Maraşlı-If The Dead Could Talk
“Death, therefore, the most awful of evils, is nothing to us, seeing that, when we are, death is not come, and, when death is come, we are not.”
What would they tell us if the dead could talk? It’s 2021 while I’m writing this and we’re still clueless about what awaits us in the afterlife. Some of us really fear death. The fear of a premature death keeps us awake at night. For some; it’s the fear of losing loved ones, dying alone, dying a sudden or a cruel death. However death may come, in these Covid 19 times, the fear of death is even more present in our daily lives.
It is not uncommon to think of our own death. As a concept, people have always wondered how they would die, they asked how it can be predicted and most importantly they wanted to know what happens after we die. Where do the dead go? Religions have different ideas about that but none of us ever had the privilege of talking to a dead person and therefore none of us have any proof of what goes down after our last breath.
If death is such an undeniable part of our lives, when it comes to storytelling, does a character need to be alive and functioning in the story for that story to be interesting? Well, apparently no. As many other books, novels and films, Maraşlı is proof that dead characters and their stories can be perfectly interesting too. Since the beginning of the show, 3 characters who have been dead for a while have contributed to the story immensely and have kept us in curiosity and wonder.
Today, I would like to talk about some important characters in Maraşlı who are currently dead or said to be dead, their roles in the story and what death means to the characters in the show.
Sometimes Death Is Just The Beginning
In Maraşlı, everything starts with the death of a prosecutor. Mahur, a photographer witnesses this and her life is in danger because of the photos she takes during the killing. Savaş kills the prosecutor, who as we find out later, was following Mehmet İnce’s case and even had new evidence in his hands to prove who did the concert shooting. Mehmet İnce as you probably know is the intelligence agent who was investigating the Türel family and their relationship with drugs. His death marks the beginning of something as well. Celal and Zeliş happened to be at the concert that he was killed and Zeliş got shot. This is how and why Celal, an old special forces soldier, decides to take Mehmet İnce’s place in the intelligence team. He wants the people who are responsible of his daughters’s shooting to get the punishment they deserve.
Another dead but important character is Mahur’s mother Sedef. We watch her in some flashbacks and also on the video recordings that she left for Mahur. Sedef is dead but she is fully present in the house, with her huge portrait hanging in the living room, she watches over the Türel family. Mahur doesn’t seem to be over her mother’s death at all. She plays her recordings continuously and even talks to her while watching, having memorized their conversations.
Sedef has her secrets and they are revealed as the show goes on. For one, we know that she wants to say something to Mahur and viewers will remember that Mahur goes to dangerous limits to find out what her mom wanted to tell her. Later she finds out what it is. Sedef never loved Aziz. Her one and only love is Ömer who is Aziz’s partner. Knowing that Sedef doesn’t love him, Aziz places drugs in Ömer’s car and because of this Ömer is arrested and stays in prison for 15 years. In the meantime Aziz and Sedef get married and have kids. When Ömer comes out of prison, he wants to hold Aziz responsible for what he did but he also has a gun and threatens to shoot him. A young Necati sees this afar and shoots him to save Aziz’s life.
This is the story of the second dead character whose story probably initiated everything we see in the Maraşlı story. That’s because Ömer’s death is the reason Savaş decides to avenge the Türel family. Savaş is Ömer’s son. Ömer got married to a nurse while he was in prison.
It doesn’t end here of course. As the story proceeds we find out that Necati’s father is not Aziz but Ömer. We also find out that Savaş and Necati are working together to avenge Aziz for their father’s death. What we don’t know is if Savaş knows that Necati was the one who shot Ömer.
So we have Ömer, Sedef and Mehmet İnce who ignited the flame that started this whole story of Maraşlı.
What Do We Lose When We Lose Someone?
In episode 5 Necati tells Mahur, during one of their heart to heart conversations, “it’s not our mom that you miss, it’s our childhood.” I think we miss the ones we lost but we also miss those days where we were together, where we had no worries of losing someone we loved. Necati and Mahur share a fascination with their mom. Even after they find out about her love for Ömer, they never blame her once. In fact they blame Aziz more, unaware that they wouldn’t even be in this world if Sedef and Aziz weren’t together. Well at least Mahur wouldn’t be. We can’t say that for Necati anymore.
When we lose a parent, we don’t just lose them but we lose a part of ourselves. For some of us it’s our innocence, for some of us it’s hope. We can see and appreciate the darkness a little more. Necati reminds us Victor Hugo’s last words on episode 4, “I see black light” and says we all need last words that will make us memorable after our death. You know it’s all about dramatic entrances and exits for Necati!
Celal’s view on death is different. As a soldier he has seen death many times and he also risked his life many times. In episode 6 he says to Mahur, “ Fearing death before dying sounds strange to me. People mostly fear the obscurity and the feeling of emptiness.” Thus what we fear is not death itself but not knowing what it will bring to us.
Necati’s role in the story has changed significantly since episode 9’s finale. We now know that he’s not just a philosopher and an alcoholic but also the mastermind behind this whole revenge scheme. The Ömer-Aziz-Necati triangle is interesting to me. I mean, even their names, make me wonder. Aziz means; reputed, precious, sacred, saint. Necati means; survived, in peace. And most interesting of all, Ömer means; alive, living! Now, that doesn’t surprise me when in episode 14 Necati received a call from Baba (father).
Could Ömer still be alive? Is that why the writer chose this name for him. By the way, Turkish names are not like object names etc., so even we Turkish people need to look up their meanings. So I was shocked as much as you are by this and I don’t think this is a coincidence.
Can The Dead Really Rest In Peace?
Episode 9 is an interesting episode. There are three visits to the cemetery. The first one is Necati visiting his mom. He doesn’t say anything but we see him teary eyed. We also notice Sedef’s unusual red marble tomb stone. The second one is Mahur, who asks Celal to take her to her mom’s grave.
Aziz joins them later to insist that Mahur comes back home and when she refuses he has a heart attack. The third is Savaş visiting his father’s grave at night and is later joined by Necati which is a shock because that’s how we find out they’re brothers for the first time. During the episode we also witness a conversation between Necati and Sadık about Ömer’s grave. Later when he opens it, Sadık finds that it’s empty.
So in episode 9 we are made to believe Ömer’s remains have been taken from where he was buried in Türel mansion and moved to his grave where Savaş and Necati visit him. However in episode 14 we start doubting if he really died. Even if he is alive, it’s clear that Savaş doesn’t know about it.
Sadık starts fearing that Savaş may try to find Ömer’s remains so he tells Aziz they should replace them but Aziz says he’s overreacting and that no one can can do that. In the same episode we also witness an interesting conversation between Sadık and Necati. Necati sees that Sadık is worried about Ömer’s body, he probably senses it since Sadık keeps lurking in the garden looking around.
When Sadık says he forgot about everything because there was no other way, Necati says there was another way, which was to listen to his conscience. Necati is kind of teasing Sadık in this scene, trying to understand how much he knows. Sadık was the one who buried Ömer’s body but he never checked back on it, at least it seems that way. But to Necati he doesn’t say it that way, he says he left and Aziz took care of it.
Mahur visits her mom and makes a very emotional speech by her grave, while Celal watches her from afar giving her some privacy but still listening attentively. Mahur is saddened to learn that her mom never loved her father and connects her sickness to the fact that she was separated from Ömer. According to Mahur her father’s sins were so big that even her mom’s love can’t protect them anymore from evil.
It’s hard to guess at this point, how much of a role Sedef’s plays in all of this and if she really is a victim. The only strange thing I find is her unwillingness to share her sickness with Mahur and letting her be shocked by her death. It seems she did this to protect her but in the end, it has scarred her for life, not being able to be there for her and say her goodbye. How can a mother rest in peace knowing that she has left a teary eyed child behind. Since I’m not a mother, her decision is not something I can relate to. I can’t help but wonder maybe she tried to protect Mahur from something else as well. Maybe we’ll see it in the future.
Necati’s thoughts on death, at the end of episode 9, are as enlightening as ever:
“Living is the biggest crime. Every time our heart beats we commit a crime. That’s why death will be our salvation. Because we can only be saved from this crime by dying.”
Ömer is not the only one with a suspicious burial. At the end of episode 10, İlhan kills Ozan and he buries him in the forest with Dilşad’s help. So Ozan, just like Ömer joins the “club of dead bodies to be revealed”.
In the 10th episode Sadık tells Necati that Ömer’s body isn’t where he buried him. Necati fakes being panicked just as much as Sadık is. While they’re talking, Sadık also spills out the fact that his wife Nuran also knows about Ömer’s body’s been buried in the garden. Neither of them say anything to Aziz who is unaware of the drama that’s going on about the disappearance of Ömer’s body.
Between Killing and Dying
Episode 11 is probably my least favorite episode as it shows the vengeance of Maraşlı. He kills first Acar and then his son Sami and many of their men and Savaş’s men. Up until this episode he kills because it’s necessary to protect someone but these two killings are based on revenge. Although Sami is a ruthless murderer himself and his father Acar is a shady businessman who deals drugs, Celal’s actions are still very questionable.
This is why Mahur rejects him at the beginning of the 12th episode and the intelligence agency kidnaps him and puts him in a cell to calm him down. I felt like the incarceration and the psychological and physical abuse he experienced there served as an exorcism because his inner demon had taken over.
In episode 12 Ozan’s body gets found by the police probably because Necati or Savaş called the cops and Savaş starts to blackmail him with the recording he made before. İlhan is not justified in killing Ozan, whatever he had to endure because of him, killing someone can’t be justified. It seems like Necati feels this way about what he did to Ömer too, because he once tells Sadık that he is damned, although he is an atheist, he knows that what he did was wrong. But his punishment was that the man he killed turned out to be his father. Such a tragedy and so fitting, if you have been reading all my Maraşlı articles. :)
Savaş and Behram care mostly about the business part of things and the killing is just a part of the business. It serves to plant fear into the hearts of their enemies and keep their men in line. Out of the two, my favorite is Savaş of course, who deserves a write up dedicated to himself. Hopefully I will get to it as soon as I can. For Savaş, the dead are just casualties. Except for his father whom he’s doing all of this for. I wonder when Savaş will understand that Necati is not really completely on his side. Or at least I feel like it.
Celal finds himself in danger many times but we never worry about his life. He’s the protagonist after all and this is mostly his story so he can’t die, can he? But as he keeps getting closer to the truth, his life is at more and more risk. Behram points this out in episode 13 by saying this to Savaş, “When you are going to a prize you must ride a rabbit and when you are going to death, you must ride a turtle. This Maraşlı guy will get himself killed.”
This is a foreshadowing of course to the next episode where Necati tells Celal he is Ömer’s son and he killed his own father and after saying it he stabs Celal several times. As Celal is lying on the floor, Necati says, “Some secrets take a man to the grave.” This is a reference to the phrase, “taking a secret to the grave” which means keeping something a secret until you die. However in Celal’s case, he’s not taking the secret to his grave, it’s the opposite, the secret will take him to the grave.
Will Celal survive and if yes, how? The show’s main writer Ethem Özışık is well known for sudden and unexpected deaths of main characters but I doubt that he’s d kill off the protagonist. I feel like Necati always was against killing of Maraşlı and this was surprising for me that he ended up being the one to stab him. I’m curious to see what dynamics this murder attempt will change in the show.
Maraşlı is a dark show, so death is one of the main themes that keeps coming up. It leaves no one untouched, they either have near death experiences or they kill in the name of revenge, or for justice or other reasons which they feel are justified. Interestingly the three so-called dead characters I mentioned in the beginning, Sedef, Ömer and Mehmet İnce could possibly all be alive. It’ll be interesting to see what the future episodes will reveal. I’m really looking forward to finding out.
Dear reader, thank you for reading so far! The last episodes felt a bit unbalanced to me. Some episodes seemed to be action packed while some tried to give the story more substance. This causes the audience to divide into groups that want more romance or action. I have 4 more essays planned on Maraşlı which all focus on different things. Hopefully you’ll be seeing them in the future weeks. Let me know what you think about this piece, I love hearing from you. You can find me as @edsavaseri on Twitter. Your comments and shares mean a lot. Stay happy and healthy wherever you are in the world right now. I’m sending you lots of love and light from a sunny Istanbul afternoon.
Customs and beliefs related to death in Anatolia
My first article on Maraşlı: A Modern Tragedy About Men of Anatolia
My second article on Maraşlı: Capturing Moments With Maraşlı
My third article on Maraşlı: Can Maraşlı Run Away From Love?
My fourth article on Maraşlı: A Study of Dreams and Symbolism in Maraşlı
My fifth article on Maraşlı: What Happens When You Fall In Love?
My sixth article on Maraşlı: Silence As A Weapon Against This Cruel World