Adapted from the novel Dünyanın Uyanışı by Şengül Boybaş, Atiye (The Gift) does a pretty good job setting the scene for the mystery to follow, with an ominous teaser early on for what’s to come before laying the foundations for the drama to follow.
Episode 1 of Atiye begins with a funeral, where someone has been hurt by Atiye. A blood-stained woman arrives, who we soon learn is Atiye herself, and as she walks purposefully toward the others we presumably cut back in time to see that same woman painting symbols in her apartment. As we soon learn, she has an exhibition coming up and Ozan arrives home and encourages her after giving her a bouquet of roses. Night turns to day and our painter marvels at a black dress while Cansu talks to her about a new dating app that matches friends by the same song. Looking in the mirror, she notices a strange woman across the road staring at her.
Far away, high up in the gorgeous flat plains, archaeologist Erhan is pulled away from an interview outside by one of the workers who claims to have found something. As they head inside the cave, they find a series of symbols on the wall. Those symbols, as it turns out, are the same ones Atiye has been painting.
The art exhibit gets underway and Atiye remains grounded while her parents arrive. Here we learn more about Atiye’s character through some exposition from different characters before she spies the strange woman again, following her outside but finding nothing. The night is a big success; Atiye sells all her paintings and the family head home. A drunk Cansu is passed out in the back while Atiye’s parents implore her to ditch this unconventional lifestyle and do something more befitting for her marriage.
As she arrives home, Atiye sees news breaking about the symbols and realizes they’re the same ones she’s been painting. Determined to find out just what’s going on, she drives up to the cave at Gobekli Tepe, stopping midway to pick up a strange girl with a star symbol on her forehead. Inside the cave, Erhan travels deeper and finds the rock polished. His associate Celal pauses, seemingly hearing someone singing a song. Later on, they find a passage sealed up by beeswax but for now, they hold off cracking it open.
Outside, Erhan and Atiye finally talk and she tells him about the symbols she’s been painting. She goes on to tell him she feels a connection to them but he thinks little of it and leaves. As he does, Ozan phones Atiye and expresses his disappointment that she left without telling him. The strange farmer girl knocks on her door soon after and requests Atiye’s assistance heading up to the dig-site in the middle of the night. Steering her away from the others, she follows the girl into the caves until Erhan finds her and pulls her out. She tells them about the girl with a star symbol on her forehead but they claim not to have seen her, escorting her away and threatening to phone the police if she returns.
The next day, Ozan asks Atiye to marry her and she accepts. However, a knock at the door interrupts their happy moment. Erhan gives her back a card she dropped in the cave and reveals that they’ve found the strange girl. As a drawing on the wall surrounded by purple crystals.
With some gorgeous sweeping shots of the landscape and an interesting mystery at the heart of this one, Atiye gets off to a pretty good start here. It effectively works well to set the foundations for what’s to follow and alongside a decent soundtrack, certainly allows for some promising plot developments to follow. What do the symbols means? Who is the strange girl Atiye picked up? And what is Erhan’s role in all of this? The questions continue to flow into the next episode here and if Atiye plays it right, we could have a compelling mystery on our hands.