Thursday, December 14, 2006

the best show you haven't seen gets better

I try to make a point of blogging about television shows as little as can help. But an unexpected plot twist in the second season of one of my favorite shows is highly inspirational. Read and be spoiled. Sleeper Cell is a show about a California-based al-Qaeda cell planning a terror attack on Los Angeles. Last season, it was a chemical weapon in Dodger Stadium. This year, things look nuclear.
On last night's episode, "Faith", one member of the cell had a same-sex fling in the gym steamroom. And then he went to assassinate an Islamic televangelist. It provided for a fantastic character moment, when Salim's destructive rage and judgemental nature are revealed to spring from a reaction-formation of Haggardian proportions. In the second episode of this season, Salim had chopped off the hand of an arms salesman with a meat cleaver when he thought he had been cheated on a surface-to-air missile.

Rounding out this season's supporting cast of terrorists is a Dutch nanny/explosives expert; a Latino former gang member ably played by the actor who plays Justin's father Santos on Ugly Betty; and of course, our able protagonist, Special Agent Darwyn al-Sayeed. Two other terrorists survived from last season's cell, but both are overseas in very disparate places. There's been a (off-screen) beheading of a supporting character from last season, one of the more gruesome torture scenes ever made for tv involving a piece of wire and a blowtorch, the slow and violent death of unsuspecting 9-11 conspiracy-spouting pseudo-hippie, a dramatic prison escape, and a fight to the death in one of those DIY car washes. It is the anti-24 in terms of plausibility and each day of the eight part series is being presented one night a week all week long. Watch it and be impressed by its daringly nuanced exploration of Islam within and without America.

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