The Truth Hurts
I really enjoyed episode 33 of Hercai. I found it refreshing and entertaining. Of course, the look and feel of the episode was very different from the Hercai that we have come to know and love (perhaps because a significant portion of it was filmed in Istanbul), but nevertheless, the episode had some strong elements. There were two big reveals that I hope will move the story toward some sort of conclusion, AND we learned a bit more about Miran's past.
Ok, let's recap the episode.
The episode starts off with Miran going back to their Istanbul hotel room to retrieve Reyyan's Valentine's Day present. Outside the room he's surprised to encounter an old flame from his university days. Of course, just at that awkward moment when the two old "friends" are in the midst of an embrace, Reyyan appears.
I found the first 20 minutes of this episode very refreshing even though it had absolutely no resemblance to Hercai. I enjoyed watching Miran's visible discomfort of being in the presence of his wife and an old girl friend. I think we've all been in a similar situation. I could see the sweat pop out on his forehead and his shallow breathing. I could even relate to how he pleaded with Reyyan to understand that the woman meant nothing to him... All very believable and even normal, and very different from Hercai.
Up to this point we've been led to believe that Miran has lived and breathed only revenge for 28 years. The intensity of his anger and hatred towards the Shadoglus and his obsession with revenge are believable only if he has lived in Azize's vengeful bubble. And indeed if he is steeped in the ancient traditions (as it has been implied up to this point) of his country one could understand his justification for revenge. But instead we learn in this episode that Miran was educated in New York! And he speaks English! I think we can all agree that Miran is an intelligent man, so it would be reasonable to expect that he had absorbed at least some of the cultural norms of the west. At minimum he would have been taught to think critically of prejudices and violations of human rights.
After knowing about this part of his past, it is more difficult for me to justify the intensity of Miran's obsession for vengeance. I mean after all, revenge is not an accepted concept in the west. In his studies abroad, and through his interactions with western society, he was bound to have realized the regressive nature of Azize's ways. In fact, one would expect a man who studied in the west to be more open to women's rights and equality.
I am genuinely perplexed now. How was he even able to carry out any aspect of the revenge? Is he truly an insidious character? What are we to think now? That he knowingly pushed aside everything he must have learned and been exposed to in New York and condemned Reyyan to death by his actions?? Is this the character that we are supposed to attribute to Miran?? So while I enjoyed watching the interaction between Reyyan, Miran and Denise (Miran's ex girlfriend), I was left with a big question mark.
Mind you, I'm not bothered at all that Miran had sexual relations before Reyyan as many in the Hercai fandom seem to be. In fact, I never believed that Miran was inexperienced. Besides the fact that Miran is in his 30's, he is a passionate man, adept in the art of seduction. An inexperienced man would not do the things that Miran does. The looks that he gives. The words he says. What threw me for a loop was the fact that he had studied in New York!
Anyway, it turns out that Denise and Harun are working together under the direction of the third party mastermind. Denise attempts to distract Miran while Harun who is on the verge of being caught red handed in the room, sneaks out unnoticed. However shortly after, he runs into the Aslanbeys and Denise coming out of the elevator which immediately makes Miran suspicious.
One more thought on the introduction of the old flame... Once Reyyan realizes that her husband and Denise have a past, the green monster rears its head.. but actually, not so much.. Miran spends a precarious few minutes trying to convince her and is apparently successful. But again I am left puzzled. If the purpose of introducing Denise was to light a fire under Reyyan to move her into Miran's arms, then the episode clearly failed in its mission because as you will see, nothing happens between the two. They are both as chaste as the moment they landed in Istanbul. But if the introduction in some way addresses the overall plotline sometime down the road, then I guess we'll have to wait and see. From a conversation between Harun and Denise a bit after the "accidental" meeting outside of the hotel room, it seems as though Denise has a bone to pick with Miran and she plans to make him pay. We shall see if this thread is continued, or whether it fizzles out (if hasn't already) as do so many story threads in Turkish dizis.
Back in their room, Miran discovers the note left by Harun minutes earlier. The note tells him that if he wants to find out the cause for the nightmare they're living, he should find his mother's confidant. Much to Reyyan's surprise and delight, Miran calls Hazar who he believes might know something about this confidant. He asks Hazar to investigate. This is a very big step for Miran because it indicates that he has accepted Hazar's closeness to his mother. In Miran's mind, because Hazar and his mother were friends, if not lovers, he would know about any other close relationships his mother may have had. Hazar does actually know the name of Dilshah's best friend, Ayla, but he tells Miran he hasn't seen her in over 30 years. He assures Miran that he will find her and try to decipher the meaning of the note.
I absolutely love the scenes between Hazar and Miran. Oddly, it seems that now this aspect of the story is currently the most interesting to me. I am enjoying watching the two men get to know each other and I am very curious to see how the writers try to bring the two together as father and son.
Hazar immediately sets out to try and find Ayla and enlists Cihan's help in this quest. We are about to witness an interesting and beautiful relationship begin to develop between the two Shadoglu brothers. I have really enjoyed Cihan's character over the past several episodes. He is a feisty, powerful and capable man. He's not afraid to get his hands dirty but he is principled in his approach. And as he's said multiple times to Azize, he's "not like any of the other Shadoglus".
While the two brothers make their plans to find Ayla, Nasuh overhears them. He is determined that the past shall remain hidden from Hazar, for he is afraid that his past inaction will turn Hazar away from him forever. Fortunately we find out a portion of this past in this episode.
The first order of business for Hazar and Cihan is to meet with Sukran to see if she knows where Ayla is. Shukran remembers Dilshah's friend but doesn't know where she is. She helps Hazar and Cihan find a person who can give her location and upon her return to the Aslanbey mansion with the help of the two brothers, she is confronted by Azize.
Here I have a huge bone to pick with the writers... I have been concerned for some time that Azize's character, which has been so beautifully developed by Ayda Aksal, is in danger of becoming a caricature. In this scene she verbally abuses Shukran and Hazar to the point that Shukran falls ill. Then she refuses to give Shukran water, or to allow the Shadoglus to take her to the hospital. She flashes her signature evil grin, she threatens to make all of them pay both in this life in the afterlife, and she seems to be living in an alternate reality. We know that she knows Hazar had nothing to do with Dilshah's death, but she spits out her accusations and curses against Hazar with such conviction that one gets the sense she really believes it. Her vileness and ruthlessness is becoming unbearable. Indeed, it is almost unwatchable as she constantly repeats the same mantra of making everyone pay... Making everyone burn like she is burning.. But we still do not know why she burns so much. It would be a shame for such a brilliantly created character to become irrelevant and unwatchable. If the story behind the revenge is not ready to be revealed at this point, it might behoove the writers to soften her character somewhat, or to deliver some permanent defeats for her so as to humble her to some extent. I'd love to see the talented Ayda Aksal portray a defeated and humbled Azize.
Meanwhile in Istanbul, Miran takes Reyyan for a boat ride on the beautiful Bosphorus. On the way there, the two run into an old man who overhears their troubles. And for the umpteenth time we hear an outsider give the couple sage advice: "Don't listen to others, and don't live in the past" he tells them, for the past has already been lived but the future is yours to write; "fight for your love or you will end up living alone with regret"; and the second most often repeated mantra of the series, "Don't postpone your life".
These are beautiful and powerful words, but they have become stale through repetition. In my opinion, if Miran and Reyyan need convincing in this regard at this point in their relationship, there is little hope for them.
There are a couple of lovely scenes with the two lovers on the boat, but they are for the most part repititous (Miran fawning over Reyyan, Reyyan holding back; Miran speaking words of love, Reyyan smiling). In one scene Miran asks Reyyan to tell him her wish from the night before. She tells him that her greatest wish is for the Aslanbey and Shadoglu families to be united as one. She describes the two families together at a picnic along the Beyaz Su (White Water) laughing, happy and content, including Babanne! It is too comical and out of the realm of possibility for Miran to believe, but he listens to her. She also tells him when prodded that with respect to them she sees two children... a daughter and a son who looks like Miran. This gives Miran and the audience some hope for a union in the future.
I found it interesting that Miran's dream of having a daughter the day before was solely directed to towards the two of them and devoid of any extended family. For him Reyyan is his only family. His wish is to create a family with a blank slate. It is the wish of a dreamer. No man is a blank slate, and likewise no family is a blank slate. Try as he might to deny it, there is a past, and that past lives to haunt. There is no sin committed that does not seek retribution... if not on the sinner, on the decendents of that sinner...
On the other hand, Reyyan's dream is inclusive. She dreams of a family within a greater family. Her's is the wish of a realist. She knows that family and family history is important and impactful on the future. It is possible that people live comfortable lives, perhaps even happy lives, in the absense of family harmony, but they inevitably experience regret. Of course, there is no guarantee even with family harmony that one can live without regret.. because life is unpredictable, and at it's core, life is harsh. But I found the contrasting dreams to be quite interesting and worth pondering.
Later, also on the boat, Miran gives Reyyan the present he wasn't able to give due to various interruptions. A pen. And as he gives her the pen he tells her "A woman with a pen can change her life and the change the world at the same time". He tells her that he wants her to finish her education and begin to change her world. He tells her that as she does this he will support her with all his heart. This message is beautifully delivered by Akin Akinozu and beautifully accepted by Ebru Sahin in their characters. It is also a message that is worth absorbing. We in the West may not feel the true weight of this message, but it resonates loud and clear in so many countries around the world where women and indeed men as well, lack basic education. It is a lovely and worthy sentiment and perhaps a little something he picked up through his education in New York.
While on the boat Miran gets word that the police officer in charge of investigating his parent's death (the one who had disappeared after a fire had destroyed all documents related to Dilshah and Mehmet's death) has been found and is in Istanbul. Address in hand the two go to find officer Omer. However, their task is not easy. Omer's uncle upon finding out that their last name is Aslanbey refuses to let them talk to his nephew and sends them away. The two are mystified but they regroup and come back again with more persistence.
Back in Mardin, Hazar and Cihan arrive at the Shadoglu mansion with Shukran whom I assume they have decided to save from Azize's abuse. Shukran meets Miss Gul who is carrying that valuable doll (the doll contains in its stuffing Dilshah's letter disclosing Miran's paternity). Miss Gul is sad that the stuffing is coming out of her doll and no one has sewed it for her. Shukran fiddles with the doll AND with the stuffing a bit and tells her she will sew her precious doll. We shall see whether Shukran finds the letter... and I am afraid of what she will do when she finds out. Unless Shukran has some inside information, there is no way for her to know that Reyyan is not Hazar's biological daughter. I don't want to think what will happen if she believes that Miran and Reyyan are siblings. I cringe at the thought. I hope Reyyan's paternity becomes clear soon! Though I imagine with Zehra gone, this is not going to happen any time soon. Sigh!
At that same time Hanife, at Harun's direction, spills the beans that Yaren had hidden Dilshah's first letter. All hell breaks loose in front of Harun, with Yaren being slapped multiple times, her ear pulled, and basically degraded for hiding the letter. This revelation is orchestrated by Harun as I mentioned, primarily to give him a way to break the engagement. Because as we have suspected for some time, his engagement to Yaren was solely for the purpose of infiltrating the Shadoglu family. Harun has not intention of making that a reality, hence the plot to reveal Yaren's secret. I am not sure what he has achieved other than to make Yaren's life miserable. Anything he has done while Yaren's fiance could have been done as an outsider as well. Nevertheless, Harun is an amusing character and we'll have to wait and see what further purpose he will serve. I do believe if he is not connected with the Shadoglus or the Aslanbeys in some way, it will be difficult to see how the writers can continue to keep him in the plotline.
After Nasuh sufficiently abuses Yaren, he heads off to meet Ayla (Dilshah's friend). After he overheard Hazar and Cihan's conversation the night before, he set out to find her location and was apparently successful. While Nasuh meets with Ayla we learn that years ago when Nasuh had turned Dilshah away before her forced marriage to Mehmet Aslanbey, Ayla was waiting outside for Dilshah, and she overheard. Nasuh tells Ayla not to tell Hazar about this truth because he will lose Hazar forever if Hazar finds out.
That same evening, Hazar gets word of Ayla's address as well. He and Cihan rush over to Ayla's house and there is an emotional moment when the two see each other again after 30 years. Both remember their beloved Dilshah, and perhaps the good times they had lived so many years back. Hazar asks Ayla if she can tell him anything about Dilshah that might be useful for him in remembering his past. Much to the surprise of the audience Ayla tells Hazar everything! With Cihan watching, she tells Hazar how Nasuh had turned Dilshah away all those years which led to Dislhah being forced to marry Mehmet Aslanbey. She tells him that Dilshah never gave up on loving him, and indeed loved him to the very end.
This scene was beautifully acted. As Ayla opens the door, there is an unequivocal look of affection and kindness between the two. These are two people who shared a common bond: their love for Dilshah. Serhat Tutumluer (Hazar) was brilliant in this scene: First, at the moment he sees Ayla after 30 years and is flooded with the emotions he hadn't felt in so long... and then when the realization of his father's betrayal sets in..
At the same moment, in Istanbul, Miran and Reyyan who were followed by Omer, confront him. Miran asks the police detective to tell him what can about that night. Omer tells Miran that there was no sign of assault on Dilshah's body, and that contrary to what he had been told Dilshah was not raped. The cause of death was a single bullet wound. What remained of Miran's world crashes down around him. The sheer look of fear and revulsian on Miran's face panicks Reyyan and she runs to him as he crumples to the ground.
What must he be thinking? His grandmother had told him for 28 years that his mother's body was ravaged, her clothes torn and bloody. She had told him that Hazar Shadoglu had raped and killed his mother. And to be told now otherwise by the detective on the scene .. the same detective who had been threatened and exiled from Mardin by his grandmother after all evidence of his mother's death was destroyed in a mysterious fire... this alone is too much to bear. But to think that based on this one lie, she had groomed him for 28 years to seek vengeance on Hazar through his innocent daughter... well, that is beyond contempt. Akin was superb in this scene. He uses his eyes, his mouth, his face, in fact his entire body to express the realization of this abominable betrayal. But it's his final desparate wail "Grandmother, what did you do to me?!" that reveals the realization of his own unforgivable act.
I thought the near superimposition of father and son realizing the betrayal from their "parents" was exceptional. It was beautifully done and had maximum impact. I can honestly say that in both of those scenes-- Hazar's realization and Miran's realization--- I had goose bumps. I have to give kudos to the directors and of course the actors.
So to recap, Miran now knows without a doubt that his grandmother lied about a very crucial aspect of his mother's death, and what's worse, she moved heaven and earth to hide this evidence from him. There is no logical way he could have any belief in anything that Azize had told him anymore. How he will come to terms with this without losing all sense of himself I don't know. Perhaps it will be Reyyan that helps him through it. But I am hoping against hope that while Reyyan is there for him, it is he himself, that scrapes away Azize's slime from his heart and his mind. I don't know how he will be able to live with himself knowing that he willingly and knowingly committed a sin against an innocent party. He must now know that Hazar is innocent. He cannot rely on Azize's words as evidence any longer, and there is no evidence at all which could link Hazar to the death. I would be interested to know if the detective has other information about the bullet... for example, the gun from which it was shot.
Perhaps the remedy to Miran's ailment is what should happen next in coming episodes; that being a shifting of all his efforts towards finding the reason for his grandmother's lie. What is the true reason for her vengeance? With Firat who has moved away from Azize, and with Hazar as a partner, Miran should dedicate full resources to discovering the truth.
How this will affect Miran and Reyyan's relationship is not clear to me right now. But I hope that less time will be spent on romance and words of love, and more time on bringing the two together with the passion they deserve. Less words, more action. That's a good motto.
Other things that happened in the episode....
Gonul tries to get a job at the hotel. She first asks Firat for help and when that fails, she goes to Azat. She tells Firat that she is bored and wants to work, but Firat seems to think this is all a ploy to get closer to Miran. Azat initially says the same thing, but seems to change his mind at the end.
Miran, suspicious after having seen Harun in Istanbul, calls Firat to have him investigate Harun's background. Firat finds out that at some point in the past Harun's family had disappeared from Urfa for a period of time to an unknown location.
Azize orchestrates a coup of the chairmanship of the holding. She presents Azat with a document requiring a credit of 20 million for transactions as part of their original partnership. So now, the Shadoglus have to put up or get out.
And you won't believe this, but Elif and Azat are sleeping in the same bed. They're a bit more advanced than Miran and Reyyan because Azat went from sleeping in a separate room to sleeping in the same bed (maybe because there's no chair in the room)... Miran on the other hand had to sleep on the ground for quite some time.
Much of this episode and several of the previous episodes were far removed from the Hercai we've come to know, but the final moments of this episode shifted the focus back fully on the original plot. For the first time in a while I'm excited for the next episode. I just hope that the Miran Aslanbey of the first episode shows up pretty soon because Babanne definitely needs to see him.