SPOILER ALERT: This game contains spoilers for episode two of The Little Drummer Girl. You can read episode two round here
When does the "theater of the work" become real? Episode Three of Little Drummer Girl began with a God's eye on a red Mercedes lined with explosives that spoke through Greek country roads and ended up with the same vehicle that broke out in a fireball on a German highway. Recorded by Kurtz (Michael Shannon) and his team, it was a coolly calculated and high extrajudicial performance: killed Salim / Michel and his handsome messenger Anna, the perpetrator of the Bad Godesberg bombing that opened the series. An act of vengeance, then, but a purposeful designed to keep the conflict on its way.
By arranging to blow these fatal terrorists in Germany, Kurtz gave his local police access to Paul Alexis – cheesecake lover and useful intel – an easy way to package the Bad Godesberg case. There was also an upper motive: to flush out the real goal, master bomber Khalil. To investigate the last movements of his baby brother, Salim, should lead Khalil along a carefully embroidered paper track of love letters and hotel income. a trail that ends with Charlie (Florence Pugh). She can dabble in Scrabble but Kurtz plays chess and thinks three moves forward.
Was there ever any doubt that Charlie would accept his mission to ship explosives across multiple borders? The episode started with her already on the road and fiddling with car radio but then found in one of the strange rewolves that has become a hallmark of this drama, we returned to her fresco briefing with Becker (Alexander Skarsgård). As an actor, he issued most of his instructions to her character like her lover Michel, even though he sided with the load – "Semtex is popular because it is stable, but I would not light a cigarette in there" – seemed to be clean deadpan Becker. Then, with a Jason Bourne-esque stack of different Euro currencies, she was gone.
Kurtz suddenly decided to withdraw the curtain of Salim / Michel and his march prison from his wireless cell, revealing that the prison trial had all been arranged (including some before Photoshop, Polaroids made by Schwilli). That Salim would open up how he informed his comrades about his next bombing goal after a certain preliminary relationship with Kurtz over their formative difficulties felt a little unbelievable, but admittedly he had recently been drawn to the eyeballs. Had Kurtz already determined the final destiny of his captive at this time? It seems likely.
After a tetchy Scrabble game with her manager, Rachel, to confirm that she would park Mercedes in Gutigplatz, Charlie smoothly filled his luggage with Yugoslav fire before crossing the border with Austria. The initially suspicious guards waved her through, while in the fine tradition of border guards in the 1970s Europe retained the floating evidence to investigate. After leaving the car in place, Charlie left the keys in the exhaust gas and made a beeline for Becker, who was disguised as a suspected female rider in a nearby cafe.
Kurtz's eager Lieutenant Shimon left to watch the recording – which identified preening bikers and "young child-winding journalist" Rossino as the next link in the bombing chain. Charlie had a solo succession party in a hotel in the hotel room and hit the mini bar and lounging in a magnificent orange / brown tiled bathroom suite. Becker released to insist that she had done well, but after all such nervous energy was expelled, Charlie fell asleep. Never off-mission, Becker made the illusion of a lover's most proficient and left room service in the field of abuse.
Then, in Munich, the real debriefing. Charlie was taken face to face with the man whom she would be in love, who was busy between her captors' shoulders and seemed very young and vulnerable. (At the same time, his accomplice shouted Anna in the soundproofed cell just a few meters away in one of the dramatic sharp cuts.) During the uncomfortable scene of Charlie as memorized features of Salim's bare body, the size of what she was asked to do seemed to overwhelm her. Outside, she confronted Becker with her real name – which she blinked out of Rachel during her Scrabble game – and we saw his compassion: "Never call me Gadi again."
If it was originally a glamor to the idea of playing spy games, Charlie was now reduced to protruding carefully conspired love letters with different pens to convince Salim's comrades that their relationship was so comprehensive that she could count on. Reading these love notes high with Becker – still to her, Joseph – made her, not for the first time, reach out for him and rather mechanically he responded. Is he really caring for her or was he obliged to play the role of the trader, giving access to the support they need to get the job done? What could have become a catartic love scene turned into something more scary, a hallucinogenic nightmare where Charlie saw Salim instead of Joseph in her embrace while Kurtz and his team were watching.
Where is Charlie leaving? Back in London, in an apartment where the phone is knocked and passionate love letters have been planted in the guitar case, it is uncomfortable that someone will get in touch. As Kurtz noted in Munich: "From now on we will not write the game … the game will come to you." No wonder she gets back pints at her local snooker club.
Park's performance assessment
The long-standing interests of the square, with slow tracking through slightly angled telescope lenses, suggests that director Park Chan-wook is a fan of paranoid 70's thrillers like The Conversation and was keen to develop a similar sense of tight tension. It was also exciting to see that Shimon's catchy interception of Anna when she drove off the red Mercedes – a scene referred to but not actually described in the original novel – is seen most in a long and very big shot that stressed how chaotic it was for four operators to suppress a determined agitated woman. The park loves a long-lasting single take (although he could not resist intersection when Anna took a chomp on Shimon's ear).
Spy notes and observations
Becker has spent most of The Little Drummer Girl channeling young Romeo Michel – wearing his clothes and medallion, imitating his writing, absorbs his lectures – to immerse Charlie in the fiction they create. At the end of this section he had returned to a much less flamboyant look: a whole black polo neck. Maybe a box of milk boxes comes in episode four?
Have you discovered John Le Carré cameo? He was the waiter in the square and looked quite confused at the big Alexander Skarsgård in a dog collar.
I'm not a Scrabble expert but seems very unlikely you can GUTIGPLATZ at once because you only have seven tiles. (Other legitimate words on Charlie and Rachel's Board included AXIS, RISK, and SORRY.)
"My friends used to call me Short-Fuse Marty …" Kurtz initially seemed like a scruffy, avuncular ringmaster but now we begin to see how ruthless he can be.
Too slow, too stadiumy, too complicated, too untrue … for every viewer thriving in the little trumpet girl's stubbornness, there seems to be another who's ready to put it down. Now we have marched to halfway, will you hold on to it?