INTERSECTION : where love collides with personal ambition , power , and wealth

International trailer |

Review by Joan Hiver

From the moment that the introduction rolls on KORDUGUM / INTERSECTION , we sense that we, as viewers, are in store for a well produced series. The haunting music and the graphic design of the introduction serve to alert us for the intrigue, complications and entanglements which are to be presented.  Ropes spread across the screen , meeting , colliding , twisting, turning , knotting , coiling around each other and intersecting among framed pictures of the characters surely invoking the obvious foreshadowing that these lives are about to intersect like the colored ropes on the screen .

If you are looking for a top quality production, this Turkish series from 2016 delivers on several fronts : acting , sets , high standard of production and direction. The plot contains intrigue , action , realistic human drama , conflict , humor , romance and most of all,  a rare , beautiful portrait of the relationship between father and child. The series is excellent until the latter part of season two where a change in plot direction created problems for what one might call general credibility. Regardless of the flaws in the story created by this fault , the series has very good entertainment value and wonderful portrayals of very human problems and relationships in both classes of the respective societies represented.

INTERSECTION brings together again the brilliant acting talent and unmistakable screen chemistry of Ibrahim Celikkol and Belcim Bilgin almost on the coattails of their film success in SADECE SEN from 2014.

The other roles are played by excellent actors most of whose faces and abilities are very familiar to fans of Turkish series. Endemol Shine Turkey lavished resources to make sure that the artistry , direction , musical score , cinematography , location shootings and settings were of the highest international standard. The segment where the protagonists meet is shot in the Lake Como area of Italy. The production company and its three main stars went to Cannes with the production.While Omer Faruk Sorak has directed , Yildiz Tunc ( 1001 NIGHTS , PARAMPARCA ) has headed the writing team. The series ran for three seasons. INTERSECTION can be found currently on Netflix with excellent English subtitles. The first episode of the series opens by exposing the audience to two major intersections which will forever change the life of Ali Nejat Karasu ( Ibrahim Celikkol ) . One intersection is with a young woman from his past who interrupts his birthday party in order to give him two gifts in a very public and tragic way. The second is a chance meeting , whilst in Italy , where he crosses paths with a perfect stranger , a Turkish pediatrician , named , Naz Ozer ( Belcim Bilgin ).

Similarly , the female lead intersects with a young mother and her son in the hospital which she works. Naz Ozer treats a little boy named , Kaan , for a virus and the meeting with his mother will play a significant life altering role as will a trip to Italy for a pediatric conference . After giving her speech at the medical conference , Naz goes shopping for souvenirs before her return flight to Istanbul from Italy. Whilst leaving a book store , she gets caught in a revolving door with two Turkish men. Shortly thereafter , walking by a cafe , she notices that one of the Turks who had been caught in the revolving door with her is experiencing an anaphylactic shock . She saves the man’s life at the cafe by performing a tracheostomy.. She chooses to accompany him and his friend to the local hospital. The man she has saved is Ayhan , a restaurateur and Ali Nejat’s best friend. Her good Samaritan act  means she has missed her flight home. The next day, she accepts Ali Nejat’s offer to return on his private jet back to Istanbul. Henceforth , the lives of Ali Nejat , Ayhan , and Naz are forever intersected.Ali Nejat Karasu is a young business man who has taken over the helm of the family ship building company following the retirement of his father , Tarik Karasu. Since becoming CEO , the company has flourished nicely under Ali Nejat. In spite of his success , Tarik is wary of Ali Nejat’s judgement due to a tragic event from the past which Tarik blames his son for. In addition , Tarik is completely opposed to his son’s dream to build his own car and pioneer the automotive manufacturing industry in Turkey. Even though Ali Nejat has priviledge , education , is handsome , there is an aura of melancholy about him. Several years back , his sister’s little boy , Baris , was killed while riding in the race car Ali Nejat was driving. 

His sister , Feyza , has not recovered from the tragedy. Tarik and Feyza’s reproach is felt constantly by Ali Nejat but nothing compares to the guilt which he himself feels.  Besides his own guilt , he feels detached and hollow as he has lost the closeness which existed between him and Feyza .

On the night of his birthday party , where he is scheduled to announce to his family and to the public that he is launching his car project , a young woman  from his past appears and leaves Ali Nejat with her little boy , Kaan , ( Aybars Kartal Ozson) announcing that her son, Kaan , is Ali Nejat’s son.

Kaan brilliantly played by actor Aybars Kartal Ozson Naz Ozer , a pediatrician , is married to Umut , her childhood sweetheart. Umut dropped out of university and gave up his dream of being an automotive engineer so that Naz could finish medical school as they both could not afford university at the same time. Umut owns an auto repair shop with his best friend , Genco . Umut harbors the same kind of passion for autos that Ali Nejat does and would give his soul to be able to design a car. Through Naz , Umut intersects with Ali Nejat . Although Naz and Umut go through the motions of married life , there are many deep cracks in the marriage plate. One of the problems for Naz’s sadness is her inability to carry a baby to term. Ten years before , Naz and Umut lost an almost full term child. She has been advised not to have a baby as her life may be at risk. Moreover , Umut’s dissatisfaction with not being able to pursue his car dream , money troubles and his subconscious resentment that he did not finish university also add to a general unhappiness for both Naz and Umut.Central to this series is the power of love. Although the plot reveals a very romantic love story between Ali Nejat and Naz , it is not their love which gets top significance , in my view.

The show is stolen , so to speak , by the love which Kaan gives to all who come in contact with him :  his father , Naz , his aunt , his two grandfathers and even the servants in the mansion who recognize that all the house needed was the love of a child. For Feyza , Kaan gives her back purpose , a reason to exist , a replacement for the child she lost and a return from a living death. He makes his maternal grandfather learn to forgive his daughter , lose his bitterness and redeem himself . Kaan gives his paternal grandfather the opportunity to become a more sensitive individual showing that he has feelings for his children and grandchild and is not just driven by duty and work.For Naz , Kaan becomes the child which she cannot have. He gives her the motherhood which has eluded her. One of the most moving scenes in the series is Kaan calling Naz , ” anne (Mom) ” , instead of Naz abla (sister). Ali Nejat finally has someone who loves him unconditionally. Kaan’s love heals all the scars of Ali Nejat’s childhood and allows him to move on from the guilt of his nephew’s death. Kaan makes him realize the need for putting someone ahead of himself. Finally , Kaan helps to bring Feyza and Ali Nejat close once again. Kaan gives personification to our knowledge that the love of a child  can heal , transform , redeem and fulfill not just one life but many lives. Among the best scenes in the series are those where Kaan is interacting with his newly discovered parent , Ali Nejat. 

Kaan discovers that Ali Nejat does not like tomatoes on his hamburger as he also does not. This becomes more a test for positive proof of paternity than the actual DNA test. Their bedtime scenes and cooking scenes are very special and there are times when it becomes hard not to hold back tears. The scenes with Naz are just as powerful . The chemistry between Aybars Kartal Ozson and Ibrahim Celikkol and between him and Belgim Bilgin breaks the fictional cast thus creating completely authentic interactions. The three together , Kaan , Naz , Ali Nejat , are sublime. The return to Istanbul of Ayhan , Ali Nejat and Naz does not mark the end of their relationship. Ayhan invites Naz and her husband to his restaurant for dinner as a gesture of gratitude . Umut chooses not to accompany Naz to the thank you dinner. At the dinner , it is obvious that there is an attraction between Ali Nejat and Naz but what seals the bond between them is Naz’s acquaintance with Kaan from his hospital visit. During the tragic event at Ali Nejat’s birthday party , it is Naz who offers comfort to little Kaan. As Kaan becomes part of Ali Nejat’s life , Ali Nejat relies on Naz’s expertise , sensitivity , motherly instincts for assistance. Kaan becomes the significant vehicle to bring together Ali Nejat and Naz but Ali Nejat is drawn to Naz , not just because of Kaan . For the first time , he feels genuine love for a woman much to the surprise of all around him.. Naz brings out all his sensitivity , caring , warmth and gentleness . Naz remarks that her first impression of a cold , arrogant man has changed . He declares that he will always be there for her and he is .Ali Nejat is not the only one who has benefitted by his intersection with Naz. She , too ,admits to her friend that Ali Nejat has awakened feelings within her which she has not felt for a long time. In spite of her strong attraction to Ali Nejat , it is not until Umut does something inexcusable and unforgivable that Naz allows herself to get closer to Ali Nejat. 

Besides the concept of intersecting which is found everywhere in this series , just as the ropes of the introduction suggest , the viewer gets a good glimpse into the milieu of the corporate business world as well as the small business world of the middle class. As much as they differ , is as much as they are similar . Only the scale of the ambition , business practices , unethical methods and corruption differ . Ali Nejat’s friend ,Murat , is no different from the neighborhood thug , Kenan , Umut falls in with. The unexpected sale of the premises which house Ayhan’s restaurant demonstrates clearly that small , local businesses are just as vulnerable as the corporate world and just as dirty sometimes . In addition , this juxtaposition of both business worlds helps to demonstrate one other major theme of INTERSECTION . Should a person pursue his own ambitions , damn the cost , or put duty and obligation to his family and partners above  personal interest ?Frequently , Turkish series set in Istanbul will present two social classes through the story ; the world of upper class society , and the world of the mahalle (neighbourhood). INTERSECTION chooses to draw the characters from the upper class and the middle class . By doing so , the producers let us observe classes which have less of a gap between them regarding level of education , quality of housing and privilege so they are closer to each other over all. We observe the influence of a ” western ” Turkey as she intersects with a more traditional Turkey in both social classes. A fine example of this is Umut’s sister who attends a private university. In order to go out with her friends at night , she must lie or sneak out. . When she starts dating a fellow student , she cannot reveal her secret knowing how strict her mother and brother are. The privileged class depicted by the Karasu family of the series is well educated, refined , symbols of understated wealth . The mansion chosen to represent their family home is in good taste and not a showcase of overt opulence. The female protagonist is a doctor .Her mother owns her own real estate company making her more than ” worthy ” of Ali Nejat . Many of the usual stereotypes found in other series are absent. The series is very appropriately named as it delves into how lives can be significantly affected by the ” intersection ” with some other person. For some , this criss-cross  may have a positive outcome while for others , the intersection may produce severe repercussions. This theme is consistent throughout the main plot . Even the lives of the characters in the subplot are subject to the vagaries of these intersections ! INTERSECTION is a well written series with two very strong plots . The sub plot is just as important as the main plot due to the significant ” intersections ” which are necessary for the entire story to progress . Although equal exposure to both plots is a source of strength for the story and the concept of intersection , it becomes the source of a major weakness during the second season and definitely in the third. This weakness tends to detract from the plot the audience has followed for so many episodes. During the first and for about half of the second season , the balance between them is maintained. However , after that , the second plot , anchored in Umut’s family seems to take over . The viewer wonders why so much emphasis on this side story regarding Umut’s sister , her baby and Genco , especially since the revenge plot by Murat kicks in more vigorously. More importantly , Feyza’s former husband and his sister , Eylul , Ali Nejat’s former girl friend , return to Istanbul.

The plot device of returning Ali Nejat’s former lover serves only to contradict Ali Nejat’s character and redemption which the action , the actors and the theme so vigorously supported. It is not credible at all that in one moment he has changed. Perhaps it would have been more prudent to end the series sooner so as to preserve the initial integrity of the plot. However , even though this is a flaw in INTERSECTION / KORDUGUM , as mentioned above , it is still a very good series and one that lends itself to many viewings !

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Article Copyright by North America TEN by Joan Hiver

Author: Joan Hiver is a retired English Literature Professor who has taught English Literature at both secondary school and university levels. For many years Joan also served on the Board of Directors of an International Private School. At the moment , she is trying her hand on writing a children’s book . A native of Canada , Joan moved to the United States after her marriage . She is the mother of three children . Joan discovered the Turkish dizi when she and her family lived in Europe . Besides being a die-hard fan of Turkish dizis since 2006 , she enjoys sewing ,  needlepoint , gardening , cooking and detective fiction of any kind .


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