- Original air Date: 16/04/2020
- Cast: Lior Raz, Ala Dakka, Khalifa Natour, Marina Maximilian Blumin, Rona-Lee Shim’on, George Iskandar and Itzik Cohen
- Creator: Avi Issacharoff and Lior Raz
A personal tale of betrayal, tragedy and its ramifications that has all that we love about Fauda
I never expected the third season of Fauda to better the second for the simple reason that the second season was thrilling, affecting, complete, and nearly flawless. The story was on point, the antagonist was terrifying, and the protagonists were constantly under duress for their safety which made the proceedings edge-of-the-seat from start to finish. The drama was affecting, and the characters made sense. Even though our heroes came out trumps in the end, they had to pay a heavy price for it all. The biggest question for me this time around was what could happen to this team that would best such a haunting previous storyline. After sitting through the third season it is safe for me to say that this season might not have topped the second, but it came mighty close to doing that.
The first two seasons of Fauda had unfolded on the west coast. The third season takes us to the Gaza envelope which is a HAMAS stronghold. The stakes are instantly raised for our heroes who are now basically four individuals against a whole nation. The story begins 6 months after the events of the second season. Doron is undercover in a HAMAS stronghold neighborhood where he is getting close to a boxer, Bashar (Ala Dakka), and his family. Bashar’s cousin Fauzi (Amir Khatib) is a dreaded terrorist and the idea of the team is to get to Fauzi through Bashar. Bashar is a naïve kid who dreams of making it big in the international boxing circuit and getting out of Palestine. His father Jihad (Khalifa Natour), himself a terrorist is released from prison after serving many years and Bashar for the first time gets to be with his father. Soon things turn violent when Doron, without the knowledge of Bashar, uses him to get to Fauzi and kills him.
Fauzi’s death is taken very seriously by the HAMAS leadership who blame Bashar for the incident. He has nowhere to go in the west coast and his life is at risk as he is targeted by both the HAMAS and the Israeli security forces. Jihad steps in to save his son’s life and the two are forced to do something that would change their lives forever. Their action leads them to Gaza where the rest of the tale unfolds. Bashar is gradually beaten, broken and tragically weighed in to becoming a dreaded terrorist with all his dreams of becoming a boxer vanishing like a puff of wind right Infront of his eyes. Doron, who considers himself responsible for Bashar’s plight can only be a silent spectator as he gradually rises the ranks in the terrorist network and ends up hitting Israel where it hurts the most.
Everything that I loved about the first two seasons of this series is served up in healthy doses here. The writing continues to be phenomenal. From the very first episode of the season, the proceedings just grip you and you cannot help but toggle from one episode to another transfixed to the story. It is a fact that the exploits of an undercover unit operating in the west cost is interesting enough but when the men involved have forged a bond with you over two seasons, it just becomes that much more personal. The antagonist, if at all I may call him so, is also someone who was not a terrorist to start with. He wanted a different life for himself but also wanted to be a part of the politics of the region as that is what he was supposed to do. His actions start a chain of events that ultimately wrecks his life and forces him to do things that he couldn’t bring himself to do in the first place. The writing drives these points home with conviction and at no point do you feel that the makers are trying to drive any pre-fixed agenda. They set out to tell a specific story and they do it with efficiency.
The only issue that I had with the writing was that towards the end of the series there were too many conducive coincidences that happened to wrap up specific portions of the plot. It hit the believability and realistic feel of the content. Doron and his team, who are just four people amidst a country of highly suspicious and ruthless killers, are shown doing things that I don’t think would be possible even if they were a team of hundred. I didn’t like this facet of the current season as the previous two seasons stayed very close to reality and that compounded their reach and effect. This time around, Doron is more like an Israeli Rambo who, at many junctures, goes all guns blazing into dangerous situations and comes out without a single scratch. This is something that should have been thought out better as the rest of the writing was so much on point.
The performances from the ensemble cast were wonderful as usual. Lior Raz’s Doron at the end of the second season had very little to live for but somehow in the next six months he strikes up a very personal relationship with Bashar who he cannot see suffering as he believes that Bashar is a naïve and innocent kid. He keeps trying to save him and get him out of the hole that he dug for him in the first place but with every effort he realizes that the boy is drifting further and further away from being who he was. Raz wonderfully brings out the nuances of these moments which makes these scenes dramatically effective. The last shot of Raz for the season just goes on to underline the arch that his character has come through with Bashar and how terrible things have turned between them.
Ala Dakka as Bashar is great. He is haunting as the character that he is playing and with every episode and every tragedy that he goes through, you can see him change. Dakka beautifully brings out the expressions of the man as he is gradually slipping into a murdering rage. His relationship with his father is used efficiently to further fuel his motivations of turning into a terrorist when he is taken away from him. I really enjoyed the give and takes between the two as it showed how much he wanted to get out of the situation as he spoke his heat with his father. It just made the climax that much more heartbreaking. Brownie points to Ala Dakka for doing such a fantastic job with the character.
Khalifa Natour as Bashar’s father Jihad is no less stupendous. For a large chunk of the series, the attention of the story is on him. He has been a terrorist and has paid a heavy price for it. He has spent years in jail and that has changed him as a man. When he is unwillingly thrust into a maddening situation, it takes him a while to get in the grove. However, once he gets his bearing right, he shows his true colors albeit in a subtle manner. Khalifa Natour underplays the part perfectly to make the man believable and affecting. Marina Maximilian Blumin as Hila, the head of the Gaza desk of the secret operations unit added the much-needed oomph! factor to the show. She shares an intimate bond with Doron that becomes a deterrent for her as the show progresses.
The action, cinematography, editing and the score remain just as powerful as it was in the last two seasons. There are moments of simmering tension that are generated simply by the efficient editing and choreography of certain sequences. That is something that we have come to expect from Fauda, and I was not the least bit surprised that the makers maintained their high standards. This was a very personal season for many of the characters. There are major characters who are killed, and the deaths come at moments when you are least expecting them to which further elevates the thrill of the content. They do go a little ballistic with the action this time around but don’t do anything that cannot be forgiven. It will be a while before we get another season of Fauda and until then, the current season will leave us with good memories and 1000 promises of getting something sensational in the future. I have become a fan of this series in 3 days and I believe that one and all should see it for its deft execution, wonderful performances, and scintillating content.
Rating: 4/5 (4 out of 5 Stars)