Before commenting about the interconnected stories in this latest offering, I want to acknowledge the exceptional acting performances of the whole cast this week. As usual, it’s a tricky exercise selecting favourites when it comes to comparing the work of individuals in this stellar crew. Mahsun was my pick this week. During two sequences, with Mother Sultan and with Sena respectively I was totally focused on his face and the range of emotions which he was able to share with me so that my heart felt as if it were breaking. This tragic, warped young man showed us his child’s soul, forever tainted by the murderous acts which characterise the recurring switch back to his other role as leader of the Karakuzu pack.

We have arrived at the point where the Karakuzu story begins to unravel. The first hint is the surprised look on Mahsun’s face as he takes a puzzling call on Ceto’s phone. There is a graphic reminder of Mahsun’s conflicted personality as he shows concern that the needs of a junior Karakuzu are met, in a gesture of brotherly kindness. Not long after that, he shoots the driver of a truck as casually as he would use an aerosol spray on an insect pest, even allowing himself a small smile when the killing is completed. Mahsun is just taking care of business.
A timely tag reminds us that it’s true, “CUKUR VS KARAKUZALAR”.

The champion of Cukur, Yamac is also capable of violence as we see in his ‘interrogation of Yucel, the defector from the Karakuzu who looks like having sold the Kocovali out over a gun deal gone wrong. Whilst Yamac is happy to dangle Yucel out of a third-floor window after attacking him with a lump of wood, Mahsun’s crew are killing Uluc Reis’s men, threatening harm to his beloved daughter and laying down the law about Mahsun’s self-promotion to the role of “The Man”. All finished off with a blow to Uncle Reis’ head from one of the Karakuzu underlings just as a reminder.

Yamac has been dubious about Yucel’s motives for switching sides and suspects that the newcomer is still an informer. He’s about to find out that even the most hardened and heartless of criminals have limits when it comes to the source of their income. Yamac wants to know where the Karakuzu money comes from. Not mostly from guns, it seems, though that is a convenient cover and distraction. Neither is it from using the younger boys to mine the ever-growing mountain of Cukur’s trash for anything saleable.

Yucel tells Yamac that he needs to ask the right question. Puzzled, Yamac waits to find out what that question is. Yucel puts it in two ways,
“Just ask me how to make those two fight. What would make the two of them try to kill each other?”
The difficulty, they both agree, is compounded by the lack of clear boundaries between Mahsun and Ceto. They are not even separate people.
“They’re one person. They’re one.”
“One of them thinks and the other does it.”
“One holds it and the other finishes it.”
“One of them (Ceto) is mind and the other (Mahsun) is heart.” If this order is disrupted and Mahsun finds out what Ceto has been hiding from him, Yucel is sure about the outcome of such a discovery.
“He can’t take it.” He elaborates, “If he knows what Ceto does to his own brothers, he’d kill him then and there.” And what Ceto does, he describes in detail to Yamac, adding that he could no longer stomach his own association with the “business” Ceto had set up.
“Most of their (Karakuzu) money comes from organs.” Yamac is intent, focused, taking it all in. It’s hard to know what he’s feeling.
“And Mahsun has no idea. He believes in whatever Ceto says. Mahsun’s greatest weakness is in believing. He believes they are brothers. He believes they’d die for each other…IDIOT!!”

I imagine that the penny is dropping for Yamac about the seemingly endless supply of Karakuzu foot-soldiers who replace those gunned down in one confrontation after another with various adversaries such as Bulgarian gunrunners and streetwise Kocovali men. Yucel is laying out the business plan, beginning with the “rescue” of lost boys from the rubbish dump. If you find more lost boys there or on the streets, you’ll get a reward because they are our brothers. There will be hot showers, new clothes and trendy sneakers, hot food and ayran, all because we are brothers.

Then a medical check-up to see if any nasty diseases are being brought in by these ex-street kids. After all, you don’t want your brothers to get sick, do you? And the doctors, weighing, blood and tissue typing, measuring, recording, listing and then coding so it’s easy to find you if a living donor is needed. Most often though, if you’re wounded, you’ll die and your organs will be sold on the Dark Web. Very lucrative. Very secretive. And this ex Karakuzu, one of the first, has described the whole insane process that Yamac knows in his gut to be true. Not Auschwitz, Nazi Germany. Cukur, Istanbul, Turkey.

Proof will be needed. Eventually, an enormous stash of records are found and that genius of information management, Alico is recruited to sort the files and track the movements. It’s so easy to see the symbiosis in the relationship between Yamac and Alico who always bring two heads and two hearts to tasks like this when they are like two tributaries joining in one flow of thought and imagination. Neither, in contrast to Ceto and Mahsun, is filling up a gap in the other. Of course, Alico will work until the job is complete. Yamac will get on with other stuff after he has brought hot chorba and fresh bread from Mother Sultan’s kitchen.

That lady is out of her own kitchen today and has reopened the community kitchen for the first time since the return of the Kocovali to their rightful place in the community. The word has gone out that she’s back and some of her “other “boys, such as Meke to whom she has been a stand-in mum in times of need, have gathered to support her, greet her and to get her blessing. She is stirring the chorba when a puffed-up Mahsun arrives, throwing his weight around and letting her know who’ll be in control of the future success of her enterprise. He thinks it’s a restaurant. He’s in for a shock, is Mahsun, this time playing the loudmouth bully-boy.

Sultan doesn’t do trash talk. Calmly assessing the situation, she sends her two helpers to the market to get new supplies and then she explains that so far, only soup is ready. He is welcome to eat some chorba and fresh bread. Mahsun is very keen to play games, but Sultan stops him by explaining that he is the only person currently eating in this community outreach for people who are sick, alone or lost. Sometimes children come. She does not scold him but recognizes the hurt child in him. She is sad, she says, that his killing of her grandson and daughter in law prevented her from becoming his surrogate mother, too, as she has been for so many of the motherless Cukur boys. Mother Sultan. She reaches out and gently strokes his face, asking what has happened to him. Who hurt him? Was he abandoned? How did this happen to him?

Mahsun is caught up in the gaze from her calm dark eyes. He soaks up the comfort of her touch, a little boy enchanted by the powerful love of his mother.

If only it were true. He breaks her gaze, throws down his spoon and storms from the shop.
In the meantime, Salih has been alerted to Mahsun’s presence and has come running to save the day, guns at the ready. It’s all over when he arrives. A woman has used calmness, kindness and has refused to be bullied. The lesson is obvious.

Salih is fighting his own battles, needing to establish his family and to protect them. Ceto is hell bent on intikam after the dancing girl comments and has recruited Vedat to kill Salih. Medat is going insane, quietly, with his hatred and mistrust of the oily Vedat who, apparently has Salih fooled. Not so, as we find out eventually. There is a counterplot.
“Filthy man!” Medet makes a show of cleaning Vedat’s seat as he slinks away back into the shadows.

Salih has it in hand and it’s full-cycle at the end of this episode when the greasy little shadow dweller dies very quietly in the night at the end of Cumali’s blade rather than noisily at the end of Salih’s gun.

We’ve been made aware already tonight that Salih is in Wild West shoot-em-up mood. (Has anyone else noticed how awkward he is when he runs? I’m reminded of John Cleese and his Ministry of Silly Walks.) We’re also made aware that the same status and protections are available for him, from his brothers and the men of Cukur, as they afford one another. This is the understanding with which he goes into the final shootout. I wonder if Sultan can ever ask him the same questions she asked Mahsun?

Other Cukur women are doing their thing with great aplomb. Yildiz is still on the game, of financial necessity. Arriving home from ‘work’ in her sparkling finery in the early hours she is met by Cumali who is so obviously in love with her as he was years ago. He cannot bear what she does but can’t ask her the question they both need to answer. Still, a stalemate.
Uluc’ Reis daughter with her curly black hair and sparkling eyes is granted refuge with the other women in the Kocovali mansion. Sparks are set to fly there, because she hadn’t known Yamac was married and would have preferred not to hear such news, it seems. Sena is immediately wary. This girl is no stranger to the mansion. Everyone seems pleased to see her, except Yamac’s wife. She bears watching.

I think this young lady ‘s entry to Cukur may have a purpose extra to the current storyline. When we first meet her, there are several lengthy gaps in her dialogue, and some very surprised and shocked looks on the faces of the men she is meeting. Her father is less perturbed, I think he’s used to it. As it turns out, Damla I well versed in self defence, has had a gun since she was nine and has needed to use it. It will be interesting to see how her place in the drama takes shape.

Ceto has been made aware that Ayse came to his aid when he was in desperate straights and that she came in response to a call from Mahsun. How does this fit with his ideas about women? He wants to thank her and his choice of venue is a significant clue that all is not OK in his head. When Ayse asks him about his choice his answer is that it is a neutral place. He avoids places that stir memories for him, places that make him think.
There is a disturbing interchange between him and Mahsun about the fate of the few survivors from the last shootout where many youngsters were killed. Mahsun wants to visit these three survivors, but is deflected by Ceto who seems unconcerned at Mahsun’s comment that they are not looking after the Karakuzu properly. Is Mahsun becoming uneasy? What is happening inside him?

Even more than the Mahsun scene with Sultan, the meeting between Mahsun and Sena on the streets is heart breaking. Sena is aware that he has been stalking her.

She confronts him, asking him what he wants. It’s simple really. “I want you to smile at me a little bit and that’s enough for me. What can I ask from you?”

Mother Sultan got through his defences. Mahsun shows Sena where it hurts in his heart, all the while denying he is in pain and asking Sena whether she told Sultan that he had no family.
“Did you tell her that I bleeded there the most? What did you tell her?” “No matter how much you hide it, Mum saw your pain.”

And he describes how life has been a constant falling and falling with nothing to touch on the way down. There is only one thing he wants.
“I’d trade the world for a red apple, Sena. Just one red apple doesn’t help you find your Mum, Dad or family.”

When Mahsun asks Sena to tell “…that Sultan not to act like a mother to me ever again,” she challenges him to do it for himself if he can find the courage. I thought she would like that to happen, somehow.

Good things happen back at the coffee shop. Salih has arranged a surprise for the lads. The communalT V, is a big one and arrives just as an important football match is playing. I think all may be forgiven between, Salih and Cumali, who is delighted to be watching Lionel Messi in his own lounge, as it were. Payback will be the aforementioned quiet execution of “the snake.”

‘If there is Alico, there’s no problem.

Alico has found the missing file which he presents to a delighted Yamac. Here is the documentation that Yucel talked of, the records of the boys who were prepared for organ harvesting. The bond between the two is never more evident than when they have shared in an enterprise only they understand.

There’s no relaxing for Alico. He’s on a secret mission to break open a suitcase he found in a rubbish skip and which probably belonged to Ersoy, may he rest in peace. So far, he’s tried 860 combinations and still counting. The patience of autism is sometimes a huge gift.
So now to the final shoot out. What Ceto had set up was a simple assassination of Salih/Vartolu which he intended to watch with great enjoyment as he got rid of the man he hated most in the world. But not to be, the whole male population of Cukur seems to have turned up to support the Kocovalis and they’re armed with the ‘stolen’ guns. Another strategic disaster for Ceto. More bodies to process. Is that the silver lining?
What’s left? Medet behind Ceto with a gun trained on his bald head shining in the moonlight, a lone body with a fatal knife wound in his heart, Alico on his secret fact -finding mission, and a sniper who doesn’t seem to have chosen his final target. It’s never boring in Cukur

Written by: Judith Kelleher





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