After several years of delay, I finally watched the Israeli series that served as inspiration for the American series “Homeland” and in the end I was quite disappointed. The series, which starts off great, as a superb combination of drama and thriller about two Israeli soldiers who were released after 17 years of captivity, will turn into a tiresome, slow-moving, unconvincing melodrama almost at the level of a soap opera. The second season, which arrived three years after the original, I barely managed to watch to the end, and the story starts there after two soldiers, Nimrode Klein (Yoram Toledano) and Uri Zach (Ishai Golan) finally arrive home after long negotiations.
The third soldier who was captured 17 years ago during a special mission in Lebanon, Amiel Ben-Horin (Assi Cohen) did not survive in captivity and only his remains arrived home to Israel. Thus, in the first season, we follow Nimrod and Uri’s attempt to get used to life and society, which has completely changed in those 17 years. And while both were young men in their early twenties when they were captured, they are now men in their forties with severe PTSD and unimaginable trauma. No one can understand what they had to go through in those 17 years and what kind of psychophysical torture they were faced with, and when they get home, they will be greeted by completely different family situations.
While Nimrod’s wife Talia (Yael Abecassis) waited and was faithful to him, Uri’s fiancee Nurit (Mili Avital) married his brother and started a family with him. Nimrod’s daughter is now a twenty-year-old girl, and he also has a 17-year-old son whom he has never seen since he was born a few months after he was captured. In the meantime, they have also become national symbols, heroes of the nation, and they have to deal with this status as they get used to normal life again, even though it is clear that life will never be normal for them. But while the entire nation celebrates them as heroes, they are also subjected to strict psychiatric evaluations and checks because the Israeli secret services fear that they did not go over to the enemy’s side while in captivity.
So they try to find some discrepancies in their stories, and the investigation will begin to show that Nimrod and Uri are really hiding something. From time to time, we get the background of the characters, especially Nimrod and Uri, through flashbacks during their imprisonment, and the first season is really a complex study of the tragic destinies of people who had to live through it all, but also of a completely schizophrenic society that is constantly in a state of war and in over its head. the danger of war hangs. Not only is it a story about deeply traumatized people trying to reintegrate into society, but also a deeply traumatized society and a country surrounded by enemies, a state of constant war with no end in sight.
Although the third prisoner, Amiel, is back in the sack and his sister Yael (Adi Ezroni) is having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that her older brother is gone, he appears occasionally as a ghost with whom she talks while trying to process what is happening. In the second, significantly weaker and hugely disappointing season, the story will revolve around Amiel’s fate and what happened to him in captivity, and in those 14 overstretched episodes the overall impression will be completely blown and ruined. At times in the second season of “Hatufim” or “Prisoners of War” it will seem like it was made by some amateurs who were in a hurry, and the acting is occasionally astonishingly unconvincing and the actors are really bad. It’s a great pity because after the first season “Hatufim” held a solid eight, but by the end it pretty much went to hell and really annoyed me.