“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
When you look at it, justice is a pretty easy concept to grasp isn’t it? It’s about being being fair, and making sure everyone’s rights are protected and there’s equality between conflicting sides.
According to Greek philosophers Aristotle and Plato justice meant goodness and willingness to obey laws. It was one of the highest virtues. Now, I don’t want to go too deep here but today, in theory, justice is still what it used to be, we still regard it as a virtue and also as a moral necessity as well as a human right. That is why all countries have a judicial system and jurisprudence.
If you have been following my writing, you know I’m into symbols and even though it hasn’t been featured in the series, you should know that Turkey also uses the “Scales of Justice” which belongs to ancient Greek goddess Themis. Turkey’s judicial system has been integrated with Europe’ system so that should come as no surprise. Turkish Ministry of Justice even has the scales in its logo.
Themis symbolizes divine law. You can also hear her being called Lady Justice. In Roman mythology she is referred to as Justitia. It’s interesting that she is a “she” right? It’s no wonder that the Greeks thought divine order was safer in a woman’s hands. :)
I have said before that the show has great female characters and just like Themis they are the keepers of justice with their unbiased opinion (for the most part, they are human after all) and with their common sense. Even Selim, as the prosecutor is too quick to judge or act sometimes or is blinded by his arrogance and prejudice. However the women in the show always act with more responsibility.
One of the things that drew me to Son Yaz was because the main story revolved around law and justice. I feel like it brings forth some interesting questions and discussions about what justice is according to criminals and people of the law. This is not one of those shows where you see a corrupt judicial system, but still we can see that the system is not fool proof. We will see why further down the line.
The second episode of Son Yaz is titled “You were right!” and begins with Akgün and Selim moving into the house across where Canan and their kids, (Yağmur and Altay) are staying. Selim wants to change Canan’s mind about the divorce but Canan resists. He asks for help from Metin to find a way to convince Canan and Metin decides to organize a romantic dinner on his boat.
Akgün acts like he has accepted to stay and live under Selim’s protection, but really he is just looking for an escape. Yağmur’s boyfriend Kaan starts to get jealous of Akgün when he hears that Yağmur and Akgün were together in the car that night. Yağmur can’t say she was helping Akgün to escape so she is forced to tell everyone she had an accident while she was returning home from the market with Akgün.
This naturally disturbs Kaan a lot and he tries to pick a fight with Akgün on the beach. Yağmur gets there on time to stop them. When she tells Akgün to stay away from her friends she also accidentally gives Akgün the idea of escaping to the Greek islands.
In Turkish there’s an informal saying that has kind of began to be used in the last years. It translates to “delivering judgement”. Akgün uses this a few times, being the larrikin that he is. He uses it during his fight at the beach with Yağmur, Kaan and all the others, saying “you’re delivering judgement from up above with your apartment buildings with security”. He feels like he is being judged by people who have been raised in houses of glass and they don’t really know what real life is like. Little does he know that even people who seem to have been living normal lives like Yağmur, Naz or Kaan, have their own sad stories and troubles which we will witness one by one.
He also uses this phrase when Canan asks for confirmation on what his father does for a living. Canan thinks Akgün’s father is a prosecutor just like Selim. Akgün has nothing to do but confirm since he can’t tell her his father is a rowdy so he just answers her by saying, “True, he delivers judgement” this time in the sense that he is the law somehow but not the law that we understand.
It is not clarified what Selçuk Taşkın does or is. In the first episode when Yağmur asks Akgün if his father is with the mafia, he says, you’ve been watching too many movies. I get the impression that he’s not exactly like a mafia leader trafficking drugs etc. Akgün refers to their circle as a community. When Eray asks for his help with the rowdy men who have been harassing him and Akgün finds out that Eray was lying about them harassing him for nothing (Eray asked for their protection but refused to pay them) he says you can’t enter this community afterwards, you need to be born into it.
Selim refers to them as an organization, because to him they’re all criminals. He doesn’t have any mercy for any of them, which we will see in the future episodes. Eray and Akgün run into each other and Akgün asks for the help of his old friend. Eray accepts but asks for his help in return with the rowdy men. Here during this conflict another important term comes into play. When they meet these men, Eray all of a sudden pulls out a gun. Akgün takes it out of his hands immediately but that gesture makes an irreparable damage. Eray has gone against the code (“racon” in Turkish which translates to way or drill in English). Racon is the unwritten set of rules of their world. The things they can and can’t do.
That night the rowdy men come and open fire on Eray’s night club and Yağmur, Naz and Kaan are also there because Akgün has given the VIP passes that Eray gave him earlier to Naz. Akgün sees the men entering the club and runs inside and saves Yağmur’s life and gets shot in the arm while doing it. While Akgün is saving Yağmur’s life Kaan is hiding under a table and we see his tortured face while watching all this happen.
One of my favorite scenes in the episode is the conversation between Canan and Selim. Canan is really sick and tired of Selim not being there for them all through the years. She believes there is nothing to save in their marriage. So initially when she sees that Metin has set them up at his boat, she tries to leave. But Selim says, you don’t have to listen to me, you talk and I’ll listen. She starts by asking him, “why are you like this? Why do you always look so serious and wear a tie at all times?” It is really touching to hear why Selim is always wearing a suit and a tie. He says, “because I want to look good next to you. I want to make myself more presentable to look worthy of you.” Canan’s answer reassures him, “how can you think this way about yourself. In this life I’m the person that loves you the most.”
When Canan complains that he was always far away from them and he didn’t even leave a shirt in the house when he moved to Istanbul, at first he doesn’t get why this upsets her. She then tells him, she used to smell his shirt when she missed him. This touches Selim a lot. But the ultimate blow is her saying, “I’d even be okay with your shadow, but you chose to stay in the darkness and even your shadow didn’t cast upon us.”
He replies, “help me come to the light then and forgive me, if you can.” The conversation is interrupted with the news about Yağmur being in the hospital and they both run to see what happened. In the hospital, Yağmur has no memory of the moment of the shooting, so she doesn’t remember Akgün saved her. Selim isn’t pleased to see Akgün there, apart from Canan, no one cares about him being shot in the arm (although the bullet missed him it’s just a few stitches). Yağmur seeing that her father is mad at Akgün, lies and says she invited Akgün to the club and that’s why he was there. This is the second time she saves him and hints that there will be many more. One of the things I love about Son Yaz is this, the men are saved by the women not vice versa.
When they get home, Selim threatens Akgün and pushes him to the wall, nearly strangling him. He tells him to stay away from Yağmur. Akgün doesn’t tell him he saved Yağmur’s life. I have to say, even though Selim was quick to judge, he wasn’t entirely wrong. If it wasn’t for Eray and Akgün’s visit to the rowdy men, the shooting would never happen. But of course Selim doesn’t know this yet, so his behavior towards Akgün is still very mean and unjust. At the club Eray promises Akgün he will arrange for him a transfer to Greece with a boat.
The next day, Selim goes to the club to investigate the shooting and talks to Eray. When he watches the recording of the security cameras he sees that Akgün jumped right in front of Yağmur to save her. He feels really bad for treating him so badly. At the same time in social media people start sharing the incident and Yağmur’s family and friends are all gathered in the garden and watch it. They all see how Akgün was the hero of the day and how he saved her life risking his own. Altay calls Yağmur and shows her what happened. She doesn’t say anything but is really surprised.
Another touching scene comes when Selim faces Akgün and he hugs him to thank him. This is how he also says sorry although he doesn’t say it out loud. He says, “thank you my son” which touches Akgün deeply. When he says anyone would do it. Selim answers, “no, they wouldn’t”. We can tell that this changes Selim’s view on Akgün a bit. Although he doesn’t know yet that Akgün caused this shooting in the first place. :)
Canan invites Akgün and Selim to dinner, in order to thank Akgün and also she feels like after last nights’ conversation things could be a little different between her and Selim. Everyone is happy and positive in the beginning but as the night goes on and Akgün and Yağmur are in the kitchen doing dishes, Altay starts telling Selim about the things he missed in the last years and he gets one surprise after another, realizing he was pretty much always absent when important events took place and he takes a look at the photos on the shelf and sees he isn’t in any of the frames. He makes a sudden decision, as we’ll see in the future it’s his best and worst asset.
He blurts out that him and Canan decided to get a divorce. Canan is left speechless as she wanted to say it together and not this way and also because she probably thought he didn’t want a divorce because he said so last night. That was the whole point of the dinner at the boat. He ends the night saying, “you were right” to Canan leaving a heartbroken woman and kids behind.
Yağmur storms out of the house and as she’s crying at the beach, Akgün sees her. The final meaningful conversation of the episode takes place here. He tries to comfort her and succeeds and when Eray calls to say he can’t come to pick him up to take him to the boat next morning, this time it’s Yağmur who comforts him and she says she will take him there. Their conversation here is proof that they read each other very well. Akgün tells Yağmur that she’s stuck between her heart and her mind and she needs to make a decision. Yağmur tells him, he needs to make a decision about who he is. He needs to decide if he is a terrifying criminal or a hero. In order to not look weak he’s acting like something he’s not. The episode ends the next morning as Yağmur is driving Akgün to the boat.
In theory justice needs to serve people and law makes it possible for justice to be applied. If it’s easier to explain something by its opposite, injustice is being prejudiced and discriminating people. We tend to not like people who are not like us. We fail to notice that’s not fair. We do it to protect what is our own. The people in Kara family’s circle are prejudiced against Akgün because he put out a fight in episode 1. He didn’t mean to but that’s what people remember you for in the end. Everyone refers to him with his surname, same thing for Soner who is Halil Sadi’s son. They have to carry their fathers’ crimes’ burdens.
Yağmur is prejudiced against her father. She doesn’t believe his sincerity. According to her, he was never there for them and he may as well leave now. Akgün doesn’t even consider staying with Selim and his family because he feels like a fish out of water and desperately tries to go back to his own fish bowl. We seek what is familiar, people and locations we are used to. This stops us from growing but we don’t notice. We need to feel safe in our surroundings and anything different feels threatening.
The arrival of the newcomer and people changing by him is a metaphor that has been used millions of times in storytelling but I have to say it never grows old. We need people and experiences that will get us out of our box. We will judge and blame them in the beginning, it’s probable and such happens in Son Yaz but eventually we will learn from our contact with them.
The judicial system aside we also have our own judgements which are not always reliable. Because we as human beings decide on things with past experiences which may as well be unpleasant. This is why there had to be a system because human beings are not reliable. However the defect in the system is the people in the system, who are like Selim. They may mean well but still they can act upon emotions and prejudices.
We need to have trust in the law and we do for the most part but for those who fall between the cracks like Akgün, who have been born into crime and have known nothing else and don’t know how to get out of it, what can be done? What would the world be like if we stopped judging people for things that are not in their hands. For things like their family name, their hometown, their family or for things that they did in the past when they didn’t know better? Would that make the world a bit better?
As always, I’m leaving here a song. I imagined it was what they were listening to in the car when Yağmur was driving Akgün to the boat.
Dear reader, what do you think? Are there times the laws fail to serve justice, in my country (Turkey) that’s a huge problem, how’s it in your country? Are you enjoying Son Yaz, what episode are you on? On my third essay about Son Yaz, I’ll cover the third episode and a different subject. Let me know what you think, about this essay and the show in general. Find me as @edsavaseri on Twitter. I love reading your comments, they really make my day. Please share this essay if you can, so that more people get to hear about the show. Have a great day wherever you are in the world right now. Sending you good vibes from a cloudy Istanbul evening.
*To read my article on the first episode of Son Yaz click here.