The Protector (2018)

One of the more important creeds when writing time-based art (music, marching drill, film) is that making big moments is easy – it’s the transitions that are hard. Ultimately this is what made me decide after only two and a half episodes in to abandon this random Turkish Netflix superhero show, at least for the moment.

If I had to label the look and feel of the show, i’d say that it was trying to be a Turkish version of Marvel Netflix shows. The story development is a slow, measured pace that sets up the main protagonist as this clueless dreamer who gets slapped in the face with His Destiny. The cinematic style is a weird blend of grounded reality vs comic book – on the one hand, the main protagonist and most of his family and friends feel pretty “real” looking, for lack of a better word, with realistic expectations of how they dress, work, and act on a day-to-day basis. On the other hand, one of the side female characters has perfect makeup and perfect hair no matter where she goes (enough that I felt like someone might as well have been blowing a fan off-stage the entire time) and one of the primary antagonists is always wearing black slacks with a black shirt with a black tie and a black suit – even when he’s supposedly trying to “blend in with the crowd”.

I found it difficult to get drawn into the story because there were beats that felt off to me, but I also found that I was giving it benefit of the doubt since it’s clearly not geared towards a US audience – I told myself that maybe it was because of cultural differences in expectation and that I should reserve judgement. At the end of the first episode, I remember saying to myself immediately, “i don’t know if this is good?”

What made me give up on it was events that lead up to the middle of the third episode. Without spoiling much, the last interchange at the end of the second episode was the protagonist, seemingly now believing in His Destiny, telling his new allies, “We need this ring? Let’s go find this ring!” and the allies smiling like, “Yes! He finally gets it!” But then at the top of the third episode, they’re not going after the ring, and when he asks “why aren’t we going to get the ring?” the allies say, “We’ll get to that later, first we need to make sure that you’re trained.” So then there’s a few scenes of him going through fighting training and mind-over-matter training that’s montaged in such a way that Time Has Passed. And after said montages, the allies then say, “Hey, our enemies could attack us at any moment, let’s go get the ring!” which apparently involved just visiting a friend who had been holding on to the ring for safekeeping.

So the show was sending mixed messages about the urgency of getting the ring, but more importantly, getting the ring apparently wasn’t a Quest, they don’t need to bring the protagonist to a gate that only he can open, they don’t have to do any research to find the ring because it was lost; it was as simple as an errand, like going to a friend’s house to return a borrowed propane tank. So couldn’t one of the allies just go get it while training was still happening?

I don’t know the result of that errand because that’s the point when I stopped watching, but I assume that the answer is boring: retrieving the ring won’t be as simple as they think, there will be some sort of scuffle or fight because the antagonist has been following them or some other nonsense. And that’s where the show ultimately fell apart for me, because while there were a few beats from episodes 1 and 2 that similarly created a very contrived sequence of events, none of them did it so blatantly and grossly.

It’s a shame because there’s a lot about the show to like, and for its faults, it’s still better than some other shows that I’ve watched to their completion in the past. It could just be the frame of mind that I’m in right now where there are too many things I’m currently watching and I have too much other stuff going on in my life to be as forgiving of this in a way that I would have in my past. It did get greenlit for a second season, so maybe if it runs for a few seasons i’ll give it another chance to dust out the freshmen cobwebs.

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