Sefirin Kızı Episode 1 Review: An Exciting And Emotional Rollercoaster

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Sefirin-Kizi-Review

After what seemed like a very long wait, the first episode of the eagerly-awaited drama of the season, Sefirin Kızı, premiered December 16 on Star TV in Turkey. From the onset, it was clear that the drama was going to be the talk of the season, not only because it is led by two of Turkish finest actors, Engin Akyürek & Neslihan Atagül Doğulu, but it is also penned by some of the most talented screenwriters in the biz, Ayşe Ferda Eryılmaz and Sedef Nehir Erdem, most recently known for their work on ATV’s Sen Anlat Karadeniz.


Note: The series explores themes of suicide and sexual assault. There’s also spoilers ahead. 

TL:DR

Sefirin Kızı is a sensitive and consistently surprising shoq, which sets itself up as a multilayered drama with lots of twists and turns, compelling enough to keep the viewer hooked in a matter of minutes. It also features a pair of outstanding lead performances that do full justice to the ambiguities of each character in a thoroughly captivating way.

 

Review

Through the trailers alone, it was easy to quickly grasp the main premise of the drama: There once was an ambassador’s daughter (Nare), who fell in love with a poor man’s son (Sancar) and as the story goes, circumstances forced them apart many years ago.

Within the opening minutes, we are introduced to Nare (played by  Neslihan Atagül Doğulu), the ambassador’s daughter, just as she had committed murder – at least it seemed so. While we still try to figure out what happened and how it happened, Nare’s Daughter, Melek (Beren Gençalp), wanders in, questioning her mom on what had happened. With a lifeless body in her line of sight, Nare concocts a story to calm her understandably shook-up daughter.

Nare and Melek bond.
Unconditional love as seen through the eyes of a mother and daughter.

While Nare plans her next move, we are thrust to Mugla, where preparations are been made for an upcoming wedding – Sancar’s wedding. Songs are being sung, the aroma of the meals being prepared can be sensed from afar. While everyone else delights in the celebrations, there’s just one person who seems to be out of it – Sancar. Why? The wedding happenings are bringing him back to what should have been the happiest day of his life – the day he married the love of his life, Nare.

Sancar
Happy Wedding Day, Or Not!

The question in every viewer’s mind at this point is when, how, and why did their relationship go sore?

As we the viewers run different scenarios in our minds, Nare is back, this time with a plan. She’s going to take her daughter to Mugla, where her real father, Sancar, resides. But before she does, there’s just one stop she has to make. With two suitcases packed and a black trash bag in hand, Nare heads to the embassy where her father works. Wary of going in and revealing what just happened to her dad, Nare hands the trash bag (we assume is filled with evidence of the crime she committed) to a guard at the entrance. With that mission accomplished, Nare heads to airport with Melek, her daughter.

Meanwhile, in Mugla, Sancar and his friends, family, and well-wishers hit the streets for the what is always the best and most colourful part of any dizi – a wedding. With Sancar seemingly wanting to be anywhere but there, Kavruk, the intuitive village poet and a dear friend of his, is quick to point out the implications of ignoring the love for Nare that still very much lives in Sancar’s heart. Refusing to heed the advice of his friend, Sancar hops atop the horse carrying his soon-to-be wife, signifying no intentions of changing his mind about getting married. Little does he know that fate has other plans for him – just a couple of air miles away.

Enroute to Mugla, Nare meets Gediz (Uraz Kaygılaroğlu), a charismatic young lad, who is almost immediately infatuated with her upon their first meeting, just like I was with him, upon his character introduction. With his interest peeked, Gediz wastes no time initiating a conversation, unbeknownst to him that the story he tells Nare, after learning her name, is actually the story of her life. “If she dies, she will be a legend. If she lives, she will become a lie,” says Nare, as she uses the opportunity to fish for information on what happened after her rumoured disappearance.

Gediz tells the story of Nare's life, to Nare.

The drama soon escalates as Güven (Erdal Küçükkömürcü), the Ambassador & Nare’s father, makes a visit to her apartment, where he discovers a body of a man lying lifeless on the floor. Stunned by what he says, he frantically tries to revive the man, who he keeps referring to as  “Oglum,” meaning “My Son.” At this point, I made the connection – the man on the floor is Akin (Erhan Alpay), who per his character description, grew up alongside Nare in her family house after the sudden death of his parents. How did someone Nare considered a brother, end up covered in his own blood, by her own doing? We were soon to find out as the ambassador pulls out his phone to review the CCTV footage of the occurrences of the day.

The contents of the CCTV camera reminded me once again why Neslihan Atagül Doğulu is considered one of the very best Turkish actresses, especially when it comes to extremely dramatic scenes. The footage revealed her character Nare had in fact stabbed Akin in self-defence as he was forcefully trying to have his way with her.

Speaking directly to her father in the footage, Nare hysterically rants to the camera, standing up for herself and bravely declaring her freedom at last, in the midst of many tears. 

It’s night now and finally time for the main wedding ceremony back in Mugla. There’s just one little detail – Nare and her daughter have just made it to the Efeoğlu mansion – Yes, mansion. Tables have seemingly turned around for Sancar Efeoğlu, the used-to-be-poor son of a peasant.  Realizing what she had just walked in on, Nare clutches her pearls, and almost immediately falls into a trace-like state. She soon returns to her senses when she hears Sancar respond “Evet,” in response to whether he would take Menekşe to be his lawfully-wedded wife.

Pause here to take a long deep breath – could this mean the end to any potential future with Sancar for Nare? Hold that thought…

As Sancar as his groomsmen hit the dance floor in all white to perform the traditional Turkish wedding dance, he is soon to receive the shock of his life.

 

It is the Ambassdor’s daughter, before his very own eyes. “I’ve brought your daughter to you, Sancar,” she says, as a physically shook-up Sancar tries to process what had just happened. With the pain of the last few years flooding back, Sancar immediately demands Nare’s exit, in the midst of the whispering guests, who waste no time in gossiping and exclaiming the implications of what just happened. Unable to comprehend his response, Nare faints right into Sancar’s arms, as her daughter cries out for her, “Anne!” “Anne!”

Nare faints, dropping a very important piece of her and Sancar's history.

 

Nare is then uplifted by Sancar to a quiet room, away from wandering eyes and gossiping tongues. It is in this room that he angrily says his piece to Nare, after she had awoken from fainting. Brushing by Nare’s insistence of Melek being his daughter, Sancar establishes the fact that he wants nothing to do with her and her daughter, dragging her by the arm, in the presence of their daughter out of his mansion and sterlingly warning her never to return. Melek, who is pretty much an exact copy of her mother, disappointed by the actions of her father, defends her mother, yelling at Sancar, “I wish you were not my father.” With his behaviour, I sure was thinking the same thing, at least with the little facts we had at this point.

"I wish you weren't my father."

With no place to run and scared of being tracked down by the police, Nare heads to a cabin in the middle of the woods, a cabin we are soon to learn is filled with not-so fond memories. Within moments of arriving at the cabin, Nare is quickly reminded her current surroundings are not idle for the night, grabbing her daughter and heading back out to find shelter elsewhere. It is at the door of the cabin, that she once again encounters Gediz. Having witnessed what happened earlier in the day at his best friend’s wedding, Gediz comes through for Nare and her daughter, offering up his family’s mansion as a safe place for them both.

With Nare and her daughter settled in, against the wishes of Gediz’s mother, Gediz reaches out to Sancer via text, condemning his actions and letting him know, Nare and her daughter were safe, no thanks to him.

While an enraged Sancar, who is surrounded by his loved ones, tries to comprehend the so-called betrayal of his friend (for taking a woman he kicked out of his home), a chit-chat between Nare and Gediz soon turns sour, as he wasted no time reviewing the contents of a journal he spotted in Nare’s possession earlier in the day.

December 6: Hand over my daughter to her father; December 7: Finish myself off,” it read. Flabbergasted by what he just read, Gediz immediately confronts Nare and alerts her to the fact that he just invaded her privacy. “It’s none of your concern,” she says, assuring Gediz that a mention of her plans to anyone, especially Sancar, meant her unfailingly following through with entry 2,  committing suicide.

Nothing and no one was to get between Nare and her plans.

The transition of night to day is quickly disrupted by a yelling Sancar, demanding to see the ambassador’s daughter as he makes his way through the Kaygılaroğlu mansion. An unrestful night’s rest must have done wonders to Sancar as the reason for his visit is soon made known – he wants a DNA test done to confirm the validity of Nare’s claims that Melek is his daughter.

With a trip down to the clinic and blood drawn from both parties completed, just like a an uneasy Sancar, we wait for the expedited results. Actually no we don’t because if years of watching Turkish dramas have taught us anything – the child surely was Sancar’s.

The results are in and... Sancar, you're the father.

With that out of the way, it was time for Nare to complete entry #1 in her journal – entrust her daughter to the care of her father, a man she had just met and not particularly on good terms.

It is in the scenes that subsequently followed that the true stars of the episode are revealed: the mother / daughter duo made up of Nare and her daughter, Melek. When it was time to say their goodbyes, the duo delivers a truly harrowing and powerful performance, leaving the now-emotional viewer with no other choice but to cry, cry, and cry. Like her mother, a gutted Melek vowed to be strong, come what may.

For Nare, there was only one thing left to do – end the misery that is her life. In her mind, there was only one suitable place for her to do so – the cabin in the woods. What is so significant about this cabin? The plot holes are soon filled as we get to learn that it was in this same cabin that Nare revealed her most vulnerable secret to Sancar, but not before he jumped to his own conclusions. As earlier flashbacks revealed, Nare and Sancar had lived what some would call, a love of a lifetime. Being an ambassador’s daughter meant switching locations often for Nare, but that did not prevent the blossoming of their love, as Nare kept in touch, writing letters to Sancar through the span of over 12 years.

Having eloped and committed to loving each other for the rest of their lives, where did it all go wrong? During what should have been the happiest night of their life, Sancar goes full-blown sexist and hetero-normative, accusing Nare of not being a virgin and taking away something he seemingly thinks was his, and his alone for the taking. Back up, excuse me? What the heck?

While a distraught Nare insists she did not cheat on him and loves him too much to do, Sancar turns a deaf ear, accusing her of betraying their ~great love – funny, considering it is him who does so in the end.

With the episode now nearing its end, a major plot twist is revealed. Nare didn’t in fact leave Sancar because her father forced her to do so. It was in fact Sancar who wanted nothing to do with her, even though Nare had begged and pleaded that she was sexually assaulted by Akin, the man she stabbed earlier on in the episode and someone she considered a part of her family, an utter violation of her trust, among other things.

Let’s get this straight. If their love was as epic as we were made to believe, why did Sancar waste no time in mansplaining his disappointment with Nare, overlooking her clearly emotion-stricken state and refusing to give her any benefit of doubt? In a matter of minutes, every redeemable qualities Sancar may or may not have had, vanished, mostly in part to him choosing to victim-blame and acting like Nare was a stranger to him, despite her unflinching commitment to spend the rest of her life with him. The truly sad part of this very much needed scene, is that for many women, this is indeed their unfortunate reality.


With an ending like that, do you think the character Sancar is redeemable? Sound off in the comments!

 

Next up

As any avid Turkish drama viewer probably already guessed, Akin is still very much alive, thanks to the help of Nare’s dad. What does this mean for Nare and her daughter, especially after her dad has tracked her down to Mugla? Find out next Monday, December 23 on an all-new episode of Sefirin Kızı.


If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, please know that you’re not alone and there are resources available to help, when you are ready. Please visit rainn.org for more information 💚

Last Updated: Dec 31, 2019 05:41 am (UTC) Filed Under: