Given the recent news events in the Middle East, I’d like to start this review with a quick disclaimer. I do not know enough about the ongoing conflict to hold a view either way. As such, I will be commenting solely on what happens in The Honourable Woman, any good guys or baddies, regardless of nationality, will be labelled as such by how they behave in the drama.
Heavy stuff over with, let’s get on with the review. Tonight’s episode ended on a supposed cliffhanger ‘what do they know?’ That said, everything points to Nessa being Kasim’s real mother, not Atika, so if that is next week’s big reveal, I’m going to be pretty disappointed.
There had been rumours circulating in the press of an affair between Atika and Ephra, leading some critics to wonder if Ephra is Kasim’s real Dad. From tonight, I’d say the affair is more recent. I’m also still convinced that something went on between Ephra and MI6 Monica, who we sadly saw little of tonight.
Far better were the scenes with Stephen Rea, who I’m becoming slightly obsessed with. His takedown of the phoney mistress (at least one man in this drama knows how to stay faithful) was beautiful executed. Unfortunately, said mistress, in actuality an FBI agent, was unpleasantly executed shortly after. I really hoped Tracey was going to make it, but this is probably a drama where you shouldn’t get too attached to the characters.
Mind you, some characters have a good life expectancy. Nathaniel the Bodyguard is alive after his shooting next week, though as one of the men he shot also survived, this did make me wonder whether anyone in The Honourable Woman knew how to use a gun. Thankfully the FBI stepped in to show us Brits how it’s done, but not before whoever is behind the kidnapping finished Nathaniel’s work for him, getting the wounded kidnapper to commit suicide. Between this and Line of Duty’s infamous window scene, I have serious reservations about the security of our hospitals.
We don’t know an awful lot so far (we’re only a quarter of the way through so this is to be expected) but everything seems to hinge on whatever happened to Nessa and Atika in Gaza 8 years ago. There is a timeline of events turning up, I’m just not entirely clear of the order. Someone gives birth to Kasim. Nessa and Atika are kidnapped. A man is tortured next door to their holding room. A year later, Ephra decides not to be a part of the business and sets up the Stein Educational Foundation, devoting his life to fundraising. 7 years after this, the UK Government decide to make Nessa a Baroness, possibly to keep a close eye on her. On the same day, a Palestinian businessman is murdered by the US. Which is just awkward, to be honest. Oh, and Kasim the mystery baby gets kidnapped. Someone is pulling at threads to make Nessa’s life unravel, but who. And why?
Other questions to ponder this week:
Is Nessa a lustful cold fish or is there a reason why she chooses sex over intimacy?
I’m going with the latter because I like Nessa a lot. Maggie Gyllenhaal is damn near perfect in this role.
Where can I buy the gorgeous outfits in this series?
Nessa’s suit dress last week, the drapey black and white number Frances had on, HW has bagged themselves a great costume designer. Saying that, not sure about the sexist focus on MI6 women wearing heels, although I did notice that Julia switched to flats when talking to Hugh, someone she is more comfortable with.
Who is the mole/double agent/secret traitor?
I refuse to believe that a spy drama doesn’t have a turncoat. As every other reviewer has pointed out, there is a clear nod to Homeland with HW, though in my opinion HW is the show Homeland was meant to be. Anyway, bright as a button young chappy (didn’t catch his name) in Hugh’s office could be the baddie. Then again it could be Monica. But I’m suspicious of Ephra, I think there’s dark waters in that one (not least because Andrew Buchan has hinted as much.
As ever, send your queries, theories and exaggerated praise for my marvellous writing to @QueeniePrior to feature in next week’s review.
The Honourable Woman Continues Thursday’s at 9.00pm on BBC TWO.
Contributed by Vicky Priror