Updated: Mar 3, 2021
SPOILER ALERT: Read only if you have watched the show or do not mind getting spoilers
Recently, I wrote an overall, spoiler-free review of Seref Meselesi, a 2014-2015 mafia dizi adapted from an Italian original called L’Onore E Il Rispetto. I welcome you to read that first as a prologue to this review, which will delve deeper into the themes and characters that fascinated me, geared more towards viewers who have watched the show already.
Starring an excellent ensemble cast, with cinematography, set design and music that is par excellence, Seref Meselsi is one of the top dizis I have watched in my young career of being a Turkish dizi enthusiast. I lived the show as I watched it, I felt the emotions as they played out on screen, and at the end, I was left with a bleeding heart from needing to internalize the loss of the promise of certain relationships that are meant to remain unrequited. Even though I have a preference for happy stories, I would choose to go through the journey of Seref Meselesi over and over again because of how beautifully the characters are created and portrayed, in a tight narrative that left me breathless from the power within.
The evolving themes of brotherhood and comradeship, ambitions, life values, hope, desire, fate and love are intricately woven into the story that sometimes leaves us with more questions than it answers. I would like to delve into the topics that felt ambiguous upon first viewing but became more apparent as I studied the frames, dialogue and acting with greater scrutiny. Masterful storytelling is an art in and of itself, and very few shows have captured me in this manner.
BEGINNINGS: THE GOLD STANDARD
There are a number of parent-child dynamics we are given insight into that shape the stories and personalities that come to life throughout this tale. It is important to understand the nuances of these relationships to better understand the children’s choices as they come into their own as adults.
Hasan & Zeliha Kilic:
Hasan Kilic, the younger, mild mannered son of the honorable Kilic family stronghold from the small town of Ayvalik, is married to the perpetually dissatisfied prima donna Zeliha, an Istanbulite who never adjusted to life in the outbacks even though she married for love. When Hasan’s father, the patriarch of the family, suddenly passes away, Zeliha finally pressures Hasan to sell his share of the land and move to Istanbul where she imagines a life of glamor and importance.
As in many families, their two sons bear resemblance to the parents in characteristics with the precocious Yigit being the mother’s favorite and the affable Emir representing the pride of the family as he pursues his legal career. Yigit is greatly influenced by his mother’s words and desires, holding that as the gold standard for his aspirations. Blessed with a vocation, Emir has his life better planned, focused on going through the tedious steps of internships and exams to eventually fulfill his role as an idealistic lawyer.
When Hasan eventually takes his own life after the tricks played by the sleazy Sadullah, Zeliha is crippled under the burden of her ambition that she feels is responsible for their downfall. As she loses touch with her reality, Emir falls into doing the needful to maintain a life that stays afloat, while Yigit is filled with rage and vengeance, broken by his parent’s fall from honor and his mother’s shattered dreams. Mild mannered like his father, Emir accepts the lack of justice and the status quo because he has no other options within the law, while the impassioned Yigit makes it his life’s mission to restore the honor his parents lost by going after those responsible.
A low life, unimaginative criminal with a dour expression and an equally remorseless disposition towards life, Sadullah has been a provider for Kubra but not a father. She lost her mother when she was very young and her father treats her as a possession, whose sole purpose is to serve Sadullah’s various whims, and care for the home and office. He does not value her opinion and does nothing to nurture her well-being. Kubra cares for her father but within her imprisoned life, her nurturing personality shines in how she cares for her friends and in her homemaking skills. Her morality is not corrupted by her father’s way of being and life, perhaps because she could never come to respect it. Growing up within the life of organized crime, she is neither frightened nor intimidated by it.
A woman who is neither handsome looking nor accomplished has been blessed with the blonde beauty that is Sibel. Widowed early in life, Neriman has pinned all of her hopes of a better future on Sibel’s success as a model and her ability to marry into money, as such micro-managing her private life such that Sibel chases the most lucrative option available to her. The haughty arrogance and the entitled attitude are ingrained in Sibel who fully believes that she is the best catch in the neighborhood, with mousy Kubra not worthy of consideration as competition for Yigit’s affections. With Neriman’s goading, Sibel believes in the pedestal she should be put on by those around her.
BROTHERHOOD: THE UNBREAKABLE BOND
This clip of the brothers is one of the first clips I saw of Seref Meselesi, and it so succinctly and beautifully captures the essence of the relationship Yigit and Emir shares.
The wild stallion and the natural born leader with a sharp wit, elder son Yigit Kilic strides with the magnetism of a man who conveys strength, courage, magnanimity, honor and ruthlessness, all at the same time. He instills fear and admiration in equal measures, his single-minded, razor sharp focus serving as both his strength and his weakness. Much like Robin Hood, his sense of fairness is driven by equating social justice to moral justice that is not necessarily confined within the words of the law. He embraces his outlaw persona with integrity and, once he enters the Mafia with the sole goal of holding his parents’ detractors responsible, we are only shown him pursuing big jobs with financial gains that do not kill the livelihoods of small town families similar to what his family experienced. Never one to step back in a fight, he is deeply influenced by the ambitions of his mother and sees it as his honor to fulfill her dreams.
The straight-laced, mild-mannered Emir cannot help but be envious of Yigit’s natural charm and easy success in matters of life and love. While Emir slogs through years of work to achieve success in the legal world, it takes him time and many lessons to learn what Yigit comprehended soon after his arrival in Istanbul. That is, life is unfair and the meaning of justice is nebulous, often a concept that only solidifies in the eyes of the beholder. He sees the world in black and white, right and wrong, and he accepts defeat if the law has stated that the limits of the legal process has been reached.
Yigit and Emir are bonded by blood, but their personalities are as different as fire and ice, captured in the fiery intensity of their Zeybek dance and how they oppose each other. While Yigit has a big heart and accepts people as they are, and like a true leader leverages everyone’s best strengths, self-righteous Emir likes to fit people into the mold of what is ‘correct’, unable to comprehend what lies beneath the surface. While Yigit has the audacity to single-handedly take on the world, Emir needs the romp and pomp of the system to achieve his goals. While Yigit will willingly give his life to protect his loved ones, Emir second guesses his actions and gets mired in little details without being able to see the bigger picture.
Emir is stubborn but a weak personality who often says he cannot take it if something happens. Since childhood, Yigit has been his strength next to him, stepping in to hold him up even when Emir resists. Emir says many hurtful things to Yigit throughout their story together, but Yigit hardly ever made personal attacks on Emir’s character. It is part of Yigit’s ability to assimilate people as they are and still love them unconditionally. Emir says that he loved Yigit the most in his life but it was through the filter of a conditional love. By the time he realizes how selfless Yigit has been throughout his life, it is far too late for him to make amends.
One of the best exchanges between the brothers is in Episode 11, where Yigit confronts Emir after discovering that Emir had a relationship with Sibel. Yigit illustrates the ways he would have done things differently for his brother to protect him, and it also foretells how differently the two brothers perceive the depth of their love for each other. When recounting how Emir reported Yigit when he went to kill Sadullah and it ended with Yigit in prison, Yigit says that had it been him, he would have kidnapped Emir and hidden him so that he could not get into any trouble. It is the difference between taking on the burden of a brother’s flaws versus trying to cover for his mistakes.
A few other compelling examples are:
· When Emir dislikes Yigit’s actions against Kubra and his entry into the Mafia, he wants to stop associating with him, making Kubra/Elif a more important part of his life. In contrast, when Emir becomes a prosecutor, Yigit still celebrates his success knowing full well that they will be in head-on confrontations soon.
· Yigit steps in and does the needful without requiring recognition for his sacrifices. He allows Emir to be the hero of the story and Emir loves the adulation. It is Yigit who saves Emir by 1) making a deal with Seyhan and destroying the CD, 2) going to prison for Emir so Emir remains the ‘clean’ Kilic and 3) by masterminding the sting operation that finally captures Seyhan. Kubra never discovers Yigit’s contributions, thinking it is Emir who is the real hero. When she embraces Emir, Emir accepts it with open arms, leaving Yigit out in the cold as he takes over Yigit’s family. Not explicitly stated, this is the worst betrayal Emir could have inflicted on Yigit but, as in the clip shared at the beginning of this section, when Emir whines, Yigit gives him all his own winnings, and that is what big brother did with the chips in his life as well.
· Emir, in his desire to build his life with Kubra, completely ignores Yigit’s rightful place in Kubra’s life – both as the father of her child and the man she truly loves. He inserts himself between them again and again, even marrying Kubra without Yigit’s knowledge with the promise of seeing her only as a sister-in-law, until Kubra begins to see him as a viable alternative for a life partner. Emir finally brings up this issue in the last episode, asking Yigit if he resents Emir for marrying Kubra and being the father to his child. The fact that he asks the question means that he knows what he did is not right. Yigit, in his love for his brother, never leaves him with the burden of needing to accept his flaws and simply says that he is disappointed Elif does not know her real father.
Emir spent their entire adult life telling Yigit how selfish and self-serving Yigit is but in reality it is Emir who is the selfish one. He only looked at his own happiness and sacrificed nothing. He hid behind Kubra's anger and let her wedge a distance between Elif and Yigit. Even the final confrontation with the mafia is because of Emir putting his family at risk with his self-righteous and reckless pursuit of the criminals, and it is Yigit who sacrifices himself to save his brother and his child. Yet again, he does not leave Emir burdened with any guilt for his choices.
It is this layered portrayal of the brothers as they pursue justice and vengeance that makes one fall in love with the characters and, in particular, Yigit, who may be a criminal in the eyes of the law but who grew to be an exemplary citizen in the game of life. One who was willing to accept his mistakes and make amends, who was willing to outgrow his youthful and misled choices, who wanted to make Kubra and Elif his rightful family, giving them the depth of love they deserved from him. His desire to become better doesn’t negate his crimes and mistakes, and his ultimate trajectory in life suggests that even when we cleanse our intentions, the universe will not always present us with the gifts we may have earned.
SISTERHOOD: UNDERMINED AT WILL
Childhood best friends Kubra and Sibel fall in love with the same man. Kubra, simple at heart, falls prey to Yigit’s game of loving her, and gets set on the irreversible path of becoming the mother to Yigit’s child, Elif. When she discovers that Yigit loves Sibel, she doesn’t try to use her love, the baby or her pregnancy as a bargaining chip over Yigit, who remains angry at Kubra for giving birth to Sadullah’s grandchild.
In his anger and in his desire to put a distance between himself and Kubra, he pursues his infatuation with Sibel, her mystery and aloofness a big part of her allure. Sibel, who is not indifferent to Yigit, hides her past with Emir, feeds Yigit’s obsession but makes some attempts to stay away for Kubra's sake. She eventually allows Yigit to follow through with his injustice towards Kubra and ignores Kubra’s pain, validating her choice by claiming love cannot be controlled. It certainly didn’t hurt that Yigit was now swimming in enough money to take her to Paris for a romantic getaway. Such is the depth of Sibel’s loyalty and love towards her best friend. She does this in the future as well, when Yigit wants to take off with Kubra and Elif, and her scheming with Emir leads to a turn in events that proves to be the death knell for the family life Yigit could have had with Kubra and Elif.
Kubra only took action against Sibel, once. When she discloses the truth to Yigit about Sibel’s past relationship with Emir. Even though she is condemned for her choice to do so by everyone, only one person appreciates her honesty and that is Yigit.
By the time Kubra disclosed the truth, she was already in her formal marriage with Emir. She had not begged for Yigit’s love until then and she did not now. Whereas Sibel repeatedly made choices because she could not fathom losing to Kubra in the game of love, Kubra was driven by reminding Yigit that he had a responsibility towards his child. If Yigit pursued Sibel even after knowing the full truth, Kubra would have remained silent because as someone who never received a single word of love from her father, Kubra was not in the habit of demanding or expecting love.
Both of Sibel and Emir worked in their vested interests in hiding the truth. Sibel, because she knew Yigit would drop her, and Emir, because he knew Yigit would remain between the rosy family picture Emir was forming in his head with Kubra and Elif.
Kubra and Sibel’s desire for Yigit illustrates something that plays out often in real life. When we want something for all the right reasons and let ourselves go with the flow, the universe has a way of rewarding the power of that intention. Kubra loved Yigit but never held it over him as an obligation for him to love her back, but he did. Sibel felt the world owed her Yigit because she had only loved Yigit and the harder she tried to gain his love based on this sense of entitlement, the further he moved away.
Just as Yigit and Emir are contrasting characters in physical stature and how they connected with their world, Kubra and Sibel are similarly contrasting characters as well. In physical looks, inner energy and natural success, they prove that all that glitters is not gold. One of the most telling verdicts come in Episode 21, when Yigit is consoling Sibel after she informs him of the pregnancy. He tells her, “having the baby because of greed would be a mistake”. In her actions and choices, Sibel could not hide her fascination with materialism, and Yigit had learnt to understand that.
YIGIT & SIBEL
Yigit desired Sibel at a stage in his life where he did not understand what true love could mean. Her unattainable status made her even more desirable, especially as he consciously ran from his responsibility towards Kubra/Elif. As we come to know Yigit and his principles as the story unfolds, had he known about Sibel’s relationship with Emir from the beginning, Yigit would never have allowed those feelings to grow.
Once he does find out about the shallow relationship Sibel had with Emir, he is able to see that as a compelling reason to walk away from her, more because she proves herself to be self-serving and untrustworthy and less because she had a relationship with Emir. Yigit finally sees Sibel as she is, a wavering personality who knowingly hid her relationship with Emir from Yigit and also pursues him knowing that it would keep him from being a father to Elif. If Kubra had not disclosed the truth to Yigit, Sibel was willing to start their relationship on a major lie.
Sibel continues to behave in scheming ways as she tries to get even with Yigit, illustrating her narrow-minded thinking about what it means to be in an equal relationship. There is no doubt that Sibel loved Yigit but, much like Emir, she did so through the prism of a conditional kind of love that demanded that he keep her on a pedestal. Hers became a self-absorbed love; the kind she cannot let go of because he has now become unattainable. She could confuse his thoughts with her beauty and she knew it. His moment of weakness at the hotel proves it.
Still clinging to the image of the Yigit who had no desire to be a father and wanted Sibel instead, she thinks Yigit could never change and could never possibly love anybody else as he had loved her. She finally understands and accepts otherwise the night before she leaves. Her parting letter captures the better part of her love for Yigit, which she could never overcome probably because she is used to being the one who does the rejecting. She mentions the peace that came with being able to marry him even though under duress, and while the futility of her story is painful to absorb, she wanted to pursue this one-sided relationship with Yigit knowing that his heart and responsibilities lay elsewhere.
At the time of her marriage, Sibel was already aware that Yigit had wanted to get away with Kubra/ Elif. After the marriage, she gives away her insecurities every time she questions or provokes Yigit about Kubra and does not get the answer she wants, perhaps because in her heart of hearts she had never wanted to believe that Yigit loved Kubra.
Throughout their marriage, Yigit does not treat her with respect and wants to extricate himself from the relationship at the earliest possible opportunity. If he truly loved her, he would have wavered on that decision but there is no malice in his voice when in Episode 20 he tells Sibel that they are never meant to be. He is not unaffected by her, but they cannot be together.
In Episode 21, I pondered for a long time on why it was necessary to show Sibel become pregnant after their one-night stand, only for him to still turn her away, especially after he is already remorseful from having done something similar in his past. My conclusion is that it is to provide the one tangible clue that Yigit chose Kubra because he loved Kubra and not because it was for the sake of a child. He is already married to Sibel who is now pregnant with his child, and Kubra had already turned him down. What holds him back from building a life with Sibel? Yigit did not want to give up on the hope that someday he could be together with Kubra, and Sibel finally understands this. When she asserts that Yigit does not love Kubra, his response of “how do you know” is the sole verbal clue the viewer ever receives of what Yigit feels for Kubra.
When Sibel takes a bullet for him, Yigit is ridden with guilt because of his responsibility in putting her in that position. In his gratitude, and his guilt that she had lost the baby, he reiterates what he had told her before. He had loved her a lot and when she gets better, he would fix all the wrongs in their lives so they could have a real marriage. Yigit is no stranger to gunshot wound victims, and he must have known how precarious Sibel’s situation was. He wants to give her hope to fight for. When she dies, his guilt is crippling – not because he lost the love of his life, but because another loved person from within his inner circle had died as a result of his choice to go into the world of crime. A beautiful young woman who had so much promise in the life she could live, had been snuffed out because he had failed to assess the threat Seyhan posed.
When Yigit visits Sibel’s grave, he is not a broken man crying for his unrequited love, expressing how he cannot go on with life. He is a guilty, remorseful man who wishes life would have transpired such that she would still be alive. Once he had made peace with the reality of her loss, he picks himself up and begins to plan for the next phase of his life, where he can live in serenity, away from the criminal world that had cost him his beloved mother and Sibel, and so much more.
YIGIT & KUBRA
Even though Kubra touched Yigit’s heart with her innocence during their fake courtship (her desire to work through her pain so she could dance with him, her wide-eyed faith in him during their afternoon tryst where she tells him she loves him), he could not bring himself to see her as anything other than Sadullah’s daughter. Throughout the pregnancy ordeal, he makes her the target for all his anger at making him a part of Sadullah’s gene pool but he cannot help but notice her kind ways and her resilience in how she raises the child, or gently invites him to be a part of Elif’s journey.
Two compelling events convert Yigit from the hard-hearted avenger towards Kubra and change from being a resolute bystander in Elif’s life.
1) His discovery of Sibel’s relationship with Emir, which makes Yigit question his own self-image of how willing he was to walk away from his responsibilities towards Elif and Kubra while he chases a mirage.
2) His 5 hour stand-off at Hakki’s ranch where he comes close to death, which makes one wonder about the truths in one’s life.
He changes to wanting to be a father to Elif but does not yet give Kubra the importance she deserves as Elif’s mother. At its crux is his annoyance at Emir for marrying Kubra, a certain part of him thinking that all of his mistakes regarding Elif/Kubra were his own to fix. This softening towards Elif/Kubra changes some more when Kubra tries to escape with Elif, and he is once again taken by Kubra’s quiet strength without her being disrespectful, hysterical or accusatory towards him. Upon her return he tells Emir that “Elif is my daughter, and Kubra is her mother; do not interfere”.
Yigit’s connection with Kubra deepens as he begins to understand how much despair Kubra is living with that she would rather remain drugged than be a mother to Elif. In Episode 14, one of his few soulful chats with Kubra shows how much he understands her because he offers to take her to a doctor who will heal her spiritually and physically. He genuinely holds and caresses her, knowing how much she needs and deserves it, and that she needs it from him. For the first time, he lowers his defenses against Kubra and he tries to reach her as Kubra, not as Elif’s mother or as Sadullah’s daughter. In contrast, Emir comes and tries to lecture her about being more tolerant with his mother.
One of the most heartfelt exchanges between Yigit and Kubra, where translations are not necessary to understand their emotions
After Kubra attempts suicide, Yigit has no sense of conflict in setting aside Sibel’s accusations and rushing to Kubra’s side. His own realizations surprise him that 1) he is scared of losing her 2) he recognizes the steadfastness of her love despite the pain he inflicted on her and 3) he failed to be there by her side when she needed it. From this point forward, Yigit resolves to never hurt Kubra intentionally, even though his decision gets tested time and again. She is also the only woman with whom he can share himself unreservedly. In Episode 16, his conversation about how he felt about losing his mother, her genuine desire to listen and understand, is an understated but powerful exchange that shows the unspoken feelings they shared.
In Episode 17, when Emir fights Yigit over his desire to take Kubra and Elif with him, Yigit says “they belong to me.” This is the deepest love confession he could have made but unimaginative Emir only hears what he wants to hear. Both he and Sibel believe Yigit now desires Kubra because she no longer needs him but neither comprehend Yigit’s soul enough to understand that Kubra nurtured the best part of him, with Elif being a beacon of that part. For him, Kubra and Elif meant his family, one he created with Kubra. To the bystander, his choice to be with Kubra/ Elif does not whitewash all of Yigit’s past crimes and unfairness against Kubra, but for Kubra it does. Because true love is such. It is forgiving and embraces the parts of the love that helps it grow. Unfortunately, with Yigit's necessary marriage to Sibel, something breaks in Kubra and she cannot trust that Yigit will not hurt her again. She makes a conscious choice to turn towards the safer and more reliable Emir.
Over time, Yigit came to love Kubra deeply, without it being a competition to win over Emir or being a jealous fit against Sibel. However, in his shame towards her, Yigit could never express it nor compel her to make decisions on the strength of his love. He only ever talks about having a family together and making her his wife because this is what it should have been.
Through cinematic choices, the viewers see Yigit reminiscing about Sibel, waking up from a nightmare about not being able to save Sibel, but neither the viewer nor Kubra get to see him remember the innocence in Kubra, him drawing strength from her steadfast love for him, him admiring her inner beauty and strength as she rises above her many obstacles in life, her stepping in between him and her father before he is shot, seeing her as the best mother for his beloved child, seeing her as an angel who salved the wounds in his soul, seeing her as the brightness that lit up the murky world he had dug himself into. There are endless reasons for why Yigit could not help but love Kubra.
Kubra made him want to leave everything behind so that they could build a future together. He even gives up his vengeance against Seyhan when Kubra is kidnapped, willingly putting his life at risk to save hers. Her love for him was a great source of strength and purpose for him, and it is this strength that gives him hope even after the loss of Sibel. He begins to get back into the rhythm of life, finding a new apartment, leaving the Mafia world and letting Seyhan live, taking the fall for Emir so that Elif and Kubra are not left alone, helping Emir put Seyhan behind bars. It is never explicitly stated but he did these in hopes that Kubra will begin to trust him again and finally agree to be with him.
The night he discovers Kubra reach out to Emir in an intimate fashion is the night he breaks. Their wordless exchange in the clip above is so poignant and heartbreaking, as he fully understands what he has lost. He tells Gul later that night that he had lost everything and God forbid should he ever fall in love again. If Elif was his only reason for seeking a relationship with Kubra, he could have stayed in Istanbul and been a part of their life, and eventually Kubra would have told Elif the truth about her real father. In reality, Yigit could not accept sharing Kubra, someone who had become a part of his soul, and he leaves Istanbul for good so that Kubra can build the life of her choosing. He doesn’t do so to heal from his brokenness of losing Sibel but he does so from the brokenness of losing Kubra, the one love and woman that was truly his to lose.
During his solitude, the viewer only sees him missing Elif while he holds on to her belongings and stares at her photos. But Elif came from the two of them and looking into Elif’s eyes is looking into Kubra’s eyes; holding onto Elif’s footprints is holding onto the print of the life they could have created together. While on the boat, he reads an important excerpt from the book Madonna in a Fur Coat by Sabahattin Ali, translated by a Turkish friend:
Yigit ran away from Kubra and chose a life of solitude instead.
When he returns to Istanbul and goes to the neighborhood, his face is reactive upon seeing Elif looking so grown, and then upon seeing the pregnant Kubra. His face registers nothing upon seeing his brother after four years. He sees the vision of the life that should have been his, but he could never fully redeem himself from his depths of mistakes towards Kubra, and out of respect for her wishes, he stays away. Even on his last day in Elif’s bedroom, he couldn’t look at Emir hugging Kubra, knowing he should have been the only one to comfort and protect his family.
Yigit and Kubra might have gotten off to a false start but theirs was an understated, beautiful story of two people who loved each other with all their flaws. With Kubra, Yigit learnt to look beneath the surface and see that real, enduring beauty lies within. They were both very caring of those around them and opened their arms to embrace whoever needed help in any way they needed them. Once Kubra opened her shop, she provided refuge to everyone, and Yigit was the same to people he considered to be in his inner sanctum. They both valued family and loved Elif with complete abandon. They both had hearts big enough to accept and forgive, only Yigit learnt to do so too late. They were both of a kindred spirit in their life’s principles and yet it is so artfully shown throughout the story that it is very easy to miss.
Through cinematic choices of plot devices that reinforces Kubra’s belief that Yigit loves Sibel, and with his silence in never correcting her, it is beyond sad that Kubra is never shown to understand how deeply Yigit had loved her. She let him go believing that his heart had belonged to Sibel and Yigit loved her too much to obligate her into choosing anything less than what she thought was best for her. He could not force her to have Elif give him the recognition as her father and the incompleteness of his life leaves the viewer in palpable pain for all the ways he could not live his love, especially as someone who loved with his whole being when he loved.
Kubra only ever truly loved one man. She had two children, both on the day that man was shot. She settles for a peaceful marriage with Emir, but her heart only ever fully belonged to Yigit. As a child who had to struggle to be seen, in her silence Kubra’s perceptiveness saw people for who they are. She understood Yigit’s soul the first day she saw him – a brilliant young man who had strong principles and a heart of gold. She never judged Yigit for choosing the mafia and her acceptance of his choices had the wisdom of her childhood behind it. Instead of pushing him to change, she establishes her boundaries in her desire to protect Elif. When she first discovers that Yigit loves Sibel, she wants for him to survive his gunshot wound and find happiness even if it means he doesn’t love her. It is the selflessness of their love for each other, and the silent nature of its depth, that leaves a heart crying that they never really found each other in this realm.
Even though the story is presented as a love quadrangle set against the cat and mouse game of law and order, only Yigit and Kubra shared a mutually deep and true love. As Yigit came to better know Sibel and Kubra over time, he began to understand the value of what he had walked away from. He realizes that he vilified Kubra because of her father, which someday will be no different from someone purging Elif because of her father’s crimes. Kubra never demanded that Yigit love her back, and quietly worked hard to build a life for herself and their daughter. She internalized unimaginable humiliation and came back from the depths of her despair to want to become independent from either of the Kilic brothers. As Yigit understood the woman within, given the man he was he could never love anybody else as much as he loved her.
As he leaves Kubra and Elif, he pours his heart into his letter to Elif but many of those words are equally for Kubra; words he could never bring himself to say to her directly. Whether Kubra understood or not, it brings one to tears to understand the deep sorrow in his words and his acceptance of his solitude, away from the ones he loves.
The relationships in the story illustrates so many colors of love. Love and loyalty for friends, love for brotherhood, love for child and parents, love for life, and so much more. The story also made me question the concept of honor and the ability to assess between an absolute truth and a relative truth, absolute goodness and relative goodness, and I realize that as we navigate our own lives, the more we are able to understand and tolerate the shades of grey, the richer our experience with life. Seref Meselesi will remain a show that makes me introspect on the meaning of life, love, honor and justice, and leave me with characters I can draw inspiration from.
Yigit, brought to life by Kerem Bursin in a deeply moving performance, lived a young but fully meaningful life where he learnt what it means to be the best version of oneself, and he left a slew of people who learnt to appreciate the depth of what he had been, as best illustrated by his daughter in her monologue at the end of the show.
Yigit Kilic - a force of nature who left a hole in the universe in all the ways he could not fulfill his potential – as a man, a husband and, most of all, as a father.
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