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What I Watched Last Night: The State Within

Continuing on with my miniseries kick as of late, over a few nights, I watched the seven installments of the BBC drama The State Within. The story can feel a little convoluted at times, but overall, it’s a good production.

The State Within (DVD cover)Jason Isaacs plays Mark Brydon, British Ambassador to the United States. He is in his last few months of employment, as he’s been offered the job of Foreign Secretary by the Prime Minister, but his present job becomes infinitely more complex when a flight from England crashes near Washington DC. The Secretary of Defense, Lynne Warner (Thea Gill), is ready to blame a British-born Muslim terrorist for triggering the bomb that brought the plane down, a man who apparently has ties to the presidential regime in Tyrgyzstan. Meanwhile, British mercenaries with dangerous chemicals and a plane with flight plans to Tyrgyzstan, are arrested in West Virginia. Oh, and an inmate on death row in Florida seems to know something about what’s going on, and then there are about ten other characters, each with mysterious motives.

(PS: Tyrgyzstan is the fictional country used as a stand-in in more than one BBC production, I’ve noticed. I believe MI-5/Spooks also used it.)

Yes, it’s a little hard to summarize in a concise manner. Jason Isaacs is akin to a slightly older Jon Hamm, both in acting style and appearance. All the acting is generally good, though sometimes I think Thea Gill plays almost the same character in much of her work, tone-wise. I do like that the story involves a female Secretary of Defense, and I like that there is a relationship between two men that is treated just the same as any of the other romantic bits in the story. There’s also a female FBI agent named George Blake (Marnie McPhail), and maybe it was the red hair, but she gave me pleasant flashbacks to watching Agent Dana Scully. Most of the female characters are strong and not there just for fluff purposes.

Was I over-the-moon in love with The State Within? No, but I do like a good conspiracy tale now and again, and should you be scrolling through Netflix Instant for something new, I’d recommend giving this a try.

By Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

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