WARNING: The following contains spoilers for BBC One and AMC's The Little Drummer Girl.
The Little Drummer Girl is an adaptation of John le Carré's popular spy novel, the first season of which just wrapped up on BBC One and AMC. Over the course of six episodes, Oldboy director Park Chan-wook brought to life a new take on the story of a young theater actress Charlie (Florence Pugh), as she becomes embroiled in an international terrorist conspiracy.
In the show, Charlie finds herself recruited by Martin (Michael Shannon) and Gadi (Alex Skaarsgard) as part of a clandestine Israeli operation to infiltrate a Palestinian terrorist cell run by a Bin Laden-esque character, Khalil (Chariff Ghattas). As she falls deeper into this world, she begins to lose her sense of self, and when the time comes for the Israelis to use her as bait to lure Khalil out of hiding, they do so by weaponizing something we hear about constantly in media and politics these days: Fake news.
Setting Up The Weapon
The Israelis recruit and use Charlie due to her acting skills, manipulating her into fooling Khalil into thinking she's the vengeance-seeking girlfriend of his brother they killed, Michel (Amir Khoury). She trains with his Palestinian army, embracing their way of life and becomes a radical like them, fooling them into thinking she wants to be a martyr for Michel and carry out his original plan -- to bomb a London university event speaking out against Palestinian terrorist cells.
However, her history as a past sympathizer with the Palestinian cause rears its head in the final two episodes of the season, with Charlie finding herself conflicted as she leaves her new family in Jordan and comes to London in order to carry out the bombing. After seeing how the Palestinians were treated, especially the women and children, she begins to wonder if she's on the right side, especially since the Israelis lied to her and killed Michel when they said they wouldn't.
Charlie shows up to the event in any case, leaving viewers wondering if she's a double-agent, intending to trick the Israelis, even after seeding out hints as to the mission the Palestinians have sent her on. Of course, as a master in duplicity, she knows how to maneuver around them and double-cross her initial employers if she so desires.
Making Fake News Count
As Charlie moves in to drop off the bomb in the university hall, she's intercepted by Martin and Gadi. She's stunned at how they anticipated her moves, thus leaving the audience divided as to her true intentions. Nonetheless, firmly believing she's on their side, especially after Gadi seduced her before she went to Khalil's Jordanian camp, the duo take the bomb and place it in a special room (created with the cooperation of the British Secret Service) designed to be blown up.
As Charlie leaves to go back to Khalil, the bomb explodes in this room, and we see victims, dead and damaged being carted out. When Charlie returns to Khalil, the massacre is on every news network, tricking him into thinking Charlie carried out Michel's job. However, it's all a big ruse; British Intelligence organized the entire, fictional situation, ensuring the fake news looked as real as possible. This was all prelude as part of the sting operation on Khalil, as they tracked Charlie back to his English hideaway.
With the fake news all over the television, Khalil is convinced Charlie is the partner he's been looking for, with Martin and Gadi's suspicions proving true. They knew that with this news, given Khalil's penchant for loving his brother's female accomplices, he would fall for Charlie. As predicted, the two sleep together, leaving him vulnerable. In the morning, just as Khalil raises suspicions about why the milkman hasn't shown up, he's ambushed and killed by Gadi. However, it's a bittersweet victory because Charlie mourns the terrorist, leaving Gadi confused over whether or not she wishes the fake news was actually real.
Directed by Park Chan-wook, The Little Dummer Girl stars Florence Pugh, Michael Shannon, Alexander Skarsgård, Michael Moshonov, Simona Brown, Amir Khoury and Charif Ghattas.