We all bring our own understandings, belief systems and life experiences to a work of such rare and memorable stature as CUKUR is becoming. That is one of the true pleasures of reflecting on and writing about my responses to the lives of the people who inhabit this fascinating work of art.  I find I need three or four days each week to reflect and sort through my emotional responses before I can gather my notes into any sort of coherence. “Cukur” affects me most in my heart, I have found.

Another pleasure is being startled again and again at the quality of individual performances as I learn more detail about “new” people in Cukur and grow in understanding of those I met in the first season. I wonder how it feels to be part of this amazing team creating “Cukur”. To be an actor in the company of so many outrageously talented peers must be inspirational. Certainly, I can see all of them growing in individual skill, passion and teamwork with each new chapter of the story. I hope the off-camera team are truly aware of the magic they are creating

Pecking order and interpersonal issues among the brothers Kocovali are to the fore in the early part of this episode. Rather than a fight between themselves as I suspect most of us expected when Vartolu and Cumali met up, we find them in a wrecker’s yard dealing with a horde of disgruntled gunmen who want Cumali rather more than Vartolu. Sustained gunfire, bullets used up, only one spare gun, two brothers sitting on a broken running board seemingly resigned to being shot. Cut away from the wrecker’s yard, we’ll find out the outcome later. It dawns on me that they seemed to enjoy themselves. Is it possible that these two could have been friends in a different lifetime?

Yamac grows in stature within the trio of brothers. Selim is also around but plays no part in this negotiation of position and role. We will witness his tragedy later in the episode. The little brother is developing into the acknowledged strategist, the thinker and planner of the group which increasingly includes Kemal as an ally and, I think, foster brother. Yamac is now the decision maker and once the decision is made to take Cukur back, he allows Vartolu to take the lead in creating a truce with Cumali. Vartolu, now more often addressed as the more familiar Salih, has always been a smart operator and the group needs him to function at full stretch. He has been down, depressed and dirty for too long. For the former fashion plate with the black hair carefully coiffed with a product that must have been hard to bear. Yamac is onto it. A shower, clean clothes, food and asleep are mandatory and then Salih will be good to go.


No such urging is necessary for Cumali. He’s raring to go. There are some very funny and entertaining scenes in which he and Vartolu “chest up” to one another, rather like boxers before a bout. They are taking the measure of one another in risk-taking, crazy driving and mouthing off, finding a way to be together in the fight back for Cukur. I think they do a very successful job of setting up understandings and boundaries. However, Cumali tests his limits by holding a gun to the head of a sleeping Vartolu to see how it would feel to shoot him. In the end, they head off to work together. Vartolu has always had a wicked sense of humour. He has the measure of his new found brother’s  bluster as he asks

“Is threatening your hobby, then? I’m gonna do this. I’m gonna do that…”

Amongst a number of outstanding acting performances this time, three stand out. The first of these is Kubilay Aka as Celasun. The scene where Aksin is sleeping is heartbreaking as the young husband lovingly kisses the scar on her cheek then covers it with a strand of her hair. His tenderness and pain are so evident before he must show his new public face

In the absence of the Kocovalis, Celasun has assumed leadership in the community of those who have remained and are rebuilding some sort of life, albeit under the scrutiny and oppression of the Black Lambs and their leaders. When he calls a public meeting requested by Yamac who wants support to take Cukur back he is forthright in his refusal to be involved at that stage. He is focused on taking care of what little family he has left.

Karaca and her mother return to Cukur. I am nervous about that, knowing Karaca’s agenda, but Celasun is given food for thought when he hears their motivation about returning.  They have come back because there is no place like Cukur, they say. Out there, people don’t care, don’t support you, don’t help. Little do they know about how things are now. Will Celasun eventually be forced into a position where he will have to look at the reality of life now in his district and join Yamac in taking Cukur back? Celasun again features in offering a heartfelt “Thank you” to Medet at the end of what I think is the most remarkable scene in this episode.

Medet, played by Mustafa Kirantepe, is my stand out star this time.  His scene with the traumatized Aksin is heart-wrenching and stunningly beautiful. They cook a meal together, and Aksin is able to voice some of her grief, not just from recent times but back to the loss of her father. When she was eight years old. We learn of Medet’s parallel sense of loss and can only begin to understand what he has been through. It is only when the camera cuts away and Celasun arrives that we find the meal and the cooking are imaginary and that Medet has understood totally what Aksin has needed from him. Celasun’s simple acknowledgement says it all. Other scenes show Medet, the wounded friend and “brother” who voices his pain at Vartolu’s abandonment and shows his relief when Yamac explains what really happened. He demonstrates his loyalty and love for his great friend when he again saves his life and that of Cumali in the wreckers’ yard.

Meanwhile, things are moving with the Black Lambs. More details about Ceto and Mahsun emerge and by the end of the episode, I am wondering which pathological personality disorder binds these two together in such a codependent and poisonous fashion. Would a psychiatrist call this “personality fusion” and worry about the long-term effects on any large group to which they might belong. And what would be the prognosis for all concerned?

Ceto is a serious weirdo with some peculiar habits like sleeping “on a wood” as Vartolu informs Cumali, eating paper, playing with Lego and handheld games. He’s also a vicious killer and has kidnapped Saadet as collateral to force the expert Vartolu to manufacture drugs. Ceto loves money and needs to be reminded by Mahsun that the real value of the bundles of notes which he fondles is in what they can buy, not how they look or feel. Of course Ceto knows that already: he likes to stage little shows and demonstrations to demonstrate his ruthlessness and power to do anything. Except for risk Mahsun who is Ceto’s point of vulnerability. Nothing must happen to threaten Mahsun’s safety or their bond which seems more and more mysterious and toxic as we build knowledge of them as individuals.

Mahsun is proving to be a real charmer who can turn from a vicious thug and bully boy into lady’s man with a tweak of his very cool leather jacket and a pat of his luxuriant shiny black hair, enough to charm the flatmate who will give him private information. He’s a con artist at heart, but a very attractive one and has perfected a modus operandi with the ladies, as he reminds Ceto. It is his attraction to Sena that causes him to deceive Ceto and I wonder what that is all about. I wonder also how Mahsun will respond when he finds out who her husband is. This Lothario has a lot of the attributes of the classical “sleaze”. Most women I know have met one or two in their travels. The trouble is, you don’t always get to see through them until you’re too old to be interested or bothered or you’re too young and you cotton on too late.

Cukur is in a country where Islam is dominant, but where other religious traditions have long histories. The conflicts between some of these have determined a good deal of the history of the place, but there has always been at least some space for diversity and tolerance. I come from the Judeo-Christian tradition and have a passion for understanding how and what others believe and practice in their spiritual lives. Understanding is crucial to me.

I am not very familiar with the Quran but would like to be. The trouble is I am not sure what is appropriate for an older woman in a very different and distant place from Turkey and Cukur. I don’t know if it has a story such as that of “The Prodigal Son”, from the Bible. This is the ultimate story of the father who gave his son his inheritance early and allowed the boy to leave, spend it on riotous living, as boys still do and then waited for a very long time for the son to return to him. I have often thought the father in that parable, that is the human one rather than God, our ultimate Father, was too good to be true! I’ve brought up four sons for whom said riotous living was a commonplace event over which I had no control and I agonized over them but learned about letting go and waiting. I’m not sure I ever contemplated killing a fatted calf and feasting at their return. They would certainly have been lucky to get a cup of tea.

I so can feel Idris’ pain in this episode as Selim trails after him. His son has been responsible, together with others, for the wreckage that is now Cukur and the penury in which his parents live. Forgiveness from his father seems a tall order, but Idris has been responsible too. Selim has been subjected to sustained neglect from his father over the years, been rejected and ignored. In his frustration, Idris lashes out but Selim has no one and nothing left. He follows still despite the public assault on him by Idris. Who else to turn to when you are desperate but your father?
Never was a cup of Turkish tea more important than that left out in the garden for Selim, by his father. It was hard for me to watch Selim finally weep in despair and regret. But what an acting performance this was, the third in my trio of favourites this week.

As expected Alico excelled…

Cumali seems to be “getting” Alico after a rocky start.

Sultan remains in her near catatonic stage, though it may be that Sena will be the key to her emergence from that awful place.

Yamac and Sena have a long way to go to reach forgiveness.

Saadet is still carrying out her dangerous nursing duties and is due to give birth.

There are still so many questions to be answered. And, I suspect quite a few more yet to be asked.

And then there is a totally botched mission to curtail the drug making ambitions of Ceto/Mahsun who have declared themselves to be one person. The materials and money which Yamac and his team “capture” turn out to be fake. Back to square 1.



Written By – Judith Kelleher


  1. Love reading this, this one particularly made my eyes swell, it was written from the heart.
    I love this story and all the characters individually, even devilish ones 😎
    I’ve watched many Turkish series but none had an impact on me like Cukur.
    Currently having withdrawals because episode 36 onwards is not in English subtitles, so I watch in Turkish trying to understand what’s going on from the body language etc, until someone out there feels sympathy for the likes of me and translates it.

    Thank you for your lovely work!


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