The Honourable Woman, TV review: A timely tale that sheds more light on political thriller
Ellen E Jones
Ellen is The Independent's TV critic. She writes a daily review of Last Night's TV and a weekly 'Inside TV' column for the i paper, as well as a column on general topics for the main paper most Wednesdays. Ellen is a former Hollywood correspondent and a contributing editor to Little White Lies, she's written on TV, film, lifestyle, travel and politics for publications including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, Esquire and Total Film.
Friday 25 July 2014
If you've been loyally tuned to Hugo Blick's political thriller The Honourable Woman on BBC2 for the past three weeks, yet still had no idea what the Blick was going on, then last night's flashback episode was a well-timed mercy.
Set eight years in the past, it opened with MI6's Middle East expert Sir Hugh (Stephen Rea) sitting silently at a London dinner party as a discussion on Israel and Palestine grew increasingly heated. Appropriate, because this week in London, New York and Paris, many such well-to-do dinner parties will have been riven with a similar tension. Appropriate, also, because this political thriller is proving to be not so much about what's going on in the Middle East, as about the people who contemplate the Middle East from afar and wonder where their responsibility to it lies.
There are those like Sir Hugh who seem able to sit out the argument and remain emotionally unengaged. Then there are those like Nessa Stein (Maggie Gyllenhaal). At this point eight years ago, it was still her brother, Ephra Stein (Andrew Buchan) who headed up the Stein Group. Nessa had arrived in the West Bank as "The Ribbon Cutter" of this episode's title, desperate to feel more involved in her family's philanthropic efforts.
When Nessa discovered that £1.5m of her family's donation was unaccounted for, she ignored the advice of both her brother and her translator Atika (Lubna Azabal) and decided to risk heading into Hamas-controlled Gaza to track down the funds.
This scene was the source of that repeated image seen as a flashback in previous episodes, of Nessa and Atika in head scarfs, side by side in the back of a car. Now we know where they were going and at whose egotistical insistence, but why, exactly? "For your company?" an angry Atika demanded to know. "Or for you against your brother?"
The other two women sat side by side in a car in last night's episode grow ever more likable, by comparison. Dame Julia Walsh (Janet McTeer) and Monica Chatwin (Eve Best) plotted to use information about Ephra Stein's backchannel deals to advance their own careers, but at least they're upfront about their amorality and ambition. If the "honourable" in Baroness Stein's title was ever a straightforward descriptor, it certainly isn't now.
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days
Oscar voter speaks outfilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Forget 'The Dress': Here are five of the biggest news stories you might have missed
- 2 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 MH370: 'Putin ordered plane to be flown to Kazakhstan space port,' conspiracy theory claims
Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl: First look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Catwoman comes out as bisexual
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Justin Kelly interview: On James Franco playing a gay man who renounces his homosexuality
Grace Dent on TV: Mary Portas: Secret Shopper delves into a grim cornucopia of retail wrongness
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East