The Little Drummer Girl Episode 5 neatly positions things for next week’s finale, with standout performances from Florence Pugh and Michael Shannon.
This recap of The Little Drummer Girl Season 1 Episode 5 contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
We’re almost there, folks. John le Carré’s slow-burning story about an Israeli spymaster and an English actress infiltrating a Palestinian terror cell has hardly been the most propulsive television, but if you were expecting anything else you were looking in the wrong place. To be honest, I’m surprised The Little Drummer Girl hasn’t picked up more social media traction that it has: Michael Shannon sporting a handsome moustache; Florence Pugh as a chameleonic actress; Alexander Skarsgård as a swarthy, implacable agent; Park Chan-wook directing with his usual eye for visual flair and classy outfitting. What’s not to like? This episode even had Charles Dance playing a proudly anti-Semitic (or anti-Zionist, anyway) British establishment suit.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The first order of business in The Little Drummer Girl Episode 5 was for Charlie (Pugh) to ingratiate herself with the remaining members of the Al-Khaddar family, particularly Salim’s sister, Fatmeh (Luna Izabal), whom she managed to convince of their “relationship”. She also said she was one of the last people to see him before he was tragically killed in a “car accident”, which I suppose is true, when you think about it.
Infiltrating a terror network looks like quite a bit of fun, for the most part; there’s wrestling and firing RPGs and learning languages with the local kids. Downsides admittedly include those same kids getting blown to bits in air strikes, though, so swings and roundabouts. Which, of course, is the principle around which Charlie’s characterisation continues to revolve. She’s an actress by trade and by nature; that’s why Kurtz (Shannon) recruited her in the first place. But where do her loyalties truly lie? With the Israelis, the Palestinians, or herself? It’s a testament to Pugh’s abilities that we’re never clear, and that every option seems equally plausible.
Back in London, Charlie was given another mission, one involving a briefcase and a bomb and the anniversary of Israeli independence. For the gig she was outfitted with knitwear and a new hairdo, but it was all a ruse. The “package” was duly intercepted by Mossad and found to contain nothing but pamphlets extolling the virtues of Apartheid, which seems fitting for Charlie’s cover as a South African fascist. It was a clever move by the Palestinians, and a necessary one to establish some competition between them and Kurtz’s motley crew, who have had the espionage business pretty much sewn up throughout the season so far.
With both sides on relatively even footing, it’s easier to buy into Charlie’s conflicting allegiances and the finale promises to test them. Of course, that’s likely a ruse too. Thrillers of this sort like to create the illusion of indecision, but really everyone has their s**t figured out way in advance. Then again, by the end of The Little Drummer Girl Episode 5, Charlie has finally been introduced to the elusive, enigmatic Khalil Al-Khadar. Perhaps that will sway her. Perhaps not. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.