The Little Drummer Girl episode 4 review

The Little Drummer Girl episode 4

Still catching up? Read Steve’s review of episode 3 here.

So far in this lush and high-end BBC adaptation of John le Carré’s novel, we’ve taken a rather glamorous tour of Europe. We’ve been to Athens, Munich, Paris, the Alps, the old Yugoslavia, all over. We even close this fourth episode further afield in Beirut. But the majority of this week? We’re in a caravan park in Somerset. Not that you can’t have a nice time in a caravan park in Somerset, of course. It’s just not one of the locales you imagine in a cool spy thriller series really, is it?

Three-quarters of this week’s action takes place in the West Country. Charlie’s there with her acting troupe, killing time until the mission kicks back off in earnest. We open with Gadi approaching her as she listlessly feeds crisps to some ducks in a lake. She pretends to be annoyed by her Israeli contact’s arrival, but in reality she’s glad of the excitement that comes with both the work and the close proximity to Alexander Skarsgård’s character.

The theme of this week’s slice of spook action seems to be love. Both real and pretend. “Love,” Charlie tells Gadi after they finally spend the night together, “is the antidote to death.” This came after he had suggested that the answer to that conundrum was in fact ‘pleasure’. Could real love blossom between the two of them? Or is it all merely theatre to help Charlie get into the part of the girl so hopelessly in love with Gadi’s alter ego Michel/Salim that she’d kill for him and his cause? We’ll have to wait and see on that front.

The Little Drummer Girl episode 4

It’s not just Gadi that’s in England. Marty moves the whole team to the caravan park as he correctly assumes that their breadcrumb trail will lead the Palestinians to her. Creepy Swiss lawyer Anton (Jeff Wilbusch) and the gun-waving Helga (Katharina Schüttler) represent Mossad’s foes, luring Charlie out before testing her credentials in one of the series’ best and most nerve-shredding (and strangely funniest) scenes to date. Passing the test, she’s released and later given details on how to meet with them again. When she does, she’s rather unceremoniously kidnapped and taken to Lebanon where she’s grilled and accepted further. This time by Salim’s family, including his sister Fatmeh.

Charlie has reached the inner circle. Her ‘employers’ will be pleased.

Before then, Gadi gives her a quick crash course in spycraft, with some proper seventies-style gizmos that would make James Bond’s Quartermaster seriously nostalgic. The radio with the secret transmitter was snazzy, but it was the invisible ink on the pack of ciggies we really liked. Now THAT’S spying, alright…

There was also some extra background information that Gadi had to clue Charlie in on. He withheld one rather large scrap of it, however. Salim wasn’t ‘awaiting trial’. The team had killed him and his girlfriend. That morsel was not relayed – and with good reason. When the Palestinian cell revealed Salim was dead, Charlie was capable of reacting with real shock and disgust. It’s all very clever, y’see.

Series director Park Chan-wook was in his element this week. Visual flourishes have been a part of The Little Drummer Girl since its debut last month and episode 4 allowed him to shoot the sex scene here in a quite oddly wonderful manner. Gratuitous flesh-flashing was forsaken for an almost dreamlike sequence in which a mouth opens to reveal an eye in a sequence that was as psychedelic as its era and helped avoid the kind of dull cliché traps that such scenes often fall into.

Next week sees the fifth and penultimate episode of this classy affair. Will Charlie’s allegiances be tested as she hears more about Fatmeh and Khalil’s cause? Or will her connection to Gadi keep her focused on the task in hand? It looks like, for the time, she’s no longer a pawn but a real player. The little drummer girl has finally grasped the drumsticks.

Did you tune in for The Little Drummer Girl episode 4? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Buy The Little Drummer Girl by John le Carré
The Little Drummer Girl by John le Carré
Steve Charnock

Steve Charnock is a freelance writer who writes news stories, features, articles, reviews and lists. But *always* forgets to write his mum a birthday card.

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