‘Fauda’ heads to Europe, still enthralling - TV review

The new season of Fauda began airing on Yes TV Action last night at 10 p.m. and is also available on Yes VOD and Sting TV.

 ITZIK COHEN AND Lior Raz in ‘Fauda.’ (photo credit: Yes/Elia Spinopolos)
ITZIK COHEN AND Lior Raz in ‘Fauda.’
(photo credit: Yes/Elia Spinopolos)

In a star-studded festive preview for the first episode of Fauda’s fourth season at a Tel Aviv University auditorium, on Tuesday night, one thing became clear: television holds the place in the public consciousness today that movies once did. I can’t remember this much excitement over a movie premiere in decades, and that includes the premiere of Thor: Love and Thunder, last week.

The new season of Fauda, the series about an Israeli counterintelligence unit and its allies, which was created by Lior Raz and Avi Issacharoff, began airing on Yes TV Action last night at 10 p.m. and is also available on Yes VOD and Sting TV.

It will be available on Netflix around the world soon, but a date has not yet been announced.

There was genuine excitement in the air and people settled into their seats quickly and were quiet as soon as the lights went down – unusual behavior for Israelis at a big event. They may have enjoyed the party with the actors and celebrities, but they showed up to see the show.

I have been to such screenings of TV shows before and have often felt that while it was fun, the shows I saw really were meant to be watched at home, on a television. Not so with Fauda. It played great on the big screen and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a Fauda movie someday.

I don’t want to spoil the new episode but it was the usual Fauda quality, meaning it featured many well-paced action sequences with genuine suspense, because you never know who is going to make it on the series and we’ve lost some of the most popular characters over the years.

 Avi Issacharoff and Lior Raz, creators of Fauda.  (credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN) Avi Issacharoff and Lior Raz, creators of Fauda. (credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

Occasionally, you may have to suspend disbelief a little when you think about some of the plot turns afterwards, but while you’re watching it, you always get caught up in the action. In fact, any 10 minutes of a Fauda episode has more suspense and high-quality action than virtually all Hollywood action movies, including the James Bond series, which looks ponderous and crushingly obvious next to Fauda.

Minor spoiler alert

BECAUSE OF the nature of the series, reviewing it without revealing spoilers is a challenge and I will proceed with caution. It opens about two years after the horrific murder that ended the third season. Most of the gang are still up to their old tricks and there is a suspenseful sequence involving seizing funds going to a terror network in Jenin.

Cue the familiar fast-paced opening music and we join Doron Kavillio (Lior Raz), who is working on the family horse farm, trying to stay under the radar. But when two thieves show up, they find out, too late, that they have picked the wrong guy to rip off.

When Gabi (Itzik Cohen) comes to bail Doron out – he put both thieves in the hospital, of course – he more or less forces Doron to attend the wedding of two characters we’ve been wanting to see tie the knot for a long time. It’s a joyful event and marks the first time I’ve ever seen that a bride is invited to say a few words at the huppah at an Israeli wedding, in real life or on television.

But Doron, who is still angry about the way things went down in Gaza last season, brawls with Eli (Yaakov Zada Daniel) and, although everyone is understanding, his PTSD rage is reasserting itself.

But Gabi has the obvious solution to what ails Doron: One more job. This one involves a new Arab asset that Gabi has been cultivating, a young man, Omar (Amir Boutrous, who played Nasser in The Crown and Jamal in the live-action Aladdin), who is now in Brussels.

Doron is dubious, but off they go to Brussels, where a new terror group that is smarter and more disciplined than Hamas is finding ways to finance their operations. Of course, even in the first episode things don’t go quite as planned.

The new focus on terror networks in Europe, which proved fertile ground for Homeland, seems like a good set-up for an intriguing new storyline, and also includes new characters based in Lebanon. One of the new season’s stars, Lucy Ayoub, who comes from a unique Jewish-Arab background, does not appear in the first episode, but in the teaser for the second, she is seen as a policewoman whose loyalty is questioned.

This episode, which had the wedding and a few scenes where Doron discusses his pain with Gabi, was talkier than a usual Fauda installment, but it will still have you on the edge of your seat multiple times. Steven King praised the series, calling it, “All killer, no filler,” and when he sees this episode, he might revise it to, “Almost all killer, very little filler.” But you can’t spend so many years with these characters without giving them a little time to voice their thoughts.

The greatest compliment I can pay this series is that when the episode ended, I couldn’t believe that an hour had already passed. It seemed much too soon for it to be over. So, it seems that season four will continue to keep fans as addicted to its blend of intrigue and action as the first three did.