HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Prisoners of War - Season 2
HTS Overall Score:65
Shout Factory is back with the second and final season of the award winning show that inspired “Homeland”, here in the USA. I was absolutely caught by surprise when I watched season 1, and have been eagerly anticipating the release of Season 2, especially after the cliffhanger they left us with last time. Thankfully Director and writer Gideon Raff (little tidbit, as most people know the average TV show has a TON of writers and each episode is directed by someone else, but “Prisoners of War” was completely written and directed by Gideon) kept up the good work and has given us a thrilling conclusion to the show and even gave us an uptick of 14 episodes vs. the 10 of season 1.
Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen season 1 yet. With the bombshell ending of last season we know that Amiel (Assi Cohen) is actually alive and well, living with his captors as a converted Muslim and serving that same terrorist organization that tortured them for almost 2 decades. Uri (Ishai Golan) is still recovering from realization that Iris (Sendi Bar) was playing him for information and Nimrode (Yoram Toledano) is having his world collapse as he can’t adjust back to living with his family. Now with the realization that Amiel is alive, they have to find out what has happened to him. Going to the only one in the system they know, the pair turns to Dr. Haim for help and finding out what happened to him.
On the other side, Amiel is living as a converted Jihadist with a wife and family, second in line for taking over the organization due to marrying the leader’s daughter. The only problem is that he has some competition in the form of an overly devout man named Abdallah (Yousef “Joe” Sweid) as well as having to come to grips with his own doubts over the tactics that his now being forced to use. To make matters worse it appears that the terrorist organization has its claws in deeper than we had previously thought and a new operation, known as project Judah, will tie the men together in ways that no one realizes.
As with season one, the show is mainly a character drama that focuses on the relationships of these men and their families with the cloak and dagger stories fleshing out the main focus. Amiel and the secrets that weave through the series are intriguing and powerfully intense, but the real power and real tension comes from watching these men try to gain some semblance of sanity and stability back in their homeland. NImrode, Yuri, Amiel, etc, all show symptoms of ptsd and we get to see this debilitating condition affect their very lives. Nimrode is out partying and trying to assuage his pain with the pleasures of debauchery and Uri is barely holding ANYTHING together, a literal shell compared to whom he once was. Even getting back together with his old flame, Nurit, can’t heal all of the wounds that have been afflicted.
There are some really neat added subplots, especially the ties that bring together project Judas and the inclusion of Noni to the mix. Season 2 is not just more of the same, but more of the same PLUS a whole lot more intrigue and more, especially with Yael and the tragic romance she’s embarked on. Even though the intrigue is a major pull I am absolutely fascinated at the character study going on here. The lack of huge name actors and gorgeous main stars gives the show a realistic feel that you can relate to. You have a family man who’s no longer a part of his family, a mother who desperately wants her husband back, and the young “harlot” of the series, who although pretty and kind of duplicitous, is also relatable and pitiable at the same time. Finally I am really impressed that instead of taking this ongoing conflict in the Middle East and putting it up on a political pedestal, Gideon Raff did an incredible job of leaving politics at the door and focusing on a single event (or years of an event) and ripple effect that it had on the families of these three people.
The Episode Rundown is as Follows
Hag La Sameach
Moto Shel Sochen
HaChaver Shel Mika
HaIsha Shelanu BeDamesek
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=27185[/img]Just like Season 1, the 1.78:1 MPEG2 encode given to us by shout factory is a mixed bag. it's a mix of encoding issues and apparent source issues and the results tend to be mediocre to poor. The image is rather dissapointing, even by DVD standard with some interlacing and some nasty macroblocking that give off an odd picture. The detail in the show is squashed by a VERY soft looking image that appears mushy and devoid of most detail. It’s not a horrible train wreck of softness, but VERY surprisingly so with modern cameras being used. It gives the show a very rough and raw picture that shows some decent colors, but nothing wild. Blacks are crushed and colors are muted due to the overt softness of the picture. said macroblocking is shown in fast movie scenes along with the ever present interlacing. I can’t verify whether it was shot this way on purpose, or not, but it’s not going to be one that stands out as top of the line video presentations. I also noticed a very light green outline around the 1.78:1 frame, usually not noticeable, but it shows up on black screens more visibly.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=27193[/img]Nearly identical to season 1, the 2.0 stereo dolby digital track is what I like to call “satisfactory”. Without those surround channels it’s a fairly flat mix, but on that is very dialogue based and puts a lot of emphasis on said dialogue. The levels are evenly balanced and leave very little to complain about. There’s minimal LFE blended in to those two channels and even some decent ambient panning effects with the mains. Again, it’s nothing that will knock your socks off, but it does a decent job and shows much more polish than the video showed. Without being able to see the original sources I can’t tell if it was shot and recorded this way on purpose, so It’s hard to point fingers for the lackluster video and audio presentation.
• Introduction by Gideon Raff
• Cast Interviews
• Episode Commentaries
The entire series is just a hidden gem that I can't recommend enough, and in my opinion, completely eclipses the American version with ease. Focusing on the familiar and character driven drama it is mesmerizing and brutally raw at the same time. The characters aren't pretty boy (or girl) actors, but look like real people, and by the end of the show, people who have gone through hell and back again twice. The audio and video quality is a bit disappointing and really doesn't look as good on a projector screen, but the show is so fantastic that I'm willing to look by the production flaws and still heartily recommend this final season. Recommended for sure.
Starring: Gal Zaid, Yael Eitan, Salim Dau
Created by: Gideon Raff
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 MPEG 2
Audio: Hebrew: Dolby Digital 5.1
Studio: Shout! Factory
Runtime: 713 Minutes
DVD Release Date: September 16th, 2014
Buy Prisoners of War - Season 2 DVD on Amazon
Recommendation: Must Buy
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