Sunday, June 24, 2018

REVIEW: 'Deep State' - Harry Investigates to Know Why His Government Wants Him Dead in 'A Kind of Warfare'

Epix's Deep State - Episode 1.02 "A Kind of Warfare"

In Washington, we meet the CIA's Amanda Jones. Now in Beirut, Max doesn't know who to trust after speaking to Leyla, a member of The Section team stationed there.

Unfortunately, it seems like Deep State is already padding its season out a little bit to keep itself from revealing too much about what's actually going on too quickly. Yes, "A Kind of Warfare" introduces a significant new character who adds another interesting layer to the conspiracy by bringing in the American perspective. But it also feels like things just keep being delayed for Max on his journey. He is the lead character of the show. He should be the one propelling the plot and story forward. And here, he is annoyed when he first has to go to one police station to pick up Leyla and understand what's going on with her and Harry. And then, he has to go to a different police station that requires him to go through even more hoops because it's controlled by a corrupt man who once told him never to return to Beirut again. As such, it's all very complicated in order to ensure that Max doesn't find out what happened to his son after Said took him out to the desert to stage that picture for George White. Harry has a significant story throughout this episode because the show needs him to cover a lot of ground. That means the story ultimately has to catch up to what Leyla actually knows about what has happened to Harry over the last few days. Said returned to the safe house and told Leyla and Cooper that Harry was dead because of a failed raid on Omar. She had to receive some kind of new information about Harry's status as a way to justify the premiere ending with Cooper using his dying moments to tell Max that his son was still alive. That increased the personal stakes throughout this episode because it completely changes Max's core objective. He was willing to take out Said, Cooper and Leyla because they were the agents who killed Harry. And now, he's learning that's not the truth at all. He just killed a man who didn't deserve to die. He was acting under the orders of George White who continues to find a way to cover up what he's really doing in the region. That means that Max and the audience need to get answers in order to keep the story moving forward. That just means the priority is on Harry instead of giving Max something of value to do this week.

So, Harry is told to walk to the Beirut border and completely disappear. Said is giving him a chance at a new life. He has staged it so the world believes him to now be dead. Harry is furious that he was put on the kill list in the first place just because of him pursuing one lead in this case. He wanted to find out how Omar could be working against the unit to warn this latest target that people are coming after him now for whatever he knows or is doing. Harry went into all of this believing this man to be the financier of the program Iran is currently working on that is in violation of the nuclear deal. But that appears to be a story completely concocted in order for the various governments of the world to justify breaking that deal and taking out these targets for some mysterious reason. That's haunting and so destructive. As such, Harry simply can't walk away. He does so. He walks for awhile. But he ultimately decides to turn around and figure out what Said is up to and just how far this corruption actually goes. Of course, it's still a story that builds up to Omar's death. Harry is able to track him down before Said and the other agents. Harry doesn't want to reach out to Leyla right now because he has no way of knowing whether or not she is working against him. He loves her and wants to spend his life with her. But now, his whole world has been destroyed. As such, he needs to be working by himself. He is able to get Omar to share that he procured a passport for his associate to get out of the country and disappear somewhere else in the world because of this new hit out on him. Leyla is able to warn Harry in time before he gets caught in the crossfire of the bomb she has just planted on the taxi. That moment proves that she does genuinely love him. But it also proves that Harry is still working alone. Everyone knows he's in Beirut and trying to find this contact before the British government does. He needs to understand what's going on. Finding the target will lead everyone back to Harry.

That's Max's new objective at the moment. He was teased that Harry was still alive. Cooper died before being able to give him any more details. So, Max's world has essentially been shattered once more as well. He wants to hear his wife's voice and be comforted by knowing that his life back in France is still perfectly safe. He needs that certainty as he's about to risk so much to betray the orders given to him by George White. He was told to kill Said, Leyla and Cooper. He has already succeeded with one of those objectives and knows where another target is currently being held. He can rely on the surveillance services in the London office to figure out which precinct Leyla is at as well. He is using White as a resource while also being aware that he can't be trusted at the moment. That's a very difficult situation to navigate. He has to rely on White being able to come up with the documents that he can use as leverage in order to get into that room with Leyla. It just feels like such a distraction to spend so much time dealing with Max and this gangster Baraket who once threatened Max never to return to Beirut. The show never really delves into that story either. Max's backstory of service that led to him coming to Beirut multiple times and interacting with Baraket is never really discussed. That's strange and mostly just makes this encounter feel like it's introduced simply to give Max some conflict for the work where he has to rely on his smarts in order to survive. It's most thrilling when he actually gets into the room with Leyla and she doesn't trust him at all. She knows that he has come to kill her. She won't be taken back to London as a part of the official intelligence community. She is now on the kill list as well simply because Harry shared the information that could compromise the conspiracy that currently exists within the American and British governments.

As such, it's important to see those decisions being made that these officers currently in Beirut must be killed. The premiere delved into that with George White giving the order to Said that Harry must be eliminated because he's one of the moles working against the best interests of the team. The connection that he brings up from Omar's past has already been vetted completely and is actually useless to the current investigation. Of course, White only says that because this firm in Washington, D.C. happens to be a key focal point for this entire conspiracy that brought so many of these individuals together. It's something worth investigating. Now, Max and Harry know where to look because they were targeted as soon as this connection was revealed. Their lives changed because George White and his American counterpart, Amanda Jones, were worried that someone would potentially be able to piece together the puzzle and lead to a huge scandal that would ruin their careers. Amanda is already furious that she has to answer to a bunch of senators who are worried about her already sanctioning action against these Iranian citizens who have only been accused of working together on this secret project. They simply don't see the evidence to justify such drastic actions. They want to be let in on the decision-making process. And yet, that further stirs up the moral debate of "should we kill them before they kill us?" It's a fascinating conversation that Amanda simply has no time for because she believes she's absolutely in the right in her handling of the situation. But she also sees White as creating more and more problems for her. He thought it would be easy to have Max go in and clean up this mess. He wouldn't ask any questions so long as the agency was threatening his family. And now, White is becoming aware that Max is much more powerful and dangerous than he could have expected.

All of this ties back in to the video that Anna found in Max's safety deposit box. She wanted the truth about who her husband actually was. She is spinning because she understands that her husband has been lying to her this entire time. He knows that something is wrong with her as well. He can tell that she's upset by all of his lies. And yet, they aren't able to have that conversation just yet that reveals the truth to each other. They are still carrying their secrets. And yet, Anna and the girls are put in harm's way this week because the house is bugged. The British agency is listening in on everything that is happening in the home. As such, they too become aware of the video and the insurance policy that Max has made for himself. That means an order has to be given to contain this situation as well. Apparently, the assassination that Max carried out ten years ago that forced him to quit this kind of work is also connected to this vast conspiracy that pertains to George White and Amanda. They are made very nervous by how many people know the truth. It represents so many different ways that a scandal could break and cost them their jobs. But White doesn't give the order for Anna and the girls to be killed. That order is still given though because his subordinate believes he needs to step up and make a decision to prove to White that he knows how to handle himself in this job. He's doing the right thing even though it's absolutely horrifying to see a group of people be completely okay with killing children to cover up secrets. They are saved for now. But they are still going to be in danger. Anna is aware of the threat too. As such, she will be on the run with her family as well. That could be thrilling especially if Max has to choose which family he is willing to save at the moment.

Some more thoughts:
  • "A Kind of Warfare" was written by Simon Maxwell and directed by Robert Connolly.
  • All it takes is a cup of water for Harry to realize that he is making a mistake in leaving his friends behind to also be killed by the agency they work for. As such, he is determined to save them despite not knowing if he can trust them. It's also surprising to see just how much money he has. It comes in handy especially as he is watching Said operate and move throughout the city to find Omar.
  • For the most part, the show should move past its multiple timeline storytelling because it has caught up to date with Harry's story. Yes, there is probably more story to be told about what Harry did after Omar's death and Leyla rescuing him. But the audience already knows what the end goal is going to be. It will be much more fascinating once he is in the city trying to figure things out with his father.
  • Max tries to build a connection with Leyla in order to get her to let her guard down enough to hear what he has to say by commenting on the ring she is wearing. He recognizes it as the ring that he gave to Olivia and she gave to Harry. He knows what's engraved on it and what it means for how Harry feels about her. Leyla doesn't have to buy into this story at all. She thinks Harry's father is dead. But a lot of people are coming back to life lately it seems.
  • Of course, it also seems likely that Leyla will try to run the first opportunity she gets. She still doesn't know if she can completely trust Max. It appears to be every agent for themselves at the moment. That could be fascinating because they are all bound to bump into each other again. But it will grow more complicated by the fact that the British and American governments essentially want all of them dead because of the threat they now pose.
  • Max and Anna's children really haven't been characters so far. They've just had a few lines in passing. As such, it's strange when the older one actually confronts Anna about lying to her sister. She is making promises that she couldn't possibly know about when Max will return. And yet, that conversation gets interrupted once the family learns that there is someone breaking into the house to hurt them.