Whether the audience has loved the journey or not, in this second season as Eda and Serkan re-learn how to be together, with each episode Ayse is attempting to capture one central idea.
Episode 40: With a five year time jump, Serkan and Eda’s chance meeting creates grounds for a new kind of love, but he’s unaware of Kiraz and the episode ends on a crescendo of the Bolat and Yildiz families coming into confrontation with the existence of Kiraz.
Episode 41: We see Serkan not only accepting that he still loves Eda but also makes bold and unwelcome moves towards her to try and establish that neither are indifferent to each other. They end on a passionate kiss.
Episode 42: Eda tests Serkan’s readiness to be a father but when she perceives his inadequacy, she prepares to leave with Kiraz, only to realize that Serkan had indeed formed a good bond with Kiraz outside of her purview. The episode appropriately ends on Eda’s confession that Kiraz is their child.
Episode 43: Believing Serkan’s stated reasons for their breakup but with hopes that Serkan will want to be a part of their life, Eda is again hurt to know that he’s unwilling to play the role of a father. She eventually learns and accepts the truth about his reasons for staying away, and is pleasantly surprised when he publicly assumes the responsibility of being Kiraz’s father, with full cognizance of what it means in terms of being there for her.
Episode 44: Serkan is attempting to learn how to be a father and, as with anything else, he wants to understand rules and be the best at executing the rules. Kiraz is pleased to be with him and engages with him but still calls him Serkan Bolat. Eda tells him that as long as he does his best, Kiraz will love him; perfection isn’t necessary. While he tries to reestablish trust that he will no longer bail on his love or his family, and Eda tries to keep him at bay, a court decree forces them to live under the same roof.
Episode 45: Eda and Serkan are trying to learn the new normal of being a three-person family unit, with the forced guideline of mutual honesty. Whereas it is obvious he wishes to reunite, Eda continues to resist for her own sake. While she wants for Serkan to be there for Kiraz, she tries to control her own desires so that she doesn’t fall into another one of Serkan’s uncontrolled vortexes where she loses herself again. When Kiraz ends up in the hospital due to an anaphylactic reaction to strawberries, and she wakes up to both her parents, she finally tells Serkan that she’s happy he came back from space and calls him Baba.
With each episode, the desired outcome is for Eda and Serkan to be making sure and steady steps towards each other but, as I mentioned in my last review, the execution hasn’t been as smooth as it could have been. Intent has gotten lost under shallow banter, the process of Kiraz’s full acceptance of her father and the depth of Eda’s distrust gets buried under choppy editing. Thematically, the following are what I chose to focus on in this latest episode.
A FAMILY UNIT
Through her conversations with Can, it becomes evident that Kiraz has no concept of a stable, immediate family unit consisting of a father, mother and child. Whereas she has believed that her father is out in space, she doesn’t fully understand the true role of a father, and how his interaction ought to be with her mother. Serkan Bolat is now established as her father figure, he is now under their roof but she still assumes Serkan Bolat will simply take one of the many rooms in the house until Can tells her that Mom & Dad usually love each other and that they share a room. Maybe Kiraz will also learn from Can that Mom & Dad are usually also married.
How confusing for a little person that her adults could not figure themselves out enough to provide that kind of stability in her growth. Now that they have been forced to live together, and as Kiraz accepts Serkan more and more into her daily routines, what is the best choice for Kiraz?
Upon understanding that Kiraz’s world will get rocked if they didn’t stay in the same room, Eda puts her self-preservation on the back burner and allows Serkan a spot on the floor in her room, but with Serkan that never remains status quo and she finds herself serpentine with him in the morning. For Kiraz, it was a wonderful and almost natural sight to walk into, followed by a fun morning cooking session with the parents.
And throughout the episode, Kiraz gets many more touchpoints of interacting with Serkan as her father figure, feeling the sense of protection and security he provides, and watching him stand next to her mother where she begins to see them as one. This sense of continuity leads her to call Serkan Baba for the first time since knowing that Serkan is her father.
And herein lies the conflict that Eda will need to resolve for herself. Does she forsake her trust issues and embrace what she knows to be the best solution for Kiraz? Or does she hold onto her plan of somehow co-parenting Kiraz while she remains single knowing that she and Serkan love each other completely? Despite their professed great love, she has been hurt repeatedly by the same habit of him walking away when things got tough, and he was unwilling to face his fears about becoming a father because he didn’t know what he didn’t know. Thrust into the situation years after the fact, he is performing admirably and Eda even tells him at the hospital when he’s berating himself for Kiraz’s condition that he doesn’t have to be perfect, he just needs to be with them. With all this knowledge and acknowledgement in hand, how should Eda try to build her family for Kiraz?
Once again, a mature adult decision of being honest with each other, after loving each other for more than six years, is forced upon Eda and Serkan by Hulya, the pedagogue hired for Kiraz. Serkan knows Eda is likely to cheat because he has laid all his cards out on the table, and uses the honesty card as a wager to goad Eda into accepting a longer presence in her home. Setting aside the toxicity of this scenario where Serkan and Eda repeatedly prove they do not know how to be a couple, it is positive progress throughout the episode that they finally choose honesty with each other.
Another subtle theme is that they are united in shutting out the noise from third parties, throwing out the AyAy clowns from their home and forcing them to take their juvenile bickering elsewhere.
Eda is mortified that Serkan overhears her honest confession about how she likes having him in the house. Serkan tries to understand what Eda is willing to do with this truth but Eda is still not decided on what she wants and does not trust herself with him in close proximity. So, she does what any mature, thinking woman will do, and sends her cancer-survivor love of her life to sleep it off out on the balcony, without any bedding.
Some may have found this funny, and appropriate retaliation for all the things Serkan has put her through, but in life two wrongs don’t make a right. And intent also matters. In all the ways Serkan hurt Eda, it was always with her best interests at heart as he understood them. In the ways Eda pushes him away, the intent is hardly as considerate.
This depiction of Eda seems regressive from the compassionate Eda we met six years ago, who steps into his rescue even when they are handcuffed and supposedly detest each other, who puts a blanket on Serkan because he falls asleep outside, who stays up all night to care for him while he’s sick, who steps up to being his caregiver through months of intense treatment, who is willing to accept unimaginable humiliation just to get him to remember their love. This Eda, handed with a second chance at life with a man she loves, a man who cheated death to be next to her and step into being a father for their child, simply seems petulant and petty.
Whether through artistic, plot or editing choices, not showing Eda check in on Serkan as Serkan is shown to check in on her when she falls asleep on his couch, and then to show her be mildly pleased and unconcerned about his cold, is an Eda that is hard to root for.
Her confusion and desire to protect herself is easy to support but her mean actions under the guise of comedy are not. I will hope that writers will attempt to maintain the integrity of the characters now that Eda and Serkan will get closer together after Kiraz’s acceptance of Serkan as a father.
In this regard, I have a growing respect for the only stable relationship in the entire story and that is of Engin and Piril. Their scenes are now funny and one never loses sight of how much they wish to support and love each other.
ARE YOU MY FATHER?
I have ignored Aydan and Ayfer for a long time, but now trying to make Aydan relevant again with her one-night stand with Kemal and Serkan possibly being his child is an artistic choice I simply cannot get behind. It is not funny to show such a flighty mother whose elder child dies while she’s busy pursuing her career, who cannot step up to care for her second child when he needs it, and who also has an extra-marital affair with Kemal that she doesn’t even remember from when she’s going through a rough patch with her husband.
Establishing Kemal as Serkan’s father negates all the wounds Serkan internalized, growing up with a demanding father like Alptekin. Alptekin, for all his flaws, is the man who assumed full responsibility for his son, raised him, provided for him and helped to establish his professional career. To insinuate that Alptekin was unworthy of Serkan, and hence it is closure for everyone to realize that it is Kemal who is the real father, just leaves a bad taste in the mouth. In the way Sen Cal Kapimi is being shown, there is little regard shown for the family unit, and for character integrity.
Since we are now forced to ride this new dramatic conflict of Serkan finding his real father like Kiraz finds hers, the question that comes to mind is whose son is Serkan really? Alptekin was painted as a coward and Kemal has an allergy to strawberries. Serkan is/has both; so, which quality is dominant? I can only hope that this trope will be treated with some sense of continuity for viewers who pays attention to the details, and with respect for characters who have come and gone.
POWER OF CHOICE
When I scroll through the reactions to the show on social media, I see polarized points of views. Setting aside the bickering around Team Serkan versus Team Eda, in the past few days I took a step back to understand the underlying phenomenon. My hypothesis lies in how we consume entertainment.
Several of us see a story as a continuous arc where, as in a book, characters travel on trajectories and life situations that help them grow as a person. We look for consistency and a logical growth to the story. And then there are others who watch each episode as a discrete event, live in the moment and just focus on the skits as stand alone occurrences to be enjoyed at face value. And herein lies the conflict within the fandom. Do you approach life as a long game or do you go with the moment, choosing to forget the details of what got you where you are? Both can be a valid approach, and I respect the power of choice, but calling each other ‘wrong’ and creating an environment that precludes healthy discussion and exchange of ideas is a toxic choice under any scenario. What is amazing is that an inconsistently written work of fiction becomes the catalyst for these recurring communication issues to come to the fore.
Romantic comedies are best served as a full-length movie. If a series, the story should not drag more more than 20 episodes or an ensemble cast should have multiple interesting plot arcs so that there is something noteworthy and meaningful in every episode. For Turkish shows, which sport episodes that are each longer than a full length movie, the equation needs to be even tighter, especially as more of these shows want to focus on the growing international audience.
There are increasing number of issues with the current storytelling that is creating a sense of apathy among many viewers, especially those who had been drawn into the story because of its nuanced execution in the initial episodes. Eda’s character has regressed in many ways and Serkan has lost his introspective, brooding nature who worked through his wounds with intention to reach for his love. This is probably one of my most favorite exchanges between them, from Episode 11. It is mature, captures both of their inner conflicts and angst beautifully, and both are as honest as they can be:
After a relatively strong restart to the second season, a fatigued audience is tiring of the repeat tropes. I found this excerpt in my review for Episode 22, which seems a replica of what I would think to write to explain Eda in Episode 45.
Even though there is the popular opinion that Eda is being childish, my interpretation is different. Eda is fresh from deep hurt where she made herself believe that Serkan picked his career over her. On its heels came the revelation that he hid a life-changing truth from her, communicating that he didn’t trust in her love enough to think she would stand by him. Just because he is now being open and honest doesn’t suddenly strip her off her inhibitions. We all try to protect our hearts from being hurt, and she needs to make sure that Serkan will not bail on her in this manner again. After all, he had shared many of the same platitudes with her before he had separated.
We are going through the same motions again, rooted in the same issues, with each character reacting in more or less the same manner. At the very least, more maturity is essential in their discourse because they are now parents.
Depending on the trajectory of Episode 46, I will decide if I continue these reviews. Sifting through animated and yet shallow arguments on and off-screen is tiresome and does not fit the promise of the show for me.
N.B. Due to various reasons, this is my last review for Sen Cal Kapimi. Thank you to all my readers and supporters for your love and understanding. It was a worthwhile journey while it lasted.
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