(photo credit: PR)
For so many in Israel, the evening of December 31 was not the end of 2017 but the beginning of season two of Fauda, the YES series about Israeli counter-terrorism agents and the Palestinians they fight. The Hebrew/Arabic series has become a worldwide phenomenon, and the first episode of the new season – which was first screened in a Tel Aviv theater before a star-studded crowd 10 days ago – was broadcast on the new channel, YES Edge, and is also available on YES VOD. New episodes will air Sundays on YES Edge at 10 p.m.
Fauda’s first season ran in Israel on YES in 2015 and no one realized back then how popular it would become. The biggest coup for this quintessentially Middle Eastern drama – its title is the Arabic word for “chaos” – was that it was picked up last year by the international streaming service,Netflix, where its first season can still be seen with subtitles in English and many other languages. Although Netflix has not yet announced a date for season two, it has said that it will be released on the streaming service in early 2018.
The series has fans all around the world, among them bestselling author Stephen King, who famously praised the series as “all thriller, no filler.”
Trailer for Fauda Season2 (Israel FilmCenter/YouTube)
It’s also made stars out of its co-creators, Lior Raz and Avi Issacharoff, who signed a deal last fall to create two new shows for Netflix.
Any discussion of the second season will need to make reference to the first, so if you haven’t seen all of season one, stop reading now.
The new season picks up a year or two after the first one ended and if you worried that the it wouldn’t be able to live up to its predecessor in terms of nearly non-stop action, you can relax: there is more action in the first five minutes of season two than an entire season of most other shows.
Doron (a slightly slimmed down Raz) is no longer with the counter-terrorism unit and is trying to live a quiet life on a farm in the Negev, just as he was trying to grow grapes in the first season.
If you guessed that his laid-back retirement would end about 30 seconds into the new season, you were right. Meanwhile, Walid (Shadi Mar’i) has become the de facto leader of the terrorist cell formerly headed by Doron’s nemesis, Abu Ahmad (Hisham Suliman), whom Walid offed at the very end of the first season.
While Doron can’t stay out of the game, Walid has to struggle to stay in it at the level he’d like. Walid faces a personal challenge as well, that promises to be one of the quieter and more interesting subplots in the new season. He has married his older, more sophisticated doctor cousin, Shirin (the delicate French actress Laëtitia Eïdo, who has a slight physical similarity to the young Meryl Streep and the same tendency to steal all her scenes).
Shirin fell for the undercover Doron in series one but left him abruptly when she learned his true identity. Needing protection, she has accepted Walid’s proposal, but she is clearly a reluctant wife.
Gali (Neta Garty) and Doron have split up and she has a new boyfriend, having dumped her ex-husband’s weaselly colleague, Naor (Tsahi Halevi), with whom she had a fling last season. Naor is still in the unit, and the rest of the surviving cast members of the first season are also on hand, a testament the defense minister’s limitless patience with agents who go rogue and/or his vulnerability to blackmail.
The key newcomer to the cast is Al-Maqdisi (Firas Nassar), the son of Shiekh Awadalla (Salim Dau), who was killed in the ill-fated prisoner exchange that was one of the highlights of the first season.
Al-Maqdisi is connected to Islamic State, and he has the two main qualifications necessary for any Palestinian leader on this show: utter ruthlessness and a personal vendetta against Doron.
The members of the Israeli unit still have the same tendency to get into huge amounts of trouble, and there is the constant threat that virtually any character can be killed at any moment. No spoilers, but enjoy the Fauda cast while you can, because you may need to bid them farewell when you least expect it, which is part of the reason so many people around the globe keep tuning in.