Has anyone been watching The State on Channel 4? It’s the story of four British jihadis, two girls, two boys plus Isaac the boy who go off to Syria to join the Daesh state. Lashings of lashings, and full helpings of heads on spikes.
Our two boys are Jalal, following his brother, who was killed when he made the trip earlier and Ziyad, who is after adventure. The two girls are Ushna, star-struck by jihad and Shakira, a doctor and single mother. Shakira’s 9 year old son Isaac make up the five.
Christopher Stevens reviewed it and went full Daily Mail, saying it worked as a recruitment video for the holy head-bangers since the Fearsome Five were having such a good time jihading – the handsome boys bare-chested waving guns about and the girls good-looking and idealistic.
I don’t know if susceptible young Muslims will be seduced by this so as to think it a great wheeze to head to the so-called Islamic State, however any normal westerner of all faiths and none – and who else can you pitch a telly programme to – would naturally be appalled at the diatribes about the disgustingness of women and aghast at the tirades about the Second Coming, not to mention the bullying of the townsfolk carried out by the mujahideen and the binbagged female vice squad, with beatings and beheadings the order of the day. The nasty chap who runs the hospital man-handles Shakira the doctor, pushing her out physically – that would be a shock for any professional woman who could have an industrial- tribunal case against a superior even shouting at her.
The women live in a kind of girls’ boarding school with a fat, smiley-yet-sinister American Matron running the place and a Puritanical Head Girl who lectures them about the decadence of the west. .
So however personable they are, however gutsy Shakira shows herself, however a pair of fine eyes well with sympathy for the victims of the mini totalitarian state, my own reaction is that as I know this lot are Nazi equivalents I’m dying for them to become disillusioned and then make horrible ends. I’m wondering if Shakira will see her cute little Isaac kitted out with a suicide vest and told to become a martyr.
The director, Peter Kosminsky directed Wolf Hall, which was pretty good and The Promise, which a lot of people on this blog hated. The State is watchable and doesn’t give any back story specious reasons for our Frightful Five becoming latter day Cathar crusaders –and there’s enough suspense to keep me viewing. However it’s nothing like as stylish and handsome as The Handmaid’s Tale which dealt with a very similar society and showed how its cruelty and control went right into its victims’ bones. That was cool and elegant, this is hot and rumbustious and crude. I will stick to the end though waiting for the Five to come to bad ends. Two more episodes – and how will each one die?
Isaac – suicide vest
Shakira – hospital bombing
Ushna – honour killed by her arranged husband for smiling at some bloke
Ziyad – shot by a Kurdish woman soldier
Jalal – drowns himself in the swimming pool
I’ve been facetious about a series based on a horrible evil of modern times. But the ethos of ISIS is like Nazism – grotesque, pompous, farcical. If it wasn’t so murderous and cruel it would be funny.
Update after 3rd episode:-
Isaac – still alive and presiding over his mother’s marriage
Shakira – has had her feet beaten for refusing to take out wounded Others’ kidneys. She’s turning into your standard feisty heroine. Unbelievably, a fellow doctor has confided that he’s gay and she’s marrying him to be his beard, and so she won’t have to marry the horrible guy at the hospital
Ushna – becoming a clype and teacher’s pet. Glad to say her arranged husband is now in Paradise.
Ziyad –blown up in suicide mission (I think it was him – the beards are confusing)
Jalal – having terrible qualms and is our sympathetic character by dint of not raping a captured girl of 11 or so
I can’t see how this would recruit any except the most depraved
Update:- Episode 4
Shakira – escapes with Isaac in inflatable boat with other refugees and well-meaning fools rescue her. Very indignant that the UK authorities regard her as a potential terrorist.
Isaac taken into care. Have hopes for him as a football player, after his neat foot work with severed heads in earlier scenes
Jalal – looks like his qualms are bringing him to an early and grisly death
Ushna – pregnant and looking for another husband. We can only hope that she gets in the way of a targeted air strike.