The Veil’s Premiere Suggests Another Winner For Elisabeth Moss

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: May 1, 2024 (Last updated: 3 weeks ago)
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The Veil Episode 1 & 2 Recap
The Veil | Image via FX

WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS

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Summary

The Veil gets off to a very compelling start in a two-part premiere that introduces a story and characters that are difficult to keep track of and impossible to trust.

Rightly or wrongly, the involvement of Elisabeth Moss in a TV project is a signifier of intent. The so-called queen of peak TV is attracted to serious, award-winning fare, almost exclusively, which sets lofty expectations for something like The Veil. Episode 1 and 2 of the FX espionage thriller suggest, if nothing else, enough thrills, nuance, and seriousness for Moss to feel right at home.

The premise is simple enough, even if the execution isn’t. Moss plays Imogen Salter, an English spy working for the French government to foil a potential terror attack by befriending a woman who may or may not be an ISIS operative. It’s a bit like a road trip, only instead of falling for one another, the two women use Jedi mind tricks to try and determine what the other is up to.

Imogen’s Motivations Are Deliberately Unclear

Imogen’s handler in the Directorate-General for External Security (DGSE) is a man named Malik, whom she has an intimate history with, which is one way in which the whole mission is a little cloudy. Also cloudy is the nature of the planned terror attack and its target, the motivations of both Imogen and the suspect terrorist, Adilah, and the geopolitics underpinning the whole thing.

This ambiguity is where the majority of the tension comes from in the two-part premiere. We see how easily Imogen can finesse her way into a refugee camp on the Syrian/Turkish border, and how easily she can escape with the most wanted woman in the world. More to the point, once she and Adilah flee the camp, Imogen immediately goes rogue and refuses to follow orders, raising all kinds of questions about what she might really be up to.

The Ambiguity of The Veil Creates Tension

Imogen being a spy is helpful for the audience because it makes us paranoid. The character who would be the old flame in any other show is here a potential mark – was Imogen manipulating him all along, or was their relationship genuine? Was he exploiting a lapse in her professionalism to put her to work for his government? This is only one character dynamic among several, but you can see what I mean.

The same goes for Imogen’s intentions with Adilah. Does she take her to Istanbul instead of the French camp in Edip Koyu to win her trust, as she claims, or for another purpose? If the latter, does that purpose have anything to do with Imogen’s backstory, which across the first two episodes is hinted at in brief, vague flashbacks?

So many questions – which is the point, obviously.

The Veil Episode 1 & 2 Recap

Elisabeth Moss in The Veil | Image via FX

Is Adilah the Djinn of Al Raqqa?

Adilah cuts an interesting figure in The Veil Episodes 1 and 2. She’s presented in an immediately sympathetic light, barely escaping a lynching in a mountain refugee camp after a screaming woman identifies her as Daesh.

Adilah claims to Imogen that she’s just a normal woman who made some bad decisions. She was a model semi-radicalized by an abusive relationship, falling into the embrace of ISIS but never hurting anyone. And this might be true. But Adilah might also be Sabaine Al Kubaisi, aka the Djinn of Al Raqqa, an ISIS commander and one of the most wanted women in the world. The GDSE think she is.

Adilah claims this is a misunderstanding stemming from her trying to intervene in the repeated assault of women in Al Raqqa, Syria. Her objections were, apparently, mistaken for orders. But nobody can be sure.

Adilah Does Have A Daughter

Part of Adilah’s backstory is that she’s the mother of a young girl who she was forced to leave behind in Paris when she was taken to Syria. This claim is confirmed by an American agent, Max Peterson, who has the girl temporarily kidnapped so that her DNA can be cross-checked against Adilah’s. As of The Veil Episode 2, we know that Adilah is the girl’s mother. But that doesn’t necessarily mean she isn’t a terrorist.

With the relevant authorities increasingly believing that Adilah is not the Djinn of Al Raqqa, Imogen seems to become more and more sure that she is. And thus, we have our essential conflict. Who’s right, who’s wrong, and who’s who? At this point, it’s almost impossible to say. But if the first two episodes of The Veil are anything to go by, it’ll be fun finding out.


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