WARNING: contains spoilers. Still catching up? Read Steve’s review of episode 5 here.
“I hope it was worth it…”
This final utterance from Palestinian terrorist/revolutionary/martyr Khalil to Charlie before Gadi put half a dozen bullets in him at the very end of this final episode prompted some rather heavy thinking from both the central player of The Little Drummer Girl and its audience.
These past six episodes have seen Kurtz, Gadi, Charlie and the team put in an incredible amount of planning and work into their mission to sneak a player into their enemies’ cell. Conceptualising, refining, recruiting for, practising, executing and clearing up a complex infiltration strategy like this is no mean feat. And so the central question really is, ‘was it worth it?’
Well, from our point of view – absolutely. Us viewers have enjoyed the twists and turns of this John le Carré adaptation greatly over the past month and a half. But from the Israeli characters’ viewpoint? It certainly seemed a rather elaborate and ornate way to effectively just kill a few people, however central they were to the Palestinian cause.
Just think back. The surveilling, luring, snatching, convincing and training of Charlie alone was one helluva undertaking. And all just to eventually win the trust of Khalil to get him into bed? Was it worth it? Is any of this kind of thing ever worth it? It’s a question we’re left to ponder as Charlie philosophically asks Gadi who they both are before the credits roll.
The mission was really all about revenge for the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre, something which the Israelis would have sought vengeance for regardless…
The climactic final instalment of The Little Drummer Girl saw Khalil testing Charlie and eventually trusting her enough to task her with planting a bomb in a London university, as hinted at in episode 5. In essence, this final piece of the puzzle was all about Khail (played to good effect here by Charif Ghattas). A man so enigmatic and mysterious until now that even his sworn enemy Gadi, in reality, knew very little about him. Charlie quickly grew close to him, blurring the lines between reality and fiction, between duty and emotion. Eventually, though? She would stick to her mission. Albeit not entirely by design.
Had she turned? It was difficult to tell. Charlie wept over Khalil’s body and was clearly moved by witnessing the strikes that killed the children in Beirut. Even for an actress, she seemed rather ‘method’ in her passion when effectively being coerced into sleeping with the ‘beautiful’ Khalil. Yet she handed over the bomb to Gadi without hesitation and lied repeatedly to the Palestinians. Lines are never very well defined in the world of espionage, it seems.
This small screen version of le Carré’s 1983 book really has been thoroughly excellent television. Steady, patient and rewarding, it’s told its story at its own pace, foregoing any of the whizz-bang showiness of something like Bodyguard. It’s a brave and bold move by the BBC, allowing series director Park Chan-wook to effectively produce a long-form piece of art over simple ratings bait. True to form, viewing figures have suffered somewhat, with time, thought and emotional investment required from the series.
In all, this has been classy television, ideal for Sunday evening BBC One. Park Chan-wook has elevated the excellent source material to another level and with serious style. With Michael Shannon, Alexander Skarsgård and Charles Dance involved, the acting has been exemplary, of course. But The Little Drummer Girl simply belongs to Florence Pugh.
We may just have witnessed her becoming one of the world’s most sought-after screen actors…
Did you tune in for The Little Drummer Girl episode 6? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!