The second of Fox’s summer romcoms had its debut on Wednesday, July 8th and marks the anticipated return of writer Ayse Üner Kutlu to series television. Fans of Erkenci Kus will know Ayse’s work, and those that have loved the poetic, symbol ladened stories that she and her team weave, and have been looking forward to the first episode of Sen Çal Kapimi. The plot for this newest dizi, starring Hande Erçel and Kerem Bürsin, isn’t anything particularly ground-breaking but the snappy writing, fun music, and great performances help draw us into the story.
Middle class orphan Eda (Hande Erçel) lives with her friend Melo and helps in her aunt’s flower nursery, but had had dreams of becoming a landscape architect. Those dreams were shattered when her scholarship to university had suddenly been discontinued leaving Eda unable to pay for her final overseas year of study. This has made her bitter and furious and the object of her rage is the owner of the company who was providing the scholarship, Serkan Bolat, played in all his buttoned up glory by Kerem Bürsin.
Serkan is a successful architect and mercurial boss running a large architectural/design firm. At the firm we are briefly introduced to Engin, Serkan’s partner and right-hand man, and his personal assistant Leyla. Engin and Leyla are having a back and forth about whether to tell Serkan something, which turns out to be that his former girlfriend, Selin, is engaged and he is invited to her engagement party. As Serkan is leaving Leyla hands him the invitation in a small gift bag, and as Serkan is sitting in traffic on his way to a university he opens the bag to find the invitation and a pair of novelty handcuffs which he throws on the seat next to him in the car.
Eda ends up going with her friends, Melek (Melo), Ceren, and Figen (Fifi) to a talk at her former university where the speaker is none other than Serkan Bolat himself. Eda heckles him from the auditorium, where due to the bright lights he can’t see her, and proceeds to air her scholarship grievances as he claims that his company has provided scholarships to 27 students. She states that she knows that his company has cancelled at least her scholarship. Serkan challenges her to come out of the shadows so he can see who is accusing him. Much to her friend’s horror she marches down the auditorium stairs to reveal herself. The music cue for this reveal is very much a call back to American romcoms of the 1960’s with sexy saxophone music, and as she presents herself we see a look of attraction and interest on the face of Serkan. He asks her for her name and she states that he doesn’t deserve her name. Eda stomps out of the hall trailed by her friends. She tells them that she wants to be alone and heads out to the parking lot.
She had discovered as she was trying to park her own SUV that the fancy convertible in the main parking lot belongs to Serkan. Eda is simmering with anger and displays what I assume is going to be an ongoing recklessness and takes a key to the side of his car. That isn’t enough though and she then proceeds to, in lipstick, write SEN BIR O….on the side of his car. Unbeknownst to her Serkan is sitting in the car on the phone with his assistant checking up on Eda’s accusation that her scholarship had been cancelled. As she gets to the O he rolls down the window and says hello. He gets out of the car to evaluate the damage that she has done to his car as Eda tries to escape, Serkan grabs her by the arm, tells her she needs to explain, and no scholarships have been cancelled so she’s lying. He asks her if ‘Karadag’ sent her. She doesn’t know who that is and tries to break his hold on her. He demands her name and when she refuses he threatens to take her to the police. She tells him not to be stupid and he tells her that he is used to dealing with people like her in his life. As they are arguing she notices the handcuffs on the passenger seat and, pretending to be upset, she leans against the car and grabs them, she then attaches one cuff to her own wrist and before he can see what she’s doing she attaches the other cuff to Serkan. They are now cuffed together, her right wrist to his left.
He is flabbergasted at this turn of events and Eda says okay let’s go to the police station, let’s see if you want to embarrass yourself. He tells her that she is crazy, not for the last time this episode, and at this point Leyla phones back to say that actually all the scholarship that their company had provided had been cancelled the year before, the company’s CFO had done it and not told anyone. Eda is right. Serkan is furious but reigns himself in and asks Eda to come back to the car so he can unlock the handcuffs, but when he looks in the bag there is no key. They are stuck together for the foreseeable future. He tells her that she will have to come with him and she balks but he reminds her that they are in this bind because of her. He has an important meeting that he is late for and she will have to come with him, they figure out that she will have to drive his car because of the configuration of the handcuffs. We are treated to an Ayse signature move in the car as Eda uses her hand that is attached to Serkan to reach over her shoulder to get her seatbelt she inadvertently pulls Serkan close to her, they are nose to nose and have a brief moment gazing into each others eyes. Finally, they get situated and then Serkan is condescendingly starting to tell her how to drive his car and before he can get much out she peels out of the parking lot in a cloud of dust.
On the way to his meeting her friends call to check up on her and she tell them that she is on the way to a meeting in a hotel with Serkan Bolat. They don’t believe her, because they know that she hates him, but also because he is this famous bachelor in Istanbul, Melo jokes that sure she’s with him and Melo is with the Prince of Wales. She hangs up with Melo and they proceed to banter a bit on the way to the hotel, Serkan notices that she has a star tattooed on her hand, this is likely to be symbolic in the plot as we find out later that Serkan is interested in astronomy. Serkan called Engin to come to the hotel with a locksmith to get them out of the cuffs and Engin is understandably confused as to why his straight-laced partner is in handcuffs.
Eda’s friends are worried and use a find-my-phone app to track Eda to the hotel where Serkan has his meeting. Unable to be un-cuffed before his meeting Serkan and Eda are forced to go together to the meeting on the 16th floor of the hotel. Eda has claustrophobia and will not ride in an elevator, no matter how much Serkan tries to bully her, so they are forced to climb 16 flights of stairs to the restaurant.
They manage to meet with the man who’s land Serkan wants to buy without giving away that they are handcuffed together by stating that they are dating and that’s why they are cozied up together. The man seems smitten with Eda and we have a very brief flash of what might be jealous cross Serkan’s face as the man flirts with her. In the end the deal is struck, with some help from Eda, and she and Serkan head back down the stairs to leave. He is feeling overheated and ask for her help and, in another charged moment between the two of them, she loosens his tie and undoes the top button of his shirt, but they are back to snarking at each other a few moments later.
They end up in the park across the street from the hotel where Engin has brought a whole team to try and get Serkan out of the cuffs, their lawyer, a locksmith, a handyman, Leyla, and for some reason his personal assistant. In the end it’s Fifi who gets them out of the cuffs by picking the lock. Serkan blames Leyla for all the embarrassing things that happen to him and fires her, she is grateful to be fired which indicates the kind of boss he is. Eda says that she hopes to never see him again, she will say this a few times, and walks off with Fifi and her other friends.The girls walk along the coast and questioning Eda about why she handcuffed herself to Serkan and she says she just wanted to make him suffer, Fiji suggests maybe she wanted to spend some time with him and Ceren and Melo gush about how handsome Serkan is.
Serkan arrives at his company and realizes that he has Eda purse and cellphone in his car. He looks through her bag but surprisingly doesn’t check her identification for her name. Is he respecting her wish to remain nameless? Eda realizes that he has her stuff and swearing that she will never be impulsive again the girls head to his office. Serkan questions his CFO about the scholarship cancellation and the accountant says the Serkan had asked him to make cuts to unnecessary expenses and the accountant decided that the scholarships were a place where cuts could be made, but he hadn’t informed Serkan about them. You would think this might be something you would talk to the boss about especially if he’s going to universities and boasting about his company’s altruistic support for students.
Eda et al. show up at the company and after been made to wait in the lobby, Eda has had enough and stomps up the stairs to Serkan’s office to get her purse and phone from him. She finds Leyla first and, given that Leyla has just been fired Eda assumes that she has no love for Serkan, picks her brain about how best to annoy him, Leyla isn’t a lot of help but does suggest that he doesn’t like to make mistakes.
As Eda is admitted into Serkan’s office the sexy sax music plays again and we see the interest on Serkan’s face. He hands her back her bag but states that he is keeping her lipstick, and he asks her what she was writing on the car, she had written ‘Sen bir O’ which translates to ‘You are a O’ so he is curious as to what she was going to call him, she tells him she will leave it to his imagination. He tells her that he isn’t responsible for cancelling her scholarship that his CFO had done it without his knowledge, it isn’t his mistake. She berates him and says that it IS his mistake and asks who is going to be punished for it, seeing that no one will be, she says that he is responsible for ruining her future. He obviously feels bad about this and offers to reinstate her scholarship. She stubbornly declines and says that she won’t take his offer, and leaves the office. This leads to a confrontation in front of the whole company where she tells him that he need to take responsibility for his mistake and he tells her to not be so proud and take his offer of the scholarship. As the office workers unashamedly watch, they stand nose to nose and argue about it, she says she doesn’t trust him but he promises her that there will be no problems with it. He almost has her convinced but makes the mistake of saying that they will start over, she will apologize for today and he will reinstate the scholarship. This makes Eda furious and she says she will apologize if he admits in front of everyone that he made this mistake. He is now mad and yells at her that it isn’t his mistake and she replies then she won't apologize, he calls her crazy again and she calls him an insensitive robot. The looks on the faces of his employees are priceless and Leyla declares that Eda is her hero.
Eda and her gang and her aunt are hanging out at night on their balcony, Eda waxes poet about taking care of a sick violet plant and rubs the star tattoo on her hand, wishing there were someone to show her the way. She gets a call from boyfriend Cenk and rushes off to meet him, it’s obvious that her friends and aunt don’t like him very much, he’s been in Italy this past year and Eda was supposed to be with him but didn’t have the scholarship money, but it seems like he hasn’t made any effort to see Eda or contact her much. Before she leaves though she finds a first aid kit in her bag that is obviously from Serkan, they both have skin irritation from the chaffing of the handcuffs. Eda and Cenk have a stilted conversation in a park where he doesn’t even let her kiss him properly under the watchful gaze of his new girlfriend, as we find out later. Cenk and Eda part ways with the promise to meet up again in a few days as Cenk has something that he wants to talk to her about.
Melo had begged Eda to take over a flight attendant job that she had the next morning and not having a plan to meet up with Cenk now, Eda agrees to take the job. In the morning she arrives at the airport and board the flight with the sole passenger yet to arrive. Mid-flight as she is delivering the inflight meal she discovers that her passenger is none other than Serkan. She hides in the little cubbyhole where she was sitting but as she pulls the screen across her claustrophobia kicks in and she starts to have a panic attack. Serkan comes to find her and is very sweet to her as she gasps in her cubicle. He crouches down and takes her hands and get her to regulate her breathing by breathing with him. He takes her to his table by the hand and get her to sit next to the window so she can calm down, he also does up her seatbelt for her, and it’s another heated moment between the two of them. When they land he tells her that he is going to his ex-girlfriend’s engagement party. She goes to the beach.
The party is awkward and Selin’s fiancé Ferit is an idiot. There is also some tension between Serkan and another guest Kaan who is a childhood friend of Serkan and Selin. There is an unsaid issue between the two men and Serkan wants nothing to do with him. The idiot Ferit boasts about how he basically stole Selin from Serkan and that Serkan will be a bachelor forever because he is too picky. Serkan has had enough, and lies and says that he is actually engaged himself, that his fiancée is waiting at the coast for him. He exits the party and goes in search of Eda so they can go home. She is curled up asleep in a chair by the water, he very gently wakes her up, she smiles at him when she opens her eyes and they are happy to see each other for a moment until they remember who they are and what their relationship is, even so he brushes sand from her hair. Before they can be on their way the are ambushed by half of the engagement party including Selin, Ferit and Kaan. Serkan quietly tell Eda to agree with everything that he says and greets Selin and Ferit, he introduces them to Eda but can’t give her name because he still doesn’t know it. He tells them that he calls her ‘my strawberry’ which is a veiled insult given that he is deathly allergic to strawberries. They exit stage left as quickly as possible while Selin looks very unhappy with this development. Could it be that she was hoping that Serkan would try and woo her back? I can’t see her actually wanting to marry idiot Ferit.
Eda refuses to get in the car with him and ends up back on the coast, and as she is cursing his name he suggests to her that she stop whining and blaming him. To be fair, he is indirectly responsible for wrecking her life, but he is offering to pay for her education again, this time though it comes with a catch, she will pose as his fiancée for the two month until Selin gets married. She is shocked at the suggestion, slaps him and says no way.
As they arrive at the airfield in Istanbul they are ambushed by the paparazzi because someone at the engagement party put the news of their engagement on social media. Serkan tells her on the drive to her place that there will be a press conference in the morning to announce the new project and at that time he will let the press know that they are not engaged, he will say that she is his assistant. She agrees and he tells her she needs to be there, standing nearby.
In the morning Eda and her friends head to the hotel on the coast where the announcement will be. She tells them that they don’t need to come with her but they are dying of curiosity about what happened the day before. As they are leaving Cenk calls and insists that he needs to see Eda right away. He comes shortly after they arrive at the venue and proceeds to tell her that he is breaking up with her, he’s leaving to go back to Italy and the woman who is sitting a few tables away is his new Italian girlfriend. Honestly, who brings their current girlfriend when he breaks up with the old one? Cenk is a weasel and obviously didn’t want to tell Eda until the last minute so he didn’t have to deal with any fall-out. Eda is blindsided and confused and she asks him if this is about the rumour of her engagement to Serkan. He says no of course not, he didn’t believe that for a second, half the women in Istanbul are chasing Serkan and who is she to be engaged to him? This pisses Eda off to no end and rightly so, he tries to backpedal but she storms away from him and goes outside where the press conference has already started, Serkan is just starting to explain that it’s a misunderstanding but Eda marches up onto the dais, grabs Serkan’s face, and kisses him. The collected friends and business associates are shocked and stand around with open mouths as Eda and Serkan kiss for a good 30 seconds with Serkan wrapping his arms around her to the beat of a catchy hip-hop song.
This is a fun, well-written return for Ayse Kutlu and a great vehicle for stars Hande Erçel and Kerem Bürsin. The two actors have great, natural chemistry together and the supporting cast is strong and will likely provide a plethora of funny stories to explore. The plot of the series is familiar; a well-to-do, driven business man is confronted by a spirited young woman. However Hande’s character Eda is not shy or naive and she absolute has no problem going toe-to-toe with the imposing Serkan, and actually takes great pleasure in provoking and annoying him. Kerem plays Serkan beautifully as we see both the ruthless and sweet sides of him. He is both attracted to Eda and aggravated by her, he rolls his eyes so much at her I was afraid they might get stuck that way, but we see both heated, sexy moments and tender moments between them throughout the episode.
Ayse is known for her mythical and poetic writing and she always includes symbolic and thematic elements to her story. It seems that stars, flowers and apples are present so far, it will be interesting to see how she uses these to further the story. We have enemies to lovers and fake dating for our romance tropes and these plot lines are some of my favourite.
A strong first episode for a much anticipated summer romantic comedy.