MAMMA’S DIARY – DIARIO DI MAMMA
For anyone just waking up to the phenomenon that is Gomorrah in Italy, here’s a quick rundown. The book Gomorrah, which was an investigative, first-hand look at Naples’ Camorra mafia, became a movie and the movie became a TV show. The book, movie, and TV show are hugely popular in Italy. People simply can’t get enough of this view of the intense, violent, and despicable life of those in the Italian mob. Now, SundanceTV is sharing the series with viewers in the United States every Wednesday night at 10 p.m. ET. The first season is well underway, and you can get recaps to catch up on what happened in the first six episodes and episodes 7 and 8 right here on Italian Mamma. Without further ado, here’s what happened on the Sept. 21 showing:
Episodes 9 and 10
For me, these were the most difficult episodes to watch, so far. The characters are so evil and their actions so gruesome that I begin to lose all faith in humanity and certainly in my Neapolitan roots, which normally draw great pride. As I saw it, these two episodes gave viewers insight into how decent young kids get lured into this life of crime and how predictable and tragic their end will be. There is no doubt, once you are in the mob, you are only getting out by death (usually heinous) or prison. And most of the people never get to taste power or riches. It’s a sad and lonely existence without love or joy. It’s an ugly and scary world in which they must live. Frankly, that’s not the Italy – or even the Napoli – I know, thank God. But it’s real. What makes Gomorrah more important than your usual gangster entertainment is that it holds up a mirror to the devastating reality being lived out in southern Italy, and it forces people like me to see the side of this place they never see. It hurts, but it’s the only way to bring about change, and it’s a new kind of journalism that actually fictionalizes news stories, so the public pays more attention to them and better understands what’s happening. In fact, the story is so real that the young man, who portrayed Daniele in these episodes, was chosen because his family did have connections to the Camorra. In a sad turn of events, shortly after his appearance in the show, the real actor, Vincenzo Esposito, ended up in jail for a violent mob attack that saw a man get stabbed 10 times, according to the Daily Mail.
Now, exactly how did these episodes make such statements? Well, it all begins with Daniele, the teenage boy Ciro had recruited in the last episode. We quickly learn that Daniele has a girlfriend Manu with whom he is in love. She’s a disciplined young woman, who works in a hair salon and lives by her father’s rules. She’s on the straight and narrow and isn’t the type to hang out with any Camorristi. Daniele never tells her what he has gotten involved in, but he does give her a rose gold ring with a fake diamond (after he makes a little bit of money from Ciro) and asks her to marry him. She replies, “Yes.” Aah, young love! But, of course, fate will get in the way of the romance.
Ciro is using Daniele (surprise! surprise!) to push Gennaro, who has quickly devolved into Ciro’s arch enemy, into a war with a rival gang, run by Salvatore Conte (from the previous episode when Imma sent Ciro to Spain to kill or be killed). He tells Daniele to kill Tonino Russo, one of Conte’s senior consiglieri, who was getting chummy with Gennaro, who had promised the two clans would work together and show loyalty. But Ciro doesn’t tell the young Daniele who he was killing. He just says Gennaro wants the man dead because of a debt he owes and that he’s a “nobody.” We learn that Daniele’s mother is worried about her older son, who is gone for months at a time. It turns out he is the driver for Conte, who Ciro had encountered in Spain, too. So, you start to connect the dots.
Well, Daniele kills all the people in the warehouse, including Tonino Russo and is in a bit of shock. He doesn’t go home as Ciro advised. Instead, he sneaks away with Manu for some loving. That’s when he gives her the ring. Then, the two go to a bar, where Ciro sees the news and learns who he has killed and the fact that this death is likely to ignite a gang war. Furious, he calls Ciro and demands to know why he didn’t say who it was. Ciro tells him to get home. He leaves Manu at the bar stranded but promises to get his friend Bruno, a good kid, who works in a fish market, to pick her up. When Daniele returns home, he finds mobsters outside his door talking about how they are going to lure him to kill him. He escapes and goes into hiding. Meanwhile, Manu is getting concerned no one is picking her up. Ciro has seen her picture and rolls up. He picks her up and takes her to an empty lot, where he tortures her in the hopes she’ll break and tell him where Daniele is. She, however, honestly doesn’t know. In the end, Ciro violently burns Manu and the car they were in. All that remains is the ring, which the authorities try to use to identify her when reporting the crime to the public. Ciro then shows up at the factory where Daniele’s mother works and puts pressure on her to call him if she hears from Daniele. Ciro has no choice but to tell Gennaro that Daniele made the hit and therefore it has the Savastano clan name on it. Gennaro is outraged and tells Ciro to find the boy. Genny tries to clear up matters by visiting Russo’s wife at the house after the funeral and insisting that his family did not do this and that he’s truly sorry for her loss. She doesn’t buy it but remains completely silent.
Daniele’s brother is chauffeuring Conte from Spain to Italy because he wants to find out who killed one of his top men. He believes it was Gennaro, but he can’t be sure what’s happening. Early in the trip, the driver gets a call from his mother concerned about where his little brother, Daniele, is because he never returned home. The elder son thinks she is overreacting. Then, he gets a call from his brother, who he keeps brushing off because he doesn’t want to upset Conte. When they finally talk, the brother can’t believe Daniele’s part in these murders. His response is to try and kill Conte, who fights back and gets the brother to spill the beans on what happened. It’s important to note that Conte is a man of faith despite or perhaps because of his criminality. He brought this up to Ciro in the first episode he was in, and viewers watch him say the Rosary and pray for strength in a gang war at church in this one. Conte tells the driver he understands his brother committed the murder under orders and didn’t know what he was initiating. He promises to help them both and put them in hiding with their mother as long as the brother takes him to Daniele, who is holed up in an abandoned factory where their father had once worked. When Conte and the driver arrive, Conte tells the brother to thank God for putting him in the Conte car because he’s going to save them. He gets out of the car. At first, Daniele is concerned and has his hand on his gun. Conte promises him that everything is going to be okay, that he can trust him. He gets closer to him and promises that the worst is over. He asks Daniele to come in for a hug to get his forgiveness. At first he hugs the young boy hard, and you wonder if maybe he really is going to help them. But then he grabs the gun from Daniele’s pocket and blows his head off. His brother in the car is next, but he takes off. It’s unclear if he got hit or not. Conte stands alone. End scene. End episode but not before you get a view of the young Daniele’s lifeless body amid his own blood and gravel.