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Friday, June 1, 2018

Fauda 2: Another Unforgettable Visit



I just finished the second season of Fauda on Netflix.  It's every bit as good and even better than the first, which means a powerful mix of multi-level adversaries with subtle but significant differences and edge-of-your-seat battles in a portrait of an Israeli special forces team, this time mainly in Nablas, since 1995 under the Palestinian National Authority on the West Bank.

The most vividly rendered differences are among the Palestinians, which consist of at least three groups, those loyal to the Palestinian Authority, those loyal to Hamas, and those loyal to ISIS.   These groups certainly don't like one another, and in the case Hamas and ISIS, are more than willing to kill any of the other two who get in their way.  ISIS is the new and most dangerous ingredient in this simmering brew, ever on the verge of going deadly (though, ironically, the recent decline of ISIS in our real world may have made its depiction in Fauda 2 no longer completely valid).

The arch-enemy in Fauda 2 is connected to an enemy in Fauda 1, but I won't say anything more about El Makdessi in case you've not yet seen the first season.  Suffice to say he's brilliant, charismatic, and ruthless, very well played by Firas Nassar.  Walid, back from the first season and second-in-command at Hamas, is also a compelling character, hauntingly rendered by Shadi Mar'i.

The Israeli team begins much as it did in the first season, but there are sudden changes and near-changes throughout, so keep your eyes peeled.  Lior Raz (also one of the creators of the series) was powerful again in the lead role of Doron, and I also especially liked the sensitive performances of Itzik Cohen as Captain Gabi and Doron Ben-David as Steve. 

Other than El Makdessi, the most compelling new character is Anat Moreno (Mickey's niece), played by Moran Rosenblatt, who lights up every scene she's in.   Gali (Neta Garty) and Shirin (Laëtitia Eïdo) are back with memorable performances.

Thinking back on Fauda 2, I feel the same way I felt after watching the first season: there's something indelibly real about it.  The Hebrew and Arabic dialog, the at-once over-the-top but nuanced and detailed portrayals, make you feel like you're really there, in the streets and indoors, in the action -- with the saving grace that you can't be literally hit by any of the bullets.   I'm much looking forward to another visit.

See also Fauda: Beyond Homeland



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