Tuesday, November 20, 2018

REVIEW: 'The Little Drummer Girl' - Seduction and Intimacy Continue to Blur Charlie and Becker's Relationship in 'Part 2'

AMC's The Little Drummer Girl - Episode 1.02 "Part 2"

Charlie drives explosives to Austria, while Becker races to save her from a fatal misstep. Tortured by her feelings for Becker, she is drawn deeper into the network. But will her performance hold up?

In 2018, it has become very difficult to keep up with every television show out there. It's even more difficult to provide adequate coverage on this site about the episodes that air every week. Not every show can get full coverage because of my busy and hectic viewing schedule. As such, some reviews will now be condensed to give only some summary thoughts. But it also affords a space for me to jot down my thoughts on the various episodes. And so, here are my thoughts on the next two episodes of AMC's The Little Drummer Girl.

"Episode 3" was written by Claire Wilson and directed by Park Chan-wook

Charlie opted to have more excitement added to her life. Of course, she was always unclear just how much real danger she was in after being recruited by Israeli intelligence. And now, she starts this episode driving a car full of explosives across the Austrian border. She may be driving to the wrong destination as well. It may be nothing more than a trap. That's the tension at the start of this hour. The team has to figure out how to get Salim to tell them the truth while also informing Charlie and Becker of the change to the plans. Everything still works out in the end. A new destination is named that provides the spies with enough access to make their capture when the other members of this terrorist network arrive. Charlie is able to perform well. She is seen on the global stage as an active participant who can be trusted. The terrorists believe that she has been trained by Salim and can carry out these missions. Meanwhile, Becker and Martin trust her as a skilled performer who can nail every single detail that they throw at her. And yet, that is proving to have a significant psychological cost to her as well. That's very fascinating. That's probably even more intriguing and compelling than the boilerplate spy thriller. Charlie succeeds with this mission. She knows that it could go wrong in any number of ways. She is nervous and aware that she can't smoke a cigarette in the car. However, she runs into no problems because of the explosives as well. It's only when she returns to the operation headquarters in Greece that she becomes aware of the true cost that this mission has on the world. It's more than just a performance in order to deceive people. The Israelis are torturing people for information. Moreover, they are killing them in order to cover up everything that was done to destroy this criminal network. To Charlie, that's absolutely horrifying. When she meets the actual Salim for the first time, she is the only person in the room who treats him as a human. That's the reaction she is being trained to have. Becker has been building up this romance that she had to have had with Salim. Because of her perfect memory, she recalls every single detail. However, the lines are starting to blur as well. She doesn't quite know if it was a piece of information spoken to her by Becker or Salim. Nor does she remember if it's something that is real or fake. The Israelis are essentially manipulating and torturing her as well. They are so grateful for the work that she has done for them. Becker has no problem forcing Charlie to see the painful reminder of the bloodshed that has already taken place. She can't be ignorant to this conflict and what her country contributed to all of it. And yet, she is also being sent back to life in London with no real protection. The rest of the spy network is putting on an epic performance that makes it seem like Salim and his partner were killed in a tragic accident. Meanwhile, Charlie is at home reeling from the psychological damage and fearing that any moment could be the time when the other terrorists reach out to her. They could have any number of reactions as well. That's absolutely terrifying to her. Becker is aware that that damage is being done too. He objects to it but still actively participates in it simply because neither he nor Martin can think of a better way in order to put an end to all of this fighting.

"Episode 4" was written by Michael Lesslie and directed by Park Chan-wook

Martin is the only character in this show who is absolutely solid in his convictions. He knows exactly what he has to do and has perfectly rationalized the actions to achieve that ultimate goal. Becker has presented that way as well. He is committed to this mission and using Charlie as an operative. He can put on this different personality in order to better train her. However, he is incredibly torn as well. In fact, the show seems to be suggesting that love can motivate anyone to do anything. The art of seduction is so absolutely tantalizing. When Becker finally reveals his true self to Charlie, that's when both of them are able to give in to their desires and actually express their passions. Up until now, they've only been tasked with building the fantasy of this relationship. They were putting on a performance. It's work that will hopefully be enough to convince the other individuals in this terrorist network when they start to question Charlie. However, Charlie really doesn't have any choice in any of this. She is going to be picked up regardless. So, it's up to her convictions and her ability to spin a tale that save her life. No one told her that Salim and his associate were killed. She still expected the humanitarian outcome of him being put on trial for his crimes throughout the world. Instead, Martin made the decision to stage his death in this elaborate way just so it could produce a moving response from Charlie in the heat of the moment. That's absolutely cold. He still tries to keep up the charade as well. He wants to continue propping Charlie up for her talents and just how important she is to the cause. But she is still just a pawn in this overall game. He is manipulating her for his own benefit. He doesn't care what happens to her. Becker does though. He reveals himself to her. They have sex. They become as intimate as they can be. However, that moment also fuels Charlie's decision to continue with this plot. She will continue to serve as an operative and be put in dangerous situations in order to hopefully discover the mastermind behind this organization. She choices this life because Becker is able to connect with her on an emotional level. Martin sees it as a brilliant move that keeps all of this moving forward. Meanwhile, Becker insists that it wasn't some elaborate ruse in order to deliver the preferable outcome. He genuinely cares for her and wants to protect her no matter where in the world she is taken. She is put on a plane and goes all the way to Lebanon to be questioned by even more dangerous individuals. She has to plead her case to Salim's brother, Fatmeh. It's absolutely terrifying because Charlie has to put on an epic performance. But again, the lines are increasingly growing blurred over what's real for her and what's just an act. Does she genuinely believe the words that she is saying to convince these people that she belongs in their ranks? She told Becker that she could only embody their lie if she believed in it and acted it out. That may have just been her trying to have sex with him. But it still establishes that she has empathy for all sides of this conflict. She remains the focal point of this story. One who can deliver a brutal outcome for either side. Martin hopes that his hooks are set in and she'll deliver results. But it's also just as likely that this will all explode in his face as well.