by Sonal M.
It’s simple – Season 1 of Son Yaz is as close as it gets to perfection. Every episode is impactful, every character is captivating and every story makes you stop and think. With the highly awaited second season of the show releasing on September 18, here’s a rundown of some of the things that make this show perhaps one of the best dizis I’ve watched till date.
This article contains some spoilers of events from Season 1.
Public Prosecutor Selim Kara (Ali Atay) receives an offer he cannot refuse from erstwhile organized crime leader Selçuk Taskin (Arif Pişkin), whom he sent to prison. Selçuk agrees to testify against the mafia leader Halil Sadi Sancaktar in a case that Selim has been pursuing for months, on one condition – Selim must protect his son Akgün (Alperen Duymaz) and take him under his wing.
Simultaneously, we get glimpses into Selim’s troubled family life. In the course of devoting his life and time to work, Selim has ignored his wife Canan (Funda Eryiğit) and two children, Yağmur (Hafsanur Sancaktutan) and Altai (Ata Nedim Arman). Caught between protecting Akgün from the many forces out to get him, and dealing with his wife’s announcement that she wants a divorce, Selim decides to drive down from Istanbul to his family in Çesme with Akgün in tow.
A Class Apart
Akgün is perhaps one of the most interesting male protagonists I have seen on screen so far. A far cry from the suave, ever-prepared male leads in most dizis, Akgün stumbles, makes multiple bad decisions and is wrong more often than he is right. And in a delightfully refreshing role reversal, it is Yağmur who saves the day.
Akgün grew up reeling from the tragic death of his mother, and in the absence of a father figure’s guidance. This is a boy who has never had a safety net; he is accustomed to escaping sticky situations by the skin of his teeth, and he has never dared to hope for anything better. As Akgün tells Selim in the one of the first episodes of the show, how can he be expected to write his story, when others keep re-writing it for him? Over the course of the season, Akgün betrays Selim and jeopardizes his career; he nearly breaks Yağmur’s heart because he thinks she’s better off without him; he constantly puts his trust in the wrong people, with disastrous consequences. But when he realizes his mistakes, he will even put his life at risk to set them right. That’s why, through it all, you root for this boy who never got a chance.
Along the way Akgün forms an unlikely but unshakeable bond with Soner, the illegitimate son of Halil Sadi Sancaktar. It is fascinating how these two men, who come from the same world, see themselves differently – while Akgün dares to hope for a better life, Soner doesn’t see it as a possibility. Akgün’s blossoming romance with Yağmur is a beautiful depiction of young yet enduring love.
A lot of Akgün’s journey in Season 1 was about him realizing that his dreams were worth pursuing. It was a little strange that a show released in the dead of winter was named Son Yaz,which translates to The Last Summer. 12 episodes in, we learn that the name comes from Akgün’s dream of opening an establishment called Son Yaz, a dream that represents leaving behind his past and creating a new legacy. When Akgün is preparing to say goodbye to Yağmur after being caught betraying Selim, he expresses what she means to him with his characteristic point-blank poignance – “You taught me how to dream again, Yağmur. How much more closely can one person touch another?”
Yağmur Kara is a character that young girls can look up to. Here is a female lead (written by a team headed by a woman, I might add) who is strong, capable, and intelligent – and she doesn’t need anyone’s validation for it. She calls out Selim for ignoring his wife and family for years, but also stands firmly by his side when he’s falsely accused of impropriety. She is her mother’s confidante and cheerleader, helping Canan get back to the workforce after years taking care of the home. She is Akgün’s miracle – his voice of reason when he strays off track, his sunlit path out of the darkness, and his bodyguard when he needs to be saved (and he needs saving a lot).
At the start of the show, Yağmur is an idealist who sees the world in black and white. But as the show progresses and Yağmur grows closer to Akgün, she learns that sometimes decisions can be more than right or wrong – they can be necessary. When faced with a choice between letting her father take the blame for a crime he didn’t commit, and letting Akgün blackmail the real culprits into confessing, Yağmur chooses the latter and takes a step closer towards Akgün’s world.
Is Selim Kara a good man? That’s a question I asked myself many times over the course of the show. When we first meet him, he is certainly a good public prosecutor; unrelenting in his pursuit of the truth, unscrupulous and resourceful, terrifying and convincing in equal parts. But while he loves his family, he doesn’t see how his decisions have harmed them until it is pointed out to him. It is only when Canan threatens him with a divorce, that he decides to return to Çesme and win her back. Throughout the show, we see a stark difference between the personalities of Prosecutor Selim, and Family Man Selim – something that propels his young son Altai to stop seeing him as a perfect superhero, and to recognize that he is a deeply flawed human being.
Selim’s father murdered his mother and went to prison; in spite of it all, Selim has managed to pull himself out of the swamp of his childhood traumas and make something of his life, a miracle he credits solely to Canan.
As the series progresses, we understand why Selim is so desperately rooting for Akgün to succeed, and why he is so bitterly disappointed when Akgün initially betrays him – because Selim sees his younger self in Akgün. And over the course of the season, it is heart-warming to see the two of them learning from each other and picking each other up – because Selim and Akgün share a fate that no one else can quite understand, the fate of a cursed family.
Canan is, quite simply, the heart and soul of the Kara family and of Son Yaz. Where other shows would be content to place a stock likeable character whose motherhood is her sole defining trait, the writers gave us Canan, who is best friends with her daughter, puts Selim in his place when he needs a telling off, and sets a place at her table for the son of a mafia leader because she understands his yearning for a place where he belongs.
While Akgün and Yağmur share a beautiful love story, Canan and Selim’s journey of coming back to each other is truly one of the highlights of the show. Rarely does one see an older couple on TV depicted with such intensity and passion. Canan walks out of her relationship as an unfulfilled, unhappy woman with complete support from her daughter, and returns only once Selim realizes the value of her self-worth and dignity. It’s a powerful message for many women in her position, and one that was depicted superlatively well.
As Selim tells his son, it is Canan’s maturity and patience that has held the family together for years when Selim was not around. It is her warmth and her perseverance that has kept her children safe when their father wasn’t around. How will they find that security again, without her?
Where Do They Go From Here?
Season 1 of Son Yaz left us with some truly gutting cliff-hangers. Akgün, who spent the greater part of the season learning to walk towards the light, has become a killer – in part due to the choices of his father. Selim, for whom Canan has been a motivation and a force to balance out his own darkness, has been left alone. In a tragic parallel, Yağmur and Altai are engulfed in the same grief that Akgün experienced as a child.
From the news about Season 2, we know that the show picks up two years after the events of Season 1, and that the story is shifting from Çesme to Istanbul. Some new characters are being introduced, including members of Soner’s family and intelligence officer Sare Akay (Birce Akalay) who will work with Selim. The teasers for the new season tell us that Selim appears to have given up his career as a prosecutor, and teams up with Akgün once again. In the aftermath of the Season 1 finale, Akgün goes to prison and decides to push Yağmur away in spite of her cries for him to not leave her alone.
The new logo for the season depicts a crow, and given that nothing on this show is mere coincidence, I have to believe that this is a throwback to a story told by Akgün in episode 12. “Crows don’t forget a good deed. I am like them.”
It’s hard to imagine Son Yaz without the warmth of Canan’s dinner table and the scenic beauty of Çesme, but as we move into perhaps a darker chapter of the story, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for these beloved characters, and for us.
Article copyright (c) North America TEN & Sonal M./ @RigelB8la , twitter
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