We just finished watching the eighth and final episode of the 2017 Turkish miniseries “Marum” or “Innocent”. Not perfect (but what is?), but worth watching. It’s on Netflix.
While Turkish is a very foreign language and therefore hard to read aurally, the acting seems first quality. The cast is made up of a number of well known Turkish personalities and, believe it or not, Turkey is apparently the second largest source of TV drama. Of course, the U.S. is first; Mexico is third.
SPOILER ALERT. One thing you learn is that no marriage in Turkey is a happy one. You have the detective Yusuf, whose wife left him for someone else (whom she also leaves); you have Cevdet and Nermin, who seem to have been unhappy for what seems to be approaching 50 years; Taner, whose wife has had an ongoing and known affair with Yusuf’s boss, whose own marriage must not be the best; Tarik, whose wife is involved with Nesim. You also learn that sanity in Turkey is a rarity, and that mental illness is something to be so carefully hidden away that the family members who are the hiders become mentally disturbed themselves. You also learn that murder is not always murder, but sometimes is. And you learn that Turkey is a pretty appealing place (which it is), and that religious influence in the country is minimal (which it isn’t) and drink as prevalent as it is in non-Muslim countries (which in fact might be the case).
Cevdet has retired from his 40 plus years as an Istanbul police chief; Yusuf is a detective who had been mentored by Cevdet and whose best friend growing up was Cevdet’s older son, Taner. Emel, the wife of Cevdet’s other mentally damaged son, Tarik, has been found dead in a car which has rolled off the road into the Sea (probably the Sea of Marmara); the car belonged to Taner, but Taner’s body had not been found. Was it an accident killing both Emel and Taner, as Tarik thought, or was it something of a criminal nature? It’s Yusuf’s job to find out.
The mystery slowly works itself out, and is in fact solved in the last episode, although the episode raises some new questions unknown (to me) during the first seven. And, although you could continue the show by having Yusuf confronting new story lines, this one is solved and over, as revealed in the 8th episode, and cannot be elongated.
There are some good lines. Perhaps the best from Tarik, suffering from PTSD and schizophrenia, and hesitant to take the medication which dopes him up, has various recurrent dreams – his dead wife, his former commanding officer, his mother. In his dreams about his mother, she is very comforting; not so, in real life, where she clearly favors her other son, Taner. After a real life tear down by his mother Nermin, he looks at her and mutters “If I only could see you just in my dreams”, as we wanders off, leaving Nermin to look at him go, and say to her husband, “What did he say?”. Also good is Nesim’s line to his lover Emel as she returns to her husband “I’ll miss you like water”, something that makes little sense until you see Taner watering the dying plants in Tarik and Emel’s apartment.
Perhaps the best, as well as the most frustrating part, of the series is its editing. “Innocent” has more flashbacks and flash forwards than any other show I recall seeing. You are often wondering where in time you are – is the the present, or is it in the past, and if it is in the past, where in the past is it compared to, say, the last scene, or the one before that. It keeps you on your toes, and you shouldn’t feel bad if you are confused from time to time. Just be aware that, by the time the series if over, all will be clear.
The individual episodes are 45 to 60 minutes. The first one is strong, but the second and third flag a bit, before it picks up again, to its somewhat surprising end in the 6th and 7th and especially 8th episode. I recommend it.