I am a New Zealander. I almost decided to not write my weekly review this time. The body count in recent episodes has been sickening, but at the end of two and a half hours or so of Cukur each week, we know that this is a story, based on real stuff, perhaps. But still, a story. What has happened in my homeland over the past four days, and counting is no story. We have fifty bodies, people who share their Muslim faith but from many different backgrounds, cut down in two of our mosques whilst at Friday prayers. This is incomprehensible, but it is no story. Every time I started to write on Saturday, I had images flash into my mind of the photographic display in the back of Uluc Reiss’ truck, the gutted and taped up bodies which were not, thankfully, real this time. There are plenty of times when they are real, like in Christchurch, New Zealand today. I avoid any images of damaged and broken bodies in the news or on the Internet. This is my respect to the dead and to their families.

I decided I couldn’t opt out this week of all weeks, because I have been committed to learning from Cukur since the beginning. It has often been uncomfortable and there are many things I don’t understand because I come from a very different cultural base. But I am learning and I am fearless about speaking out when I see or sense evil.

It seems that a commonality between this week’s massacre in the Christchurch mosques and this last episode is the focus on individual actions and responsibility. At least, that’s my ‘hook’ to hang my ideas upon. One man carried out the mosque shootings, according to our current information. Much of Cukur 56 examines individual thinking and motivation. Then we are shown what happens when deception and the keeping of secrets becomes acceptable in order to meet one’s own needs, be they individual or dynastic. People’s own wishes are seen being submerged in the ‘greater good’ and retaliation and mischief-making are the result.

A wedding dance led by Idris and Cumali opens the episode. On the surface, this looks like a family having fun, celebrating the marriage of the oldest son to the daughter of an old friend. It doesn’t feel right, though! A pan shot around the folks shows us that there is a lot going on under the surface. Nothing is said, it’s all in the strained facial expressions, far-away eyes and some less than enthusiastic embraces. Yamac isn’t his usual urbane self, not really, though he’s trying. Something is bothering him.

The triangulation of Celasun with the two young Kocovali women is clearly toxic and Karaca occupies the greatest area of emotional territory without saying a word in public. She reserves that for a private conversation with Celasun and we discover what we have known all along. He did marry the wrong one and is angry with himself. Seemingly there is no way out of his self-imposed task of nursing his wounded child bride through life and there is little prospect of change.

Cumali has coped with the hi-jacking of his life by his parents by getting drunk, yet again. Only five days ago he had told Yamac of his decision to marry his first love, Yildiz. Both men were happy that finally Cumali was doing something for his own happiness, but were unaware of the manipulations of their mother who has listened in to their conversation, and of the renewed empire building by their father. Cumali has capital value as the oldest, unmarried son of Kocovali. Uniting him with the daughter of Uluc Reiss, Idris’ only living crony apart from Emmi from the Cukur glory days is a cynical and devious move on the part of all three parents. Common enough in the old days but now seen as a father’s right as ‘owner’ of his children, even the adult ones. As owner, it his right to make strategic alliances through marriages with other clans. This time, as always, the question is asked.
“If you and I join forces, who could stand against us?”

Yildiz called it right, this Cukur royal family stuff. She told Cumali that she never hoped for anything, still not being good enough for the Kocovalis, as always. And which the increasingly autocratic and poisonous Sultan had reinforced on an unheralded visit to Yildis’ home at the worst possible time of a busy day, with three small kids in a crowded apartment.

Almost like clockwork, here come the Karakuzu in much-diminished numbers, led by Ceto dressed commando style and accompanied by assorted replacements for Mahsun, who really has left him. They are sporting submachine guns and looking very purposeful as they march into the wedding venue, or so they think. We find out later how costly it has been for the Karakuzu to not check their directions.

I’m interested this week in commenting on the behaviours of a range of the people in Cukur rather than recounting the storyline
Even at this stage of the episode, we become aware that Ceto is decompensating, that his grip on reality is slipping away.

He is physically ill and his responses to the harassment and goading which Vartolu/Salih cannot help dealing out leave him increasingly less rational and more disjointed. Avni and others of his loyal supporters don’t know how to help him when his emotional pain brings him to a state where he most resembles a feverish child. He is treated with contempt by the emerging “Mr Big”, who may or may not be the Baykal of last season. Whoever the man is, he shows little interest in Ceto’s bluster when he insists on waiting for a consultation on the yacht which has been moored in the local marina.
It’s very clear that the rupture of the folie a deux relationship with Mahsun is hastening Ceto’s interior collapse.

Mahsun is also suffering intense emotional pain. Having nowhere to go in an increasingly hostile Cukur, he has become a squatter in Sena’s apartment since she has moved into the mansion. She and Selim have not told Yamac of their dealings with Mahsun, so that there is room for suspicion to develop especially when she is asked where she has been on a particular day. Yamac has been informed of the visitor and knew that Sena was in the apartment on that day. She lies to him and in doing so, unwittingly creates a new minefield. As she tells Yamac that she has been with a girlfriend, rather than with the handsome Mahsun who has already demonstrated his unrequited feelings for her, we are left to draw in our breath sharply as the implications of the lie become obvious to us, the onlookers.
We learn, in excruciating detail of the true circumstances of Ceto’s childhood. The oldest of a litter of starving and neglected children, he was sold into slavery by his father whose only talent Ceto described as being able to make children. Purchased by a group of men, Ceto became a bacha bazi whose duty was to dance and have sex with each and any, or all of the group together, to ‘…dance like a girl.’ As adolescence approached and it became obvious that his voice would deepen, body hair would grow and his bones lengthen and thicken as Ceto grew out of childhood, the group of men decided to protect their investment. In a searing disclosure of his true story, the one that even Mahsun had no clue about, Ceto tells his estranged “other half” that his testicles were ground together with rocks so that as a eunuch he would continue to be sweet of voice, beardless and sexually attractive to his owners.

Ceto danced and danced but eventually his need for intikam was ferocious. He set out to kill not only his owners but one by one killed his father and siblings so that he was bereft of any blood relations. Being alone and on the way to creating his evil Karakuzu, he was in the perfect position to offer a kind of parenting to the beautiful little boy whom he found under a boat near a famous landmark cliff. Mahsun shares that precious site with Sena, who is his only friend, he thinks.
Ceto took the little boy in and that is where their devoted and different relationship was born and how, eventually they would come to be, uniquely, ‘fam’ to one another. as two boys without anyone else.

That Mahsun had no name he could remember was an advantage in the end. His new name meant warrior and that became his destiny as Ceto set about constructing a new and exceedingly potent brotherhood of Black Sheep from the homeless lads collected from the streets and the rubbish dumps.

Always Mahsun was the favourite but he had not been able to believe that Ceto had made money from selling body parts, even though Ersoy had informed him before his execution. It was just too bizarre to be true until he saw the photographic evidence in Uluc Reiss’ trucks. In a truly sad scene, Mahsun is sitting in the sand dunes where he is found by Ceto. Mahsun will not speak to Ceto on the phone. In the disclosure of his real history to Mahsun, much, much too late. the extent of the destruction of Ceto’s original personality is laid out for us. We sense the void in which its terrifying substitute has found space to grow. Ceto is a unique villain as far as bad guys go, an extreme illustration of the psychopathy that can grow from prolonged and violent sexual abuse in childhood.

The difference is, of course, that Ceto remembers only too well where he comes from, Mahsun remembers only a red apple and fading echoes of his mother’s voice, calling faintly, “Fikret…Fikret…”

In this, one of the saddest scenes in the series to date, Ceto has found Mahsun and finally tells the story of what happened to him as a small boy Mahsun looks away.. There is no return from here. Not with those photographs in the truck.

Vartolu returns to the scene even though his counterpart, Salih, is in charge for some of the time inside the complex and… well, let’s call it for what it is, even though we love both parts of him, this emotionally unstable and ‘found’ son of the Kocovali. Salih has already admitted to his father that he misses his ‘old’ self, especially the personal agency he treasured to make decisions on his own. And to run as leader of his own pack though he’s essentially a loner. He’s deliberately reconstructing a subset of Cukur’s ‘new’ men and he has on board Celasun as his first lieutenant, his first duty being recruitment. This is not as difficult as it seems at first, given the large population of men who had been kicked out of their jobs such as security at nightclubs by the Karakuzu. Here’s a chance to serve with this crazy but smart new Kocovali who causes fireworks wherever he goes, who is exciting and who signals that he’s back, at least in part as Vartolu, when he assumes the red clothing that has always meant, ‘Here’s trouble, deal with it.”
He does get carried away with himself, though and cannot stop goading Ceto, pulling out his red ‘dancing’ kerchief at every opportunity.

and moving his shoulders in a mocking frisson of ‘dancing like a girl’ sexiness. His brothers are obliged to physically restrain him when he is so far over the top that a street gun battle seems inevitable. He just loves getting under Ceto’s skin. It’s payback for the imprisonment of Saadet.

Both Celasun and Salih/Vartolu see themselves as second tier Kocovali, Celasun as damat first and foremost. This belief seems to cause strain between Yamac and Celasun, but Yamac is unaware of the dynamics of the Eternal Triangle in which the damat is caught.

Salih will always see himself as ‘other’ and unworthy to truly share in his birthright as Idris’ son because he killed his brother. Never will he take that which should have belonged to Kamrahan and that is his self-imposed penance. What he does have, though, is the newest grandson in the family and that will be entrée enough for him with Saadet by his side.

Little Idris is Salih’s reason to survive. Sometimes Vartolu does not remember that.
Alico has been busy again and continues to be Yamac’s trusted eyes and ears. This time his reporting has an air of danger about it. He is so utterly loyal to Yamac that his vision has a tunnel quality, through no fault of his own. Just how different his way of seeing is demonstrated by the disappointment he feels when the suitcase he worked so hard to open is full of only money, which is of no interest to Alico. He’s really wanting to get to the library to find “the child”, that is the story about Mahsun and the boat.

The women do not fare well this week. There is trouble brewing for Sena, I think, arising from her alliance with Selim in tracking down information about Mahsun. Misunderstandings are inevitable, especially connected with her lie to Yamac about her whereabouts and about Mahsun’s presence in her home. After all, he is a good-looking guy and Yamac might do well to ponder that factor. Another part of me wonders whether there is an existing history between these Sena and Mahsun, hidden and related to their families of origin.

I feel sorry for Cumali and both of ‘his’ women. His parents have used him much like a pawn to create what Idris believes will be a return to power for the Kocovali power team, even if altered forever by the death of Pasa. Little does he know of the double-dealing in which Uluc Reiss is involved. We don’t find out right to the end, either and I am doubly sorry for his beautiful daughter who has been converted by him into an item of barter, without her knowledge. Her love for her father blinds her to the truth about him

It is one of the cruelest and most cynical betrayals to marry his daughter off within an engagement period of five days to a man who does not want her, who loves another and who leaves her on the wedding night to be with his love. He has told her that they may be married to suit others, but he will never make love to her. Her wedding is so sad, from her dressing alone in a traditional gown to this declaration from her new husband who she didn’t want anyhow.

Yildiz is the saddest, however. Marrying Cumali after all these years of loving him had seemed an answer to her terrible loneliness. These Kocovali, who were always too good for her, in their minds and in hers had killed that dream of marriage. But here is Cumali waiting patiently on the step outside her door. Of course, she lets him in.

What else this week?I’ve always been impressed (tongue firmly in cheek) at the ease with which the Kocovali can destroy whole platoons of Black Lambs with no casualties to speak of themselves. Now that we know the wider usefulness of Karakuzu, particularly dead ones, it’s easy to see why spending time and money on sophisticated training has not been economically viable for Ceto. That’s why it’s so easy for one man, that maestro of choreography and fight arrangements, Ugur Yildirim who is both Kemal in the cast and Action Director on the production team , to singlehandedly take out a whole detail of Karakuzu fighters on his own.

And at the end, we’re back to the beginning as the fired-up Ceto and his troops, sub machine guns at the ready, march right into the trap that Yamac has set in the basement of the party place. Right into a tangle of store mannequin bodies and loud music where they are locked in and what looks to be ammonia gas is pumped in to demobilize them. Sorry, Ceto!

What a rat Uluc Reiss seems to be. Were the explosions which destroyed his boats an elaborate insurance scam? How can he treat his daughter that way? Has he forgotten how good she is with guns? Who is the man with the ring? Are we seeing the first moves in a new plot line, now that Ceto and Mahsun’s stories seem to be coming to some kind of closure?

Written by: Judith Kelleher





Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here