“The Honourable Woman” is an eight-part BBC political drama miniseries that stars Maggie Gyllenhaal. Written and directed by Hugo Blick (“The Shadow Line”), the show premiered on July 3, 2014 on BBC Two and will follow in the United States with a premiere on July 31, 2014 on SundanceTV. Read further to learn what happened in the first episode of “The Honourable Woman” entitled “The Empty Chair.”
Twenty-nine years ago, a young Nessa Stein (Maggie Gyllenhaal), along with her brother Ephra (Andrew Buchan), witnessed how their father Eli, a prominent businessman who supplied weapons to Middle Eastern countries, was brutally murdered in a restaurant. Twenty-nine years later, Nessa, who had just been made Baroness by the Queen for her influence and contribution as the head of her father’s company, returned to the same restaurant where her father was killed. In front of family, friends and business contacts, she announced a new business partnership: Instead of selling weapons, Nessa’s company would be producing broadband technology to Middle East to bridge the poverty gap.
Curiously absent in this celebration was Nessa’s special guest, Samir Meshal, an Israeli who had won the contract from the Stein company. His chair at the celebration was empty. Later, Nessa was told by her staff that Meshal was found hanging from a flag pole at his hotel and a suicide note was left at his table.
The MI6 was tasked to investigate the suicide with Hugh Hayden-Hoyle (Stephen Rae) handling the case. Hugh had his own problems to deal with, a scandal that may cost him his job. But being an expert in Middle Eastern affairs, he was assigned to this case. Hugh suspected foul play, especially after discovering that the “suicide note” was sealed in an envelope. The envelope bore no fingerprints of the deceased. Later, Hugh conferred with his informant to find out more about the “suicide.” It wouldn’t be long before his questions bring him to the Stein’s office.
Nessa discussed with concerned Israeli and Palestinian lobbyists about her plans for the contract now that Meshal is dead. Who would take over? These lobbyists were already against her choice from the beginning, but Nessa had always been headstrong, despite creating many enemies in the business. Pressured and stressed by what was happening, she met in secret with Atika (Lubna Azabal), an old friend and her nephew’s nanny, and cried her heart out to her, blurting something about being found out. Atika assured her that it was not going to happen. What was Nessa hiding?
At this point, the friendship between these two women was expounded in a flashback. Eight years prior, while in the Gaza Strip, Atika was kidnapped by gunmen, while Nessa screamed for her friend. What significance does this have to do with the latest on-goings?
Later, the Stein family formally celebrated Nessa’s Baroness honor by attending a classical music performance. But before the event actually started, the power at the venue was cutoff, and the alarm bells blared. Guests panicked, and Nessa was whisked by one of her most trusted security people away. However, as they waited for the car, Nessa spotted her nephew, Kasim, being dragged outside of the venue by a captor.
Nessa chased after her nephew on foot, and, closing in on the captor, she was almost shot by his gun, but her security saved her. However, the captor had already called for backup, and they escaped in a motorcycle with Kasim. Meanwhile, Nessa was left in the middle of a London park with her bodyguard bleeding out. Was Kasim’s kidnapping related to the business deal Nessa was trying to accomplish with the Israelis and Palestines? Were they sending out a message? Or is this connected to the suicide?
And that’s what went on in the “The Empty Chair,” the first episode of the miniseries “The Honourable Woman.” It aired on July 3, 2014 on BBC Two and will subsequently air in the United States on July 31, 2014 via SundanceTV. For more details and updates about this show, check back to Movie News Guide (MNG).
Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons/Sgt. Michael Connors