Oooo boy! PLOT! I forgot the Pakistani TV serial rhythm of slow-fast-slow-fast. We were slow during the romance section (pleasant, but slow), and now we are all fast-fast-fast.
The romance section before this worked to set up the couples that “should” be together. Hot Asad and Madiha, Yasir and bland woman, Grumpy Daughter and her nice co-worker, and Naureen and her estranged cousin. And now, in a cataclysmic 3 episode stretch, all of them fall apart! And we reset for the second half! If life was easy, it wouldn’t be a TV serial.
Madiha first, because she is our heroine after all. After publicly declaring her love to Hot Asad last episode, she is moving forward with the expectation that they will be married soon. Yasir even grudgingly offers his respect for her bravery and honesty in declaring her love, Grandma is all for the wedding, and Seemi says “I just want her to marry Asad and leave the village” which continues the running theme of “the village is a disaster and no one should live there”. Madiha treads water a little bit in her storyline this time because stuff is happening in the village that she doesn’t even know about. The only progress is in some improvement with her Yasir relationship, he admits he respects her bravery, then twits her a bit for being slow to finish the shirt she is making for him, some nice back and forth. Although his response to her Asad engagement is “good, maybe that will finally get her out of the house”, so it’s still not great.
Yasir and bland woman are moving forward to and I can’t quite understand where we are going. First she helps him when a model doesn’t show up for his photoshoot and models for him, and this is maybe going to be a continuing thing. Is it going to explode into a plot point? Or is it just a reason to keep throwing them together? Second, she comes to see him at the house and is offended by Madiha’s blunt speech and assumes she is a servant, so now she and Madiha hate each other, and maybe that was a sign of her creeping evil? And third, she accidentally spills the beans to Seemi’s husband about Grumpy Daughter’s romance. Which gets Yasir a little angry with her too. And gets me intrigued, why is she talking to Seemi’s husband? Is she a spy of some kind?
Grumpy Daughter and Nice Co-worker get the most movement, and the Best Scene of the Season. Episode 11, about 10 minutes in, SO CUTE!!!! See, Nice co-worker is worried because he is poor (just a struggling doctor now although hoping to go into surgery later), and has no family, so is afraid to bring his proposal to Grumpy Daughter’s family. Being impatient people, Grumpy Daughter’s two Grandma’s decide to solve this by faking a heart attack and being taken to his emergency room, where they run him through a series of questions about his family, if he smokes, if he has a house (“that’s okay, we can get you one”), a car, and so on. Nice Co-Worker is very confused and nice about these two old ladies who seem to be having a medical emergency but also want to know his whole life story, and then Grumpy Daughter comes in and understands what is happening and chases them out. Really, SO CUTE!!!!
Anyway, Grumpy Daughter and Nice Co-Worker suddenly get twists in their story when nice co-worker is seen with an older woman! Who he is angry with for abandoning him! I assumed she was his prostitute mother, because I have been trained by more dramatic TV shows. No, she is a completely respectable aunt, and his parents were a respectable married couple who died, and the only reason she didn’t adopt him is because she and were husband were about to immigrate to another country. Now he is angry at her, and she is penitent. I suppose she could still turn out to be, like, an international jewel thief, but most likely this is as much drama as we will get. The older woman goes to talk to grumpy daughter who is sympathetic, and it looks like this may all work out if she reunites older woman with nice co-worker, and then he can come with a proposal for her with some kind of family with him. But no, Boring Woman accidentally (or is it????) tells Seemi’s husband that an engagement is in the offing and he rushes home to bulldoze over everyone and declare it can never be just because he wasn’t involved. BOOOO! Luckily, Madiha fixes him by bringing him a pot of hot water to inhale, and then holding him down by the neck and lecturing him about how women should be able to marry who they please until he gives in. FEMINISM! Sometimes it gets physical!
Grumpy daughter’s story has a lot of twists in this episode, but I think that is because it is moving towards an early happy ending so we can move on. Her dad agrees to meet the guy (thanks to Madiha’s “persuasion”), and just when he is about to reject him for having no family, the mysterious respectable aunt appears. So that seems pretty set, I am happy for grumpy daughter.
It’s Naureen and her estranged cousin and Hot Asad that are having the DRAMA!!!! So predictable (as in, I predicted it in the first episode), but also TRAGIC! And DUMB! Not “dumb” like dumb plotting, but “dumb” like “people can believably be this dumb about stuff and I hate it”. Naureen is orphaned and her closest relative is Hot Asad, who was raised with her like a brother. Only technically he isn’t a brother, he is her cousin. Hot Asad also inherited everything including the house she is living in, so they are doubly tied together. And of course, “people” are talking. A young man and woman who aren’t blood brother-sister living in the same house? SCANDAL!
At first Hot Asad ignores all this, he goes to meet with the estranged cousin and confirms with him that he loves Naureen and Hot Asad promises to get them married. He moves to an outbuilding just to make nice for the neighbors and Naureen suggests he marry Madiha ASAP so they can all have a happy household. Hot Asad is a smart dude, he is going to control the situation.
Naureen is not a smart dude, because she is a nice innocent young woman who just lost her parents and doesn’t know what is happening in her life. And Madiha’s aunt is EVIL!!! Sort of. She starts coming round and talking at her, telling her that her biological estranged aunt who has suddenly appeared can’t be trusted, that her cousin just wants to marry her for her money, and when none of that seems to work, that Hot Asad is secretly in love with her. Best part of this is when the estranged aunt (who is now living with Madiha and taking care of her) interrupts them and angrily throws out Madiha’s aunt declaring she will protect her niece from all evil and this old woman better not come around any more. It’s some great older lady on older lady verbal fighting. Anyway, it ends with Naureen being even more confused than before, still generally trusting her aunt and so on, but also with little doubts planted about her estranged cousin, and whether or not Hot Asad is secretly in love with her.
Which brings us to Hot Asad! Who is having the hardest time of it because all his caution does not work. Because of Peji’s Trickery!!!! Oh wait, but before I move on to that, more about Evil Aunt.
So Evil Aunt had this whole Evil Plot that ultimately more or less failed. And then Peji’s plot worked and she went home to Nice Uncle all happy, and he was disturbed by her happiness when she had just destroyed the engagements of all these nice people. At which point Evil Aunt finally spoke up for her side of things and said that his family always looked down on her, he put his niece first above his wife, and because she never had children, he treated her like a servant. Peji was going to kill them, she solved the problem while he sat around, how dare he blame her?
The thing is, I can sympathize with her while also still thinking she is wrong. What I got out of this speech is that Evil Aunt had never experienced love. To her, these engagement reshufflings really were no big deal. Madiha marrying Peji is no worse than her life married to the uncle, and Naureen marrying Hot Asad versus her cousin boyfriend is still far better than her life, she gets to marry someone who cares about her. From the other side, if a husband will always see his wife as primarily a servant, why should Asad care if he marries Naureen or Madiha? She feels no guilt about breaking all their hearts because she doesn’t think there are hearts to break. Reason she is still wrong, in my book, is that there is a thing called “empathy” and she should be capable of seeing that her experience and values are not the same as those of other people and it doesn’t give her the right to ruin their lives.
Now, Peji! And the big evil plot! Which relies on other people being dumb and evil, so even Peji isn’t super super bad. His super super bad only happens because of others being kind of bad. Anyway, once Evil Aunt’s plan to trick Hot Asad and Naureen into marriage failes, Peji starts inciting the leaders of the village to bother Hot Asad about living with his not-sister. He keeps denying and denying and trying to figure things out, and then one night he is passing the house and the servant tells him that Naureen is sick. He goes in to check on her, she isn’t sick but her aunt is, she offers to make Hot Asad dinner. And then through the kitchen window sees a scary masked man, screams and runs for Asad, he embraces her to comfort her, and just then Peji storms in with the leading men of the village behind him. NOOOOOOO!!!!!
So while Madiha is happily sitting in the city planning her wedding to Hot Asad once things calm down a little, poor Hot Asad is off in the village realizing he has to marry his “sister” (gross!) and say good-bye to the woman he loves.
What is good but sad about all of this, is that Hot Asad is being dumb too! Naureen doesn’t want to leave her home, which is understandable, but Asad can insist she do it and go to the city, and then she will be protected from the gossip for a few years until dies down. Or he could get her married quickly to the man she prefers and give them money to start in life and make up for the early marriage. Or he could marry Mahida and bring her home ASAP to be a chaperone and let her deal with the gossip and protect them all. There are a lot of options in front of him, none of them perfect instant fixes, but all viable. The reason he is choosing to marry Naureen is because he is new to his position as Chaudry, not ready to test it all the way, and still easily swayed by the quick seemingly simple fix. It makes total sense for the character, he was a college student just a little bit ago and is now feeling his way with his new responsibilities, but it is frustrating because there are other options RIGHT THERE, they just mean you need to slow down and think a bit more.
Okay, things I liked, that the aunt has some kind of motivation but is still in the wrong, that’s a hard line to draw. Mahida’s confrontation with Bland Woman, it’s the first time I have found her more than Bland. The way Hot Asad starts wearing stuff more similar to his uncle now that he is the Chaudry. Nice co-worker and Grumpy Daughter’s cute conversation about if she could be happy in a little house instead of big house, maybe, someday, where someone to invite her to live with him in a little house.
Things I loved, Madiha practically torturing Seemi’s husband until he admits women have the right to marry who they want, especially in contrast to Grumpy Daughter meekly accepting his decision. The way everyone calls Hot Asad “Choti Chaudry”, because that is super cute, and I want to buy a teddy bear and name it that now. Oh, and as previously mentioned, the two Grandma’s being old lady romance spies.