Shades of Karadayi. The 1970’s, the familiar streets in the Karadayi neighbourhood, polyester shirts, broad lapels, mini dresses, corrupt politicians, sleazy gangsters, Mama Kara, and a noble prosecutor following in the footsteps of a noble father.

The episode begins with a car’s headlights weaving though a forest road and stopping before a tall tree. A dishevelled man gets out with a rope which he slings over the tall tree limb. He opens the trunk and declares to a bound and gagged man that he has been found guilty and will be executed.
The story begins in a nightclub where Prosecutor Savci Orhan Atmaca enters the dark room and requests a ballad from the attractive singer. Shortly after he’s seated, a group of men enter and take a front-row table; the leader of the group is a young man, Serdar Onal, the son of a powerful state deputy.

Atmaca is there to alert the young hoodlum that his crime spree is about to end, for he is accused of murdering a young woman who was last seen in his company. Serdar denounces the accusation saying there is no proof, and furthermore, his father has more power than a public prosecutor. A fight breaks out with Atmaca taking on all six of the group and subduing them until Detective Harun and the police arrive to make an arrest. The arrest is observed by a lurking female reporter, Leyla Devrim, who rushes back to her newspaper and changes the next morning’s headline to showcase the Public Prosecutor’s attack against a powerful family by jailing the son on criminal charges.

Morning comes to Orhan’s home where his sister Zeynep is waiting to greet him as he awakens. Zeynep is apparently the “apple of his eye,” for she chooses his clothing for court and helps him with dressing. She is young, attractive and a college student who is planning to get married.

Later in the morning at the courthouse, Detective Harun, who made the arrest, argues that Serdar cannot be held in jail if there is no proof that he committed the crime, but Atmaca says he must be held for a few days so that he can get the proof he needs. Outside the building, an energetic and determined young female reporter who had observed Serdar’s arrest the night before is waiting with a swarm of newsmen, but with his quick entrance into the building, Atmaca avoided any opportunity for them to pose questions. Confident that she could talk with him, Leyla pretends that her photographer is a purse snatcher, fakes an injury, and has the police take them into the building where she demands to make a complaint. What she doesn’t know is that her little fake drama was observed by Atmaca from his office window. Once inside his office, she is forestalled in getting information by Orhan Atmaca who doctors her little injury and sends her on her way.

Leyla is a little dynamo at her office, attracting the attention of another reporter who wants to take her out, a few jealous colleagues, and another young friend who doesn’t have the same journalistic dedication. After a brief check-in at her desk, Leyla goes home to find that her mother who is suffering some form of dementia is refusing to take her medication. A brief conversation shows us that the mother thinks that Leyla is still in college and needs her help. Apparently, the mother’s mental condition is related to her husband’s abandonment of the family.

Serdar is enjoying special treatment in the jail, a radio and a special meal, and although he is in a holding cell, he is relaxed and confident when the guard leaves the door open to usher in a lawyer. The lawyer, sent by Serdar’s father, says he will be out shortly but he must be patient because a few things need to be sorted out before he can leave.

In Atmaca’s small neighbourhood, we meet sister Zeynep’s boyfriend, Aydin Kara and the owner of a soup kitchen, Bunyamin Ayaz, who becomes the host for a meeting between Serdar’s lawyer and Atmaca in “the garden.” The lawyer, who calls himself a “ghost,” doesn’t give his name, but tells Atmaca that he might as well drop the charges against Serdar because the boy’s father has more power than he can imagine. Bunyamin says in the very place they are standing, the garden, the infamous Oftel Cellat had the power of life or death over his enemies.

After the meeting, Atmaca meets Aydin in the street. Apparently, Atmaca is not pleased with his sister’s choice of lover. Aydin tells him that he will give Zeynep everything he owns, that he will protect her, and he will love her forever, even showing the engagement ring he has for her, but Atmaca says before he can have his sister, Aydin must promise to give up his criminal activities and his gun.

At the morgue, Atmaca observes the dead girl as Detective Harun tells him that she was stabbed seven times, but they cannot determine what instrument was used to kill her. Since none of the usual tools for stabbing fit the shape of the entry wounds, they have no idea of where or what to secure as evidence, but Atmaca is adamant that they must find something to hold Serdar in jail. A flashback shows 10-year-old Orhan riding his bike as he follows his “hero,” his dad, to an abandoned apartment building. He sneaks into the building and observes his father meeting with a group of gamblers, one of whom gives his father a packet of money. He understands that his father is not the noble figure of justice, the “hero,” that he has always believed, but rather a man whose ideals have been compromised to provide support for his family.

The scene switches to Leyla and her photographer in Atmaca’s neighbourhood. Leyla goes to the soup kitchen to interview Bunyamin about Atmaca and his childhood. She knows that Atmaca’s father was killed and Bunyamin became his substitute father. She also has a photograph of Orhan’s father, Atmaca Sr., sitting at a table with gangsters. She learns that Orhan Atmaca is a hard man to know, that having lost his adored father at an early age, he finds it difficult to trust anyone. Upon leaving the café, Leyla’s photographer tells her that they were being followed by a man in a black suit. Leyla sees the man and shouts at him, but he disappears.

After she leaves, Bunyamin’s son, Rifat, and Aydin come in with news that Arab Ali wants his payment, apparently, for an address he gave Bunyamin. Neither of the two men understands why they should pay for information, especially since it was for Atmaca. Rifat is particularly offended that his father seems to place more importance on an “adopted” son than on him.
Leyla is next seen barging into Atmaca’s office with a container of food, saying his mother gave it to her to bring to him since Zeynep is in school. He knows she is lying, once again fooling his security to find entrance into his office. He receives a call about someone who is interested in the girl’s murder and he writes information, Leyla listens and observes his notetaking. When the conversation is interrupted by the detective coming into the office, Leyla steals the information from the desk and leaves. The detective tells Atmaca they must release Serdar since they don’t have sufficient evidence to hold him, but the prosecutor still says they must find something. He says they know the girl was with him, that he was in the woods, and that he didn’t return home until some two hours later.

A ladies’ evening gathering at Zeynep Atmaca’s home ends as Aydin enters with a tray of baklava. Alone in the kitchen, Zeynep tells Aydin that she will cook many dishes for him when they are married, but Aydin is worried. He tells her that he talked with her brother Orhan and now he thinks they should wait a while before getting married. Zeynep is annoyed, saying that her brother has no right to interfere in her life since he works with delinquents and criminals. Aydin stops her by saying that he is one of that group, but she says he will change and get out of that life. Aydin tells her that his changing may make no difference in their relationship. Annoyed and confused, he leaves.

At Fahri Onal’s mansion that same evening, as the deputy and his wife are having dinner, the police enter followed by Atmaca who tells Fahri that he believes he is hiding evidence of a crime. As the police search the mansion, Orhan looks carefully at a glass case that houses an assortment of knives and other exotic weapons, some appearing to be animal claws. He takes a suspicious-looking blade from the case for examination as Fahri tells him he should remember his father and how difficult protecting his family can be. A flashback shows young Orhan and his father as they ride home from the meeting with gangsters. His father confesses that he isn’t the hero his son thinks he is; with this admission, Orhan jumps out of the car and stares at the word “traitor” scratched on the car’s trunk before dashing into the house.

The mysterious “ghost” lawyer enters The Tunnel of Fear at the local fairground while paying customers are told that the site is closed. He winds his way through the dark tunnel until he comes to a wall that has a telephone. He makes a call, telling someone that “he” didn’t learn his lesson and “he” will be in court tomorrow. As he leaves, he passes a boy failing miserably at a shooting gallery. Taking the gun from him, the lawyer proceeds to shoot all of the target bottles and takes the prize key ring.
Leyla is at home preparing for an opulent evening out. She disguises herself with a dark wig, heavy makeup, and an evening gown to appear at a fancy affair where well-known wealthy people are having cocktails and dinner. She makes eye contact with the mysterious “ghost” lawyer who is dressed in evening attire and sitting at a large table of dignitaries. A short time later, the lawyer gets drinks from a tray and goes to Leyla’s table where she introduces herself as Mujde, a writer who has been living in France, and he says he’s Hasan who has never heard of her. Leyla’s photographer, acting as a server, spills wine on Hasan the lawyer; she gets him to take off his jacket and says she will clean it in the restroom. She also says they should talk somewhere more private. He follows her, but when she goes into the restroom, he has to stop. In the ladies room, she goes through his pockets and finds prayer beads with a bull’s head ornament. Hasan thanks her when she gives him his jacket and suggests they continue the evening at his place, but Leyla says she can’t. He seems suspicious and she appears worried.

As Orhan Atmaca approaches his home at night, a woman comes up and introduces herself as the murdered Filiz Ertan’s mother. She tells him that Serdar’s lawyer offered her money to compensate for her daughter’s death, but she wouldn’t take it because she wants justice for her daughter and she wants Atmaca to pursue the case. At a rather dark mysterious mansion with a mounted bull’s head on a wall, a man stands rather authoritatively before a window. His contemplation is broken when an underling comes to tell him they know the whereabouts of everyone, even Leyla, and with that, the servant hands the man a file folder.

The evening is late, the TV channel has ended its programming, and as Zeynep comes in from Uncle Bunyemin’s, all hell breaks loose. Someone is bombarding the Atmaca home with gunfire. Orhan grabs his pistol and runs outside just as a car turns the corner and escapes. Bunyamin and Aydin come to help protect Atmaca’s mother and sister. As Orhan tries to calm and comfort his sister, Zeynep tells him that she and Aydin broke up, that he, Orhan, causes all of their problems, and he doesn’t know how to love, only how to punish. Perhaps Orhan sees some truth in this.

When Leyla returns home from the formal evening, she takes a key from her sleeping mother and unlocks the door of her father’s office. She has been warned by the housekeeper not to go in the room, but she defiantly goes in and sees a mounted bull’s head, the same ornament on the prayer beads of the lawyer. As she realizes the implications, the phone rings. Her photographer tells her that Atmaca searched Fahri Onal’s home and later, the Atmaca home was attacked. Following this information, Leyla’s mother comes into the office. Their conversation indicates that Leyla suspects her father of serious criminal activities while the mother is delusional about her husband’s absence.

The next morning, as Atmaca shaves, the phone rings. It’s Leyla telling him that she knows about the gunfire at his home and she may have some useful information for him. Orhan tells her to meet him at a seaside restaurant in half an hour. When she arrives, she wants to know how important the case of the murdered girl is to him. He says she should know how important it is since an innocent girl lies on a cold morgue table. When she shows him the prayer beads, she says the case involves more than he realizes. He recognizes the bull’s head as a symbol of Nuri Kargi, “The Bull of Istanbul.” Orhan tells her that he is in too deep to stop; he knows there is a risk to his family, and he knows he may not be able to protect them, but he must try. The court case against Serdar Onal will begin that very morning.

The family and neighbours congregate at Bunyamin’s house to listen to the radio transmission of the trial. Zeynep has decided she needs to go to her house to get a change of clothes, so Aydin accompanies her. When she comes out with a bag, she shows Aydin a doll her father gave her that she sleeps with when Orhan is not at home. It’s sort of a “security” item for her. While they talk in the street, they hear a noise coming from the garage. Slipping quietly into the house and opening the door to the garage, Aydin and Zeynep discover Orhan sitting by the car. He confesses that for the first time, he is afraid. He knows what is right, he will do the right thing, but he’s afraid for her and his mother, afraid that he cannot protect them.

At the same time, Leyla approaches her father who is relaxing on the patio of his mansion on the shores of the Bosphorus. She hands him the prayer beads as she says, “Baba,” and he immediately says, “Don’t call me that.” She tells him how much she hates him and he tells her never to come to him again. He wants nothing to do with her or her mother. He wants them to forget him. She tries to bargain with him, but he laughs and says, “I’m the Bull and I have Istanbul on my horns.” Nuri says he knows what she wants, for him to spare Atmaca’s life, and he says he will if he doesn’t show up for court. The radio announcer says at this moment that the proceedings are waiting for Prosecutor Atmaca to appear. Nuri turns up the radio to listen to the hearing. They hear that Filiz’s mother has appeared at court and they are awaiting the prosecutor for the proceedings to begin. Just at the last moment, before the judge is about to dismiss the court, Prosecutor Orhan Atmaca walks through the doors and apologizes to the court for his delay. The judge declares that Serdar is charged with hiding evidence of a crime.

The scene shifts back to Nuri Kargi’s patio where the radio broadcaster says Atmaca has appeared. Nuri tells Leyla that he has not harmed the prosecutor and he will not. To prove it, he picks up the phone and calls the lawyer Hasan to say no harm will come to Atmaca because some people only appreciate the death of loved ones like mothers, fathers, and siblings. Leyla at first is pleased that Orhan is safe, and then, when Nuri’s words sink in, she is appalled. Nuri tells her that a man who loses his family cannot get up again because he will be prostrate with grief and never be able to forgive himself. He tells Leyla that Orhan’s sister will die.

At Bunyamin’s house, Zeynep is bored again. Seeing this, Rifat offers to take her someplace where she can “breathe,” a place that only he and his father know. They go to the hidden garden behind the house, the place where Oftell Cellat, aka Bunyamin, would decide who lives and dies. When he decided, he would stab the victim. As he tells Zeynep this, she sees a dead body fall from behind a shrub. She stands in fright and at that moment, the lawyer Hasan puts a rope around her neck and strangles her. Rifat watches and says to himself, “It isn’t me or Hasan who has done this; it’s your brother who has killed you.”

The hearing has ended and Atmaca appears on the courthouse steps to take questions. He seems pleased and willing to answer questions when he sees Leyla approach; he says she can have the first question, but as she moves up the steps, her expression is clearly one of fear. She tells Atmaca that his sister is in danger. The next scene shows them walking toward the house where an ambulance is waiting and men are loading a body. Going into the house, Orhan sees his grieving mother surrounded by neighbours before he enters the garden where Zeynep’s lifeless body still lies on the ground. Bunyamin, Aydin and Rifat are there, stunned and immobile. Falling to his knees, Orhan is bereft. He caresses her hair and talks to her as though she is sleeping. Asking for everyone to leave, he lies down beside her and uncurls her hand where he finds the key chain that the lawyer Hasan won at the fairgrounds.

Days later, Orhan uncovers his father’s car in the garage, looks at the word “traitor” scratched into the trunk, and declares he will not stop. When the lawyer Hasan again uses the phone in the Tunnel of Fear at the fairground, his call to Nuri Kargi is interrupted when Atmaca points a gun at his head and takes the phone away. Orhan says to Nuri, “Now it’s your turn.” Hasan doesn’t understand how he has been discovered, but a scene shows Atmaca chasing down the source of the key chain found in Zeynep’s hand. Late at night, Orhan drives the car into the woods, throws a rope over a tree limb and then opens the trunk of the car. There the lawyer Hasan is bound and gagged. Orhan pronounces his sentence, takes him from the car and puts the noose around his neck. He takes the gag from Haran’s mouth to let him say his last words. Hasan tries to play on Atmaca’s righteous soul by telling him he’s not a murderer, he’s a man of justice, but Atmaca answers, “You brought me to this road. I’m now a prosecutor and an executioner” and he kicks away the log that Hasan is standing on.

Why is Leyla so interested in the Filiz Ertan murder case? What information did she steal from Atmaca’s desk? How does she know about her father’s criminal name and his organization? How does she know the “lawyer” she meets at the social event? What drove her father into abandoning his family? How involved with criminals was Orhan Atmaca’s father? Does Buyamin know that his son Rifat is in league with Nuri Kargi? How far will Atmaca go to pursue the truth and find justice for Filiz’s family and his own?

WRITTEN BY: Susan Watson



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