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Review of Apple tv’s new Cloak n’ Dagger Series: Tehran

Tarun Jeen

11th October 2020

Originally made for Israeli TV, Tehran is an eight-part espionage drama created by Moshe Zonder, whose writing credits include the much-feted Fauda. Written by Zonder and Omri Shenhar and directed by Daniel Syrkin, the Apple TV series is a high-octane thriller about a covert Mossad operation in Tehran to destroy Iran’s nuclear programme. When the plan goes awry, Tamar (Niv Sultan), the tech-savvy agent assigned an important mission, is forced to go off the grid and figure out her survival.

A scene from Tehran. Niv Sultan plays Tamar Rabinyan (Source:Times of Israel)

Here, that conflict is between Israel and Iran. In the series premiere, Mossad agent Tamar is sent undercover into Tehran in order to hack into an electrical plant’s computer system and cut the power to a radar station, enabling Israeli jets to fly in undetected and bomb an Iranian nuclear power plant. The mission starts smoothly enough, but soon goes awry when, through an elaborate chain of events, Tamar blows her cover, breaks contact with her handler, Masoud Tabrizi (Navid Negahban) — who she comes to mistrust — and endeavors to find a safe place in which to hide while being chased by relentless Home Guard security chief Faraz Kamali (Shaun Toub). Eventually, it’s learned that Tamar was born in Iran and moved to Israel when she was 6; as the series progresses, she rediscovers her roots, gets enmeshed in the country’s political scene and continues plotting her escape across the border.

Zonder also endeavors to delve into the characters’ back stories; not just the stories of Tamar and her Israeli cohorts, but also Kamali, whose devotion to his job puts a strain on his marriage. It’s clear that he loves his wife, but choosing his country over family forces him to miss a trip to France with his ill wife. She travels alone to Paris to undergo a serious operation, a cloud of guilt hovering over Kamali as a none-too-subtle reminder.

The show's best and most complicated character is Tamar's nemesis, Kamali, played by Shaun Toub, a superb actor you may recognize from Homeland and the film Crash. Kamali takes obvious pleasure in being a ruthlessly good security agent. Yet his dedication to his country is matched by his adoration of his wife, a witty charmer who's getting an operation for cancer. By turning brutal and tender, Kamali discovers that his private feelings don't always mesh with his political beliefs.

The cast (including Navid Neganban, Liraz Charhi and Shervin Alenabi) switches between Persian, Hebrew and English, which could be cinematic excess or a window into the modern-day Arab world. Suspenseful at its core, with hints of humour, a dose of emotion and fundamentally affecting, the series finally asks: who defines your identity, and what happens if you choose to question or change that?

Tehran is a fine addition to the selection of shows available on Apple TV and will in all likelihood be enjoyed by many who enjoy the spy, espionage and cloak-and-dagger programmes.

News Sources: The Times of Israel, Hindustan Times, The Deccan Herald

Edited by: Aayush Lahoti

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