An atypical superhero story featuring an ordinary boy who must fulfill his destiny, Hakan’s journey ended perfectly with the completion of Season 4 of The Protector. In a groundbreaking cinematic journey, where the producers worked hard to maintain the foundations of Turkish storytelling, The Protector follows an internally consistent script that captures a young man’s discovery of how the past affects the future, the truths reside within the lies, loyalties are tested within the illusions, the light glows within the darkness and, most importantly, how true strength lies within.
Much of Season 4 is set in the past, with Hakan traveling in time and into Harun’s body, tasked with trying to understand how the battle with the Immortals can be resolved in the past.
We learn how the Immortals, who are really cursed souls stuck in this world, also begin to learn that love can supersede the anger and provide a path to happiness. The path to vengeance does not change anything, and history will repeat itself again and again, unless one is willing to face the bitter truth or dig under the deceptions. Fear of death is often a debilitating way to live and can keep one from living a life of any meaning.
We are given insight into the histories of Harun and Valeria (Vezir), Husret/ Faysal and Ruya, Hakan and Zeynep, and each plot line is resolved in ways that are consistent with separation in time, and circumstances. Zeynep’s character morphs tremendously as she suffers through being an Immortal in conflict with her born duty of being a Loyal One, and also becoming the host for the Oracle at some point in the story. She is used as an effective plot device who serves as a prism into Hakan’s realizations of what he needs to do next. He never states his love for her and yet he is always driven by finding his place with her.
With surprising twists and turns in changing allegiances, history is re-written to create a future where the balance of good and evil can come out even. After multiple seasons of watching the ‘good’ side take a repeated beating, to experience the appreciable journey of faith and conviction finally lighting the way towards an ultimate resolution is very well done.
Season 4 is a cinematic experience to be treasured. From set design to cinematography to costumes to performance – everything is a notch above what has been done in the past, and the end product is a worthy contender in a crowded global field of superhero stories. Even though we learn the age-old truth about how lines between good and evil, heritage and choices, reality and destiny are intertwined in precarious ways as we navigate humankind over the generations, we are reminded that sometimes it is the most ordinary of men who can change the world with extraordinary choices.
If you are already a fan of the franchise, you will be deeply satisfied with this installment. If you have never watched it before, and have some notion of how Turkish storytelling pushes the boundaries of human choices within life experiences, you will find that what may superficially look like a mimicry of a Hollywood style action flick is, in reality, very much a Turkish show that manages to push the boundaries on multiple fronts.
Throughout the three seasons of the first Turkish original from Netflix, the audience has been witness to the adventures of Hakan Demir, who goes from being an ambitious but luckless young man to an unlikely hero who suddenly discovers his lineage linked to an ancient order tasked with being the Muhafiz ("The Protector") of Istanbul. With a ring, a dagger and a talismanic shirt all of which have special powers, he is bestowed with the responsibility of keeping the city safe from the shenanigans of the Immortals, another ancient order who thrive on wreaking havoc on humankind. He is helped by the Loyal Ones, who are mortal human beings tasked with protecting his life at all costs. With training from Zeynep, one of the leaders in his army, he must become a worthy warrior within a short period of time, as the threat of a reprisal of the full set of Seven Immortals looms large.
As part of a superhero fantasy genre, if you are looking for a formulaic story of a superhero who ends each episode with yet another successful escapade, you will be disappointed. The Protector is far more about Hakan’s journey of becoming the Protector than it is about being one. We see Hakan struggle with loss after loss, ranging from plot devices that push him to rise up to the role of the Muhafiz to bungled plans that test his emotional intelligence and leadership skills. And through each loss, we see him come out stronger on the other side, having learnt from his mistakes and grief.
This process of exposing a character, during both his moments of weakness and glory, is a trait in Turkish drama that its fans love. The actors must express a range of emotions as they strive for the higher moral ground while their passage to the epic love interest is usually fraught with obstacles to be overcome. Cagatay Ulusoy as Hakan and Hazar Erguclu as Zeynep, the head of the Loyal Ones, portray this journey with a sensitivity that is rightfully expected of such committed, experienced young actors.
Unlike the typical monogamous protagonists of Turkish drama, we see a promiscuous Hakan who falls in love with women who are precariously close to or within the world of the Immortals. Time and again, he faces away from the love of Zeynep, a worthy partner in crime. This is despite several clues in the series that suggest that the Protector always marries a Loyal One, as they can fully appreciate the Protector’s moral duty. It is also next to a beloved Loyal One that the Protector can restore his lost powers. However, as the Oracle tells Zeynep in her customary cryptic words, the relationship between the Protector and the Loyal One can be as powerful as it can be dangerous. Which may be why we keep seeing Hakan and Zeynep weave in and out of a hint of a relationship, leaving us once again to question their future together at the dramatic end of Season 3.
While Season 1 ends with the re-emergence of the full fleet of Immortals and Season 2 ends on a vastly weakened Loyal army, Season 3 ends on Hakan emerging as a lone warrior as his friends fall prey to devious machinations by the Immortals under the most powerful of them all, the Vezir. As we discovered in our interview with Director Umut Aral, Season 4 will bring closure to many important questions that have plagued the fans since the conclusion of Season 3. Will Hakan be able to solve the key to changing the past? As Netflix prepares to drop the final season in a few hours, we hope you will tune into the 10 episodes and witness the conclusion to this epic journey taken by Hakan, The Protector of Istanbul.
At the end of this amazing journey provided by the production team, and enjoyed by the international fandom, we leave you with an excellent visual representation of the story so far, which has been created by @414rl (IG, Twittter, YoutTube) for Cagatay Ulusoy North America. Thumbnail credit goes to: cagatayulusoy_hazalkaya01 | IG. The fans, as much as the production team, have delivered on this success for Netflix and we look forward to many more!
You can also head on over to the Cagatay Ulusoy North America YouTube channel that has a series of fan videos that capture different elements of the story so far. More materials to be found on all our other platforms on Instagram, Twitter & Facebook.
Article copyright CUNA and mh/ @entrespire | twitter
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The Protector, starring Cagatay Ulusoy, has been a phenomenal success story for Netflix, registering more than 20 million views for its 25 episodes across the past three seasons. As Netflix prepares to drop the fourth and final season of The Protector on July 9, North America TEN, the umbrella organization for Cagatay Ulusoy North America, is delighted to have the opportunity to connect with Umut Aral, the award-winning lead director for the franchise since Season 1.
With insightful answers about the origins of the story, his vision, localization of the production and more, the following interview provides some great information about the pioneering work done in the first Netflix Turkish original, which explores a new genre for the Turkish market, better known for its dizi format. Our deepest gratitude to Mr. Aral for providing such thoughtful discourse on the process of film making for The Protector.
Read the full interview here.
Article Copyright (c) North America TEN