The Little Drummer Girl episode 5 review

Little Drummer Girl episode 5

Still catching up? Read Steve’s review of episode 4 here.

BBC One’s most recent Sunday evening scheduling saw the fifth – and penultimate – episode of the critically acclaimed spy series The Little Drummer Girl on our screens. It was an instalment that, were it an episode of Friends, might have been called ‘The One in the Lebanese Training Camp’.

And with good reason too. For all the movements and machinations going on with Mossad in London and all the slickness and secrecy of subtle briefcase switches and the like, this week’s slice of TV John le Carré was most notable for its Beirut-based action. In those scenes, our double agent Charlie is in full headscarf and combat fatigue garb fighting, shooting pistols, firing rocket launchers and learning to assemble bombs.

These were no lengthy individual scenes, though. Oh no. We were shown Charlie’s induction into the Palestinian cause in a wonderfully Rocky-esque training montage. All that was missing was the backing soundtrack of Survivor’s ‘Eye of the Tiger’ and a sweaty hoodied slow-motion run up some steps.

The rather simplistic-looking ‘Terrorism 101’ class aced, Charlie found herself fully embraced by the cause. Not only do Helga and Rossino trust her, the heads of the militia training camp and Salim’s sister Fatmeh are also totally on board. Oh, and so too – it seems – is head honcho Khalil…

Before being introduced to Salim’s brother, Charlie had her loyalties tested to the nth degree. The physical part of training over, our protagonist sat down with some younger recruits and attempted to learn some introductory Arabic with a friendly young kid.

She bonded with them in a way semi-foreshadowed by Gadi (“They will treat you like family and you will be ashamed of deceiving them. They’ll make you feel like you belong. You might even decide to tell them the truth. But the second you do, they’ll turn on you.”). Later that day, while out celebrating with her new ‘family’, Israeli bomb strikes rained down, killing men, women and children. Including Charlie’s miniature language teacher.

The reality – and danger – hits Charlie hard. Will she remain loyal to Gadi and her original mission…? Next week’s crescendo will surely tell.

Little Drummer Girl episode 5

Away from the Middle East and there were some more classic spy goings-on this week. There were the continuing adventures of the invisible ink cigarette packs, some archetypal code breaking and even some secretive photography with a weird mini 1970s camera. The clues assembled, Kurtz, Gadi and the team work out that the next big attack is due to occur on the anniversary of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. It’s likely to be a bomb, the target is a university lecture hall in London and the symbolic main target is to be an esteemed Israeli professor.

As a courtesy, or for a little help, Kurtz dropped into the British intelligence services and one Commander Picton, an unimpressed and slightly anti-Semitic old fox played with wonderful disdain by the always outstanding Charles Dance. During their chit-chat, the Game of Thrones actor delivered perhaps the series funniest – and most memorable – line to date…

“It’s one thing,” he growls to Kurtz, “to p**s on my leg and tell me it’s raining. It’s quite another to take a bloody great s**t all over me without the courtesy of a weather report.”

Now that’s what we call a cameo.

As Charlie meets Khalil in this week’s climax, thoughts turn to next week’s action. The Little Drummer Girl could have teased us with a cliffhanger here, but it seems to have taken the high road and wants to entice us to the final part of the story on merit alone. Whatever’s in store, it’s sure to be a test of Charlie’s faith.

Whose side is she on? And will that decision be driven by her heart or her head?

Did you tune in for The Little Drummer Girl episode 5? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Read Steve’s review of episode 6 here.

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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