many unexplained loose ends. She provided a much needed counter force to the feminine pursuits of her squad and always the quiet pillar of strength to Eda and Ayfer when they floundered. She will be greatly missed but I now better understand why Piril has been inducted into the group. She’s the other practical and logical mind not easily swayed by the demands of a relationship.
I end my narrative the way I started. I look to Sen Cal Kapimi to provide cinematic entertainment through a well-crafted story. The final scenes as Eda hears the news of Serkan’s plane and its disappearance are cinematic perfection in this regard. As the shots weave in and out of her memories of his last words said, and her thinking those may be the last of what she retains of him, and then her collapse are well choreographed and acted.
The drama of the meaningful things Serkan had said, and the impact they have in his assumed death, pulls at the heart strings in all the right ways. The story has now been elevated to a different level and I am, once again, excited about the directions the main characters and the plot can take.
I know this episode left many broken-hearted and upset that #EdaBolat did not come to be, and the ratings did not reflect the depth of the story told. I have come to liken #EdaBolat to a nesting box. #EdaBolat is the end game, and we will have to keep unwrapping many other layers before we can get to the final prize. One of the requirements is that the story is told with finesse, with growth for the female character in meaningful ways.
As for the local ratings, I have come to the conclusion that the story is not crafted for the typical Turkish dizi viewer, even though I feel that the ratings have correlated with the quality of the episode, the promotion leading up to it and the expectations set. The reality is that the modern, urban themes and sexually liberated relationships veer from traditional values of the average viewer and seems more suited to global sensibilities.
I respect the indigenous values and understand the discomfort viewers might feel in watching this as a family. For some non-urban demographics, this may be akin to the US version of "Bold & The Beautiful" where the life stories of the ultra-rich remain unrelatable but aspirational, and for urban, educated populations the stories will be silly fluff. It is difficult to strike a balance and maybe the producers are betting on the international success of the story and with sales to more than 45 countries already, tight storytelling from now onwards might ensure greater success in terms of international sales.
Regardless of what it is, the fact is that the international viewer cannot affect the local ratings, and getting angry about the numbers and using that as a reason to become abusive with the producers or the local viewers is in poor taste. If we are enjoying the story, lets celebrate it, and if not, we are spoiled for choice and it is not hard to find something else that brings us joy. Leading with love is a meaningful journey to be on.
NB: I wrote the above before I watched the second trailer. Selin's self-serving insertion back in between Eda and Serkan is a poor choice after everything the show has made the audience endure over the past few months. After the episode is done, I will decide whether I continue with reviews because trying to make sense of the nonsense has outlived its welcome in my headspace.
If we meet again, - mh.
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