Over the past week I’ve read quite a lot of commentary about the direction that “Vuslat” has been taking in recent episodes, if you like,”the Road” it is currently on. Along with that concern has been disappointment expressed that the romance between Aziz and Feride seems not to have the same position as centre and front of the story. I beg to differ.

I think that love, in all its manifestations. is the central theme of “Vuslat”. I am moved most by the innocence and beauty of first love, such as that of young troubadour for Sultan as they sing together of sadness and loss.

In the middle of all of the drama which is happening outside of his love for Feride, Aziz tells her that extraneous events and his own growing doubts have made no difference to how he feels about her. He is only really wanting to do things that involve her, but he is not able to avoid that which needs to be done in his personal life and in his inner world. Whilst Aziz is a pragmatic, yet soulful man, he wasn’t expecting the challenges of which he’s now becoming aware and he’s getting angry, especially with the ongoing stuff his father is causing.

The same is, of course true of Feride and of Kerem, the other inheritors from the three families whose stories lead to the need for individual quests. There has been so much not completed from the past and these three have been “selected” by destiny to play out that which is incomplete, to “fix” the past before moving into their true personal futures. How many of our most loved Turkish dizis require those of newer generations to deal with the mistakes, transgressions or ignorance of the generations that went before them so that they are free to love fully in the present?

I can’t always think about “Vuslat” in a linear fashion; ”this” happened and then “that” happened don’t play out in my thinking so much as do the psychology of the characters and the individual Quests each is taking, mostly without being aware that is what they are doing. The interplay of those Quests and the layers of history behind them are what fascinate me.
Coming back to love, the emotion which has the power to illuminate even the hardest journey with meaning, challenge and beauty, this episode shines light on relationships, some of them new and fragile.

One of the loveliest moments for me this week occurred when Feride last her cool with Nehir’s petty exlcusion of her from the “special” dinner party which took people away from work at a very busy time. Rather than engage in a futile argument, Aziz let everyone know that he didn’t have energy to deal with such trivia. He simply took Feride’s hand, said “Come “, and led her away from the melee. The message to Nehir is obvious. Feride IS his love, Nehir can do what she likes.

The dinner party itself was great light relief, especially Kerem’s witticisms and utter destruction of Nehir’s credibility when he trumped her credit cards with his own, which would work when hers were rejected.

He’s a master of the quiet voice and the sardonic eyebrow lift when wanting to strike at the heart of the matter. I love this man’s acting ability. His robot toy boat in the company swimming pool may have been funny but there was a sadness about lost childhood in his invitation to Aziz to play, too. Aziz tried, but he really is “too cool” for such baby stuff!

Kerem is an overgrown child at heart, looking to put his “real” family together as it has never been in his lifetime. His is a particularly painful love story,love for a granny whose living conditions are awful because of
the power to wound possessed by the poisonous Hasibe. I loved the protectiveness that this tall, lean young man showed to the frail old lady…

… who would have been content for him to find her a place in a rest home. Anything to avoid “causing trouble” for her brother’s second wife and she might be “lucky” enough to find a friend in such a place. Alice, Kerem’s mother has been rescued from the mental hospital where she had been stored away by Bulent of whom she is terrified. With the love of these two wounded women from his past uppermost in his thinking, Kerem has plans to move them all into a home of their own. Gulten helps him.

Feride has been searching, too, after her conversation with Necmi, in which she learns of the collection of vinyl records, one of which he says is very special. She finds the collection in the locked and vacant house which Zehra tells her about and which was her family’s home for many years.

She had never known the house’s existence, and it becomes clear later that they are not there because Hasibe regards it as Suheyla’s house in which she will not live because Faik’s first wife lived there. Zehra tells Feride about the danger her mother faced because she was loved by another man as well as by her husband. The aunt, who seems cast as the family’s keeper of old stories stops short of naming the other man and of finishing the story of Suheyla. There is something lurking in the background about which she cannot or will not speak.

In the house, which has particularly beautiful interior wooden panelling, Feride starts searching through the vinyl collection, but cannot find what she is looking for. Startled by a noise she runs from the house and returns later with Aziz. The intruder is Uncle Abdullah who has obviously been searching on her behalf and he gives the vinyl into her hands.

At this point in the story, an important shift happens. Aziz returns from unsuccessfully chasing down an intruder who has slipped out of the house. He’s worried about Feride’s safety and insists he will take her back to the
company or else to home. She defies him in her desire to hear the recording and gets into a passing taxi, leaving him openmouthed on the
The vinyl has a song about her parents and a miniature of some undefined sort. Hoping to get the rest of the story, Feride takes Faik to the antique shop where the rare and valuable record is played. Both Faik and Salih are moved to tears by the song, but still Feride does not have all the story.

What does happen is startling, but exciting, however. Firat is tempted out of his red car chassis “bed” to breakfast at the family apartment where Faik informs them all that they are moving into the family home again. He knows that Hasibe has sold his shop from underneath him and he won’t pay rent any more. He is adamant that they will shift. At which point Hasibe loses the plot entirely, pounding on Zehra’s door and accusing her of interference.

Other stories of love this week. Altan and Emine are lunching and laughing together when Yalcin sees them, orders Emine who has been “left” to him rather like a box of old photos or a prized family heirloom and for whom he feels totally responsible, into his car.

He informs Altan that only when he surrenders his gun and licence will he be considered as a candidate to marry Emine. Put out by this challenge to his perception of himself as a man, Altan is startled at how hurt he feels. The ever-perceptive Aziz knows what’s happening. Altan is, like himself, in love. What he will do with that is up to him, but most definitely, he is in love.

Sultan has an admirer. Gulten has noticed that the gentle and lovely Ahmet has been there for Sultan, quietly and without expectation, in the past and she appeals to the young man to contact the girl again. What
follows is a very lovely few moments in Salih’s shop where the two have met and join in the singing of the poignant “Bir Ay Doga” a song of sadness and loss.

Sultan’s voice is a revelation to them all and the accompanying Saz playing from Ahmet underlines his shy and pure admiration for the beautiful young woman still so steeped in grief over the loss of her mother. Implicit in this part of the episode is the contrast between the troubled relationship Sultan has with Firat, particularly the scenes in the last episode in which he dumped his own troubles on her, making accusations against her brothers as he tongue-lashed her.

There was Tahsin, shut away in his darkened room, playing over and over snippets of film from his sons’ childhood in which the first Firat clung to big brother Aziz, whom he hero worshipped and constantly copied. For the first time, Aziz is invited to this picture show which he hasn’t known about until now and the two men, talk about the depth and breadth of their grief and loss for the little boy who fell into the well and whom Aziz could not save.

We learn that Aziz has always blamed himself for Firat’s death.
I do feel for the older man, but I’m uneasy. Having watched his callousness both at his son’s gravesite and as he gleefully burned a photograph of his dead wife, I wonder if this is Tahsin’s Oscar-quality acting performance. Is this his method of throwing Aziz off balance, coaching him into an emotional state where Tahsin can carry out, justifiably in his mind, the eventual removal ofAziz from power in the Holding? And distracting him from his dangerous dabbling with Salih Koluber in the antique shop. I don’t trust Tahsin. Always, his own skin is most important.

HiS latest meeting with Bulent has been full of menace. Taken back to the now gutted and broken premises of the manufacturing company set up by Aziz’ grandfather he gets the message that this shell could well be a metaphor for his own self if does not do as he is told. He must stop Aziz from prying into things that don’t, concern him. The order has come from higher up that Tahsin should take back the reins of power in the company. There is a clear sense now that the issues here are directed by an outhority far higher than a holding company set up originally by three families in Istanbul. The warning is blunt. Either Tahsin stops Aziz’ activities or Bulent will kill the young man.

The episode began with a question posed to Aziz about the reliability of Salih as the second Firat informed him that documents he had found came from Salih’s office.

But it is in the antique shop that Aziz has learned of the existence of Satranc -I -Urefa, the “Chess of the Gnostics” as Salih describes the game in which we now know Aziz to be The Traveller, even if he is the last of the players to discover the Game. Salih has a group of supporting players, whom I feel he has been warming up and teaching the rules as they await this Traveller to throw a Six and enter the game. Aziz had enough hints that a Six would be required for something, didn’t he, when all the clocks stopped at 6.00am? Now he knows what that something is.

The role of the Game in Vuslat has fascinated me from the start but I could not find much reliable and accessible information about Satranc-i-Urefa except in some dubious websites. I was very pleased to see the researcher side of Aziz who obviously had more than a passing acquaintance with the reference librarian. He collected up some pretty

Hefty tomes of information, popped on his horn rims and settled in to find out.

I think Aziz has, for all his soft heart, a hard analytical core honed with business acumen and doesn’t take easily to such esoteric as Gnosticism . It would take some convincing for him to buy into what looks like at first glance, a souped-up version of Snakes and Ladders. This research took place at the start of the episode, so much of what I’ve talked about in this review followed his time in the University library. By the time we get to the scene where Ferida is aware that he is troubled and he tells her he’s not really into all that stuff, he’s quite angry. But he reassures her about his love for her.
“I don’t miss anything that’s without you any more, Feride.”

About Gnosticism. I first encountered the term during my convent school education where I was taught that it was a form of rebellion against dogma and those articles of faith which we were trained to accept without question. In other words, it was heresy. And it was a corruption of Christian faith, dating from the second century AD . Its lineage was ancient, however and was a system or collection of ideas that gave individuals permission to forge their own understanding of God and creation. The concept of Quest, the journey of enlightenment, is not limited to any faith but is intrinsic to ones understanding of a personal God. Dangerous thinking! Exactly what I and most of my classmates set out to do over the course of our lifetimes. Gnosticism doesn’t belong to Christianity. It has links with other faiths, In Islam, about which I know precious little, I think it has much in common with SUFISM.

This Gnostic Chess, which Aziz is not going to be able to avoid, now he is set to have the ultimate showdown with Salih Koluber, ex brain surgeon
whom Tahsin blames for the death of Firat Korkmazer, will test Aziz to the limit.

I found a most helpful summary of the game by AMELIA AVILES in a Facebook search. The Rules of the Game are
If the 6 doesn’t appear on the Wheel of Fortune spin, the Traveler can’t enter the game
The Traveler steps forward on the Road (the Board) according to the number that appears in the dice throw.
He should explain the concept in each step.
He needs to learn and explain. If he cannot explain he cannot pass.
To understand one needs to be a Traveler.
In order to be a Traveler, one need to step onto the Road
One needs courage to step onto the Road.

The ESSENCE OF THE GAME is to reach STEP 101
The traveler then must be able to explain everything he learned and experienced. It is not easy to reach VUSLAT/REUNION
Without being humiliated
Without becoming pitiful
Without begging
Without fighting
Without regrets
Aziz has driven to the antique shop to confront Salih, once Professor Doctor Salih Koluber brain surgeon, about whom it has been very hard to find any information. As he enters the shop, I think he is stepping onto the ROAD.

Once again, thank you, AMELIA AVILES.

WRITTEN BY: Judith Kelleher



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