Eleven years is a long time to be away from home. It’s quite a shock for Cumali to discover that the old rules don’t necessarily apply, that sitting on the old king’s throne doesn’t guarantee the succession. What’s more, the cub who was his kid brother is now behaving like a mountain lion, being rude and disrespectful even to the point of crossing his legs without permission in front of his elders and speaking out of turn.  What is even more galling for Cumali, Yamac is on song. Cumali may still call him “Boy,” but is sharp enough to realise this is no longer just an eighteen-year-old kid but an intelligent, pragmatic and compassionate person who is clearly able to lead. And to offer him a viable challenge for that throne. Being the oldest no longer means deference and respect as of right. You can just love and hug him as your brother, however, and it’s OK to acknowledge that the kid is doing well. You can even let him have his head for a bit, he seems to know what he is doing.

In this episode, the strengths and weaknesses, talents and deficits of the eldest and youngest Kocovali brothers are displayed and compared. Leadership styles are contrasted, negotiation of future plans is done even if some of it is with fists, then hugs. The key thing is that there is repositioning and acknowledgement that for one, intikam is his future purpose. The other wants to stop the hurt and damage to his Cukur people. Yamac wins a victory of sorts as his brother agrees to follow the idea of peacemaking, but only so long as it appears to be working. Picking up his revenge option would still be an easy choice for him and he says so.

And he has met Alico who has come out of hiding to join up with Yamac. Clearly, Alico’s presence and personality are a puzzlement at first for Cumali. So here is the first triumvirate of this new age in Cukur Three Musketeers foreshadowing Emmi’s delight in the characters with whom he so strongly identifies in the Dumas book he is given later.  We already knew that Emmi is one of the survivors from the wedding.

I suspect that Ceto and Mahsun were cheated by whoever they got to train their gunmen for the wedding massacre and probably should be asking for a refund of any fees paid. Looking at the number of survivors putting their heads above the parapet over the first three episodes this season it seems the shooters have missed more than they hit. There has been. of course, serious damage to many of the Kocovali people, much of it mental and emotional. It just strikes me that for all the shiny black guns, flash new signet rings and manpower available it was a decidedly amateur affair. Or will we find out in time that this was all part of Ceto’s greater plan, the purpose of which will come clearer in time?  If this was a strategic ploy rather than incompetence, might it be that these Good Shepherds of the Black Lambs have shot themselves in the feet?

More of the wedding guests are seen: continued survival depends on keeping oneself out of the limelight. Work is non-existent for most, many have no food, others are lonely.  But there is an undercurrent of hope and the old loyalties of Cukur brotherhood continue as normal.

This third instalment of the second season is about future directions as much as it is about the survivors. Yamac is astute enough to recognize that little can be achieved in winning back the territory of Cukur without regaining the trust of the Cukur people. Retaliation by the Kurtularis has been swift and brutal, a person a day taken off the streets every day that the Kocovalis remain at large and the guerrilla warfare continues as Cumali picks off Black Lambs until he reluctantly promises to lay off for a bit. Yamac the strategist gains strength, demonstrating his capacity for cool thinking and planning as he tricks Mahsun with a sham minefield using arms left in a cache by Pasa. Mahsun is mortified and furious. The scene is very funny.

Love and family are prominent again in this episode. The poignancy of Idris acknowledging Sultana’s acute embarrassment as he lovingly attempts to wash her is enhanced by the quiet grace with which Sena arrives and assumes this role and by the tiny movements from Sultan which show her relief. The love between Idris and Sultan is affirmed as he recounts a personal story from their early days. Life has been very hard lately for them but clearly, love still leads them. As it does Sena and Yamac, who, loving each other so very much, will stay together even though there is hard territory ahead and no guarantee of success, or even of survival.

Love shows up in many guises in this episode. Friendship, kindness, the offer of a book carefully chosen because its owner knows it will be perfect for you, a bag of fruit left inconspicuously for a person who must not be humiliated by being seen accepting help. There is positive energy at play as Yamac is determining the path he will take to reclaim Cukur. He owes his people and most of all he owes Efe, the eighteen-year-old boy who gave up his life for Yamac.

Vartolu is in the shadows, heartsick, physically ill and in despair. His “roommate” has lost his family in the ambush of a stranger and has become, in his own words, “crazy” as a result. He can offer Vartolu a choice of instruments by which he might commit suicide but also the assurance that none will work because God will not allow them to do so. Vartolu must do what must be done. What the roommate, dressed in half a black rubbish bag, CAN offer is a crazy game of two-man football during which he demonstrates the power inherent in kicking the goal, more so than the landing of the goal in the net. What must be savoured is the process, the flying rather than the landing. There is hope. Furthermore, Vartolu hears that his father has acknowledged him and spoken of the grandchild to come from his wife Saadet. He IS a Kocovali.

Ceto and Mahsun have set up arrangements for the delivery of raw materials to make drugs for the lucrative Bulgarian trade. The financial arrangements are questionable and they really need the scientific skills of Vartolu to repeat their recent commercial coup. Communication between these two is intense and emotional and I am again left wondering about their backstory. Why do they appear to be so co-dependent? How will they address the need for Vartolu, given that they believe they have assassinated him after the last consignment of drugs when it seemed he was no longer of use to them? Why is Ceto so desperate for more territory, more people, more power and control?

Yamac is looking for Salih. Sena has false information that Saadet has been murdered and has demanded that Yamac help him with intikam for his dead wife and baby.

As the episode draws to a close I find myself tired out by the pace of the action. There are rapid switches between various elements of the story, all done seamlessly and accompanied by that great music which is so much a part of this story. I have noticed how insistent the Kokovali music has been throughout this episode and particularly noticed a new theme during the football match. As usual, the acting is superb. I was glad to see more of Alico this week and am still partial to Cumali who is exceptional in his sardonic, focused and often funny way. I love how he loves his family, particularly his little brother, who is fast outstripping him in power and performance.

The creators of Cukur are very good at dropping in a scene seemingly not important or not connected with the current storyline so that we do a mental head scratch and shoulder shrug. And trust that the reason will come clear in due course. Certainly, I had forgotten the phone request by Sultan to Cumali back in Season 1 where she asked him to be sure to take revenge on Vartolu for Kamrahan’s murder. Even if his father or brothers vetoed this intikam, he was, as her oldest son, to ensure it was carried out. We are taken back to this phone conversation at the time where the meeting between these two brothers is imminent. How this plays out in the next episode will be intriguing and most likely unnerving.

Because so much is happening between the three brothers we are not shown anything of Selim till the very end when he appears to be near his father’s home. How will he feature in the next part of the story?

Being a self-confessed connoisseur of bad boys I am admitting a little bit of enthusiasm for Mahsun. He is an intriguing character and I’m keen to know if he’ll want to “borrow” any sacred sugar anytime soon.

Again, an exhilarating, sometimes funny, sometimes sad episode. There is at the end an aerial shot which shows the brothers, information, walking down the street, A new set of Three Musketeers s gradually superimposed with the Cukur symbol so that it seems they are being protected with this shield of family belonging.

Bring on Episode 37!


Written By – Judith Kelleher


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