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2020 season 1 review: Well-written characters and brilliant performances carry this Lebanese crime drama

The writers have done a particularly commendable job in writing the grey-shaded characters in the show

3rating
  • Shilpa S

Last Updated: 03.21 AM, Jun 11, 2022

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2020 season 1 review: Well-written characters and brilliant performances carry this Lebanese crime drama
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Story:

After she loses her brother in a mission to take down a drug trafficking ring, Captain Sama(Nadine Nassib Njem) decides to complete her late brother’s mission herself. Despite objections from her family, she goes undercover to infiltrate and take down Safi’s (Kosai Khauli) drug trafficking ring. But as she finds herself becoming a part of the dealer’s everyday life, things start to get complicated.

Review:

The general premise of a cop going undercover for a mission, only to find themselves in a much more complicated position than they started out, is definitely not a fresh storyline by any means. At its core, 2020’s basic premise offers nothing new in that way. But with its fantastic writing it manages to churn out interesting, well fleshed out characters who definitely do a splendid job of carrying the show on their shoulders.

The series introduces viewers to Captain Sama, a no nonsense investigator who’s as tough as they come. Initially, Sama’s character has very little to set her apart from the usual strong female detective trope common in crime dramas. She is skilled in her line of work, which consumes most of her time, so much so that she barely has any time left to spend with her daughter. When her brother Jubran is killed in action as part of a mission to bust a drug operation, Sama takes it upon herself to avenge his death and complete the unfinished mission. This decision of hers leads her to cross paths with drug dealer Safi.

Safi’s character is an exemplary example of how good writing can flesh out a character in the best of ways. Although he is a drug dealer, Safi is written in such a way that makes him seem sinister, yet relatable all at once. He is a devoted son, and his interactions with his mother and loved ones are nothing short of pure. As a community leader, he takes it upon himself to be responsible for every member in his neighbourhood, going to great lengths to keep the peace. Even when it comes to his profession, Safi seems to be an ‘ideal’ employer as well, who even takes care of the loved ones of his employees who die in their line of work. The duality of his nature is written into the character subtly, and takes viewers by surprise whenever Safi comes on screen. There are times when viewers could even start to sympathise with him and even root for him to ‘win’, until one starts to really think about his heinous crimes.

Although the writers did give in to cliches, going forward with the predictable plot of Safi and Sama’s romance, the interaction and chemistry between the two seem to make up for it. Sama also starts to shine and come into her own as a protagonist as the story develops after she embarks upon her mission. Her softer side starts to come out as she is forced to leave her daughter behind to fulfil her duty. The writing made sure to make Sama much more layered and dimensional than a ‘badass cop’. Instead, viewers get to see several glimpses of her vulnerable side as she grapples with her tumultuous personal life, and her complicated relationship with Safi. Nadine Nassib Njem and Kosai Khauli give brilliant performances as Sama and Safi respectively. The supporting characters also complement the main storylines beautifully, both in performance and writing.

Although the characters were full of depth and written beautifully, the same cannot be said of the basic plotline. Even though the inherent premise does accord the series a certain element of thrill and suspense, the story in the end does not manage to move beyond becoming unremarkable.

Verdict:

Although 2020’s story has its fair share of predictability and cliches, the well written characters and impeccable performances by the lead cast are more than enough to carry forward the story in an engaging way.

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