Cukur, the place built on a drained swamp, might appear to have been emptied out of troublemakers after the Karakuzu were routed, much the same way as the water was extracted to house its foundations of the dead. No vacuum ever stays empty for long. And as in the short violent history of this Pit, we find out that there is still plenty going on in the old town. Some are troublesome, some are petty, some is downright dangerous. There is some amusement and even the possibility of a budding romance, a middle-aged Romeo and Juliet scenario of sorts. Like the original, from Verona hundreds of years before, it’s based on two families at war with one another. This unlikely attraction blossoms like the white roses that Ceto plans to send to his former nail technician who has morphed into his nurse. Ayse has saved his life even though she could have escaped and left him to die.

Ceto sees her as a possible candidate for his affections and speaks of his emotions to Mahsun. Whilst this seems an unthinkable alliance, Ceto and the ex-wife of a Kocovali, one has only to recall the affair between Ayse and the handsome young man who became obsessed with her and whom she killed with a potted plant. And who was trollied out in a suitcase, in pieces, courtesy of that master butcher, Pasa. Even Ceto might think twice if he had that sort of information before starting a romance with Ayse.

Since his escape from gaol, itself a feat of genius in its conception and execution, Cumali has been rampaging through people’s live, unable to contain or even recognize his rage. We’ve seen the toxic nature of his eternal anger. Most of this is Kocovali stuff. Not only does it hurt other people, this bile and constant hatred, but it also keeps Cumali himself from forming any consistent bonds with others. He is the Outsider, still, and he doesn’t have any other way to be. It’s becoming boring for his brothers to deal with his self- importance and bluster. However, it’s still dangerous and too much energy is being expended in countering his obsession with Salih. Even after Idris’ intervention in their graveyard knife fight and the news of Yamac’s shooting, Cumali cannot stop, or will not. I think there is a factor that both we as an audience to his obsessions, and his family and fellow Cukurians as those on the receiving end of his disturbing behaviour, have not thought too much about. Cumali was in prison for a very long time and we found out from a conversation with Yamac that during those years, no one visited him or contacted him from his family. He had no news from home apart from what drifted into the prison through others and what he read in his daily newspaper. Cumali still functions on “old” news and is taking a very long time to acclimatize to this “brave” new technological world. Whilst there is no excuse for much of his behaviour, there are reasons for it. It still drives us crazy to witness his obsessions.

We’ve also seen the damage done by the desperate grief and accompanying anger which besets and drives Meke.

The ultimate insult for him in this episode is the destruction of the shrine he has constructed for his father in the old barbershop. This had, in “old” Cukur before the Karakuzu, been sacred men’s territory, second only to the throne room of Idris’ coffee shop in the daily routines of Cukur men’s lives. Muhittin, it’s respected and, indeed, much-loved proprietor keep them trimmed and shaved, listened to all the village male business, carried out their ritual wedding shaves. His death in the wedding shoot- out caused a huge tear in the fabric of Cukur’s daily living, not the least his capacity to understand and comment in original ways on key events. Who will ever forget the brilliant scene in Series one where Muhittin rattled Vartolu, by playing “Mihriban” the beautiful song forever linked to his murdered mother?

But the worst damage caused by Muhittin’s death has been to his son Meke who has no other relations and who has kept his father’s memory alive by maintaining the barbershop, where he and his friends including Celasun and Kemal, both of whom also have allegiance to the Kocovali, meet. It’s where Meke stokes his grief and anger constantly. In a giant eruption of anger and frustration in wounded Cukur, which is again eating its own children to sustain itself, the shop is shot up, a young man is grievously injured and dies in hospital at the same time as Yamac is there in a coma. The common understanding is that Meke has been responsible for shooting this Serdar. Revenge is planned by a new face to us from Cukur’s young men who are just shaking off the oppression of the Karakuzu. In a formation we have become used to seeing the Kocovali adopt, a new leadership candidate, Ferhat, who is Serdar’s friend, takes his anger to the streets and spearheads a march which gathers men and momentum as it passes through Cukur. There is much blaming and naming. Emotions are at boiling point.

Selim and Salih have recognized the danger of a Cukur without experienced and mature leadership. Kemal and Metin investigate the situation on the ground, seeking to broker peace. The angry young mob surrounding Ferhat raises alarm bells especially after Ferhat dies. It seems that Mahsun and Ceto have not been killed but have been smuggled out of town. perhaps to plot and plan anew. How true this is we find out very readily when Mahsun and Ceto join up again, lick their wounds and find out that Avni has survived. He, loyal lapdog that he is, can be used to locate and gather up any Karakuzu who survived Yamac’s purge. There are more left than anticipated and the survivors are still brainwashed enough that Ceto can rally them into regrouping and planning a return to Cukur.

So, four factions have arisen to fill up space in the Pit as the already dead sink further into the morass which is the foundation of Cukur. More fresh young bodies are available to feed the monster and give sustenance to the plane tree which has grown out of it and which in the end, is Yamac. This knowledge which Yamac already has and which journeyed with his alter ego, his internal Alico, as he debated whether to return is what I believe brings him back to consciousness. He will return to a Cukur where there is the distinct possibility of its own defining last battle, as in Tolkien’s “Return of the King” or even in the inevitable final conflict soon to happen as the “Game of Thrones” plays out, now that Winter has Come.
So far, and with the potential for further entrants in the contest, the struggle for Cukur, its place, history, concept and future will be between these four groups. Kocovali are “old” royalty. Though Meke’s band of disgruntled and disorganized former citizens rallying around the old barbershop are probably sheltering Yamac’s assassin, I am not sure yet whether Yamac’s ‘vision’ of his shooting is totally reliable. Ferhat offers a new, fresh and possible option for the frustrated youth of Cukur, who don’t have any idea that they are potential fodder for the Pit. And there are the Karakuzu, rebuilding and surprised at themselves for being able to do so. I just wonder if there are any Bulgarians back home who might care to take their intikam and rejoin the fray. Or anyone I have forgotten in this mishmash of anger, loss, common history, greed, ambition and craving for power. No wonder the Kocovali boys are worried and trying to sort it out.

Selim has stumbled upon Sena with Mahsun, whom she has known as Fikret, the helpful neighbour. Like Ceto, Mahsun has fallen for a Kocovali wife and the full extent of his obsession with Sena is chillingly laid out as he eats pasta and explains his feelings to a captive Veysel, whom he has gagged and wrapped in chains. Obviously, such crazy behaviour indicates that Sena is in quite some danger of harm by Mahsun as is a hooker he picks up in a nightclub. Sena will get really angry I think and about time. I like that she’s showing some gumption.

I also like that Selim seems to have found his mojo. He’s getting on with stuff, he’s stopped looking down at his shoes and the lines in his face have flattened out. He really has a nice smile and for the first time, I can see a handsome guy with a sense of purpose.

And then there is Idris who, this time, has truly shown his toothlessness and lack of love and whose wife has finally had enough. Or I hope she has. I would hate to see her go back for more, as is common for women who try to leave men who are abusive. Leaving Idris might even leave her to examine some of her own past behaviours which have hurt other people. In her compliance with the old rules for the wives of Turkish men of power, she has held the reins at home very firmly and the other women have done what they are told. She has meted out punishment and made judgements which have seemed very cruel on the surface. I’ve thought a lot about her sending away of the pregnant Saadet but now consider this to be her setting the girl on her way, without losing face herself as the responsible elder woman, to find and marry the baby’s father. This, of course, is Salih, whom she detested because of his(innocent) role in Idris’ affair with Mihriban. Rather than allow that her children had an obvious half-brother, she sent him away and the fragile love between Salih and Saadet was tested to the limit, even though both were children at the time. Now she has had to learn to tolerate Salih, though I can’t recall once since he has been incorporated into the family that either of them has spoken directly to the another.
Sultan has changed as a result of the damage to her family. The loss of Nedret and grandchildren in the massacre, the terrible circumstances surrounding Selim’s suicide attempt, Cumali’s return, all the other traumatic changes to her family and last of all, the shooting of Yamac have brought her to the point where she can’t even name her feelings, let alone process them.

She sits with Yamac as he stirs for the first time from his coma and races from his room to tell the others outside. The first thing she sees is Idris deep in conversation with Meliha and she is stricken.

This is where Idris has betrayed her finally, I believe. He should have been man enough to send Meliha away immediately. Meliha has no right to this part of his life and her treatment of Idris’ wife is dismissive at best, calculated and cruel at worst. That she would choose such a time to lay any sort of claim to Idris is astonishing in its narcissism. She does not see that the rest of Idris’ family don’t know her and don’t notice her. Her further insistence in pushing her agenda with Emmi at such a time helps me to lose any sympathy I might have had for her up till this point. This was NOT her parade and she had no right to show up at all, let alone rain on it. That she did is bad enough, that Idris did not get her out of the waiting area so that Sultan was not further hurt as her son lay close to death is what is truly unforgivable. Even if I recognize Sultan is far from being a saint, this intrusion into her right to grieve is past bearing. And Idris knows it. He tells Emmi that Meliha has no history of letting things go. He will deal with it, he says, but what damage will be done in the interim?

All Sultan can do is to ask Emmi what Meliha wants: the look of pure hatred that she directs towards Idris says it all. Sultan and Idris have always dealt with the personal issues between them by ignoring them. Now, Sultan will not even speak to her husband and sets out on a trail of behaviour which will distance them physically as well as emotionally. She will leave her home and move in with the other women in her family, where she reigns as of traditional right as its queen. Whether the other women are still OK with this situation is debatable. Each of them is engaged in finding her own strength, whatever that might be, for her own circumstances.

Sena will soon confront Mahsun at the point of a gun. How that will play out we don’t yet know, but she is arguably the most important of the Kocovali women into the future.
Alico arrives to report into Yamac whilst Sena and Selim are visiting. Plainly it is very difficult for him to be there, but it is the power of his love for Yamac which drives him over the threshold of the room. Clearly, the love is mutual and is acknowledged by the others.

That it may be two people of the same gender who love like this is neither here nor there, because this is not eros, romantic or sexual love as the ancient Greeks named it and the early Christians appropriated along with philia and agape. It is not philia or brotherly love. It is agape, the highest form of love which is transcendent and unconditional and it is what Yamac will need if he is to carry out his mission in Cukur, the Pit which consumes its children. Yamac does trust Alico and only Alico. Therefore, why would he not welcome Alico? In doing so he is not only calling in the other human closest to him, he is calling in his alter ego, the part that completes himself. These are the only two people whom he trusts to truly “see” Cukur, Alico who in some mystical conjunction is also Yamac. himself. Alico, the physical being is the perfect choice for ears, and eyes on Cukur and for confidential reporting back. Yamac is for more up with the play than soft-hearted Salih, who also loves Yamac, will let him now with his optimism and “false news.”

We still need to know clearly about the people and motives behind Yamac’s shooting. I have my own theory. Despite all the best efforts of Salih, Kemal, and Pasa to stave off war, they are still dealing with Cumali’s obsession to discredit and destroy Salih who has had enough. Keeping a tight rein on his emotions He tells Cumali,
“Besides, if it’s about being a Kocovali, I’m nothing less than you.”

By the end of the episode, battle lines are being drawn, tempers are short, the coffee shop has been shot up yet again and Veysel is lined up to assassinate either Salih or Cumali. It’s not possible to see which one, but it seems Ceto is still pulling the strings hidden though he may be.

There is much to play out yet in Cukur’s story, but I am feeling that the end of the series might not be far away. Political influences and recent laws passed relating to film and television may force it to close rather earlier than expected. If pressure is being brought to bear, it would be my personal preference that the creators of this magnificent opus bring it to an early end which affords it the honour which it is due, rather than dilute and damage something of such value.

I have seen on YouTube the whole cast of Cukur on stage promoting the cause of Autism. This week, within the body of the show, we recognize the power such a well-loved creative enterprise has to touch real lives. The graffiti was exceptional witty this week and has given me a couple of gems for everyday living, for example…

BALIK OLSAM VAPUR CARPAR” _ “If I were a fish, a ship would hit me.” Cukur 50 `
Amongst the commentaries on life and on the light relief, there is in this episode “writing on the wall” which draws attention to a current real-life situation in Turkey, the dire need of a real person for stem cell research. What an amazing thing to do, Cukur People, YOU ROCK!!


Written by Judith Kelleher


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