Season 3 of the Netflix Israeli action series “Fauda” hit the U.S. on Thursday and it didn’t disappoint. We wrote about the first two seasons a couple of years ago here and since then we have been anxiously waiting for Season 3.
Fauda, which means chaos in Arabic, was developed by Lior Raz and Avi Issacharoff, who based the story off of many of their own experiences while serving in the IDF’s Duvdevan Unit. Doron, the protagonist, and his team are part of a Mista’arvim unit, which is a specially trained unit tasked with working undercover in the Arab areas and to assimilate in cities and towns. And as in the first two seasons, there is more than enough “fauda” to keep the viewer enthralled.
The show is a hit in Israel with both Arabs and Jews alike. And despite some who have criticized the show (without ever watching it) as being blatantly pro-Israeli, things couldn’t be farther from the truth. In the show, the Israelis, and frequently Doron, are absolutely brutal towards their Palestinian counterparts. After capturing one Hamas officer and punching him out in an effort to coerce him into helping them, the Israelis show the Hamas officer drone footage of his parent’s home in the West Bank. Unless he helps them, they say, they’ll drone strike his parents while they sleep.
The Arab characters, even the terrorists, are far from the one-dimensional, cardboard cutout figures of the terrorists that we frequently see in the theaters. Abu Bashar, also known as Jihad, spent 20 years in an Israeli prison for being a die-hard member of the “Movement” and had the reputation of never cracking. But he’s grown tired of the violence and killing. About to be released from prison, he wants nothing more than to just be reunited with his family and try and piece together the rest of his life. Yet, he’s swept up in a dizzying array of twists and turns that puts him right back where he didn’t want to be.
His son, Bashar, is another innocent who was turned into a murdering terrorist by the undercover Doron. Bashar loves his father dearly but wants nothing to do with the movement and is training to be a boxer. His dreams are to win a big upcoming tournament in Amman, Jordan and move his girlfriend (a Bedouin) and himself far from the West Bank. But his boxing trainer, Abu Fadi, is actually Doron, embedded in the West Bank and hunting for the terrorist Abu Fazi, who happens to be Bashar’s uncle.
Doron’s character is like a bald and thuggish James Bond to his superiors. Disdainful of authority, constantly disobeying orders or exceeding his authority, he still has the charm to woo different women into his bed. But unlike 007, Doron is increasingly torn apart by his decisions that ultimately get innocents paying the price and get his teammates wounded.
Although Doron is the hero he’s losing all the time; and in Season 3 he will lose so many things while he tries to do what he thinks is best for him, for Israel, for his team and for Bashar, who’s a great character.
Raz recently did an interview and said this about the show, “I think [Season 3 is] a much darker season. It’s an emotional journey for Doron that’s stronger than the other seasons.”
“Doron has (figuratively) lost his family and his son, who doesn’t want to talk to him anymore,” he says. “He has Bashar, who becomes like a son to him, but he’s losing him, too.”
The series shifts from the West Bank to Gaza where the Israeli team faces much more serious challenges as it is a much more difficult area to operate in. As Israelis aren’t allowed into Gaza, the show’s crew tries to recreate it as best it can. Those parts were filmed in Jisr az-Zarqa, which is an Arab/Israeli village on the beach near Haifa. The Israeli army built a mockup of the city for the crew’s use, similar to one that the Israeli army uses to train for urban combat.
Some of the later action strains the limits of credibility, but again we have to remember that this is a show that is mainly there to entertain. However, with dozens of twists and turns and tremendous pent-up chaos (fauda), there is suspense and action aplenty to keep the viewer engaged.
Regarding the English subtitles, they aren’t bad although at times they roll through a bit too quickly.
We blew right through the seasons’ 12 episodes in a day and a half. You will too.
Season 4 is already in the works as Raz and Isaacharof are writing the scripts for it. Hopefully, it won’t take another two years to complete.