Directed by Umut Aral and Tolga Kara, Netflix Turkish series, “Yakamoz S-245” is set in the same universe as the 2020 Netflix thriller, “Into the Night,” directed by Jason George. The events in both series’ overlap, and we get substantial hints which make you realize that the actions of the characters in one will have implications on the life of the characters in the other.
Kivanc Tatlitug (Arman), Ozge Ozpirincci (Defne), Ertan Saban (Umut), Meric Aral (Hatice), Ece Cesmioglu (Yonca), play prominent roles and drive the narrative ahead, sometimes with their conflicting ideologies and very rarely moving cohesively towards a plan of action. Burak Kanbir, the director of photography, Suleyman Iyisu, and Firat Yunluel, the art directors need special mention for creating a world that not only looked realistic but was able to assimilate the darkness and the void of the greater depths of our planet.
“Yakamoz S-245” is a kind of series that harps heavily upon the fear of the unknown. There is a thrill that originates from anticipation and uncertainty. A cosmic event throws the planet off balance, and there are a handful who survive. The novelty is not in chronicling the lives of the ones who were lost, but in navigating the pathways of those who survived. Such a narrative has the potential to keep you on the edge of your seats and instill a sense of fear that is more effective than a patent horror flick, because you believe in the possibility of an extraterritorial event more than a supernatural one. So let’s see if the makers were able to extract the full potential of the sci-fi thriller and whether they were able to create a captivating narrative.
Arman and Defne, the two enthusiastic scientists, had met after a long period of time. Once, they were in a relationship but eventually decided to end it and go different ways. There was one thing in common between the two that still bonded them: their love for diving and underwater exploration. Arman knew that Defne wouldn’t pay a visit just because she wanted to meet him. He knew there was an underlying motive. And he was right in assuming it. Defne wanted Arman to come with her to the Erena Trench, an oceanic trench that Arman had wanted to explore for quite some time. She told him that her assistant Rana, an oceanographer named Felix, and Arman’s old friend, Cem, a marine biologist, would be part of the crew. Arman waited for the catch, as he knew that there would be one, because otherwise, for such an enticing proposition, Defne wouldn’t have come all the way and took effort to convince him. The project of exploration was being funded by Yenilik Inc., owned by Arman’s father. He was not on very good terms with his father, and he didn’t want him to meddle in his affairs once again. His father was involved in the scheme of things as there was evidence of hydrocarbon emissions of a high magnitude from the place, which meant that there was undiscovered oil. Arman’s father was after the oil reserves. But Defne tells him that there was evidence of one more thing, apart from the presence of oil reserves. Antipatharia, also known as black corals, were supposedly present in the area. Because it was such a rare coral, international law said that oil drilling could not be carried out in that area where the presence of such coral is found. Arman came on board, as now he knew he had a chance to not only go to Erena Trench and find the rare corals, but also spoil the drilling plans of his father.
At Incirlik Air Base, situated in Adana, Hatice, an officer, tries to inform the authorities about an anomaly that she sees happening in outer space while doing her job. She suspects some foul play when the higher authorities do not get surprised by the news and abstain from taking any overt actions. She knows that they were aware of some facts and chose to hide them from the general public.
Meanwhile, Arman, Defne, together with their group decide to conduct a test dive in Arman’s submarine named Oya. After the test run, they come back to the surface but find that the carrier ship has been abandoned. Defne’s fiance, Kenan, was there with a few other crew members, but they all seemed to vanish.
Arman and Defne come aboard and search the whole ship. They are astounded and cannot seem to fathom what had exactly happened. They stumble upon a video that has been left by Kenan. In that video, he said that they were abandoning the ship as a harrowing natural phenomena had taken place. The sun’s rays were causing the death of everybody who was exposed to it. Apparently, there was a shelter in Kos, and they were headed towards it.
Defne and Arman, together with others, head towards Kos in their submarine. They spot something underwater that seems to be coming towards them. It was a Yakamoz S-245, a submarine, with a naval crew inside it. They joined forces and found out that everybody had died on the island. Defne insisted on going and finding Kenan, but others were of the opinion that they should go back to the submarine, as that was the only way they could be saved from the sunlight, as the sunlight doesn’t reach the aphotic zone. Kenan didn’t make it, and Arman returned to Yakamoz S 245 just in time with Defne.
Once the commander in chief, Erenay, met a fateful end, Umut took his position. Yonca, daughter of Erenay, became the second in command. The naval commanders of Yakamoz S245, together with the researchers, Defne, Arman, and their team, cannot comprehend the situation due to a lack of information. They stay underwater during the daytime and head towards a port only at night. Apart from catering to the bigger issue of survival, there were a lot of internal conflicts that emerged as subplots. There are many developments that are made over a period of time. Umut is suspicious of Defne’s role in the whole fiasco. He suspects the involvement of NATO, and that they knew something that everybody else was unaware of. They even got evidence that pointed towards Erenay’s involvement with NATO. Things take a grave turn when they find Hatice who had been hiding in the submarine for the beginning and has a lot of confidential information to share.
The subplots, the internal conflicts, the ego clashes, and the fallibility of human beings to cater to the material aspects of the world even when their survival is at stake, are what add a nerve-racking element to the whole narrative. The character of Umut encapsulates this enigma and a behavior that qualifies to be called unexpected. His impulses are often erratic and, to a point, intimidating. He is that antagonist, who is neither so rogue to be called a villain nor so noble to be called a hero. He takes pride in the fact that he has made his own way and holds a strong sense of comradery for his battalion. The character of Defne on the other hand, might have some hidden agenda on the paper, but visually looks quite plain jacketed, and is unable to depict that secrecy that she was being credited for, by Umut. Arman’s motivations and intent are clear from the beginning. He waits with the audience on the sidelines and witnesses the revelations, playing the role of course corrector. There are times when the narrative feels a bit stretched, and fragments of the screenplay seem unnecessary. The editing could have been crisper to keep the narrative brewing, and instill in the audience a sense of urgency and panic. There are times when that tantalizing aspect, which is the core of a thriller, seems to be missing, and the viewers might feel a bit disenthralled. The series is effective in parts, and its various tentacles loosen the hold at subsequent intervals.
Overall, “Yakamoz S-245” is a decent series, with some enigmatic performances to look out for and an above-average narrative that might not meet your expectations but surely won’t bore you and moreover abstains from becoming mundane.