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Series / Magnificent Century: Kösem

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From top to bottom clockwise: Murad, Kosem, Farya, Bayezid, Ayse, Gevherhan, Silhadar, Atike

Muhteşem Yüzyıl Kösem is a Turkish historical drama and a follow-up to the international hit Muhteşem Yüzyıl (Magnificent Century). Premiering in 2015 on Star TV, it details the life of Mahpeyker Kösem Sultan, one of the most powerful women in the history of the Ottoman Empire, charting her evolution from a concubine of Ahmed I to a formidable valide sultan.

The series begins in 1603; Ahmed is proclaimed Sultan following the death of his father, Mehmed III, but there is little jubilation as he takes the throne. At only thirteen years of age, Ahmed is a inexperienced leader and overwhelmed by his newfound position of power. Moreover, the fate of the dynasty lies in his hands: his only successor is his half-brother Mustafa, only a young boy, who has been unexpectedly spared from the tradition of fratricide. The viziers dread a Succession Crisis should the worst come to pass, while rival players await an opportunity to strike.

Unbeknownst to Ahmed, a coronation gift courtesy of his grandmother Safiye has arrived in Istanbul's harbor: Anastasia. A carefree merchant's daughter from island of Kefalonia, Anastasia was the subject of a local painter whose work fatefully found its way into the imperial treasury, where her radiance captivated the future sultan. Needless to say, the girl in the painting is none too pleased to be forcibly abducted as a surprise "gift" for a foreign monarch. Far from home in a strange land, she finds nothing but misery in the palace... save for the unexpected friendship she develops with none other than the young sultan himself.

The girl Anastasia grows into the woman Kösem Sultan, who would bear witness to momentous historical events and the reigns of six sultans. The first season, starring Beren Saat in the titular role, details Kösem's life as Ahmed's consort, as she rises to prominence and learns to navigate the Ottoman court. Season two features Nurgül Yeşilçay as an older Kösem, now valide sultan, and begins in 1632, as her son Murad breaks free from her regency to rule in his own right.

Despite initial buzz for the series and an impressive cast lineup, Magnificent Century: Kösem ultimately failed to achieve the popularity of its predecessor. Faced with low ratings and numerous shake-ups behind the scenes, the saga was forced to end after only two seasons.

Magnificent Century: Kösem features examples of:

  • Abduction Is Love: Played with. While Ahmed doesn't order her abduction, he fails to understand why Anastasia is angered by her predicament. It's only as he begins to know Anastasia and truly view her as a person rather than an object (or "gift") that she comes to like him in the same way.
  • Aborted Arc: Several.
    • The Giray brothers — Crimean Princes — are introduced in the first episode as possible inheritors of the Ottoman throne should Ahmed and Mustafa die without heirs. The two brothers appears eager accelerate that process, particularly Şahin. However, Şahin is imprisoned for scheming halfway through the first season and never mentioned again, while Mehmed is shoehorned into whichever role the narrative needs him to play. He too eventually disappears without a trace.
    • The re-introduction of Kösem's sister appears to foreshadow a family reunion and possible conflict. However, she is killed on Kösem's orders in an "accident" two episodes later, before either learns the true identity of the other.
    • Meleki Hatun was one of Kösem's most important retainers historically. Despite being granted a backstory in the first season, she is Demoted to Extra in the second, exiled to the old palace, and never seen again.
    • The political implications behind Murad's marriage to a foreign princess are forgotten almost as soon as the wedding actually happens.
  • Action Girl:
    • Gölge Hatun
    • Farya Bethlen
  • Animal Motifs: Particullary in the first episode, "The Lion, The Wolf and The Lamb". Ahmed, like every sultan, is associated with lions (his mother calls him a lion) and Giray brothers give him a caged lion as a gift which Şahin then frees in an attempt to assassinate him, the wolf probably refers to Şahin Giray, and lastly Anastasia holds a lamb on her portrait. Somewhat confusingly, Anastasia is also associated with an attacking lion trough editing in one of her moments of defiance.
  • Artistic License – History: Hoo, boy, where to start. See its own article.
  • Artistic License – Medicine
    • When Ahmed starts displaying the symptoms of smallpox, it's treated as him being in grave danger. This isn't incorrect - smallpox used to be a very dangerous illness that has claimed many lives. But the writers trying to up the stakes somewhat overdo it when they have a doctor proclaim something in the vein of "I've never seen anyone survive smallpox." He must be a horrible doctor, since as bad as smallpox were, they definitely weren't 100% fatal. In fact, one of the things they were known for were the distinct scars they left on many survivors.
    • Halime apparently invented antipsychotics.
  • Asshole Victim: Prince Mehmed. His tragic death is somewhat mitigated by the fact that his character so far consisted mostly of him being a Jerkass towards his older brother and acting like a petulant child out of jealousy.
  • Meaningful Echo: Kosem says the same 'a woman is many things throughout her life' speech as Safiye said, showing how she is becoming more like Safiye.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: When Safiye scolds Fahriye for her involvement in Şahin Giray's plot to kill both princes, Fahriye retorts that she has obeyed her mother for all her life and the only thing she got for that were several unhappy marriages with old pashas. Now, she finally stopped doing what Safiye says and did what her mother would actually do in her place - what benefits her the most.
  • Casting Gag: This is the third time Vildan Atasever(Humasah Sultan) plays the daughter of Hulya Avsar(Safiye Sultan).
  • A Child Shall Lead Them: Ahmed ascends the throne when he is thirteen, which stokes fears of a Succession Crisis.
    • At only eleven years of age, his son Murad is even younger when he is proclaimed Sultan. Osman II, crowned at fourteen, also counts.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Iskender. It's pretty much a Foregone Conclusion, really, despite him helping her escape and saving her life several times.
  • Driven to Suicide: Quite a few characters.
    • Safiye commits suicide after being exiled to the old palace.
    • Ayse kills herself with her two children after being told by Farya that she’ll be executed.
    • Gevherhan kills herself at Atike’s wedding.
    • Elanur hatun, Kasim’s secret lover, kills herself.
  • Garden of Love:
    • Anastasia and Ahmed first meet when he finds her climbing the walls of a private garden terrace, attempting to escape; she loses her footing and falls on top of him. When he is close to death, he asks to be brought to place they met, where he dies in her arms.
    • Gevherhan and Silahtar affirm their love for one another in the imperial garden, the setting for many key moments in the development of their relationship.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: Sultan Mustafa. Possibly. Maybe.
  • Gorgeous Greek: Anastasia / Kosem is of Greek origin and managed to win the Sultan's heart with her charm.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Anastasia/Kosem in her youth was appaled by Safiye's extreme methods for the sake of "saving the dynasty and the empire". However, Kosem becomes as brutal as her, as she decides to execute her son Ibrahim.
  • Hidden Backup Prince: Iskender was saved from Mehmet III’s mass fratricide and raised as a commoner.
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy:
    • Rasha/Mahfiruz twice - when she is captured by the celali, and when she gets poisoned by Halime in the early stages of her pregnancy.
    • Subverted by Kösem, since Handan didn't know she was pregnant when she tried to kill her.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Safiye really didn't have to go through with the murder of Kösem's father, and it would've been in fact more advantageous for her to do keep her end of the bargain, but she didn't and that was the beginning of the end for her.
    • Halime betraying Kösem as soon as she helps her get Mustafa on the throne wasn't as unreasonable, but still pretty bad.
    • Dilruba's gloating about killing Kösem's sons, both when planning it and while almost getting away with it, is enough for you to Love to Hate her.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Fahriye is reluctantly roped by Şahin Giray into the plot to poison both of her young nephews (the younger of whom, Mustafa, can't be older than 10 years), when he tells her it's the only way to save his brother, whom Fahriye is in love with.
  • Love Triangle: Par for the course in turkish drama.
    • Ahmed-Kösem-Iskender. Kösem, unsurprisingly, chooses Ahmed. Iskender continues to feels unrequited love for her for years.
    • Derviş-Fahriye-Mehmed Giray. Well, sort of - Fahriye and Derviş are in an arranged marriage, but neither of them really likes each other despite Handan's suspicion that Fahriye would be able to turn Derviş to the side of her mother. Then Fahriye's crimes are revealed and her only salvation is taking refuge in the Aziz Hüdayi's shelter, where the formerly proud princess has to live amongst the poorest members of society. Her humiliation is so intense she even stops loving Mehmed and becomes extremely bitter. Mehmed also disavows both her and his brother, and decides to cooperate with the law. He lures her outside of the shelter by standing there and refusing to leave if she won't send him away; Fahriye, thinking he still loves her, is pissed and goes trough the shelter gates... Where she is immediate seized by the guards. Ahmed seems to have forgiven her and sends her to her husband; Fahriye talks to her husband about wanting a new start with him... And then she dies. Derviş poisoned her on sultan's orders.
    • Osman-Meleksima-Mehmed. Meleksima becomes Osman's concubine despite Osman's hesitation, since he knows Mehmed wants her too. They end up having a son and Mehmed doesn't even so much as mention her again.
    • Meleksima-Osman-Akile. Osman enters an Arranged Marriage with Akile, but he seems to take a liking to her, much to Meleksima's chagrin. It goes nowhere, with the storyline hitting an abrupt halt when Osman dies soon after the birth of his children with Akile.
    • Farya-Murad-Ayşe. Farya wins by a landslide, as Murad never shows much affection towards Ayşe, while Farya is, for better or worse, the love of his life. Ayşe ends up committing suicide.
  • Made a Slave: Anastasia. And most other girls probably, though at least Mahfiruz doesn't remember the life before, and neither does Yasemin.
  • Mama Bear: Most sultanas, actually.
    • Safiye protects Fahriye even after she learns her daughter tried to kill sultan and his little brother. And when Iskender's identity is revealed...
    • Handan urges her son to execute his own little brother because of her fear for his safety and even orders Mustafa's murder against Ahmed's wishes. She isn't even wrong - Safiye does indeed plot to overthrow Ahmed once she falls out of favor.
    • Halime's sole motivation is to protect her own son. Though she somewhat zig-zags this trope. She is clearly willing to sacrifice her daughter for Mustafa.
    • Gulbahar Hatun schemes to put her son Bayezid on the throne.
  • Pocket Protector: Kösem gets shot by one of the rioters in the beginning of episode 7, but her life is saved by a tiny amulet. Outside of an implied religious miracle, there is no logical explanation for this, so it comes off as pretty goofy.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Bülbül Aga. For someone who displays an Undying Loyalty towards Safiye, one of the most ruthless characters in the series, he is an awfully nice person, and clearly likes Kösem even after she and Safiye have a falling out.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Ahmed's reaction when he realizes years of isolation might have damaged Mustafa's mind.
  • Never Suicide: Farya is killed by Kösem and her death framed as suicide.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Almost all the sultanas have an annoying mother or daughter-in-law.
    • Safiye to Handan. Safiye supports Mustafa as the ruler, but Handan is Ahmet’s mother.
    • Halime, Handan, Dilruba and Safiye for Kosem. Halime, Dilruba and Safiye support Mustafa as sultan instead of Kosem’s sons, and try to kill her and her sons several times. Kösem and Handan got on better, but were still rivals.
    • Ayse and Farya were both this for Kösem, as both were rivals, to the point that Kösem killed Farya and framed it as suicide.
    • Murad IV killed his brother-in-law Topal.
    • Turhan Sultan, Kösem’s daughter-in-law, causes her downfall.
  • Offing the Offspring:
    • Mehmet III killed his eldest son Mahmud and planned to kill Ahmet, which never happened as Dervis poisoned Mehmet to protect Ahmet.
    • Kösem kills her youngest son Ibrahim.
  • Property of Love: Anastasia says something to that effect when she changes her mind in the middle of the escape attempt from the palace. Considering she is returning to literal slavery, this is strangely apt.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Handan and Halime. Handan, rash and emotional, is red, while Halime, calm and calculating, represents blue.
  • The Rival:
    • Mahfiruz to Kösem, as both were Ahmet’s concubines. Mahfiruz is killed when Osman was very young.
    • Ayse to Farya, as both were Murad’s concubines. Farya tells Ayse she’ll be killed, leading to her suicide.
    • Gevherhan and Atike, as both like Silhadar. Atike ends up marrying Silhadar, who only loved Gevherhan back, and Gevherhan kills herself at their wedding.
    • Halime and Handan, mostly over their children.
    • Kösem and Gulbahar, as Gulbahar wants Bayezid to succeed.
    • Turhan and Kösem, to the point Turhan kills her.
  • Royal "We": Safiye, having manners of a queen, uses this.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Mehmed and Osman. Well, at least that's what it was probably supposed to be - in truth, it consists mostly of Mehmed being jealous of Osman, up untill they are tricked by Safiye and Osman has Mehmed executed.
    • Ahmet and Mustafa is a downplayed example, at least compared to the others in this series, because though Ahmet won’t execute him, he keeps Mustafa locked up from childhood.
    • Murad kills his brothers Kasim and Bayezid, Bayezid because he was dragged into his mother’s plot, and Kasim to secure his throne.
    • Kasim and Bayezid themselves were rivals.
  • Smug Snake:
    • Şahin Giray
    • Mahfiruz, mother of Ahmed's first son.
    • Ayşe Sultan, Murad's previous lover, especially towards Farya.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Or at the very least, stay out of the battlefield. Murad is not very understanding towards Farya's desire to lead an army and become the ruler of Transylvania. This is despite her proving herself more than a capable fighter.
  • Sympathetic Murderer:
    • Dervis poisoned Mehmet III, but only because he planned to kill Ahmet.
    • Handan when she attempts to kill Mustafa, because he is a real threat to Ahmet, because her powerful rivals Safiye and Halime want him on the throne.
    • Fahriye may have attempted to poison Ahmet, but she was roped by Sahin and Mehmet Giray, and regrets her actions.
    • Generally, any sympathetic person with power, because you need to kill people in a position of power.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink:
    • Halime poisons Mahfiruz while she is pregnant, since the birth of her son could mean Mustafa is going to be executed, as he is no longer needed as Ahmed's heir.
      • Ironically, this how Kösem kills Halime herself.
    • Handan tries to kill Zülfikar this way to keep secrets from getting out. Hümaşah saves him, though.
    • A pretty gross version of this occurs when Fahriye infects her two nephews with the dust made out of smallpox victims' scar tissue. Ew.
  • Undying Loyalty: Most characters that aren't part of a dynasty feel this way towards someone who is.
    • Bübül towards Safiye. He stays with her until the bitter end.
    • Eycan and later Cennet towards Kösem.
    • Zülfikar to Ahmed himself, however, after his death he no longer feels obliged to serve anyone and turns against his sons in favor of Iskender.
    • Menekşe apparently to Halime.
    • Derviş to Handan and Ahmed, which makes sense when it is revealed he has been in love with her for years. Deconstructed, since he also apparently committed regicide for them, which why Ahmed is forced to punish him for treason despite knowing better than anyone else how loyal Derviş is.
  • Unholy Matrimony: Both Davud and Dilruba are quite despicable, but it's undeniable they are one of the strongest couples in the series.
  • Unwanted Harem: Silahdar's Chick Magnet status causes him much grief when he falls in love with Gevherhan, but has to deal with both Esther Handali and Gevherhan's own sister Atike vying for his affections. Esther at least has the excuse of actually having had an affair with him before he fell in love and started ghosting her, while Atike mostly deluded herself into thinking Silahdar loves her and he only rejects her out of fear he would them both in trouble.
  • Wedding Smashers: Gevherhan stabs herself at Atike and Silhadar’s wedding. It makes more sense when you know Gevherhan loves Silhadar and Murad has Atike marry Silhadar instead to satisfy her delusion that Silhadar loves her.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • Fahriye
    • Halime and especially Dilruba, who seems downright triumphant as she sends Kösem's children to their deaths.

Alternative Title(s): Muhtesem Yuzyil Kosem