It’s Carré on Mossad, with a dash of 007
The The Night Manager Drummer
Khalil has just wiped out an Israeli family in Bad Godesburg, in the diplomatic quarter of Bonn, West Germany, and we first meet Kurtz when he goes in to brief the Israeli survivor.
Khalil, we learn, is one of four Palestinian brothers, and Kurtz’s big idea is to recruit a young and desirable nonJewish girl (Florence Pugh, who plays Charlie) as bait to attract the youngest brother, Salim — and thus provide the Israelis with leverage over Khalil the bomber. Khalil seems quite keen on using young women as lures, too — it Israeli spy Becker (Alexander Skarsgard) and his love interest, Charlie (Florence Pugh) was the 1970s, after all — but I do wish the women had looked a bit different from each other, since I spent considerable time mistaking one honeytrapper for Charlie. And there is a lot of attention paid to watches. By their timepieces shall ye know our Israelis, and our Palestinians, and our dupes.
Charlie — based on Le Carré’s own actress half-sister, Charlotte Cornwell — is a 22-year-old playing St Joan in half-empty London fringe theatres. Bizarrely, nobody in her theatre company questions the identity of the generous “donor” who pays for the entire troupe to go to Greece, ostensibly to rehearse their next production, but more probably to spend a hedonistic time on Naxos beach.
But Charlie, full of radical politics like most 22-year-olds, is being set up from afar by Kurtz. He is a Holocaust survivor, as he tells a West German police chief, and that means he has scores to settle.
So, as the camera pans over a dark office in Mossad HQ in Tel Aviv, in which state-of-the-art daisywheel typewriters sit in serried ranks next to a group of coloured dial telephones — I said this was a tech-free series — we learn of Kurtz’s plan.
He has an Israeli spy in the field, Becker, played by Alexander Skarsgard, and an understandably confused Charlie will be asked to pretend she is falling in love with the Palestinian Salim — while in fact falling for the dark and brooding Becker.
There is a fairly scary car scenario at the end of the episode in which a terrified Charlie is screaming for her driver to slow down, and I was screaming at the pair of them to put seatbelts on. Then I remembered that seatbelts were not compulsory until 1983.
Charlie, by the way, is wearing a yellow dress in this scene, presumably on the grounds that if she threw up on brown, you would not be able to tell.