‘Hot Skull’ Episode 1: Recap And Ending, Explained: What Are AEI And Project X? Does AEI Catch Murat Siyavus?

Netflix brings us a brand-new show about a dystopian world where aphorisms are of no use! This series is called “Hot Skull” and is directed by Mert Baykal. The country it is made in is Turkey, and it stars Osman Sonant as the protagonist. This thriller is about a semantic plague that has spread across the world and is called ARDS. The production of the series has been done in Istanbul, and we see a lot of heavy literary references in the first episode. The amazing cinematography and some striking scenes in the trailer itself are enough to attract the audience to this drama. Wondering what happened during this semantic epidemic? Read on!

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Spoilers Ahead


What Is ‘Hot Skull’ About?

The story is set in Istanbul, Turkey. In the first few minutes of the episode, we are introduced to the protagonist of the drama named, Murat Siyavus. We see that he is playing some tape recordings and looks very anxious. The dates on the tapes are shown, and the narrator (Murat) talks to himself, and the setting is as if the audience is listening to his synesthesia. In synesthesia, a person can taste words and see visuals while hearing sounds; it is an illusionary phenomenon. We learn that the world is suffering from an epidemic, and there are riots everywhere. ARDS has plagued the entire world, and people are going insane. In the drama, a person with ARDS starts speaking rubbish and keeps on talking. This semantic virus started eight years ago, and the cure has not been found. Because of the tough rules that the officials put on people because of the plague, riots took place, and people went rogue. There are different types of quarantine facilities shown, and Murat tells the audience that the government agency abbreviated “AEI” saw this virus as an opportunity.

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What Is AEI?

Due to the outbreak of this virus, the communication industry broke down, and financial depression led to the collapse of the entire system. There was panic and chaos everywhere, and to control the outrage that the people had, an organization came into being, the AEI. The full name of the institution is the Anti-Epidemic Institution, and they divided the cities into safe zones and danger zones. The officials forcefully put the infected people in quarantine zones and took them away from their families, which explains why there was outrage. We then learn that the protagonist cannot jabber, even if he wishes to. After getting introduced to the AEI, we see Murat walking on the streets, smiling. Suddenly, he sees a girl, and he cannot help but think about her even after she is gone. 


Murat’s Story 

We learn that Murat grows to like the girl he sees at a bus stop. He also characterizes her as a “dream.” The audience sees him having a vision where he is standing in front of the girl, and he says he almost cried looking at her. Suddenly, the girl looks at her, and he starts walking away until he sees a white flower looking at the flower; he gets the courage to talk to her. He tells her there is no service at the bus stop, and the girl just smiles and continues reading her book. We see a montage of philosophy on the little white flower, which would remind anyone of literature. Later in the episode, we get to know that the flower he sees is called Galanthus Byzantinus, which is also the name of the first episode. So, we see a metaphor in flowers; it makes Murat feel alive, or so he believes. We later learn that there is a curfew of 6 p.m. inside the safe zones, and Murat lives with his mother under a false name. He brings Sudoku for his mother and some other things, along with some tapes. His mother asks him if he brought soap, and he says no. She later tells him that Makbule wants them to come home, to which he shakes his head. They argue a little, after which his mother asks him to bring soap, and he leaves the place. At the convenience store, he meets an infected person, and the sirens go off.

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We see everyone rushing away from the infected person, who is seen jabbering a lot. Murat then saves the life of a young child by giving him his headphones. In the drama, everyone is seen wearing headphones to protect themselves from the virus, so when Murat gives his headphones to the young child, he is exposed to the virus. We see him running out of the store, and his head starts heating up. We later see the AEI taking the woman away in an ambulance, which is called ARDS Patient Transport. Later, we see two officials talking to each other about a guy who was exposed to the virus but walked off as if nothing had happened to him. Later in the episode, we learn that the chief officer of AEI is named Anton.


What Is Project X?

Apparently, the people of Project X tried to find a cure for this semantic virus. However, most of them went underground or died in a fire. In the series, we learn that this team was made up of researchers, and Murat was a part of it along with his friend Ozgur, who had died. As planned, Murat and his mother go to Makbule, whose son is infected by the virus. She has kept him hidden at her place and cannot even take him to a doctor for fear of getting reported. We later get introduced to Arif, who is the infected person’s son. He tells Murat that he believes Ozgur is not dead. He shows him his tattoo and asks if he has seen his dead body, and to this, Murat says that if his friend were alive, he would simply come to him. However, he has not, which actually means that he is dead. Arif says that he can prove that Ozgur is not dead, and the audience learns that Ozgur helped Murat when he was infected, so here we learn that Murat is immune to the disease. When he is about to leave Makbule’s premises, we see Arif approaching Murat and showing him some medicines. In the medicines, we see the same symbols that Ozgur had tattooed on his arms. We learn that Ozgur is the only person who can turn Murat into the person that he was before and that Ozgur is the one who gave him “the skull.” We later learn that Murat wants to get rid of his skull, which heats up again and again. He can’t seem to take it anymore, so his mom asks him to do something about it.

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Murat looks at photographs, and when we go back in time, we learn that Murat was probably married to a girl who also worked with him. In this timeline, we see them talking about their job and how they take a risk for people who are exposed to the virus. We later see Anton getting more information about Murat. Now, they are behind him. They learn that Murat had been to the hospital a few times for high fever after the fire, and after that, he vanished. The AEI still does not know where he resides. 


‘Hot Skull’ Episode 1: Ending Explained – Does AEI Catch Murat? 

We later see Murat going back to Arif and saying that he wants to meet Erol, who is a friend of Arif’s. He can get them into the AEI system. This person tells Murat that his business service includes all kinds of things like transportation, mobile phones, home appliances, etc. He says he has everything they are looking for, and so Arif tells him they need information about a certain person; they want to check if he is alive or not. Erol says this can be done, but the price of the service is too high. They can’t afford it, so Erol comes up with another offer. He says they have a self-service offer too, and they agree upon it. Murat decides to be the person who goes to the AEI headquarters, and meanwhile, Anton gets the headphones that he used to save the child. On the headphones, there is a specific number through which they find out where Murat lives. We then see Murat successfully entering the building and logging into their computer with the help of one of Erol’s guys. 

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He opens Ozgur’s file and finds out that the body in the picture is not his because it does not have the arm tattoo that Ozgur had. Also, he finds out that the AEI is after him and tries to delete the file in vain. Later we see him rushing to his place while Anton takes a special team to his place despite his senior officer telling him not to dwell on Project X much. We later see the officials questioning his mother, but she subtly puts on the red pine cone near the window that is used to signal Murat that he’s in danger. Murat reaches his home and, after noticing the sign on the window, runs away. 


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Tarushi Patali
Tarushi Patali
Tarushi is an English Literature graduate, who is currently doing master's in mass communication from Mumbai. She loves making lists and is an avid reader. Also, she likes judging people by their movie taste. In her leisure time you would find her digging random conspiracy pages on Reddit!

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