An episode in which the newest Kocovali child is introduced to his father and to the world. And an episode in which we truly recognize the spoilt and childlike psychopath who poses such a threat to the new baby. And an episode in which the children of CUKUR are threatened by the Karakuzu.

There’s a strong likelihood that Mahsun was one of those kids who captured insects in glass jars and saved them up for later so that he could take his time and savour the process of pulling off their wings. It’s a common behaviour of young psychopaths. Cruelty and the anticipation of the “buzz” that goes with it are symptoms of the psychopath and Mahsun has those symptoms in spades. How he smiles merrily to himself as he turns off the heating switches for Sena’s apartment! And grins wolfishly as he prepares to blast the hell out of the floral duvets in the Kocovali’s apartment?

One of the aspects of Chapter 45 that caught my attention and kept me thinking this week as I decided what to write about is the fractured personality which drives Mahsun and which is so characteristic of the psychopath. I looked back at my notes from my studies to become a school guidance counsellor, many years ago, and there was the list of traits which signal this devastating (mostly to others) condition. I remember needing them last when I was dealing with a fifteen-year-old boy who had been caught cutting the tendons in the back legs of an old horse in a neighbour’s field. He had no explanation to offer, other than that it was an old and useless horse, anyhow. Counselling did nothing to help and I was eventually forced to accept the truism that psychopaths can’t be helped. Empathy is totally missing from their personalities. I thought about other ‘holes” in this ultimately tragic young man, and I kept seeing the handsome, beautifully groomed, smooth-talking Mahsun before my eyes as an older version of this fifteen year -old.

So, I’ve selected some more traits of the psychopath which are illustrated perfectly in this story of the failed mission to wipe out the Kocovali brothers, who should have been asleep in their beds, just waiting to be massacred. How dare they spoil his (grandiose) plans! And his fun? His manic expression up to the shooting tells us how much Mahsun loves killing, how much he is looking forward to seeing those dead Kocovalis under their blasted and bloody duvets.

How dare they murder his men, his BROTHERS. No matter how many times he asked himself, “What is going on here?’, Mahsun can’t come to any other conclusion other than that it was all their fault, anyhow. Psychopaths don’t accept responsibility for anything that goes wrong but is always ready to accept kudos for any success, whether theirs or not. They always are the winner in any contest…remember the card game where he praised two of the Black Lambs for ALMOST beating him?

Impulsivity, cruelty, cunning and the capacity to manipulate are attributes of the psychopath, as is a repertoire of criminal skills, illustrated in Mahsun with his sure handling of weapons, ability to tamper with locks and machinery and to set up complex plans for future offences. Witness the latest preparations for an assault and/or attempted seduction of Sena., including the taking of a trophy as he appropriates one of her prized ornaments even before committing any offence against her. It’s all in the intent.

Mahsun is a predator and a bully. It is a measure of Vartuolu’s foresight and control that he talks himself down from an enraged reaction when he witnesses the savage, retaliatory beating being administered to Celasun by Mahsun, who justifies the beating by screaming at Celasun,
“My brothers died because of you!”, the classical blame-shifting lie of the psychopath who is unable to accept the consequences of his own actions and who must guilt someone else.

Once upon a time, Saadetin Vartolu might have reacted much like this violent, out of control, the second lieutenant of the Black Lambs himself, but time and acceptance into his true family of Kocovali have changed him. These factors, his “worth” as an expert drug chef and most of all, the emergence of his new family with Saadet have wrought great change in the old Salih, currently operating in his second persona. He has bargaining chips now because without him Ceto and Mahsun are sunk. The Bulgarians are looming and if Ceto can’t deliver the “good” promised to them, the future looks bleak for the Karakuzu leader. Vartolu can rub this in and remind Ceto that his promise to release Saadet together with Vartolu’s son in exchange for his professional services has been ignored. People can only take so much, camels’ backs get broken by straws and what sort of a message is being delivered to the Karakuzu who are also watching the savage attack on Celasun, who had just been doing his job, anyhow? Has Ceto thought about the impact on the rest of the Karakuzu who may be slow to obedience in future if they see one of their allies being punished for what appears to be a mistake, rather than deliberate ‘insubordination?’ How might this unfair treatment impact on loyalty? In this way, Vartolu can effect release of the bruised and battered Celasun. Ceto cannot resist a final sideswipe and he has the shirtless and bruised young man dumped outside his mother’s door.

The sequences which tell this part of the story in Episode 45 are shot and cut into a ‘disorder’, back and forth and seemingly hard to follow until one becomes aware that this is most likely a reflection of the action from many different viewpoints. People don’t experience something of such violence and rapidity either in the same order, the same intensity or with similar understanding. What does help to tie it all together, to offer some coherence, is the music and the themes which we have learned to associate automatically with Karakuzu or Kocovali. And more specifically, the rock beats and ‘Yok!’ of Yamac’s themes or the grinding dark discords which tell us that Mahsun is coming.

The inevitable mayhem that ensues and which has made their home unlivable leads the Kocovali men to a hideaway which has ‘belonged ‘to Cumali for some time and now becomes a refuge for all. Alico does not cope with the violence of the gunfight through which they pass and is traumatised: the new refuge has been stocked with his personal ‘medicine’ hot soup. There comes a settling down, a sense of brothers at rest when all let go of tension and lie down to sleep, weary from a truly traumatic day in which they have escaped, once again, a family massacre. I was particularly moved by a single camera shot in which Cumali lifts his head slightly, surveys his siblings with a look of sheer relief and then lies back to sleep. Cumali is changing, too, slowly.

From an episode which affected me profoundly as a parent and grandparent, I choose the very brief scene in which Celasun’s mother has found him, tossed semi-naked, broken and bruised outside her door. Her screams, wild grief at this assault on her only remaining and precious son, her tenderness in holding and weeping over his battered body are echoes from earlier mother/child embraces. Last week, the reunion of Cumali and Sultan which saw her emerge from a deadly and prolonged fugue. This week the beautifully lit first scene in which Salih meets his son, a precious offering in the arms of his beloved Saadet, In this sequence we first hear Toygar Isikli’s new music for this child. Despite the bleakness of the cavernous chamber in which it takes place and the enforced brevity of this first encounter, the faces are what stay in my memory. And the focus on Saadet’s hand, which holds her son with surety in his soft blue blanket and warns others with her eyes, “Hands OFF!”
What I was reminded of, however, by Celasun and his mother was a precious image from Christianity and from the world of timeless art. The image of Jesus taken down from the cross, held in the grieving Mother Mary’s arms is the stuff of countless paintings, of devotion and stimulus for prayer and subject matter for physical icons in many Christion traditions. The most famous and probably the most beautiful of these is Michelangelo’s PIETA, a wondrous marble sculpture kept in the Vatican and created during the Renaissance. I think the message of the mother in total grief holding her broken son transcends all religious divides if one focusses on the strength and eternal nature of the mother /child bond.

A more light-hearted approach to the joys of parenthood and of being an uncle is played out by Salih and Medet who, in the pouring rain is handing out celebratory Turkish Delight to anyone who will take it. In this outburst of joy for the arrival of the newest Kocovali, as yet unnamed, we are made aware of the seriousness of the danger posed by Ceto et al. This has been the only way for Salih and Medet to celebrate.
“They give us no other choices. They hit us in the worst places. Will we ever get better, Medet?” The response from this most constant of friends is uncompromising,
“We will, brother. You know why….” Together, as in the past, comes the obvious answer,
“Because Vartolu always finds a way.” Clearly, Vartolu is rather more useful than Salih at this part of the story… He says it himself,
“Even Salih doesn’t know how to be Salih. I can’t find a way like this!”
Then, “I have a son.”
“I have a nephew.”
For Cumali, who is defrosting his heart after so many years of not being part of his family and who has known his mother’s loving touch again, the children are precious. He meets and falls in love with Yeliz’ three fatherless children and there is more than a hint of the love shared in the past between the adults. He is enraged at the damage done to Aksin and promises her that he will burn down the world for her if that can help in any way.

Ersoy consults with “Doctor” Yamac in the hospital, a clandestine organ harvesting industry is uncovered and a supremely confident Mashun plans his next exploit. What he wants is for the residents to bring replacements for the Black Lambs killed by the Kocovalis, from their own families. Failure to volunteer will lead to invasion of homes and the press-ganging of young people. Meke, still disgruntled is blaming the Kocovalis for fighting back and stirring unease in the population.
Stealing CUKUR’s children is untenable for the men who plan a rescue, Cumali spearheading a three-man mission to assassinate Karakuzu in the dark and to return children to their homes. Yamac and Vartolu have arrived under their own steam and the brother’s team up, “working” the alleys that are so familiar to them as they cull the flock of Black Lambs. They are successful and melt into the darkness, Cumali led to Yeliz by Meke who has recognized the rescuers.

Mashun still thinks that revenge against the Kocovalis can take away his guilt over the deaths of the Karakuzu.
“I won’t live comfortably,” he says, ‘without them living the same agony.”
Some of the Cukur boys gather in Cumali’s hidey-hole towards the end of the episode. There’s a roll call and the ranks swell with the return of Celasun who is bruised and battered, without any idea that his reprieve from Mashun can be credited to Salih. I’m liking Cumali more and more. Here he jokes with Celasun about being the only handsome one among them, now made ugly like the rest of them by the beating from Mashun. Alico is there and charged with a mission by Yamac. Celasun and Cumali join him as they head to Vartolu’s lab.

As Cumali destroys the drug laboratory, Vartolu leaves. Yamac meets with Ersoy who pleads with him to destroy both Ersoy and Mahsun. He seems terrified and we are left wondering just what he found in those ominous pink files.
And the graffiti asked, “Where is Father Idris?’ Is he really sulking as the responding tag insinuated? Has Meliha really gotten to him?
Next week will be interesting. Mahsun is still in a state, I believe. I wonder what he’ll get up to in the meantime? And what about Rambo Cumali.? I think Yamac is going to be more than a bit put out by his latest exploits.
Note: I find it exceedingly strange that a “swear word” is silenced from the dialogue during a sequence of extreme violence. Beating people up is OK? Cussing them is not? I gather kissing is frowned on too? Why bother, then, with all those beautiful, kissable Turks, male or female who decorate your dizis and tempt people to displays of affection. Let’s punch each other instead…

Written By – Judith Kelleher



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