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“That was then. This is now.” So says the main character of Guardian of the Castle, as he holds fiercely to the past while the present overtakes it.

Guardian of the Castle
Guardian of the Castle: Matija Cigir as Goran Skoro & Iva Babic as Maja — Photo courtesy of PBS Masterpiece / Walter Presents

Based on the novel No-Signal Area by the award-winning Croatian author Robert Perišić, Guardian of the Castle (Cuvar dvorca) is a slow-burning thriller set mostly in Zagreb, Croatia, Yugoslavia, in the mid-1980s.

The four-part miniseries follows Boris Biscan (the late Ivo Gregurevic, Rest in Peace), a loyal mid-level functionary with the National Security Service who leads a lonely and colorless life apart from his estranged daughter. At 60 years old, he is now grappling with the changes happening all around him — notably the gradual collapse of both “the socialist system and constitutional order of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia” and the intelligence community, as evidenced by the  self-serving actions and behaviors of many of his comrades. (Exclusive of the perpetually vacuuming cleaning women at his near-empty office building.)

The drama opens with the voice-over of a man dictating details about Dragi (Vinko Kraljevic, Rest in Peace), a career agent who infiltrated the life of and became friends with a suspected enemy of the state, and subsequently assassinated the now-proven enemy and his entire family at their home in a suburb of Trieste, Italy, on Christmas Eve 1979.

Fast forward to 1985 Zagreb. Biscan, who is in charge of enemy emigration, sends an ad hoc intelligence messenger to Bavaria, Germany, to give Dragi information about his next hit.

Meanwhile, in Innsbruck, Austria, two guys are scheming a way to get their mitts on some easy cash, while in Passau, Germany, two other guys locate an additional target for Dragi.

By the time Episode 2 starts, one person is dead, another has been abducted, and Dragi and Biscan are on the hook for the botched job by Zeman (Goran Bogdan, Success, Fargo), Biscan’s self-absorbed superior. And the plot thickens: Biscan learns the ordered assassination of the abductee actually has nothing to do with politics, despite the interest of other state services in the man.

The miniseries costars Matija Cigir (You Carry Me), Bernard Tomic (Nemoj nikome reci), Iva Babic (The Romanoffs), Filip Nola (Pod sretnom zvijezdom), Dajana Culjak (The Paper), and Goran Grgic (The Paper).

Guardian of the Castle premieres in the US tomorrow, Friday, August 9, on the PBS Masterpiece Channel on Amazon and Walter Presents.

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PBS Masterpiece Channel on Amazon

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Guardian of the Castle: Croatian Political Thriller Set to Premiere in the US