Cigarette Girl – Season 1 Episode 2 “Rose” Recap & Review


Episode 2 of Cigarette Girl begins with Jeng Yah (Dasiyah) dreaming about the day of her wedding. She wakes up abruptly from her sleep. Her wedding is six months later and she is already growing anxious about losing her freedom and all that she has fought for. 

The scene is from Kota M (My City) in 1964. Jeng Yah’s family and the industry workers get ready to click a photo. (This is the same photo that Raja gave to Lebas in 2001).

Back to 2001 for now though, and we see that a young woman named Arum is the new donor at the cigarette museum. She asks Lebas why he has a picture of her mother. When Lebas asks who her mother is, she rebuffs him by saying that she won’t reveal any details since he is a stranger.

She receives an urgent pager from a hospital where she works as a doctor, so she hands her business card to Lebas and asks him to contact her later.

Arum’s mother is revealed to be Rukayah, Jeng Yah’s younger sister. Lebas asks if she knows Jeng Yah and she denies it. He asks where the location in the photo is, but she is in a hurry to leave for the hospital. He asks her to wait and read Jeng Yah’s letter, hoping it will give some clues.

Raja to Jeng Yah’s rescue!

Jeng Yah’s voiceover begins and we are transported to 1964 again. She is tending to her chores in the factory when she sees Mr Dibjo leave the mixing room. She sneaks in and creates her own concoction for the cigarettes. Raja enters the room to put away some equipment given by Mr Dibjo. In doing so, Jeng Yah accidentally breaks a glass bottle.

Raja hides her and answers the housemaid, Marem. He engages in small talk with her and praises the Klepon (a traditional Indonesian sweet dish) she makes. A few moments later, we see that Marem has made a fresh batch of Klepon for Raja and everyone. 

The first batch of fresh tobacco leaves from Mr Mego (Raja’s friend from the north) arrive. Jeng Yah is impressed with the quality but Mr Idroes is not happy with the fresh leaves. Jeng Yah reminds him that they agreed to buy fresh leaves for good quality tobacco. He is also not sure of Mr Mego’s products. 

Raja assures Mr Idroes that he has worked at Mr Mego’s original Srintil tobacco field and that Mr Mego trusts Raja. Mr Mego has sent the current batch without any down payment as well. Mr Mego only agreed after hearing about Medreka Kretek’s reputation. Raja promised to buy more later if the price is good. Raja also reassures Mr Idroes that he will take care of drying the leaves in the empty storeroom. 

Mr Idroes is happy with Raja’s progress and dedication. At this point, it is revealed that Jeng Yah was the one who asked her father to help Raja after seeing him at the market. Mr Idroes looks forward to making Raja the foreman of the factory after Jeng Yah’s is married.

The mystery of Jeng Yah continues

Back in 2001, Lebas asks Arum if she is sure her mother is not named Jeng Yah. Arum says that Jeng was a title given to Indonesian noblewomen in the ‘50s and ‘60s. She also said that she has never called her mother to address anyone as ‘Jeng’. She suggests Lebas to look outside Jakarta. She also mentions that she figured Lebas was from Jakarta from the moment she saw him. 

She apologises for her bluntness but Lebas doesn’t mind. He said that he started the conversation rather awkwardly and he does not sometimes know where to start when he is looking for something. The two share a light moment. Lebas asks if she knows anything that can help him find Jeng Yah.

Arum says she does not know much about her mother’s side of the family because she never told her. But she is sure that her mother was never interested in Arum’s grandfather’s cigarette business. Lebas asks her if she can guess who Jeng Yah could be from the photo. Arum says that it could only be her aunt.

Lebas asks if he can meet Arum’s aunt, but she claims not to even know where her aunt is. Whenever Arum’s mother was asked about her sister (Arum’s aunt) she would end crying. Arum leads Lebas to the room where all the donations are kept. She remembers seeing a letter with similar handwriting as the one with Lebas. Lebas received a message that his mother went silent after Tegar mentioned Jeng Yah and that he (Lebas) should talk to her.

Arum spills over a box containing various papers, clipping and other material. One of the materials is a Medreka Kretek poster. The two take hold of one last item when Mrs Sri enters the room. She asks if she can take a picture with Lebas because a visit by the son of Kretek DR’s wonder is not usual.

A new path in Jeng Yah’s life

Jeng Yah sneaks out of her room towards the factory but Raja sees her. She begins to make notes in her room as Raja sneaks to give her the key to the mixer’s room. She offers him a custom-made cigarette as a token of thanks.

Jeng Yah begins to learn new dishes to cook as a part of her wedding preparations. Mr Idroes shows Raja his new seat at the factory, but it was Jeng Yah’s before. Jeng Yah is visibly displeased to see her position taken away.

Arum is not happy to know Lebas’ true identity. Lebas justifies his search for Jeng Yah but Arum does not look fully convinced. He offers her compensation and she is annoyed. She doesn’t like his approach and asks for an explanation. Lebas says that people expect him to give money or offer some help upon learning his true identity. 

Arum launches into a rant that she despises cigarettes for they are the root cause of various diseases. She is only helping Lebas so that she can also find out what happened to her aunt and her family. She reprimands him a little more, but Lebas says that he found a letter with similar handwriting and they read it together.

Jeng Yah’s voice takes over the narration. The proposal ceremony for her wedding is close and her mother is training her to do the household tasks. Purwanti arrives with a few roses from her garden to congratulate Jeng Yah on her impending nuptials. Purwanti’s father, Mr Djagad, insists on taking the roses since Jeng Yah’s mother likes them too. There is an awkward beat as her mother leaves the room.

Rukayah tells Purwanti to go ahead to the factory. She tells her that Mr Raja is there too. Jeng Yah enquires about that and Rukayah says that Purwanti likes Raja. She says that she knows from ‘a woman’s intuition’ that Raja likes Purwanti too.

Jeng Yah’s mother comes back with the roses in a vase. She asks Jeng Yah to not mention the roses to her father. Jeng Yah’s mother and Mr Djagad had a relationship a long time ago. Her mother turns that into a reminder for Jeng Yah that her parents have more experience than she does. She tells Jeng Yah that the marriage is good for her as well as the family business.

Gadis Kretek is born

Jeng Yah takes the roses to the mixer room. She sees Raja talking to some men. She uses the roses to make a new cigarette flavour. As she exits from the mixer room with her new distilled concoction, Mr Dibjo, Raja and her father see her. Mr Dibjo reprimands her for entering the room. He warns that if Medreka cigarettes become acidic because Jeng Yah touched the materials then he is not to blame.

Raja pitches in and says that he will have the room cleaned by the next day. Mr Dibjo says that the room should be void of any woman odor. He also asks Raja to clean the bottle Jeng Yah is holding. Jeng Yah is miffed after listening to that exchange and feels insulted, eventually leaving. Raja follows her to the shed to explain his earlier actions.

She makes accusations at him of winning her father’s trust, removing her from the factory and dealing with shady men. He gives an explanation for each, saying that the men he met earlier were his source of extra funding. He would never betray Mr Idroes or his family for he is indebted to them for saving his life. He says that he needs to prove himself. Jeng Yah asks him who he needs to prove himself to. Raja says he needs to prove himself to Jeng Yah.

Raja goes on to make a full blown love confession to Jeng Yah. She does not believe that he would feel that for her. He says that her peculiarities are what make him like her. It’s too late for all that; she is already engaged to be married and thrown away her lifelong efforts.

Love blooms in M City

We see a short montage of the soft and tender moments between the two. As Jeng Yah heads back, it starts to rain. She meets a man there who gets out of his car, gives her an umbrella and also his coat. He introduces himself as Seno Aji. Raja sees them head in, but Jeng Yah is uncertain about what she exactly wants and if she can make the right decisions.

Lebas finishes reading the letter, and Arum asks if Jeng Yah mentions Seno anywhere else. He says there are most mentions of Raja or a person P and person R. Arum admits that Seno is her father’s name. She finds it strange that her aunt and father were engaged all those years ago and maybe that’s why her mother does not like to talk about her aunt.

Lebas makes light of the situation, controls himself. Arum continues. She tells that her father passed away before she was born. Her mother used to tell her that her father was a brave soldier and someone who was always there for his family.

Arum begins to find more letters to know more about her father. She takes some of the files with her to Lebas’ car and the two drive away. Jeng Yah’s story continues as Arum reads another letter.

The day of Jeng Yah and Seno’s engagement approaches. The families meet. The families leave the betrothed to spend some time alone. Jeng Yah thinks that she did the right thing by rejecting Raja but she feels something is amiss. She spots the flavour concoction bottle at his table at the factory. 

Fathers of the bride and the groom are discussing business as Seno and Jeng Yah join them. She gives her two cents about growing the business. Mr Idroes speaks about Jeng Yah’s work at the factory. Seno pitches in that she won’t have to work ever again and that he will always protect her. Jeng Yah is not so happy to hear this for it would mean sacrificing her freedom and desire for independence. The next day, Seno and Jeng Yah get engaged.

In the present, Lebas and Arum stop by a roadside stall. Arum knows the shop owner, Mr Joko. The two are positive that Jeng Yah is Arum’s aunt, Dasiyah. 

Seno soon leaves and gives Jeng Yah a wooden box with a bottle of perfume in it. He kisses her hand and bids her a temporary goodbye. All the while Jeng Yah’s face is devoid of any emotion.

It is almost nightfall in 2001 Jakarta where we close out this episode. Arum and Lebas read through all the letters but the story is still incomplete. Arum pulls at the box and it is revealed to be a false bottom containing more letters. They begin reading but the handwriting is different. The letters are written by Raja.

Raja speaks about a strong desire. He knocks on Jeng Yah’s door amid the heavy shower. He knows that neither Seno nor her can bring her the happiness she wishes. He confesses his love to her, and the two spend an intimate night together.

The Episode Review

We knew from the beginning that Jeng Yah and Raja’s path are more intertwined than what they seemed initially. Episode 2 of Cigarette Girl was quite an indulgent one!

It took us closer to the impending tragedy that will soon befall Jeng Yah, Raja and those around them. Jeng Yah, poor girl. Despite her efforts to make a place for herself, she had to give in to the norms of marriage and being a housewife.

The revelation that Seno is Arum’s father and not her uncle raises quite a few questions! How and why did Seno marry Rukayah then? One question that is still not answered is what happened to Jeng Yah? What caused the separation of Jeng Yah and Raja?

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