'The Little Drummer Girl': Charlie gets to know the truth as fiction becomes reality in episode 3
A car ride across international borders, a dubious agent, and a bag of secrets...it all comes out in the open.
Marty Kurtz (played by Michale Shannon) has officially taken the reins in his hand as the director of the script, and with Charlie (played by Florence Pugh) carrying out the task, he is certain that he has got just the perfect heroine for his show. As Charlie continues to go undercover in the third episode of BBC One's adaptation of John Le Carre's 1983 novel, 'The Little Drummer Girl', Kurtz and Becker (played by Alexander Skarsgard) have to find out a way to help Charlie before it gets too late.
In the last two episodes, director Park Chan-wook took his time to establish the characters against the backdrop of a 1970's Greece, where the chase to hunt down the notorious terrorist, Khalil, begins. Charlie, an aspiring young actress is lured by the stranger, Becker, who helps Kurtz recruit Charlie as a pawn to trap Khalil. However, the actual story begins in the third episode where Charlie is finally given full knowledge of the work that she is doing. Initially told that she was carrying out a crucial role for which she might be the perfect fit, Charlie finally gets to know that it is not just any script, but almost a sketch of a war which has been waging since decades.
Episode 3 rightfully picks up from where episode 2 left, where Becker convinces Charlie to take up the daunting task of driving a car across the Austria-Yugoslavia border. Becker had already hinted towards the dubious nature of Kurtz's script when he informed her about the explosives which were inside the car. Considering all of this to be a part of method acting, Charlie does not complain about the explosives inside the car but she is certainly terrified at the idea of riding it right through the borders. However, she carries on with the task (still thinking it all to be fiction) and returns victorious, with everything set in place.
Victorious, Charlie is finally relieved that she might be able to go back home to take up her role as Rosalind in the upcoming theatrical adaptation of Shakespeare's 'As You Like It'. However, there are still some things that she needs to be aware of before leaving. The thin line between reality and fiction which has been blurring with every episode finally disappears in the third, when Charlie faces the stark reality of the entire script. She is finally introduced to the actual Salim (or Michel) who has been a prisoner of the Mossad for the last two episodes, and it all comes to a full circle when Kurtz's two main characters Charlie and Salim come face to face.
Kurtz has been just the perfect director for the script. He has been manipulating the characters according to his requirements, he has been improvising according to changes in plans, but most of all he has managed to keep all the characters under his control. Just like a director, he can make his actors comfortable enough so that they can bring out their best performance, and when needed he is ready to give that extra push to his actors. His brilliance lies in his subtlety and not once Marty expresses any kind of discomfort or doubt while dealing with either Charlie or Salim. The two walked smoothly into his script, and do exactly what he wants them to do.
However, in the third episode, things begin to get real. After carrying out her task, once Charlie has finally returned to the headquarters she is introduced to the real Michel, who Becker has been portraying all this while. Shocked at the revelation for the first time, Charlie expresses some actual doubt about the people around her. Although she herself would want a revolution to end the war, Charlie was never prepared to be picked up by Mossad and face an actual terrorist. She knows that she certainly cannot reject the proposal as she might get killed, so she involuntarily becomes a victim to the war.
Episode 3 is probably Chan-wook's most well-made episode. Maintaining the vivid tone of a sun-tanned Greece, the visuals continue to awe us. The director uses the camera in every possible way to depict the mood of his characters. Kurtz is continuously portrayed through an inclined angle, which indicates that the man is neither in support of Charlie nor Salim. All he wants is his work to be done, and he can go up to any extent- even twist the script- if needed. Charlie's face continues to find perspective in the added depths of the frame, most of which were either filled by Becker or left blank indicating her lost state of mind.
As for Becker, the focus has somewhat been less on him. He appears in a frame always with one other character. While Kurtz and Charlie are given single frames of their own, Becker is the added element in most of them. It indicates that Becker is perceived subjectively by both Kurtz and Charlie, but not for once do we get to hear what he is thinking about all of this. He certainly holds a significant place in the episode, but we cannot avoid the fact that this character is getting mysterious with every approaching episode. Something seems to be off about Becker as unlike the rest he is in the plan half-heartedly, and it is not clear whether he will stick to it for too long.
As for Charlie, she has emerged as the perfect heroine for the "theatre of the real". Not only is she diligent in following instructions, but she also adds her own bits to it. She pops out a cigarette claiming that her character smokes in spite of being a suppressed woman. She pretends she has no euros and can only afford to buy food with pounds, even after Becker gives her all his money in euros. Charlie enjoys herself in the script just as much as Kurtz enjoys holding the reins, but the flash of reality that she gets when she finally encounters Salim might have shaken her grounds.
If Charlie will continue to be on board, now that fiction has turned into reality, is unclear. However, we may assume that being the kind of risk-seeking person that she is, she will surely come on board once she gets over the shock. 'The Little Drummer Girl' airs every Sunday at 10 p.m. on BBC One.