After the rain, we have the storm. And a storm it is we are in for. Season 2 of The Gift opens with our mesmerizing heroine Atiye, played by the truly gifted Beren Saat, asking the questions: “Have you ever felt like you were lost? Like you didn’t know where you were going, or where you came from? Have you ever asked yourself, “Who am I?” Season 2 does not disappoint. We are not led into predictability or the probable impossibility. We know we must believe in miracles, in destiny. We are, as an audience, careful who we listen to along the way, and we know who to trust.
Seven thousand years before the pyramids of Giza, and 6,000 years before Stonehenge, Gobekli Tepe, an Anatolian archaeological site was borne. We find out in Season 1 how archaeology plays a vital role in interpretation, that symbols are more important than the stones they are written on. Yet, symbols translate the mysteries of past civilizations of our collective world. They are historical markings on the road of life, and we need to follow their messages. Decades ago, women made pilgrimages to this site as a cult to give birth to children. Discovered in 1963 by Universities of Istanbul and Chicago, and now a UNESCO world heritage site as of 2019, it is the oldest temple in the world perhaps connecting, from the threads of this tightly woven original novel Dunyanin Uyansi [Awakening of the World] by Sengul Boybaş, the meaning of life, re-birth, and a parallel universe connection to past lives, the present [the Gift], and the future.
While not only the landscape of the site and terrain of our story have been altered, the lives of our characters have changed dramatically and we are left in a kind of suspended disbelief, yet because of the journey Atiye takes, we want to delve deeper to find the meaning and the purpose of why we are here and where we are going. And we want to go there because we know that when Atiye says, “It’s as if you’re having a dream and you’re in it, but also out of it”, to Cansu, we get it. We understand this sentiment as much as we understand the quote at the end of Season 1, “We are all apart. We are all a continuation of each other.” Shadow knowledge of reincarnation taps hidden messages in our heads.
Without trying to give spoilers, let me say that along the journey that Atiye takes us, we witness the “what if” scenario in our own lives; choices we have made, or not, and what the results might have been, what could have been. With each step she takes, her mission is an appeal for us to challenge our beliefs, to question a hidden knowledge beyond everything we know. She is the light, the source of life and yet her voice is being mis-interpreted and menaced by the forces of the dark; as if karma has not yet taken hold of those who try to squelch her quest. The bonds that bind unravel in each one of the characters in various stages of awareness and awakening. Elif feels it the moment she is embraced by Atiye. Ozan asks if they have met before as he senses a vague recognition. Even her father, Mustafa, performed by the incomparable Civan Canova, is smitten by her mission and taps into a mysterious protective bond within him, as much as the renaissance revival of a mother/daughter bond, played masterfully by Basak Koklukaya as Serap unfolds with layers of a divine plan.
The lives of all of our characters has shifted. In almost all scenarios, we are in shock at how the past leaves us, and what we are tested to believe takes shape in the present. I found this twist of plot extremely original, engaging to a degree I have not seen mastered so deftly before. There is no sense of how this could be. We believe it and we move on, even if we are shattered or torn by it, it spins forward and we are hooked. This is great story-telling and tremendous theater talent harnessed in a series that merits revisiting time and again and repeating from Season 1.
Ozan Aciktan and Gonenc Uyanik co-direct the mesmerizing scenes with a delicate balance of probable improbability and force us to surrender reason as we try to understand the unfolding of this tale as if, to try to understand the future by coming upon past findings, we can interpret the present – as Erhan says in Season 1 during his first TV interview.
What I find most compelling is his theory of collective consciousness. “. . . that convergent evolution is when two different and unrelated species evolve through the same changes.” The Gift takes that premise and runs with it to the degree that obstructs reason and replaces it with conviction. We all evolve through changes of our lives, and we do go through similar changes‑take it from contemporary headlines‑we are all changed in one way or another from episodes of great change and dimension. The directors purely and adeptly create this premise without leaving room for flimsy spiritual journey messages that smack of voodoo hypotheses. Instead, we are driven to dive deeper into what I believe is also nuanced messages of this story; that of what is most relevant in our lives today: the continuing of the species, saving our environment and planet, the energy emanating from the center of this archaeological site, awakenings to our true calling, and those in our lives who are messengers, sages, if you will, to our destinies.
Haven’t we all been told that by taking chances and believing in something so powerful, larger-than-life itself, one will find the answers one seeks? This is what Atiye must mean when she says, “I learned that we all need to believe in miracles. All you have to do is take that leap.” The unfolding of the story takes us to the edge and pushes us to see what she is slowly and methodically recognizing, that, “If you stop resisting your heart and surrender, you’ll see that even the most painful thing in life is a gift.”
The supporting cast of Mehmet Gunsur as Erhan, Melisa Senolson as Elif, and this magnificent collection of stellar acting talents from Turkey show how vital it is to have such a brilliant ensemble cast. There isn’t one moment we do not believe the unraveling of one, or the deceptions of the other, or the cruel manipulations of fate for our favorites. I have seen many of these actors in other series, and with the roles they take on in The Gift, it is an awakening to me personally of the broad strokes they portray in every character they take on.
As much a character as the ensemble, the music score along with the landscape of this incredible setting, weave a haunting web of distilled energy and illusion that help push the pages of this story forward. The writers, Jason George and Nuran Erensit, have created an adaptation of this novel that is riveting, inspiring, and thought-provoking; begging answers to the questions Atiye asks, “What do I wish for from the bottom of my heart? I know you must have a wish like that because we all do.” I can only wish that Season 3, which has been confirmed, will bring us to the edge of this inner life journey, that by crossing over that edge where two worlds collide, it transcends the desire to not go back to sleep.
Here is the official trailer for Season 2:
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Author: Karon Morono was born a survivor and traveler. After leaving her roots of New England behind, her passion for travel and photography took her to San Francisco and then Paris where she worked with emerging artists and known celebrities in the entertainment and fashion industries. This was where her interest in writing began. She is a published writer, editor, and photographer who speaks four languages and counting. She has contributed as writer, editor, and co-producer on several artists’ catalogues represented by her co-owned Morono Kiang Gallery, specializing in the contemporary arts of Asia.
Morono has written and has published short stories and is working on a novel that takes place in Paris during the intoxication of the drug movement in the 1980s.
She now resides in Florence, Italy, with her Coton du Tulear dog named Luna, and continues her interests in the arts. Her travel blog is www.voyageandviews.com and her photography is shown on www.karon.morono.com.