Fauda Season 3 Review: A formulaic but consistently engaging thriller
The current season also manages to find short but potent moments of poignancy amidst the action
Given the vast amount of terrorism-based fiction out there on the digital space, it would be challenging for any writer to come up with fresh material. Fauda, the Israeli series made for Netflix, has enough 'fauda' (chaos) -- both internal and external -- to warrant each of its 12 episode-long seasons. The third season premiered on Thursday, and unsurprisingly, maintains the tempo established in the first two.
Starring Lior Raz as an Israeli Defence Forces operative, Fauda was created by himself and Avi Issacharoff. The fact that Lior was a former Israeli commando in real life and Avi, a journalist, lends the series a Paul Greengrass-level of verisimilitude and sense of urgency. Adding more weight is the fact that Lior has experienced a personal tragedy similar to what his character Boron Kavillio endures in Fauda. A former bodyguard of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lior recently got himself noticed by playing the main baddie in Michael Bay's 6 Underground, also backed by Netflix.
The first season of Fauda began with Boron being pulled out of retirement after his superiors learn that a Hamas operative named Abu Ahmad aka The Panther, who was supposed to have died at Boron's hands, is still alive. When Boron and team go undercover and infiltrate the wedding of Ahmad's son to get at him, it sets off a chain of events with repercussions that last throughout the three seasons.
Starring: Lior Raz, Itzik Cohen, Tzachi Halevy, Rona-Lee Shim'on
Created by: Lior Raz and Avi Issacharoff
Streaming on: Netflix
There have been severe casualties on both sides, and Boron has gone through enough to put him close to Daniel Craig's James Bond in the brooding department. The Bond similarity doesn't end there. Though his intimidating physique gives him the appearance of a boxer or thug, Boron has enough charm to persuade any woman to go to lunch with him. Also, the exchanges between Boron and his superiors, and the change of leadership after season 1, is slightly reminiscent of the Bond films.
But what actually sets Fauda apart from the other shows and movies of its ilk is its focus on families, on both sides. The bad guys are not depicted as the mysterious, one-dimensional terrorists that we usually see. It's their actions that make them menacing, not their appearances. Each of the main villains in Fauda carries a distinct personality. We also get to see their fathers, mothers, wives, children, in addition to all their shortcomings.
We get a similar picture of the good guys too. There is a constant struggle to maintain a work-family balance and not be influenced by emotions in the line of duty. Both the good and bad guys have to deal with the after-effects of decisions made when logic took a back seat. It reminds me of that line M said to Bond in Casino Royale about being dispassionate, something that Boron hasn't quite mastered.
The women in Fauda get as much importance as the men. Interestingly, it's the bad guys who have fewer relationship problems. As Boron has a tendency to be absent for long periods, it's not surprising when one of his team members sleeps with his wife in season 1. Infidelity comes with the territory. It's also not surprising to find Boron divorced at the beginning of season 3. Other factors also made sure of that, like the questionable choices he made concerning an important female character in season 2.
One of the admirable things about Fauda is that it manages to find short but potent moments of poignancy amidst the action, and it mostly has to do with a recurrent theme that runs throughout the series -- the bond between fathers and sons, of which we see variations in all three seasons. The primary conflict of season 2 arose from sons avenging their fathers. In season 3, we see sons who don't want to be like their fathers and fathers who don't want their sons to be like them. One father deals with multiple conflicts: struggling to adjust to society after a long stretch in prison, resisting the urge to go back to his old ways, and keeping his son out of harm's way. On the other side, there is Boron making attempts to reclaim the bond with his now-estranged son.
However, as consistently engaging as the series is, one can't help but feel a sense of deja vu creeping in from time to time. Perhaps it has to do with the cyclical nature of revenge. Aside from the similar openings of season 1 and season 3, we occasionally get situations which feel like remakes of similar scenes in previous episodes. But despite its "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" nature, the raised stakes and considerably amped up tension make Fauda worth watching.