Ghosts of Beirut (Miniseries) Episode 1: Recap & Ending, Explained

Ghosts of Beirut (Miniseries) Episode 1:

Ghosts of Beirut (Miniseries) Episode 1: “Ghosts of Beirut,” the latest spy drama miniseries from Showtime, is another profound example of American Television’s fixation with making a compelling drama out of the never-ending political turbulence of the middle-eastern region of the world, be it real or fictional. I have to admit that there is a palpable charm in the content of this particular genre- especially when a movie or a show manages to get the basics of writing, direction, and acting right.

With all that said, the opening episode of Ghosts of Beirut fails to impress. It is not exactly bad per se, but the major problem here is getting crushed under the burden of authenticating everything. From its intro, where the show vehemently lets you know that the content is well-researched, to bringing in actual people from the CIA to give bites that cut through the fictional narrative, the show does go all-out, and I can’t help but appreciate the effort.

Unfortunately, though, it is not compelling enough like Homeland or The Hurt Locker; despite having genuinely exciting content in hand. The docu-drama format is a very tricky thing anyway, as you neither have the leverage of taking fictional liberties nor can you go full documentary mode. Here you have to blend things properly, and achieving something like Narcos is a very rare thing.

Ghosts of Beirut (Miniseries) Episode 1 Recap:

The only challenge the audience faces while watching a show like Ghosts of Beirut is getting familiar with the “who’s who” so that the “what really is going on” becomes absolutely clear. I would say this show has done a fairly good job of keeping things accessible for the viewers. All you need to know is that it is about the failed manhunt of Imad Mughniye, aka Radwan, who was one of the founders of the Islamic Jihad Organization of Lebanon as well as number two of Hezbollah leadership. In simpler terms- the man was the Bin Laden of the world before 9/11 if you know what I mean.

Most of the first episode focuses on the time period when Mughniye was just a regular Lebanese young man, angry at the situation his country is in thanks to the Lebanese civil war. The episode traces back the origin story while putting the light on another major player from the meddling side- CIA official Robert Ames.

Things kicked off in January 2007 when a group of (supposedly) Mughniye’s people impersonated the US army and infiltrated CIA headquarters in Southern Iraq. Two officials are taken hostage, and many end up dead. The follow-up investigation falls upon the head of CIA targeter Lena, who is convinced of Mughniye, then out in the wind, being the mastermind behind all these. She interrogates Ali-Reza Asghari, then deputy minister of Iran, who happens to be a recruiter back in the days when Mughniye was a nobody.

The origin

Instead of going the blatant American way of using the T-word to define the antagonist, Mughniye, in this case, the show has made an attempt- albeit half-hearted, to look at the humane side of things.

Ghosts of Beirut (Miniseries) Episode 1 Recap
Still from Ghosts of Beirut (Miniseries) Episode 1

It is the year 1982. Imad is an ordinary man in Lebanon, married to Sadda- a progressive woman who does everything to make the best out of whatever life they have. Imad loves Sadda. However, he is deeply frustrated with the political unrest that is going on in IDF-occupied Lebanon. Imad despises the Israelis and wants his country to be free, and he is willing to do whatever it takes to reach there.

A younger version of Asghari appears as an ally who tries to recruit Imad and a few of his Lebanese associates in the fight against the Israelis. The character of Sadda works as a moral compass here and tries everything in her power to stop Imad from crossing the line. Meanwhile, Robert Ames, a CIA official posted in Beirut, tries to keep the peace alive between the Middle Eastern countries at the time of a civil war.

How to convince a suicide bomber?

After a bunch of Lebanese civilians dies due to another Israeli bombing, Imad finally chooses to take matters into their own hands. All he wants is to teach the Israelis a lesson by giving them some of their own medicine. So he plans to bomb the IDF headquarter in Tyre, and the only way to do that is to find someone who would get inside the compound and sacrifice their own life while doing the deeds.

So Imad travels to Tayr Debba and finds a man who has lost most of his family, other than his only son, in the recent bombing. It doesn’t take much of an effort for Imad to convince the man, Ahmad Quassir, to join the path of revenge. He does promise to take care of the young son of the future martyr. The plan is soon put in motion and ends with rousing success for Imad and his associates. Sadda suspects her husband is somehow involved with the bombing, but Imad pretty much ignores that and tells her he will do everything to keep her safe.

Ghosts of Beirut (Miniseries) Episode 1 Ending Explained:

Does Robert Ames die in the end?

Before going into what happened with Robert Ames, let me clarify that whatever you are reading here is solely on the basis of what Ghosts of Beirut is showing us.

After the IDF bombing, Mossad suspects something, and Ames, the CIA station chief in Lebanon, joins the investigation while the Israelis keep telling a gas-leak story to the outside world. A Mossad operative takes Ames to Tayr Debba and shows a poster of Quassir on a wall, who is being celebrated as a martyr. Realizing something dangerous is going on under the shadow, Ames does everything in his power to contain things.

Unfortunately, Imad doesn’t like how the US and CIA are meddling in their “personal” matters while siding with the Israelis, so he decides to teach them a lesson as well. The result is the US embassy bombing in the year 1983 which is shown at the end of the episode when Ames looks outside the window and realizes that his doomsday has arrived. We don’t get to see the horrifying fate of the character, but it is pretty much evident that he died in the end.

This also implies that from this point on, the United States/CIA got involved in the matters rather than being a neutral third party. I guess I will be talking about this subject more next week.

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Ghosts of Beirut (Miniseries) Episode 1 Links: IMDb, Wikipedia
Ghosts of Beirut (Miniseries) Episode 1 Cast: Navid Negahban, Amir Khoury, Ned Bellamy
Where to watch Ghosts of Beirut