(Salih, Episode 46)

I finished my first viewing of this episode several days ago and have been surprised at how difficult it has been to get a start on this review. Mind you, it’s been the week when “The PROTECTOR” hit our screens and Cagatay and Co have rightfully been the buzz for the past few days. I won’t make those tempting comparisons about comparing baddies except to say I did an automatic fist pump and yelled out a large ‘Yay!! at the return of one of the Immortals. Saygin Soysal is a Turkish “Must Have!!” when casting anything requiring a villain with unusual talents. Every time I see him pop up on the screen I am drawn back to Elvis the very talented butcher, around CUKUR, Episodes 21 and 22 last season. Love him!!

By the way, if you need any reminders about how great CUKUR is, rewatch a couple of episodes from around that time. You know, Alico as a deadly sniper, Vartolu doing his dead ant act, Baykal’s total astonishment at the failure of his giant flyspray, f’rinstance. And do watch Elvis again. Deadpan comic genius.

One of the greatest strengths of Cukur has been the steady stream of weirdos, bad guys, fall guys and out and out psychopaths who grace the storylines. The writers are very good at leaving us enough “wiggle room” for even a little bit of curiosity or sadness about the villains. We want to know how they got to be so God-awful evil. We want their backstory, all the gory bits included so that we may have someone or something to blame for how bad they turned out to be. Surely it was poor parenting? Certainly, looks that way with this lot who turn out to be decidedly anti-parents. Anti any kind of family relationships apart from a Black Lambs version of brotherhood. So, it was with some satisfaction I find out in this episode that it is true, both Ceto and Mahsun have known each other at school and yes, they had developed some pretty specific and instantaneous methods of playground conflict resolution. Also, they have learned how to identify, recruit, train and channel staff in the direction of an organisation’s long-term requirements. Ersoy was a real find.

Almost but just not quite genius level, vulnerable to bullying because of his alien origins, too poor to contemplate the tertiary education he so obviously wants. Ripe for the picking. There has been a sense for some time that there is rather more to the Karakuzu mythos than a drug manufacturing and supply operation. Some uncomfortable and worrying possibilities, so ghastly that it’s hard to believe even Ceto and Mahsun could be involved, start a slow creep into the unconsciousness of some of the players. Ersoy, who has just recovered from the intentional wound inflicted by Yamac in order to draw away any suspicion that he might be a snitch, is terrified and pleads with Yamac to kill both Ceto and Mahsun.

Anything else will be useless. Having been in hospital recently he has had a chance to view the bodies of dead Karakuzu with very suspicious scars. Has he just escaped making a contribution to a tailored and specially ordered consignment of body parts for transplants? The pair of them must die, together and soon.

And some other parts to this mystery. How long have these two AND others who are still in the shadows been planning the takeover of Cukur? Where else have they been already? Where are they heading? Who will be the new Karakuzu? Who are the true masterminds of this new direction? In earlier writing, I mentioned the heavy toll taken on the manpower by the constant attrition with the gun fighting. How to replace the dead foot soldiers?

Easy. Recruit the kids. First, take the kids. Under threat. At the point of a gun but hidden so the kids aren’t really aware. By other “brothers” who are quickly presented as models of brotherly support to these new little lambs, first of the new season, who will never need to listen to their parents again, or put up with boring chores or tolerate siblings who insist on proper pecking orders. There will be new brothers. Look at all these big, happy boys, ready to put a hand on your shoulder, to teach you. Look at the funny oldest brother who has just told you that everything on this table laden with sugary treats is yours.

Look, he’s even got a lollipop in his mouth. You can choose to eat any of this stuff or not. No one will tell you that you can’t have it. There are presents too, and a reassurance that if you want to stay, no one can make you go. Even if your parents come to rescue you, you can – and do-tell them to leave you here in this new, exciting Brotherhood. And see, here is Mahsun. He’s a tough guy, but he’s lots of fun He’s your brother, too.
Mahsun is rather more the recruiter of child soldiers as “Beasts of No Nation”,or the macho leader of the boys recruited to fight for brutal African tribal leaders in a recent film about diamond smuggling.

As the episode plays out, I become even more attuned to the idea that the true Brotherhood in this Cukur is the one that has its roots in the past the past and the one which is being reconstituted as individuals “do their stuff”. It doesn’t take a genius to see what the vital ingredient is. Ersoy, resident genius of the Karakuzu wants out of there and into here.

What come out of the old Cukur are the Kocovali capacity for love and the willingness to sacrifice oneself for one’s fellow. Cumali says clearly that the first job of the Kocovali boys is to pay. Any harm is on the Kocovali, on us, not on the people. If we lead, we are responsible, not like these Karakuzu who, according to Salih, don’t know or value love. In this brotherhood of Kocovali, there are members with different names and siblings ‘adopted in’ through familiarity, trust and need. Rather than the highly coloured, addictive sweets and cookies served up to the kids, these brothers, Alico in particular, thrive on hot traditional soup and fresh bread. Simple nourishing food. And simple nourishing family People are finding comfort in the familiarity of the old love. Sultan has reclaimed her eldest son and both appear to have found their loving part again Cumali is drawn once again to his love of past times. Everyone seems a little more healed each time each time Alico is kissed on his bald head and pretends not to like it. And I hope everyone else enjoyed the hug between Sena and Yamac as much as I did. Love these two and hasn’t her acting improved out of sight this season?

Mahsun has a signature sound. Whenever I hear it, my teeth go on edge, which I think was pretty much Toygar Isikli’s intent. This episode allowed Berkay Ates to show us just what an accomplished actor he is. The “Fikret” sequences demonstrate with cool precision the predatory pattern of the psychopath setting his snares in place.

He‘s a very handsome man and knows how to play to the crowd, this time consisting of Sena, who most assuredly is not his first ‘kill’. Alico has found many items of flimsy female underwear in Mahsun’s trash and he is very worried about it.
He’s great at finding stuff out, is Alico. Including a soiled nappy! From Saadet’s baby. Whoever knew that a dirty nappy could be a message of hope? Salih has only just got around to telling one of his mates, Celasun, who is delighted at the new baby. In the middle of his own pain, Celasun can find joy in his friend’s great news.

Hopefully others will be moved by the news that Saadet is alive, and a mother, to support what must be coming, a rescue plan for the kids of Cukur who have decided that they prefer Ceto’s threats and promises of more where that came from to the grinding reality of life on the hungry streets of Istanbul.

This week I had a moment where a little chill ran down my spine as I began to wonder if we are in the last quarter of this magnificent drama which has captivated me for months. I’m Celtic by blood and I have these “chill” moments from time to time. I think knots are being undone and secrets revealed. I think we have a good deal more to learn about the true purpose and origins of the Karakuzu. There are surely more twists and turns to come, but I do believe we are getting close to some sort of a resolution. Which process is perfectly normal and to be expected.

This was a big episode and in keeping with my policy, that’s all this week. Except to say that, if the end is nigh, and if it’s dramatically sensible if loose ends are mostly tied up and people are where they need to be, I don’t want Ay Yapim to apply artificial respiration to CUKUR. I would hate what happened in a cupcake bakery not far from Cukur to happen here. They had a really good bad guy and he turned into a joke in the end. Our bad guys need to go down, guns blazing, with no hope of rescue. Please.

Written By – Judith Kelleher



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