Every so often, a program comes along that makes you want to stand up and applaud when it finishes. The Honourable Woman more than deserved that accolade.
While the series as a whole was not without its glitches, the finale was sublime. Maggie Gyllenhaal gave British favourites Sarah Lancashire and Olivia Colman a run for their money in the acting stakes and the next Bafta’s are sure to be interesting.
What I particularly loved was the very many shades of grey, and not thank heavens, the erotic kind! As I noticed with Burnt Face Man, the bad guys weren’t wholly bad and sometimes their circumstances made you empathise with their fate.
This was true of Atika more than anyone, who went from being the secret baddie to a committed soldier to the hero of the hour. Strong commitment to a cause is to be admired, and while I cannot condone acts of terrorism, Atika showed that a complex moral code and extreme trauma can combine to make abnormal acts seem like the best path.
A surprise good guy in the piece was Julia, the only vagina in a room full of pussies. Not the cleverest of lines from Hugo Blick there, but something more subtle wouldn’t really have suited Julia. I’m thrilled she got one over on Monica, and I can’t say I’m that heartbroken that Monica was ‘cleaned up’, presumably by the Americans.
That said, my gasp when it looked like my beloved Hugh would meet a similar fate probably shocked half the street. I am delighted that he got a happy ending, let’s face it, we none of us thought we’d get a happy ending in HW! I’m still campaigning for a spinoff series, although if Hugh is moving to Oxford, perhaps he could team up with Lewis and the team from Morse.
And so we return to the Honourable Woman herself, although in many ways that could apply to Rachel, Julia or Atika. Nessa is a true modern heroine, and joins Lisbeth Salander (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) in my tiny list of astonishing female role models.
Nessa always behaved with grace and diplomacy, and in her own way was as committed to peace in the Middle East as Atika was to getting Palestine officially recognised by the West. Much has been made of the extraordinary timing of HW, coming as it did as tensions between Israel and Palestine flared again. Watching the fictional drama helped me understand the real life tensions, and I definitely, to quote Nessa, ended up feeling sorry for the aliens!
Given the sensitive subject matter, I felt all concerned with HW did an exceptional job of not taking sides. I think we would all do well to remember that, as with any conflict, Israel or Palestine aren’t 100% good or bad, but a complex mix of military determinism and humane emotion.
I have no idea how to solve the ongoing crisis in the Middle East, but I am happy to stand with the Nessa Stein’s of this world who try and help those who might.
The Honourable Woman is available on DVD on Monday 1st September