“What’s Past Is Prologue” was very much a setup episode, moving characters and ideas into place with ungainly exposition and the odd slice of action.
This recap of Bard of Blood (Netflix) Season 1, Episode 1, “What’s Past Is Prologue”, contains spoilers. You can check out our spoiler-free season review by clicking these words.
You can tell Kabir Anand (Emraan Hashmi) has PTSD because we meet him having flashbacks to a mission gone wrong in Balochistan, Pakistan, a tumultuous province which we visit again almost immediately in another botched assignment — this one to expose a potentially world-ending plot that is, according to one of the Indian intelligence agents captured during the kerfuffle, “worth dying for”. The capture of these four agents by the Taliban in Bard of Blood Episode 1, “What’s Past Is Prologue”, functions as the catalyst for the Netflix series, bringing Kabir, a legendary agent codenamed “Adonis”, back into the top-secret embrace of the Indian Intelligence Wing.
The Supreme Leader of the Taliban, Mullah Khalid (Danish Husain), wants to have children behead the captured operatives, using their spilled blood as a rite of passage into adulthood for the pre-pubescent jihadis. But their execution is stayed by Tanveer Shehzad (Jaideep Ahlawat), a Pakistani intelligence agent who insists he has “a plan” for them.
The IIW believe they know what that plan is: To behead the men while the Chinese Premier is in town, thus politically undermining India and causing further unrest in Pakistan. Director Sadiq Sheikh (Rajit Kapur) is told by his higher-ups to invent cover stories for the men and allow them to be executed, thus divorcing India from their exploits — but their exploits to recover a telling USB drive suggest a more dangerous Taliban plot that cannot be left to fester, so Sadiq tasks overlooked analyst Isha Khanna (Sobhita Dhulipala) with recruiting Kabir and staging an off-the-books rescue mission.
Kabir is currently teaching Shakespeare in Mumbai, but still can’t get over the loss of his friend, Vikram, which flashbacks in “The Past Is Prologue” suggest was the fault of an IIW mole. Kabir and Vikram were sent to Balochistan to retrieve a defector who was willing to exchange the identity of said mole for clemency, but things went bad, Vikram was killed and posthumously dishonorably discharged along with Kabir. More of this plot is certain to unravel as the series progresses.
In the final scene of Bard of Blood Episode 1, Kabir, evidently having decided to take the mission, finds Sadiq assassinated.
- Shehzad accidentally allowed the encrypted USB data to each the IIW by plugging it straight into an internet-connected computer, which is an extremely bizarre thing for an intelligence agent to do.
- Isha was keen to undertake a mission after having all of her previous efforts denied on the basis of her being a woman.