It was hard enough under Helga and Anton’s interrogation last week… until, in this episode, she’s dropped into a militia training camp in Lebanon – attending a practical course in How To Be A Terrorist. The intensity of the premise alone makes this the best episode since the pilot.
The story is somewhat uncomfortable because we’re shown a more human side to the terrorists intent on harming the West. When Charlie visits the little town in which they live, it seems a nice place (excluding the massive machine guns) – friendly banter, laughing children, a cordial atmosphere. These are seemingly nice people. More mainstream movies and shows can’t quite grasp this idea, and feel obligated (perhaps morally) to create two-dimensional monsters out of terrorists – much like Jed Mercurio did in the Bodyguard finale.
However, their inhuman side is unveiled with the same smiling faces. The late great polemicist Christopher Hitchens once said that religion makes good people do evil things, and this episode almost repeats his claim – only with specific Israel-Palestine geo-politics. The extremist cause is turning decent people into wicked creatures.
It’s not long before the innocent chuckles are shot away by upward gun fire, celebrating Khalil and his martyred brother Salim. It’s an engaging conflict for both us and Charlie to struggle with. She even reminds herself of Gadi telling her ‘They’ll make you feel like you belong … you might even decide to tell them the truth. But the second you do, they’ll turn on you’. Does Charlie remember this because she’s sick of lying, or for a far more dangerous reason?
Writer Claire Wilson, who penned the underwhelming third episode, balances these difficult conflicts perfectly. She even compliments Park Chan-wook’s dreamy style – one scene in particular has Gadi shake hands with a burning man, resembling the album cover of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here. It's a vivid, horrifying image.
Chan-wook is more alive than in previous episodes, probably because the script is more exciting. It’s transparent that he prefers stylish thrills to brooding dialogues, despite executing the latter with colourful competence, and episode five has plenty to be excited about. It’s like his camera has fully awoken.
The Little Drummer Girl is drawing to its close, but with pace instead of build up. This series didn’t need to be six episodes, when four might have sufficed, but we’re finally at the point where we can’t pull our eyeballs off the screen (which is what episode one promised). But there's still plenty of pressure on Chan-wook and writer Michael Lesslie to make the final episode into an epic climax. Come on guys, we deserve it.
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On 25 Nov 18, 9:00 PM – 10:00 PM