by Karon Morono
Season 3 of The Gift (Atiye) has finally arrived, and the anticipation of this final season was most definitely worth the wait. I find the central themes of this unfolding, deeply symbolic and spiritual story aligning perfectly with the world we inhabit today. We can either choose the light or the dark side of life. We can choose love, or we can embody and be driven by hate. Is this coincidental? Perhaps not. For those of you who have not yet tapped into this production, it is a Turkish drama fantasy written by Jason George and Nuran Evren Sit, based on “Dunyanın Uyanısı” by Sengul Boybas.
The Turkish masterminds, Burcu Alptekin and Gonenc Uyanik as co-directors, who were involved with The Protector, one of Netflix’s most popular series with its sophisticated production values, have once again delivered a masterful presentation of the fibers of life and our ancestral history that translate into a gift or a curse; the native potential in all of us to change the course of our destiny, to prove history does not have to repeat itself; that there are alternative timelines where we cross paths with second chances, where we trust new paths presented to us.
We are bombarded today with a stream of negativity in world events. At the same time, if we tune into the signs given to us on a deeper emotive level, we have an abundance of divine consciousness, as is the case with Aden, the love child of Atiye (Beren Saat) and Erhan (Mehmet Gunsur), and the Eye of Horus. Yet, we often trend towards the path most destructive because of our collective inability to believe we have no choice; that our influence is too great from birth.
The Gift (Atiye) in Season 3 wraps its head neatly around the human connection to the mystical, fancied, and restraint with a sufficient dose of authenticity to not come across as imposing. On the contrary, there is a tone of Shakespearean family tragedy that slivers through every facet of this tale, rich in conflict, loyalty, being led by fear rather than confidence, quests to uncover the past, and the influences that consume one’s life until the forces of healing and revival combat those of total destruction. As Atiye says, “We silenced our hearts, and our minds took over. When we remember each other, we will reunite.” The flashback segments to darker times help infuse our heroine to trusting in her instinctual decision that opens all hearts and minds to love and salvation. Is this not what we are all seeking in today’s uncertain times?
Some viewers may want to return to Seasons 1-2, to search for a streamlined connection to this finale but, in my mind, there is no need. The saga is woven tightly enough to grasp the central theme of love and appreciation of the greatest gift of all: life’s limitless options, the confluence of unanswered questions, divinity, preservation, and the enigma of life’s boundless energy. As I say this, I am reminded of one character, whose presence explains best in terms of his guidance towards the trail to find Aden, and that is Arda, the special needs little boy with whom Atiye forms an attachment and is caught up in the initial symbol of the pinecone as well as spirals pointing her towards her profound search for her 8-year-old daughter.
The outer-worldly locations, visual renderings, and awesome settings in this season reflect the same magical sensibility as the script. We revisit the mystical Anatolian archeological site where we first saw the modern excavation at Gobekli Tepe, in Sanliurfa, Turkey. This locale is thought to be the oldest known man-made temple in the world. How’s that for an incredible backdrop? Other historic locations include Nemrut Dag (one of the highest peaks of the Eastern Taurus Mountain range in south-east Turkey), a Byzantine-era Yarimburgaz Cave of archaeological and paleontological importance within Istanbul Province, finally, Kapadokya, the arid environment of almost whimsical landscapes in east central Anatolia, Turkey.
It’s as if the filmmakers’ search for the flawless location for this series was being led by supernatural forces spiriting them to precisely reflect the labyrinth of this story’s vision.
In recognition of the ensemble cast – BRAVO! to all. Beren Saat inhales the spirit of Atiye, the serene artist whose talent on canvas is unsettling, and whose relationships of the past and the contemporary are rooted in forgiveness and compassion for love. Her determined passion and patience in understanding her role, is formidable. I have to say, I am partial to this magnificent actress, and her performances in everything I have seen to date. She is truly gifted. I interpret the roles played by each character (and well-flushed out at that!) as such: Atiye is the unifying source energy, the spirit of unconditional love, whilst Erhan is the master craftsman, the voice of reason who sees beyond the edges of reason. Mehmet Gunsur as Erhan is matchless. The genuineness of his performance is brilliant. He never abandons their journey, and he chisels his way from one fierce moment to the next with a rare dignity and dismay in a tempered manner.
The breakout star, for me personally, despite the flaw of having the accessories selection of the nose ring (her wildcat wardrobe was enough to seal the deal as a tortured free spirit), is Cansu played by the lovely and charismatic Melissa Senolsun. The metamorphosis of her personality portrays a precision skill in interpreting events engulfing her; whether it is with Ozan, her mother Serap (the gorgeous Basak Koklukaya), or the emblematic relationship she has with her sister and niece. She is the misfit who, like Umut (Selma Ergec), is both hiding from her true heritage and her own duress as protector. The character who figuratively goes through fire and ice is Ozan, melodically and engagingly played by the coolest actor, Metin Akdulger. Not only does he mystify, he keeps one on the edge, not knowing whether we want to cherish him, pity him, or despise his motives. As he confounds by his orchestrated methods, one begins to realize, that in the end, his persecution resonates. For after all, this is a man-child in conflict with everything and everyone in his past and present.
Sadly, in Season 3, we do not see more of Mustafa (Civan Canova), and Serdar (Tim Seyfi), as we have in previous episodes, but their fleeting presence and powerful acting acumen anchor just enough of the father presence, provider and protagonist/hero spirit we need for a nuanced balance. Without Serdar, we would not know about the teachings of the protectors’ language – which is the nucleus of their search. Without a reveal, the role assumed by Melek, Ozan’s mother, connivingly emboldened by the actress Senan Kara, gives a character study in odious jealousy, rage, mis-led by an intense sentiment of being the outsider in a family. She’s the seductress of manipulation to those most vulnerable; her own son, Ozan and the child Aden (Lara Tonka), whose effortless talent offers us the sacrificial lamb who yearns to be safe, and who, along with her mother, embarks on a slippery slope of seeking the tree of life in the ruins of the ancient city of Dara at the same time Erhan and Umut reach the historical site of the Saffron Monastery in Ancient Mesopotamia.
Last, but not at all least, I have to give a grand applaud to the score of this series by composer Can Berk Ozden, which is a perfectly enticing, hauntingly beautiful and mystifying.
In the novel Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens, I was struck by a passage in the book where Kya explains our atmosphere, “. . .The stars are too far away for us to see. We see only their light. . .. Albert Einstein wrote about how time is no more fixed than the stars, that it speeds and bends around planets and suns, is different from the mountain ranges and the valleys, and is part of the same fabric as space, which curves and swells like the sea. Objects fall or orbit because they plummet into the silky folds of spacetime—like into the ripples on a pond—created by those of higher mass.” This resonated so meaningfully for me, I wanted to share it, as this seems to be the root of the orbit our characters have been captured by.
As we come to the finale, we can all find a well of emotion, where we can breathe a sigh of relief in witnessing who and what triumphs in the end.
Article copyright (c) North America TEN & Karon Morono
All pictures and video clips belong to their original owners. No copyright infringement intended. Photos sourced from: Netflix, Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens, scopriistanbul.com; karstworlds.com; tr.wikipedia.org
Author: Karon Morono is a published writer, editor, and photographer who speaks four languages, currently emersed in Italian studies. 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 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 published short stories and she completed a first novel during the pandemic of COVID-19 and is currently working on a new book. She now resides in Florence, Italy, and continues her interests in the fine arts. Her travel blog is www.voyageandviews.com and her photography is shown on www.karon.morono.com.