FAUDA – SEASON 2 (2017)

  • Original air Date: 31/12/2017
  • Cast: Lior Raz, Firas Nassar, Shadi Ma’ari, Laëtitia Eïdo, Rona-Lee Shim’on, Netta Garti and Itzik Cohen
  • Creator: Avi Issacharoff and Lior Raz

Bigger, bloodier, and crazier! The second season of Fauda goes to darker places and gets its hands dirtier.

Fauda Season 2 unfolds after the events of the first season. Abu Ahmad is dead and Walid (Shadi Mar’i) has been elevated to the rank of Area Commander for the west coast by the HAMAS leadership. He has married Shirin (Laetitia Eïdo) promising her protection and has enough clout throughout the region. A new player, Abu Nidal aka Al Maqdisi (Firas Nassar) has emerged in the scene. He is the son of Sheikh Awadalla who Doron (Lior Raz) strapped explosives on and blew up in the first season. He did it in retaliation to the murder of Boaz, his brother-in-Law and a member of his secret operations unit. Maqdisi seeks revenge for his father’s death and establish ISIS operations in the west coast as he believes that the ways of the HAMAS are too soft for what is required to throw away the Israeli Colonists.

Maqdisi carries out several daring attacks on the secret operations unit and in one of his raids the commander of the unit, Moreno is brutally killed. As a result the team decides to put everything else aside and concentrate on killing him. Maqdisi, at the same point of time is planning on carrying out strategic hits in Tel Aviv. For the first time in history, he trains Arabs to speak Hebrew fluently enough to cross through checkpoints undetected. As he sets out to do what he feels will spur a new wave in the fight against Israel, he is also driving a personal vendetta against Doron and his team. Maqdisi is also juggling the safety and well-being of his brother, Samir and his own alliances with the HAMAS as he plans his daring raids against Israel. What happens next forms the crux of the narrative.

The second season of Fauda gets bigger and better than the first. Now that we all know the key players and the politics of the region, we can sit back and enjoy the violent pace and multiple directions that the narrative takes us to. Al Maqdisi is a fearsome and unpredictable adversary. He is someone who brutally upsets the delicate balance of the politics of the region and introduces chaos. The kind of hits that he envisions and executes is beyond what the secret operations unit ever had to encounter before. It is something that even takes HAMAS by surprise and they are clueless on how to level with Maqdisi. The fact that Maqdisi also drives a personal vendetta against Doron and his team and that we get to see, within the first few episodes, how easily he gets the better of them, strikes fear in the minds of the viewer for his character. This is something that enhances his appeal and control over the narrative.

With the antagonist going ballistic, the writers had the opportunity to make Doron crazier than he was before. They give us a glimpse of how far he is willing to go in a sleekly done sequence where he is shown bashing up Al Maqdisi’s brother. The fact that his family is under threat only forces him to do things that he might not have done under different circumstances. Doron’s romance with Shirin is re-kindled effectively and it leads to some interesting friction. These are also the scenes that give us some much-needed breather from a breakneck run through politics, violence and terrorism. As the series progresses, we see Doron’s life fall apart with every subsequent episode as he loses his near and dear ones in a jiffy. By killing off major characters, the writers incite genuine fear for the safety of the ones are alive. This helps increase the tension of the climax ten folds.

I just loved the way the story of Walid develops. He was just an angsty kid in the first season but here his character has grown in stature and clout with experience. Even though he is poised and understands the politics of the region, he is still so smitten by Shirin that he doesn’t lose a single chance to visit her even though it means jeopardizing his safety and security. He is obsessed with her and trusts her completely. Shirin on the other hand has had enough of her sorry existence. She wants to get out of Palestine and after being subjected to some serious grilling and having a  chance encounter with Doron, she sees an opportunity to work out a deal. Even though she makes herself believe that she is doing it to keep Walid safe in Israeli custody, we all know what she is doing. The results of her actions are horrific for both her and Walid. I must admit, that I enjoyed this portion of the story even more than the track involving Maqdisi and the central plot. A lot of that was because of how well Shadi Mar’i and Laetitia Eïdo acted out these sequences. Shadi was terrific. His rendering of the scenes where he is cornered or faced with Shirin’s betrayal are heartbreaking. It’s impossible to put in words the kind of feel that he brings to the character and the moments.

Firas Nassar is outstanding as the antagonist Al Maqdisi. One look at him and you get the feel of his calculated and conniving self. Beneath all his poise and softness there is a murderous rage that is aptly depicted from time to time. Add to that an uncanny sense of judgment of trouble and larger than life plans, and you have the perfect bad guy for a series that peaked with its first season and needed something extra to make a splash. I just loved how elusive his character proves to be and how audacious he keeps getting with every episode. Nassar is effective in bringing out the evil side of the man. The sequence where he offers to marry his bother’s wife, Marwa (Luna Mansour) after his brother’s brutal death is one of the most sickening sequences of the series. The writers set up this sequence at an earlier time when Fassar is shown interacting with Marwa and expressing how smitten he was with her in their childhood. Later when he learns that she is pregnant with his brother’s child, one can easily spot a sense of sadness in his expressions. All these add up in the end and make the sequence in question even more detestable.

Lior Raz carries forward from where he had left off in the first season. This time around the lines between good and bad are further blurred as at many junctures he acts with such rage and ferocity that he feels very similar to the ones he is hunting. His attitude quickly becomes a lingering issue for his teammates that leads to some interesting drama. He isn’t shown spiraling into an abyss for no reason. His dwell into drudgery and angst is for all the right reasons. Raz’s depiction of the character is spot on and extracts the exact emotions that were needed from his essay. Itzik Cohen as Gabi Ayyub has changed a lot. He gets his hands bloody on an occasion in the most brutal manner. He then threatens a pregnant woman in a sinister way to extract information out of her. I really enjoyed the feel that Cohen brings to the character. His charisma though, remains the same. It would be interesting to see which way the character heads in the forthcoming seasons. Laetitia Eïdo beautifully brings out the tragedy of Shirin. The pain that her character undergoes is beautifully brought out by her, culminating in a heartbreaking end. You feel for her but at the same time can’t help but lament her indecisions.

This review would be incomplete if I didn’t mention a sequence that happens in the penultimate episode of the series. The secret operations team is attacked by a mob as they try to kill Maqdisi who is trying to escape from his hideout. This sequence shows how horrifying a mob attack can be and how worse it could get if you had a woman on your team while you were stuck in the middle of it. This scene sent shivers down my spine. It was partly because of how well it was executed and because of the connections that I had with these characters and how distraught I was to see them suffer so terribly. The later scenes where we see Nurit, the only female team member of the group, get treated for the wounds sustained made me even more uncomfortable and petrified. This is easily the most brutal and well-executed action sequence of the whole season.

As was the case with the first season, the second season ties off the whole narrative and finishes the story arch of Al Maqdisi. Major characters are killed, and we don’t know which way Doron’s life is headed as by the end of it all he is left with very little to live for. HAMAS’ politics to maintain control over Palestine’s people is exposed by Maqdisi’s onslaught and by the end of the series, we can see a clear divide in the society between the ones who think him to be right and the ones who despise ISIS. All this worked to make the series engrossing, affecting and entertaining. It is also left to be seen which way a possible love angle between Nurit (Rona-Lee Shim’on) and another member of the team would go. To sum it all up, Lior Raz and Avi Issacharoff cook up another delicious broth that is characterized by politics, drama, romance, jealousy, and is driven by the most primal instinct know to man, revenge!

Rating: 4/5 (4 out of 5 Stars)

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