Tehran (TV Series) Analysis – Espionage Thriller to End Iran’s Missile Power


War is fought on numerous grounds. Reasons? Many! Religious disharmony, land disputes, nuclear progressions and many such evil ideologies.  Propaganda has compelled nations to rage war. However, taking arms so randomly isn’t much possible with so many Peace Treaties around. This leaves these nations, only one option, SPIES. Those who fight the undercover internal work of intelligence. Tehran (TV Series) , created by Moshe Zonder portrays one such Israeli spy, Tamar Rabinyan caught in between Israeli-Iranian conflict.

Tehran (TV Series) Season 1 is divided into 8 episodes of approximately one hour. Each episode delivers a tight, gripping thriller that is going to glue your eyes on screen, and allures you to binge it instantly. The writing is so amazingly flair, that it never lets you develop a judgement on which country falls under the good light, because in War, everyone is evil. The approach has been amazingly put to screen by writers Zonder and Omri Shenhar.

The Story

It all begins with a flight developing some turbulence issues in the air, and thus have to make an emergency landing in Tehran, Capital of Iran. The news strikes two Israeli passengers on board, like a thunderbolt. They are shell shocked because Israeli passengers are deemed as criminal in Iran, due to the ongoing conflict.

While the creators have integrated a really well researched and intriguing element, it is mostly to give away to the audience about the ongoing dispute  between the two nations. These two passengers have little to do with the story further, but they set the mood and grounds for further plot.

In the same flight, we see a suspectful woman, Tamar Rabinyan (Niv Sultan) dressed in Burkha. In Tehran airport, she exchanges her costume and identity with another woman, Zhila Gorbanifar dressed as a flight attendant.

While the two Israeli suspects are being interrogated by Faraz Kamali (Shaun Toub), head of Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Due to lack of any solid proof, Faraz let the flight resume it’s journey to India, letting go the passengers. Original Zhila Gorbanifar leaves Tehran and her Tamar disguised as Zhila disappears in the city of Tehran.

Further in the story, we get to know Zhila as the agent of Mossad (intelligence agency) who has come to Tehran for an undercover mission to disable the nuclear reactor recently developed by the Iranian government. Iran is developing nuclear weapons and atomic bombs and needs to be stopped, and Tamar is shouldered with the responsibility. Her mission is to disable the Iran radar system so sraeli Air Force can bomb the reactor. But nothing goes as planned, and Tamar is hunted and chased by Revolutionary Guards of Iranian. They would do anything to stop. It is Tamar’s journey from thereon, while she dodges and protects herself against all odds to survive in an alien nation.

Authentic Political Drama in a Fictional Story

It’s a trend on the internet, to find the authenticity of Scientific Fiction. Most headlines who quote how accurate Interstellar was, as per NASA. Similarly,the legitimacy of a political drama needs a well researched story/plot.

For example, to integrate elements like no Israeli can land on Iranian land is the mark of dedication given on exploration. Most, not all, Hollywood Spy Thrillers work their way out of false detailing in order to create suspense and charade. Recently, some very interesting thriller/drama series like “The Spy” by Gideon Raff starring Sacha Baron Cohen have set the bar for extensive detailing and research. The series is similar to Tehran as it revolves around the life of a Mossad Agent on an undercover mission. Point being, Tehran (TV Series) works better because it underlines many such fascinating facts that only entertains you but also educates you. The approach defines brilliant writing.

Unbiased Narrative

Often espionage thriller dramas are inclined to portray the protagonist as moral or ethical. Whatever he/she is doing, is underlined as necessary and divine. Recently, the approach has been changed and most spy characters are coded with a contradictory gene. They suspect their country’s motive as well as the enemy’s. They are not 100 percent patriotic and more flawed. Protagonist Tamar Rabinyan and Antagonist Faraz Kamali are treated accordingly in the series. They aren’t showcased as totally good or bad. This confuses the viewers (in a good way) who wants to choose a side, but the balanced narrative doesn’t let them. Result is a provoking thoughtful drama that keeps the audiences engaged and invested in the story. Viewers are constantly trying to judge and put labels to characters, but each one is so grey that all their efforts go down the drain. Tehran (TV Series), approaches the story from both ends. It gives you enough insight, highlighting the flaws of both the nations. This drama never takes side, until you want to narrate your own ideologies to it.

Separated by Faith, Connected by History

Iran and Israel have been at war, because of their Jewish and Muslim population. Each one accuses the other. It’s a similar Crusade war, wrestling over the ancient fact, to whom Jerusalem belongs. The Middle East, from a long time, hasn’t seen clear skies without war. It’s disheartening.

Extremists in both the nations are fighting the war of Faith. Civilians are grinded off in their religious war. They are separated from their closed ones and can’t meet them due to the ongoing conflict. Tamar, the protagonist is a Jewish woman, who was born in Iran but her parents left the country and fled to Israel because of the disputing war in Iran. The family left a lot behind. No person who spreads the insects of disharmony can understand it. What a common man has to sacrifice because some religious saint wants to prove his faith as superior.

They used to be happy and kind, now they live in fear, live a lie.” Says Tamar’s father. It underscores the distress Iranian born Jews had to go through because someone narrated a propaganda and provoked the peace loving Iranian Muslims.

Tehran (TV Series), through many intricate scenes and characters have explored the theme through the protagonist. It is not the one side that suffers, but both the sides are agonized equally.

Democracy at Stake

In many democratic countries, not to name any, their structure is democracy, but their actions are purely autocratic. The government takes unexplainable measures to suppress anyone who speaks against them. Tehran, in a very subtle way, underlines the theme without emphasizing it. It touches it and runs away, just to instill a thought in the viewers. Brilliantly it showcases the flaws of both pro and anti democratic parasites of the society. Though it doesn’t comment on any, which is to give the audience the look and feel of injustice and leaving the judgement on their disposal.

An Open End

The series, Tehran has been concluded in the way it should, or so I feel. I am hopeful that the creators will come with another season of it to finish the story. Or it could be a short mini series too, if you just consider the fact that all  spies missions have an absurd end to it. Whatever the case maybe, It was an engaging ride in the first season.

Tehran (TV Series) lays out many intriguing themes throughout. A lot of new series are coming out recently that work on characters and multiple layers. It gives a very realistic, raw and captivating feel to it. The quality and trend of series are flourishing for a much more mature audience. Gone are the days, where the audiences were pleased with cheesy thin drama and thriller. Even comedy shows are extensively working on plot structure and characters rather than just slapstick and one liners. Series like Tehran are a ray of hope, that much more series will follow the expanding narrative quality and deliver thought provoking stories. We, as viewers, want and should learn and evolve to grasp the quality content. 

Apple, who has recently joined the Content Field through it’s platform Apple+ TV, is intently producing and investing on high class drama series and films. Hope that Apple will maintain the standard and provide stiff competition to it’s contenders.

Tehran (TV Series)  is streaming on Apple+TV.

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Shikhar Agrawal
Shikhar Agrawal
I am an Onstage Dramatist and a Screenwriter. I have been working in the Indian Film Industry for the past 12 years, writing dialogues for various films and television shows.

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