R29 Binge Club: What To Watch This Weekend

Photo: Des Willie/SundanceTV.
This is it: the weekend when the highest award in television will be distributed. New winners will be anointed, crowning this year's best in TV. But, as Kanye West pointed out in his rambling VMA speech, no one who's nominated at an award show is really a loser. Just being on the list of Emmy nominees in four categories makes The Honorable Woman (2014), a British miniseries that aired in the U.S. on SundanceTV (and lost the "u" in Honourable in the journey across the pond), is worthy of your weekend binge-watch, before you tune into the Emmys on Sunday.

The Honorable Woman is an eight-episode miniseries that you can plow through in a weekend on Netflix. Once you start watching, you won't be able to stop. The series focuses on Nessa Stein (Maggie Gyllenhaal, who's nominated for Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie at the Emmys), a British-Israeli baroness whose father dealt arms to Israel before he was assassinated in front of eight-year-old Nessa's eyes.

Now, Nessa and her brother Ephra (Andrew Buchan) head the company their father founded, although they've changed it from one that sells weapons to Israel — that were then used to fight Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza — to one that invests in fiber optic cables that link Israel and the West Bank. Nessa hopes to foster communication and peace between Israel and Palestine. Her efforts also include establishing schools because she believes that education and technology will help on the long road to reconciliation between the two opposing forces.

Nessa knows, of course, that her dreams of peace in the Middle East are idealistic. Yet she remains persistent, dogged, and proud in her pursuit of that goal. Unfortunately, it's these same character traits that lead her to a cataclysmic event that changes the course of not just her life, but the lives of thousands of West Bank residents, Ephra, and his family.

Nessa and Ephra set off a devastating international chain of events, and the series unfolds through flashbacks and present-day narrative as we slowly learn how it happened. We don't want to give too many plot points away, because writer/director Hugo Blick has woven an intricate web of intrigue that's fascinating to discover on your own. Know that you should go in with an open mind, and that you won't have answers to questions that will arise in the first episode until later ones.

Although, as everything settles into place, your mind will be reeling as you dig into the complexities of mundane things like fiber-optic cable — the installation and upkeep of which can somehow bring relations in the Middle East to a standstill or even worse, a hostage situation. If you liked Homeland (2011-present) when it was good (so, the first two seasons), give The Honorable Woman a place on your weekend binge-watching list.

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