Sen Cal Kapimi Episode 44 Review #BabaOlmak
As much as I loved Episode 43 and was eagerly looking forward to Serkan growing into his role as a baba in Episode 44, the narrative took turns that left me disappointed with missed opportunities for meaningful growth between Serkan and Kiraz, Serkan and Eda, and all three as a family. This pace of one step forward and two steps back creates a Pavlovian response of irritation that takes away from the excitement of looking forward to the next installment.
The summary of the episode is short: Kiraz is excited to learn that Serkan Bolat is her longed for father but continues to refer to him as Serkan Bolat with no correction from other adults in her life; he wishes to stay at Eda’s house so Kiraz can see him in the morning; Eda turns him away but cautiously allows him to spend time with Kiraz; Eda realizes Serkan was telling the truth about living with her memories for the last five years but before she can make decisions about how she wishes to move forward with Serkan, the three stooges (AyAySey) force a custody battle in court; after two and a half hours of disconnected skits that try to show a willing father figure in Serkan up against a reticent mother figure in Eda, we have a judge tell the pair that they need to cohabit for Kiraz’s sake. The end.
I just wish Serkan and Eda had been adult enough to come to this conclusion by themselves instead of a legal decree forcing them to do what's right for Kiraz. There were many misunderstandings that led to their separation and both have a part in their current predicament.
Despite a bright and lively episode, the plot and dialogue choices eroded the soulful reunion of their family unit from the end of the last episode. With just seven more planned episodes in the series, the audience is tired of the pair falling and staying apart due to fear and lies, illustrating over and over again that they have not learnt to be a couple despite their great professed love for each other. Much as Kiraz deserves to be with both her parents, she deserves a stable and loving environment even more. Who would have thought Engin and Piril will become role models?
Without having major epiphanies that show growth in the #EdSer relationship, I wanted to dedicate the rest of this essay to the top notes of where I would love to see tighter writing.
After spending a number of episodes that established Kiraz's deep longing for a father, Eda's deep longing that Serkan takes on the role of her child's father, once he does step up, both the characters are shown to have taken it for granted. His deep rooted fears, verbalized so eloquently in the last episode, are shoved to the back burner as being unimportant and there is no hint of Eda's inner conflict of being forced to be away from Serkan as he went through the lowest point in his life after she left.
Up until this episode, it was obvious that Eda could not help but be excited in his company. I found that to be such a beautiful depiction of her love where she had internalized his rejection of his child, but loved him anyway whether she had a future with him or not. With his truth out in the open, one would expect more empathy and compassion from her as Serkan tries to come closer to her and Kiraz by pushing through his fears, but her responses are dismissive, combative, even ill-mannered when it is not warranted. This does not align with the more mature Eda of 40-43, who had learnt to prioritize her child, understood the fears that paralyzes Serkan, and who still found comfort in his arms, because their love is such. It is in her child's best interests to help Serkan ease into his role as her father, especially after the two were kept separated for so long.
The Eda, who has been told by Serkan that he loved her beyond reason, let her go so she could have a life, who still went to her graduation and kept tabs on her, starts behaving like this once Serkan takes the leap to become Kiraz's father.
Some of it is cloaked under comedy, but the outcome is the same. This negates the more enlightened Eda we had come to see. No one expects her to jump back into a relationship right away, but she should have more compassion for the man she loves, who defeated death to still be standing next to her, now ready to take on fatherhood.
Kiraz is excited to be with her father, and is happy to see her parents together, but continues to refer to Serkan by his name. The little actress Maya is quite expressive and delivers her lines well; her performance is not the issue. A great deal was made of protecting her belief that Serkan is an astronaut who had just returned and yet Eda pushes him away to his home in Istanbul as soon as he declares himself. What is their explanation to Kiraz for this separation, who just blends in with visiting Serkan on his farm, learning about his horses and secret rooms without questioning who takes care of all this while he was out in space? For a child who has believed for years that her father has been in space, who does not know the truth about their circumstances, doesn't blend into lies so easily.
As such, while the dialogue delivered says they have to focus on Kiraz, their conduct has been anything but. The point isn't that fans are unforgiving of plot holes in a work of fiction but it is the lack of continuity in artistic choices made in prior episodes that make it tough to journey along with the characters.
MEETING OF EQUALS
The engaged audience has spent a long time for Eda and Serkan to progress to a point where they can truly be a couple. Some of the writers had thrown in a number of steamy, intimate scenes in a few episodes, and those have become spotty symbols of when the pair was actually in a relationship and happy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Physical attraction and passion is only one of the necessary legs of a relationship. Without solid communication and understanding between the couple, a relationship cannot stand the test of time. And that is what has happened to Eda and Serkan from the first time they professed their love for each other.
I understand conflict is a necessary part of good dramatic content. However, when the central theme of a series is the union of two people, spending majority of the time keeping them apart based on one flimsy reason after another is just traumatic. In a soap opera, there are multiple relationships of similar importance, and as such conflict in one is compensated by celebrations of another, leaving the audience somewhat satisfied at the end of each episode.
As an example, in Friends, a show I have cited often because of its wild popularity during its airing, Ross and Rachel were part of an ensemble cast and the audience was equally vested in the stories for the other characters. Sen Cal Kapimi hasn't been built that way. The primary focus has been on Eda and Serkan, with all the side characters treated as a plot device for their story, bent at will. It has not been possible to feel vested in anyone's arcs though I am liking the maturity in the relationship between Engin and Piril. With this dynamic in mind, keeping Eda and Serkan separated for so long leaves an audience feeling anxious, and eventually unhappy because part of falling in love with a RomCom or RomDramedy is the triumphant journey of the love story we are rooting for.
Eda and Serkan are the first to be betrayed, the first to be targeted, and also the first to disintegrate in colossal fashion when faced with problems. Neither seem to know how to honor their partner. One of the reasons the show had developed such a huge following so quickly is that both Eda and Serkan were shown as a meeting of equals. I articulate this in my first review of the show, covering episodes 1- 4. I had even titled it as Collision of Equals.
They were both smart, expressive and compassionate; she was extroverted with her empathy whereas Serkan was more muted. They both watched out for the other's desires. Once we lost that balance in episode 14 with Serkan's lie about picking career over Eda, we never got back to an equilibrium. For the most part, Serkan has been kept at a disadvantage relative to Eda, with increasing levels of creativity around why Eda supersedes Serkan as a partner. This same theme quickly made a comeback in this season, and that was my general feeling at the end of 44.
This series of photos from Episode 6 is one of my favorites. It beautifully illustrates two people who wanted to be there for each other. When I compare Eda's reaction to Serkan's story about his brother, how she held his hand and cried for him, and how she reacts after he tells her in Episode 43 about why he let her go (anger for why he isn't making better decisions now) or when she hears Engin say how sickly Serkan became after she left (disdain?), I feel bereft.
This beautiful young girl who embraced life with so much love seems to have forgotten what it means to commiserate with her beloved. Accepting the premise as it has been presented i.e. they have a chance meeting and both realize they can never be with anyone else, Eda's knowledge of the truth about Serkan should be treated in a more thoughtful fashion. He chose to live like a hermit in his misguided notion that she would be better off without him. Once again, it is his character that makes the bigger mistake. While I liked how Eda prepared to welcome Serkan into the journey of parenthood through her videos and journals, once he comes, she reverts to making him feel wanting. Not only is she being disrespectful towards Serkan, she is now teaching her daughter the same diffidence. This is a good example:
Instead of using a teaching moment to correct Kiraz about calling her father by name, Eda jumps on the 'close friend' and starts acting deranged about letting another woman into the picture. Their relationship should be past this kind of petty jealousy after everything they have shared. It's supposed to be comical, but the underlying theme of disrespect for the other's intentions, which has been overused in many prior episodes, sits poorly after the relatable angst of the last couple of episodes.
The purpose of this kind of writing is understood. Whereas Eda is willing to allow Serkan into their lives as Kiraz's father, she does not know where to place Serkan in her own after all that they have endured. She understands Serkan's reasons for pushing her away but that does not allay her mistrust that Serkan will not hurt her again as he has done multiple times in the past, despite profuse promises. She doesn't make promises to Kiraz on his behalf; she waits for him to tell her. Their goal is for Kiraz to know Serkan and begin to love him as her father, feel secure that he will no longer remain the non-present third party in their family unit.
However, the execution is garnering mixed feelings from the audience because their relationship by now should be beyond a bickering between who is right and who is wrong. It should now be back to being a meeting of the minds, where they come together, respectful of each other's wounds, and united to provide the kind of parenting Kiraz should have had from the beginning.
FATHER DAUGHTER BONDS
The biggest highlight in this episode is the growing relationship between Serkan and Kiraz. Even when he didn't know Kiraz was his daughter, he connected with her in a soulful way. Typical of their relationship, his gestures are misunderstood by Eda, who acts on her perceptions. Serkan saved the picture of the flying house Kiraz had made, and he builds it for his daughter with meticulous attention to detail. At the time that he saved the picture, Eda is mortified that he paid no attention to Kiraz. In reality, his intentions and execution proved otherwise. These are moments where it would be good to show Eda comprehend the depth of her misconceptions and appreciate Serkan for his positive qualities. Especially when she knows that he has low self-esteem when it comes to his love life.
I liked that we got to see Serkan's efforts in becoming a father. Talking to Engin, hanging out in moms groups, reaching out to his pedagogue friend, changing his car and safety rules, going fishing just so he can feel included, and many more subtle choices. I particularly liked his participation in the bedtime routine, automatically stepping in as dad while mom has to go work. His directives are geared towards making Kiraz more self-reliant whereas the parenting she's receiving from Eda's village is more indulgent. Both are necessary.
I also liked that Serkan kept saying that he only wishes to focus on Kiraz loving him and that her well-being is his first concern. Whereas his conduct has been more or less aligned with his stated goals, everybody else around him seems to be acting otherwise, save Melo. It would be good to see a shift in this dynamic. Much was made of the fact that Serkan and Kiraz didn't know about each other. For Kiraz's sake and for new opportunities for the EdSer love to grow, it would be good to show the three building new memories. The old EdSer died a painful death and there are new opportunities for the new EdSer to grow based on where they are as adults, mature professionals and parents.
My favorite moment that captures some of this is when Eda and Serkan spontaneously kiss as Kiraz runs off to chase a squirrel. This is very much in line with learning how to be together again in their new station in life.
THROWBACKS ON STEROIDS
In this episode, we had multiple scenes as a throwback to symbols or mementos used during Ayse's first reign. These are a few:
Serkan's black shirt that he gave to Eda in Episode 3, resurfaces as one Eda likes to sleep with. It is cleverly woven into the script when Serkan gets wet in the middle of the night and needs a change of clothes at Eda's house. And then the continuity disappears because in the morning Serkan shows up in a short-sleeve collared tee instead. The purpose, perhaps, was to illustrate to Serkan that Eda had held onto his memories. Eda is raising a child she didn't abort because she wanted to hold onto a piece of him. Every other symbol pales in comparison.
We have Kiraz meet with Sirius and turns out she's the same kind of dog whisperer Eda was and Sirius didn't even whimper when she came close.
Eda's discovery of Serkan's secret room is proof that he meant what he said about living with her memories for 5 years. He also collected gifts for all her birthdays that he missed and couldn't be with her. The magical moment is interwoven with another throwback to Episode 7 where Eda had given Serkan his birthday gift along with a store bought cupcake.
As Eda opens her five gifts, it is interesting that one of the gifts is the story of Pride & Prejudice, the central theme in Sen Cal Kapimi that has been recycled in various forms multiple times. At the end of this moving experience, Eda kisses Serkan on the cheek as he had kissed her when they were still fake fiances and not professed lovers. The idea is cute, and perhaps shows Eda's first tentative steps towards reaching out to Serkan as a partner again, but it does not really match the depth of their connection today.
Serkan recites Eda’s Apollo story from Episode 5, with a twist at the end about how, unlike Eda’s story, Apollo does return to his beloved woman, vowing to never be afraid and give up on his women again. This is a meaningful throwback because it has been a recurring theme in their relationship of Serkan leaving when it came to an important choice and yet his heartfelt statement trails off into nothingness. This deserved a more emotional reaction from Eda.
The interweaving of memories and mementos from Ayse’s earlier episodes into the current story is nostalgic but also a little overdone. As a divisive fandom prepares their goodbyes to this iconic TV series, planned to conclude on 52 episodes, many fans are soothed by the familiarity of the storytelling of the earlier episodes while others are frustrated with the lack of growth in the lead pair. This is less about Team Serkan and Team Eda but more about being able to root for a love story that grows after all the storms it has already endured.
As has been journey with Sen Cal Kapimi ever since the completion of the first 12 episodes, the story has been a jarring ride where the plot or characterization or both move in ways from episode to episode that lacks continuity. With the recycling of writers it was more obvious, but even within the same writing teams it happens. Sometimes, the underlying intention may be understood but the execution leaves us wanting. Fans fill in the gaps with our desires, which gives the story more meaning to us, either by picking snippets worthy of celebration or focusing on the outstanding chemistry between the lead pair. However, while I have loved Kerem and Hande as performers, HanKer is not EdSer, and they alone cannot protect the integrity of a script if the details do not connect. Some of my best performing posts are where I could provide a meaningful connection to Eda and Serkan’s choices, which were not evident in the dialogue or in the expressions.
Whereas it brings me joy to help unite the fandom on something positive, it still leaves me wishing for tighter writing of Eda, Serkan, and now Kiraz. Over time, I have de-prioritized all the other characters because I know most of us keep coming back for the promise of #EdSer. I have said this in the past as well – if Eda and Serkan are written in a way where their relationship is shown to have positive progress, the audience will remain engaged and happy, now more so as the end is near.