“HOME IS WHERE FAMILY IS.” – Alico, Cukur 53

” Home is where the heart is, not here. You told me, you promised me, you promised me, uncle, did you forget about it? You promised and you forgot. “

Alico, everyone’s favourite Cukurian has a mysterious background. Last week we found out that he was visited by his mother in his dreams and that he still longs for her. This week we found out how he was first adopted into the Kocovali clan by Idris, who rescued him from a bunch of bully boys. I’ve been scathing in my criticism of Idris on several occasions. After this episode, I’m willing to eat a very small slice (a sliver, really) of humble pie because of his kindness towards and inclusiveness of Alico. Perhaps a small bowl of soup would be more appropriate. because I know now why visitors to his house by the water frequently take him chorba with bread as a courtesy and why he is always delighted to receive it, especially if the soup is hot and the bread is fresh.

I want in this review to focus on three of the characters because I am fascinated with the patterns of behaviour that I see developing in these three men, over time and as we get more information. These are Alico, Vartolu/Salih and Ceto.

Before I do so, I acknowledge that a good part of this episode is about taking care of business, about the reestablishment of order, setting some financial goals and building of new “commercial” relationships to replace those fractured by the Kocovali exit from Cukur. Nothing exists in a vacuum. Other, newer players have entered the market in their absence. Credit, once an understood part of any business arrangement is non-existent and there is no leverage to be had by talking about the old times. The commodity upon which the Kocovali business empire was built is not accessible without cash, Pasa the arms expert is gone, the Old Boys club is defunct and money is desperately short. A start is finally made when Yamac finds favour with a genuine crazy, recognizing that they are both somewhat challenged in the sanity stakes. They “get” one another, and that’s the basis for a fresh enterprise, of sorts…

I also want to comment on the replaying at the beginning of this episode of what I am unilaterally calling “The Banner Scene”, the final part of Episode 52. It’s as if the production team want us to be very clear that the Kocovali have returned, make no mistake about it, look at these leaders again, see their faces, look up and see the rest of the team on the rooftops. See the symbol which we all know so well signifies family, the symbol we wear on our bodies and draw on our walls. Watch Yamac’s grin of “welcome” morph into a grimace of determination.

Look, Karakuzu, with your cavalcade of black cars and your crowds of brainwashed boys, because this how it is going to be. Keep looking up, Ceto and Mahsun, and now Avni instead of Ersoy.

Alico is determined that Idris will return to Cukur and he will not be distracted from his mission. Home is where the family is and Alico calls in the promise made to him years ago. He is very concerned about the loneliness that must be Idris’ lot in his present situation. Alico even tries to find out if Idris has a companion, picking up on Sultan’s observation that Idris was not alone, a situation that she would like to be confirmed or not, I imagine. The upshot of his surprise visit to his Uncle Idris is a return home, with Alico a proud escort, but not before we have a flashback to the episode which brought him into the family fold in the first place. Here, the kindness and sensitivity of which Idris is capable is visible, but I’m still wary of liking him too much.

This is all very well, but what about the way he has treated his own sons in the past? I still can’t forget his terrible denial of Vartolu, who underneath the tough façade wanted nothing so much as forgiveness and a chance to be his son and part of the family which he was so long denied. How about the bleakness of Idris interactions with Selim? Why, in all those years, did he not visit Cumali in gaol? I also don’t much like the way his sons let him off the hook, like puppies clamouring for a pat on the head.

Back now to Alico, the first of the three characters who have claimed most of my Cukur energy this week. We find out that Idris first rescued him and brought him to the big house, which becomes Home Base for him as well as for Idris and his children. We still have lots to learn about the paper collector who took his cart into the wrong territory and got beaten for his trouble. We don’t know, despite Idris careful questioning, where he comes from and who he belongs to. He tells us that his father is gone and he calls for his mother in his sleep, telling her of his love for her. We don’t know yet how he came to be close with the Kocovali kids and most importantly, how the special psychic bond with Yamac came about. He has been one of the lonely ones in the past. In this episode ,we learn only of him and Idris, his love of this uncle and his determination that Idris will be in his rightful place, his home in Cukur, so that all has a chance to be right in his world. There’s so much more to find out and I think we’re only going to get a dripfeed.

I’ve loved Vartolu/Salih since the beginning and have wanted so much for him to finally be part of this family. I accept that the murder of Kamrahan is always going to be his major road block even though his remorse for that act is clear and present. As with all of the bad that we do as humans, the facts never disappear and he knows the price he must pay. Idris’ eventual acceptance of him as his son is another cause for my dislike of the older man to shrink, a bit, and I am touched by Yamac’s generosity of spirit as he reaches out to draw Salih into the family fold.

On Idris’ return he has set about ordering his sons to shape up, tidy up, get shaves and haircuts, as fathers have always ordered their scruffy sons.This includes all the team, not just the four Kocovali. Credible business men need to look the part and sports sweaters with decals won’t cut it. Clean shirts and jackets are required. Even Alico knows that and was the first to shape up. There is a delightful scene in a new barbershop where the customs of the male clean-up can be revived and important men’s talk indulged in. Another normal routine of Cukur life is re-established.

Medet is proud to see his ‘boss’ once more in a state of sartorial splendour and offers him the daily red pocket handkerchief of old. Shaking his head, Salih indicates that this old touch is no longer appropriate, but that he is keeping the memory of his signature Vartolu red alive in the lining of his jacket. The red handkerchief goes into an inside pocket, just in case. Eventually it is pulled out to great effect

Salh’s face has softened, the hard planes and lines no longer so noticeable. There is a peaceful and pensive air about him sometimes and he often seems deep in thought, taking in all around him. The devilment in him is still alive, however, for which the rest of the family can be grateful. It’s just that he’s always just outside the circle, He puts himself there, noticeably in the coffee shop scene where the boys get the once-over from Idris after their mini makeovers. Yamac’s time on the throne has been short-lived, from my point of view, sadly! I was wrong last week in crowing that the new regime had arrived, already.

Not yet, it seems, the old lion has some roaring to do yet. So Salih stands back acknowledging that he is not welcomed by Sultan. The bad blood between them goes back before Kamrahans’s death, to the time where she arranged for Salih’s removal from Cukur. Such a face-saving manoeuvre meant that she would not have to see the reality and result of her husband’s affair with Miriban , this odd and alone child whose greatest friend was that other stray child, Saadet who lived in the Kocovali home as an adopted daughter. Even Sultan has had to acknowledge that these two lonely souls have found love together and the new baby is the magic that holds them all together, even if tenuously.

Salih is still a lonely child inside, struggling to create a family of his own now, but always a few steps back from his blood family. Even generous, beautiful Yamac can’t change this truth. And Salih’s guilt which he has been willing to own and to expiate, will always see him take some of those backward steps voluntarily.

The person whose behavior has the most impact on me in this episode is Ceto. I took delivery this week of “Heroes”, Stephen Fry’s very engaging and funny retelling of the Greek myths, the companion piece to his first volume “Mythos”. A random leafing through took me to an entry about Ceto, the one from ancient Greece, and it turned out that the original was a female, and the mother of two of the Gorgons, the immortal sisters of Medusa who was decapitated but whose head could turn men into stone even though detached from its body, should those men look directly into her eyes. A highly polished mirror to reflect her face was de rigeur when dealing with Medusa. The two ugly sisters had the capacity to grow new snakes’ heads, which served as a hair substitute for them, at a rate of at least two for everyone lopped off, a bit like the Karakuzu more of whomseem to keep on turning up no matter how many of them are “offed” by Cumali and the rest of the boys. I wondered if this choice of name was a deliberate one on the part of Gokhan Horzum who has shown in his scripts for “Cukur” a decided bent for the “bent” on numerous occasions. I love his twisty mind and I think Ceto may be one of his very best inventions, along with Vartolu/Salih. Both these characters glory in their devilment, seeing the funny side often of what is grim business.

In an echo of a key event in Series 1, where Muhittin, of blessed memory, managed to bring Vartolu, rampant at that time in his antagonism towards the Kocovali, to his knees. Reaching into the psyche of the wounded child who had found his murdered mother Mihriban the song about her, haunting and at full volume, rang out from speakers which Muhittin had deliberately and slowly ,so that all could see what he was about, placed outside his barbershop. Vartolu’s reaction was visceral and stunning. He was undone by the sound and screamed at Muhittin to turn it off, eventually shooting the speakers into silence. I have never been sure if Muhittin knew or cared about the cruelty of his action, but it was very effective, nonetheless.

The Kocovali have decided a welcome party for their new neighbours is a great idea. Speakers are strung up close to the apartment where Ceto and Mahsun now live in basic conditions, nothing like their former splendour in the mansion. The music starts, Vartolu pulls out his red handkerchief and dances with Medet, Celasun and all the other Cukur boys in the courtyard below.

When Mahsun and Ceto arrive in the courtyard, Salih tells him, by way of casual insult, not knowing what he is about to start.
“You can dance like a girl. Your body is suitable.”
In an astonishing meltdown, Ceto is rapidly reduced to a shaking, delirious mess. Completely undone by the music and dancing, Ceto is beside himself. Something dark and sinister has been triggered. His cries of “Don’t dance like a girl!” and his disintegration in front of our eyes give me the clue I need.

I believe Ceto, this man of the meticulous clothing, carefully tended hands and childish handheld games have been subjected to childhood at least as bad as Vartolu/Salih’s and probably worse.

I felt so sad when Ceto’s flowers ended up in the trash. He has no concept, really, of a healthy relationship with a woman. Ayse is a ninny. I’m glad Selim found out what she’s been up to. And I do think Ceto is an Afghan.

Written by: Judith Kelleher





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