Be My Valentine
Cover Photo credit to clau_eliza27on Instagram
I'm not sure how to feel about this episode. On the one hand it was beautifully filmed (kudos to the videographer and set designers) and we saw some potential movement in the mystery storyline, but on the other hand the love storyline was quite unsatisfying. I have to take a step back and explain why I was enthralled by this dizi in the first place. It was the fairy tale quality of the dizi: An impossible love story born of vengeance. I was intrigued by the mysterious Miran Aslanbey who was cold and calculating yet passionate at the same time.
Over the past 30 some odd episodes we have seen the complete deconstruction of the man to the point that he has become almost unrecognizable (see my previous three posts). But that's not the only thing unrecognizable... the story is now completely different. I'm not sure whether we can credibly use the Hercai tagline anymore since THE love story is no longer the focus. In fact, I'm not sure what the focus is anymore because it's all a bit fuzzy to me. If you ask me they should change the tagline to Hercai: A story of love and vengeance.
Let's recap the episode and I'll explain along the way...
The episode starts with the Aslanbeys and Shadoglus heading back to their respective mansions (Reyyan with the Shadoglus) after Elif disappeared from her wedding dinner. If you recall, Azize had conspired with Handan to send Elif back using a threat against Azat. After realizing his wife is missing, Azat follows the Aslanbeys to their mansion to retrieve her. There is a big confrontation with Azize which culminates in Elif threatening to jump to her death from the balcony.
She doesn't of course, and she even manages to get Azat to promise he will try to love her. While the setting and the videography of this scene was very well done, I felt it was overly dramatic and unnecessarily lengthy. Nevertheless, the scene serves to show once again, Azize's deep committment to her revenge as she, even when Elif is about to jump, does not go back on her vow of vengeance.
In the first unsatisfying scene of the episode, Miran and Azize confront each other after the incident. Just like a broken record, Azize who has just witnessed the near death of her beloved granddaughter, blames Miran for allowing Azat to take Elif. She blames the Shadoglus and reminds Miran about his revenge plan.... again. While Miran does throw the blame back on her (a good first step), he still refuses to renounce the ridiculous revenge plan which he must by now know is based on lies. All this happens with the other Aslanbeys standing around watching. No one says a word. No one takes any responsibility.
At the Shadoglu mansion Cihan finds out that Handan had a hand in sending Elif away, and he storms out of the mansion to stay at the hotel for the night. But not before Handan very dramatically makes it clear that she will not rest until Elif leaves the Shadoglu mansion. She backtracks a bit only after she realizes that Elif nearly killed herself because of her actions.
The scene then shifts to the other budding love story... that of Azat and Elif, where Elif pronounces her love and Azat stays silent. Over the past several episodes there has been an inordinate amount of time spent building Elif and Azat's story: Elif, deeply in love and Azat deeply in love, but with Reyyan. This concept of a couple marrying to quell an undesired situation is used frequently in many dizis, but it will be interesting to see which direction the Hercai writers take this love.
Also at the Shadoglu mansion Reyyan is angry at Miran for not giving up his revenge after knowledge of Dilshah's letter. She mopes around believing that her life with Miran is impossible. Hazar sees his daughter's despair and asks Miran to come get his wife and tells her about their partnership. Thanks to Hazar, the two lovers reunite once again making a promise never to separate (let's see how long this lasts).
Miran, reluctant to go back to the mansion, takes Reyyan to the hotel. The audience waits in anticipation of romance because this episode aired on Valentines Day... but instead, at the hotel Reyyan develops a high fever and a panic stricken Miran puts in the in a cold bath (with her clothes on) to bring down her fever. I have to say that I have no idea what the purpose of this scene was, other than to provide filler for the episode.
The next morning, there's a cute and the second unsatisfying scene of the episode between the two.. Miran making all sorts of advances and Reyyan quite oblivious. Sigh.
Oh and we can't forget Harun.. in a brief scene right after the incident at the Aslanbeys, Harun is talking on the phone to the unknown third party. He says "Let me tell you something, the excitement at your place and the Shadoglus never ends" implying the third party is some how associated with the Aslanbeys. It's getting curiouser and curiouser...
He also seems to imply that while Miran and Reyyan won't be apart too long this time, their time will come... I suppose we'll have to wait and see what he will do to separate the two, and why the third party wants the two separated. Or could it be that he knows about Reyyan and Miran's paternities and thinks this knowledge will cause them to separate? At this point, it's anyone's guess.
The scene shifts to Sultan putting her phone down and talking to herself in the mirror. She seems to know that something is in the works. The implication is that there is a connection between Harun and Sultan. This is yet to be seen.
But finally we get a bit more information about the past... that night as Hazar dreams, he remembers the night of Dilshah's death. He remembers seeing Mehmet dead and Dilshah still alive when he regained consciousness after being shot, AND he remembers that his father, Nasuh, was there that night too! This begs the question, if Dilshah was still alive after being shot, who killed her? Did Nasuh leave her there to die? Or was there someone else there that night who finished what Mehmet Aslanbey had apparently started? Or as some in Hercai fandom believe, did Dilshah die that night at all??
When asked whether Dilshah was still alive in a question and answer session, the producer of the series Banu Akdeniz said no. But that doesn't stop the Hercai fandom from speculating anyway. My objection to this is simple: Why would Dilshah stay away for 27 years and allow her son to be tormented by Azize if she were alive? No. I don't think she's alive. But now I'm very curious to know who was the cause of Dilshah's death if not Mehmet Aslanbey.
Yes, there's bad blood, but business between the Shadoglus and Aslanbeys must go on, and it does. In a series of scenes, the two families meet together to elect a chairman of the board; the candidates being Azize and Azat. The polling before the vote indicates that it will be a tie, leaving the chairmanship with Azize. Gonul who is a new member of the board placed by Azize to guarantee her seat, uses the promise of her vote to extract from Azize the identity of her brother. Azize tells Gonul what she wants to hear, which is that Firat is her brother. Gonul, in a surprise move casts her vote for Azat, handing the chairmanship over to the Shadoglus. In my opinion the several scenes setting up the board of directors meeting were unnecessarily long, but it was worth it just to see the look of shock on Azize's face.
Oh, and just for the record, I don't believe Azize for one minute. She lied through her dentures. I don't think Firat is Gonul's brother. In fact, this was alluded to a bit later in the episode when Gonul and Azize run into each other after the vote. After Gonul's gloating, Azize smugly says to herself.. "You just keep yourself busy with your brother for now, because I'm going to need you pretty soon."
After the board meeting Miran goes to the hotel restaurant to pick up Reyyan and sees Harun giving her a rose. This instigates "a Miran goes crazy jealous" scene, I suppose to please the demands of the younger contingent of the Hercai fandom. It's a nice comic relief and quite well acted by Akin and Ahmet Kayakesen (Harun) who as I have said before have excellent chemistry. Once again, Miran is the jealous, out of control husband to Harun's calm, cool and collected instigator. And once again, Reyyan scolds Miran for acting rash. Sigh.
After his jealous fit, Miran drops Reyyan off at the mansion and heads off to meet Hazar. Per their agreement to share everything they know, he shows Hazar all the blue notes so that the two can decipher their meaning. I always enjoy Hazar and Miran scenes. The two actors have excellent chemistry and each meeting brings them closer and closer together. Hazar's admiration and even affection for Miran has been apparent for the past several episodes, but in this scene, we see signs of Miran's respect for Hazar showing as well. They are getting to know each other as men, so that the transition to father and son will be smoother.
As they part, Miran asks Hazar to investigate the garage where his shot-up car disappeared from. I suppose this signals a clue that will be revealed in some later episode.
As I mentioned before, the episode aired on Valentines Day and accordingly we see allusions to the day of lovers. The three couples in the series each celebrate according to their personalities. Harun takes Yaren, who is dressed to the hilt, to a cookout and makes her cook for him; Azat takes Elif to a simple cafe and stares quietly at his food; and Miran takes Reyyan to Istanbul for a night of passion. (I'm quite enjoying watching Harun torment Yaren because she's getting exactly what she deserves. But I feel very sad for Elif who is so deeply in love with a man who is too obstinate to let go of something he can't have.)
The scenes in Istanbul are stunning. The colors, the shading, the set and the videography are superb. Miran takes his beloved to see what she's desired most.. the sea. How can you go wrong with beautiful Istanbul as the background? Reyyan tears up in wonderment and Miran tears up at Reyyan's delight. The two share a chaste kiss.
He takes her to a spectacular hotel (Hotel Les Ottomans in Istanbul) overlooking the Bosphorus, in a luxurious suite with a carpet of red rose petals, red balloons and countless packets of gifts. As she walks the many rooms of the suite what catches her attention is.... a wind up toy. Here is the third unsatisfying moment of the episode. With all the splendor before her, Reyyan is enthralled by a toy. Miran's efforts to seduce his wife are thwarted by a toy. Her childish joy at any other moment would have been sweet, and even charming.. but in Istanbul, in the grandeur of that hotel, with an obviously willing man.... Well, I'll leave you to come to your own conclusion.
Let's move on..
As the two are getting ready for dinner, Miran surprises Reyyan. She's wrapped in a towel and looking scrumptious to a very hungry Miran. They ARE husband and wife, right? But instead of playing coquettish to Miran's cajoling, shy Reyyan shoos her sexy husband away!
Later in the evening at a solitary gourmet dinner arranged in the elegant restaurant of the hotel, the two dance together. They are gorgeous; Reyyan in strapless red satin and Miran in black with pocket square. Miran's hooded eyes graze over Reyyan's body, face and mouth... he's ready for love. Reyyan just smiles. Miran tells her of his wish to have a daughter, pure of heart and full of conscience... Reyyan wants to call Elif and Azat to see how they are... Is it just me or is Reyyan oblivious to the lover before her?
At this point I'm not sure what the writers are trying to prove here.. Why put so much effort to create that exotic... okay, I'll say it, that erotic atmosphere, only to have it botched by a showing of indifference? It's a challenge for me to analyze it so I won't even try. Sometimes I wonder whether the writers have mixed up Gul and Reyyan's roles.
Anyway... while Miran is moving heaven and earth to make love to his wife, Nasuh and Yusuf Amca learn a surprising bit of information from Gul Hanim who seems to be the only astute person in the family. She accidentally sees an old photograph of Aisha in Nasuh's wallet and tells him she's seen that same picture in Azize's closet! What goes through Nasuh's mind is unclear. Is he smart enough to put two and two together?
At that same instant, Azize looks at the same picture and remembers a time long ago. A young Aisha, covered with bandages, presumably after having survived a fire, waiting for Nasuh to come get her. Clearly, the Aisha of the past is the Azize of the present. And to erase any doubt that this is the case, the musical score that plays when Azize is alone, is playing during the flashback scene with Aisha.
So it appears that the vengeance that has caused so much misery for so many people, has its roots in Nasuh's perceived abandonment of Aisha. As simple as that. Or is there more?
The episode ends in Istanbul with Miran going to fetch the present he forgot in his room where Harun is rummaging through his clothes, holding a gun. The screen goes blank. What is Harun doing in Istanbul besides being a buzzkill for Miran's romance? What is he looking for? And how does any of this connect with Azize's revenge? I'm at a complete loss, but I seriously hope the writers aren't.
So to recap: Dilshah wasn't killed by Mehmet; Nasuh knows that Aisha's picture is with Azize; Azize and Aisha are definitely the same person; the third party is likely a member of the Aslanbey family; Hazar is now aware of the blue notes.
So there you have it. More and more pieces of the puzzle are being revealed, but the pieces are still scattered all over the place. And the sad part is that THE love story has become filler for the story of revenge. In fact, THE love story is now diluted by two additional stories: The story of Elif and Azat and the story of Yaren and Harun. Who knows, maybe in the next couple of episodes we'll have the story of Gonul and Firat... I wouldn't be surprised.
As I started out in my post, it was the impossible love story of Miran and Reyyan that grabbed my attention in the first place. It was the passion, the chemistry and the fairytale quality that drew me in. Thanks to the videographer, the director and the set designers, this episode maintained its beautiful fairytale quality through the stunning scenes filmed in Istanbul. I can't say enough about the gorgeous setting, the music, the colors and the video angles... but there was no passion. Or rather, there was one sided passion.. And without passion, there is no chemistry. So I was disappointed.
But it's still not too late. Because the story is still interesting and the potential for passion still exists. If only the focus could shift back to Miran and Reyyan's passion for each other... if only the writers would start to weave back in the Miran and Reyyan's paternity... if only Azize could become less of a caricature... If only Miran would believe what's in front of him.... if only Reyyan would do something more than just smile at Miran...
I'm hoping that the next episode will bring back the passion, at least. I can wait a bit longer for the rest..