The Gift season 2 review – it’s a whole new world for Netflix’s symbolic family mystery

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: September 10, 2020 (Last updated: February 11, 2024)
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The Gift season 2 is the latest international original to return after barely ending in the first place, but it earns the fanfare with a compelling switch up of the status quo and more of a focus on mystery rather than family drama.

This review of The Gift season 2 is spoiler-free. You can check out our thoughts on the first season by clicking these words.

Netflix’s The Gift, based on an obscure — in the West, at least — Turkish novel, was a show of ups and downs. When it was up, it was an engaging and mysterious archeological adventure that combined symbols and secrets to genre-splicing effect; when it was down, it was a tedious family drama that really tested the limits of how long an eight-episode season could feel. Nevertheless, the show established its fans, and in true Netflix Original style is didn’t really end; with a greenlit second season, it was content to cut things off after a pretty major last-minute development.

Well, The Gift season 2 is here now; it’s another eight episodes, and it’s immediately much more engaging, in part because it’s building on what we already know about this world and these characters, and also because its hook is that Atiye (Beren Saat) has been thrust into a different reality populated by slightly warped versions of the existing characters. For all intents and purposes, she has never existed here. Her father Mustafa (Civan Canova) is still a cop but never married or had children; he becomes something of a sympathetic ally to Atiye as she begins to piece together this new normal, which includes getting a job as a helper to Cansu (Melisa Senolsun), now calling herself Elif, who is in a secret relationship with Ozan (Metin Akdülger) despite being his adopted sister. Yikes.

The only person who actually remembers Atiye is her mother, Serap (Basak Köklükaya), who has been institutionalized for constantly banging on about hidden temples and prophecies and suchlike. But the ancient temple she speaks of is missing, being hunted for by a newly clean-shaven Erhan (Mehmet Günsür) and a typically sinister Serdar (Tim Seyfi), who’re running a mining operation in the area. Serdar is clearly up to no good from the off and has some leverage over Erhan’s ginger fiance Hannah (Hazal Türesan). It’s all very mysterious.

This is to the show’s credit, though, and The Gift season 2 does well to leverage this status quo in order to build a fresh mystery and create new dynamics. Atiye remains at the core, but the way everyone else has been repositioned around her gives this sophomore outing a fresh feel, and it’s immediately pacier and less soapy in its execution, leaning much more into a compelling mystery than a relationship drama. It’s still well-shot, too, full of picturesque landscapes that make the setting and show feel richer. It’s always easy to scoff at international Netflix series’ making a triumphant return after basically refusing to end in the first place, but The Gift at least justifies its return.

Netflix, TV Reviews
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