In the Turkish Drama Series, Fatma, the narrator sums up the entire series in a singular line, “Those who try to run away from their childhood sometimes don’t even get to really grow up.” To understand the relevance of this hard-hitting phrase one has to experience or more appropriately submerge themselves in the story of a cleaning lady, whom everyone thought insignificant and worthless. But don’t be deceived by the looks, because each person holds a storm inside them, strong enough to bury nations.
Created by Turkish director-writer, Ozgur Onurme, Fatma is a crime suspense thriller narrated in 6 episodes of 40 minutes each. The use of phrases, dialogues, settings, and plot twists is extremely captivating throughout. The narrative is exhilarating that you just can’t stop thinking about it.
‘Fatma’ Season 1 Summary
A docile and unresisting cleaning lady, Fatma Yilmaz (Burcu Biricik) gets interrogated for murder by Istanbul Police Detective. But that’s not the beginning, it’s actually the end.
The narrative jumps back to the time when things were pretty normal. But don’t be deceived because nothing was ever normal in Fatma’s life. No matter how peaceful she looks, she is holding a river of tragedies inside her heart. Her husband, Zafer Yilmaz, has been missing for months. He was imprisoned for an attempt to murder and spent his time, but he went missing as soon as he was released. Fatma is searching day and night just to tell him that their autistic son, Oguz died in a road accident.
Fatma approaches the police as well as the gangster to find a lead for his missing husband. While police fail to help, a local gangster, Bayram (Mehmet Yilmaz Ak) informs her that Zafer borrowed a lot of money from Bayram’s ex-partner (now enemy), Sevket. Strolling through the leads, Fatma reaches Sevket’s den, but not alone, she brings Bayram’s gun with her, which she sneaked from his safe.
An enraged Sevket rains curses and threats on Fatma. She couldn’t control her fear and anxiety and with a gust of short-lived courage, she shot Sevket. The first murder of her life, the first time she actually raised her voice. What follows ahead is a series of unmotivated murders committed by Fatma in order to save her sacred soul and find her beloved husband Zafer.
Bayram is mercilessly hunting down Fatma because she used his gun to kill his ex-partner. The police investigation will lead to him and no one would blame a cleaning lady. However, Bayram also finds an opportunity in Fatma’s colorless persona. He hires her to exterminate his competition, a crime lord named Ekber.
While the criminal world tries to reap Fatma’s ability, her own pursuit to find her husband reveals a harsh truth that changes the motive of the pursuit. She finds out that Zafer disappeared with his son’s blood money. In between the spiral of catastrophe, there is a silent observer of Fatma’s life. The narrator aka the writer of the story himself, played by a character denoted with the title, “the author.”
Through the author, we understand that Fatma’s life is much more complicated than it really looks. The gust of a murderous attempt and flashes of a conflicted childhood is linked to the damage Fatma obtained at his young age. Thus, the end of her pursuit, the end of all her catastrophe can be found at the beginning of her existence. Her childhood.
“All our endings can be found in our beginnings.”
Major Spoilers Ahead
Fatma – A Life in Ruins
The author is subtle yet the most piercing voice of the series. While in the story, Fatma works as the cleaning lady at the author’s place, the interaction between the two is much more riveting. All the hidden clues and reasons for Fatma’s inappropriate actions could be found in the Author’s words. And why not? As he said, a person couldn’t reflect on his own life. He needs an observer to do the service.
“You know what’s the hardest thing, Fatma? Telling your own story. That’s really hard. It’s easier to talk about others. And as time goes by, you realize that you have no idea who you really are. You can’t look at yourself from the outside. You can’t see who you really are.”The Author
Fatma’s character could be illustrated with Icarus Story Arc. A woman who spent her childhood in tragedy ran to Istanbul with her lover in the hope of finding a cure for her autistic child. But fate leads to the death of her sapling and eventually everything is destroyed. Who is at fault? Fatma is taking revenge to just maintain her sanity.
In Icarus Arc, a life in drain ends in the drain but the character puts up a fight against the world, against destiny to put up a show. Did Fatma do it? Yes, in the most courageous way. A writing agency told the “author” who would be interested in the story of a Cleaning Lady. Well, Fatma was more than a cleaning lady. But the drama lies not in our profession but in our flaws and in our tragedies. Fatma showcased and survived a lot of them. Will anyone be interested in the story of a cleaning lady? Yes, if it’s the story of Fatma.
Each Murder had a Reason
To save herself from drowning in despair, Fatma always had a pursuit to keep herself busy. She hoarded the journey to find her husband but in reality, she was running away from herself. The journey brings back all the horrors from which she was running away. Like the man in the barn who raped her. She never really stood against him but when she saw Ekber doing the same with a teenage girl, Fatma couldn’t control it. She saves herself from her own guilt by killing Ekber. If you are confused about who the shadowed man was who sexually assaulted Fatma and her sister, Emine then it was their father. During a news report, the author tells Fatma about a case where a daughter has lost her father. Fatma just gives a glance at the daughter and concludes that she killed her father. Later, the author is bewildered that Fatma was right. Symbolically, Fatma was relating the story to her own father who assaulted her during childhood.
If you will rationalize, every murderous attempt by Fatma had a valid reason behind it. Why did she kill her neighbor Ismail? It was Ismail who kept giving blank calls to Ismail. She thought it was Zafer who was calling her and thus every time her phone rang, she became excited. However, the phone call was also a prominent reason why she left his son, Oguz hand who ran to the middle of the road and got struck by a passing car. When Fatma learned the truth about blank calls, she couldn’t control herself but kill Ismail whom she thought was in a way guilty of killing her son.
Similar reasoning could be applied to all the murders done by Fatma. But was she guilty? Maybe, but it was the world who pushed her too far. The “push” that dictated all her actions.
‘Fatma’ Season 1 Ending Explained
Fatma frames her husband Zafer for all the murders by handing him Bayram’s gun. She did so to take revenge on Zafer who never accepted their autistic child. He always treated him like an alien. Fatma was never pursuing Zafer out of love but she just wanted to let Zafer know that their son is dead. She thought Zafer would feel remorse but that man turned out to be the real culprit.
Ending Zafer’s chapter, there was one last thing Fatma needed to do. Bring peace to her late son. It was the son of the director of Argah Law Firm (one of the most prestigious firms in Istanbul) who killed Fatma’s son by accident. Initially, Fatma didn’t want to entangle herself in matters of lawyers and justice. But when the insurance company sent her a letter asking to pay for the damage done to the car that hit her son, where he was found guilty, Fatma couldn’t control the storm inside her. And who can, asking charges from the mother who lost her son? This particular moment was the most impactful and so it was for Fatma who burnt down the whole office to take revenge.
Argah Law Firm decides not to press charges and drops the case but there was one more conflict awaiting Fatma. The police suspect her of subway murder and murder of Ekber for which they have blurred pictures too. But the real evidence comes when a saleswoman arrives at the station who saw Fatma with Bayram’s henchman (later found dead in the jungle). Before the detective could connect the dots, Fatma thinks about all the murders she did in her life. She thinks about all those faces. One such face belongs to her own father whom she killed for raping her and her sister.
On the terrace, in the last conversation between Fatma and her sister, a retrospect of events makes Fatma realize that she had been “pushing” people all her life. She pushed her sister Emine during childhood to save her from an early marriage. Emine hated Fatma all her life for that but Fatma never let her know the exact reason. A similar push was noticed when Fatma was walking with her son before the accident. In a reflex, she pushed Oguz to the middle of the road leading to his death. At last, it was Fatma herself who is to blame for her son’s death. She couldn’t swallow the reality. Fatima who was afraid of heights jumps down the terrace to end her life. In the last frame, she is still breathing.
Fatma Season 2 will follow Fatma’s journey to court, trial, and legal complications. Or maybe, she will just run away like she had been doing all her life. What new tragedy and conflicts, the next season will bring to the Tragic Hero would be interesting to grasp.
Superior writing does wonder. A well-written character can bring about a “wow” element in dramatic writing. A well-performed narrative can break the chains of dullness. Fortunately, this Turkish drama series, Fatma, exhibits all of it. The character holds so much within itself that one cannot stop talking. The narrative works non-linearly covering the backstory as well the present of its protagonist. It’s commendable. The perspective of the “author” who acts as the writer’s voice and how he shapes the character while being in the story is extremely unique and Shakespearean.
Burcu Biricik as Fatma is mind blowing. She runs as the one-woman army. She holds the pieces of her flawed character in a way that demonstrates her superior acting performance.
With a bundle of tragedies surrounding its protagonist, Fatma is, without doubt, one of the most impacting narratives that one could experience. Instances like pushing her own child as a reflex of her own childhood, and insurance companies asking for damage to the car from a mother who lost her son, pierces your heart in a way that can’t be expressed in words.
Ozgur Onurme, the writer and director of this Turkish drama is a powerhouse of talent. He literally captivates you and compels you to experience a reality which we keep avoiding. In a very interesting conversation between the author and Fatma, Ozgur Onurme satirically speaks to the audience. Watching a murder case on television, Fatma believes that the murder of a father is a common phenomenon. But the author has a different say.
“These incidents used to be uncommon but we’ve grown accustomed.”The Author
The entire conversation is multi-layered. An uneducated cleaning woman speaks about her reality, the horrors she experienced in childhood and thus it became common for her. A privileged author looks at the scenario from his perspective and believes that these incidents were once uncommon. They have become common because we have accepted the way of reality and have stopped trying to change it. That’s a tragedy. Such a multi-layered perspective could be experienced in almost all the conversation between Fatma and the author and what Ozgur Onurme has tried to symbolize with each word is remarkable.
Fatma is a Turkish Drama series created by Ozgur Onurme. Season 1 with 6 episodes is streaming on Netflix.
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