The show’s third season, which dropped on Netflix earlier this morning, again leads viewers on an emotional ride with an elite team of Israeli special forces operators, with twists and turns, and the occasional gut punch thrown in. And heartbreak.
Focusing on Doron Kavillio (Lior Raz), season 3 opens with Doron deep undercover in the West Bank, posing as an Israeli-Arab boxing instructor in a sports club belonging to a low-level Hamas member. Following numerous, deadly clashes with Hamas and a tragic incident that all but shatters the team’s morale, the show moves to a new locale: Gaza. With that move comes the evocation of the name Gilad Shalit, which causes the gut to clench up even more than it already does. It’s an involuntary reaction.
While the IDF soldiers are the same from the first two seasons, the show’s creators Raz and Times of Israel journalist Avi Issacharoff continue to develop them expertly; from the flaws of the heroes to the tender side of the villains. Although, as with seasons 1 and 2, the show makes it clear that the ideas of good and evil aren’t black and white. (Don’t worry, there are plenty of times where evil is just evil.)
Issacharoff, who spoke with TC Jewfolk before speaking at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas annual gala in 2017 said that duality was part of the plan from the beginning.
“We wanted to show both perspectives – it wasn’t an ideological decision, it was a script-writing decision. We wanted to show the other side also,” he said. “Back then, we wanted to do a good show. It became something much bigger.”
The show becoming what it has was no sure thing.
“It’s a show about the conflict; who wants to sit at home and watch a show with more than half in Arabic?” Issacharoff said of the show that is in Hebrew and Arabic in Israel, and over-dubbed in English and English subtitles on Netflix. “That was their calculation, but everyone loves the show. Israeli Jews, Israeli Arabs, Palestinians, left, right, secular.”
Raz continues to excel as the brooding Doron, who again straddles the delicate balance of undercover work with protecting his team – all of whom return from season 2. Newcomer to the cast Marina Maximilian, plays Hila Bashan, the Gaza Desk lead analyst who brings a fire and energy that helps keeps the show fresh.
I’m not one for spoilers, so the above is all you’ll get. But it’s exactly what fans of the show have come to expect. It’s well-paced and full of action. It’s intense and emotional. And you won’t be able to wait for season 4 to come out.
But of course, don’t start watching too late at night. The 12 episodes cover a little more than 8 ½ hours, and stopping midway through will be damn-near impossible.