BEIRUT: The plot continues to thicken on LBCI’s latest prime time drama, FARMER’S REBELLION, as alliances begin to form, love blooms, and betrayals are made.
It is truly a pleasure when a television series, a fully Lebanese production no less, creates such a positive impact on its audience - though some do continue to negatively criticize, sans reason, even if it means finding something as ridiculous as the show’s choice of font to attack.
FARMER’S REBELLION is by no means a perfect masterpiece, but as previously stated there is no such thing as a perfect piece of art - in any medium.
This week saw an unannounced two-hour episode on Sunday, a transparent attempt at a rating contest with other networks, leading us to another round of 5-Episode-Recap, as well as an unfortunate slowing down of the narrative, which has become an indirect prerequisite in all Lebanese dramas.
As characters begin to shift in their places within the story, a new adjustment will be made to better recap and review the series: THE NOBLES will now be renamed, THE PALACE, and THE PEASANTS will be renamed THE TOWN.
As the narrative pushes forward, the dynamics within among the farmers/peasants begin to shift as each character’s dramatic need becomes clearer.
Raji, who escaped prison during the events of episode five, now hides out with Chebel and Nawras as they try to figure out what to do, which causes tension between Nawras and his sister Lilia, who reveals that she is pregnant and that her priorities are now focused on her future family.
Nawras’s focus on freedom and rebellion mixed with his blind devotion to Foutoun drives Lilia crazy because it places her in a struggle between her brother and her husband.
Lilia has a standoff with Foutoun, who is caught off-guard, and this further distances Nawras and his sister, further confirming that this series’ most interesting narrative arcs are Nawras and Foutoun.
Meanwhile, Raji struggles with wanting to return to the palace and turn himself in to save his parents, but after receiving good news from the Palace grounds, he decides that the best thing he can do is stay hidden.
With every episode, the narrative does struggle a bit with characters expressing their thoughts or that they are thinking rather than simply doing - this falls under what is called exposition.
Exposition is truly problematic in any screenplay because it tells rather than shows, and FARMER’S REBELLION is not the first Lebanese series that struggles with this issue, and it is due to the fact that our culture as a whole is a culture built on gossip and telling stories - we are a nation of talkers not a nation of doers.
Abdo arrives at Foutoun’s home and proclaims that Fayez insisted Foutoun and Mantoura are to become the new servant girls within the palace walls and that they have to be at the palace the following morning.
Foutoun sees this as a potential end to her relationship with Nawras decides to run away with her family, whereas Mantoura’s reaction is that of hesitant dreaming.
Her naive belief in a happily-ever-after with Fayez lead her to make a terrible mistake and betrays Foutoun’s plans of escape with Nawras’s help.
The girls are taken to the palace in the middle of the night, much to Foutoun’s surprise, and this, of course, causes ripples among the farmers.
Nizar, Foutoun’s brother played by the young Pio Chihane who first made his appearance years ago in another series written by Claudia Marchalian entitled Generations, is enraged by his sister being taken and the failure of their escape.
This leads him to question his “manliness” and what is meant to be a man, which makes for a great conversation with Ayoub, Nizar’s surrogate father figure.
Meanwhile, Chebel and Raji arrive at the site where the supposed rebellion is located and we finally get to see the long-rumored about group of rebels who are lead by “The Savior”, for the lack of a better term since on the show in Arabic he is called The Hero, and plot twist he turns out to be the son of Anwar, the head of the Noble army and that there are many spies from their end within the palace walls.
And if one plot twist wasn’t enough, when Nawras meets The Savior and asks him how the Nobles don’t know that he is The Savior, he tells them that they all believe he is studying in London.
Why is that important, you ask?
Well, a few episodes ago, while Maysoun was speaking to her aunt Narjes, she begged her not to let her father marry her off to Rameh because the love of her life is studying in… you guessed it: London!
Could Maysoun’s Romeo be in fact the one and only Savior of the rebellion?
One thing is for sure, so many revelations occurred in a span of four episodes confirm one thing: Claudia Marchalian’s narrative is a train that’s chugging at full speed!
Raji’s escape didn’t just affect the town, it also affected the Nesr family creating massive issues that added onto the dynamic set by the first five episodes.
The High Noble calls for a family meeting to decide what to do in regards to Raji’s parents, who were captured post their son’s escape and tied up by chains in the middle of the town square. The punishment: they are to be raised every hour that Raji remains missing until they hang to death.
Lines are drawn even clearer within the family as Rameh and Fayez face off and each family member adds their perspective on the matter - those defending the farmers more than those fighting against.
Here lies another massive irritation with the series and most Lebanese dramas.
Actors who take on the roles of a narrative’s antagonists or villains tend to portray them transparently, which more often than not results in massive overacting.
The beauty of antagonistic characters is that they are and should be just as charismatic as protagonists and should be delivered just as subtly if not more so. This is not 1950’s cinema nor is it the stage, and television actors need to understand that making grimaces or gestures does not make an actor good, it makes them comical.
Gone are the days of the evil laugh villain, and good riddance.
The High Noble, much to Rameh and Lamis’s dismay, forgives Raji’s parents and gains praises from the farmers but creates a wider rift within the family.
Foutoun and Mantoura now begin to settle into their new quarters and absorb their new situation.
A quick note in reference to the Foutoun and Mantoura situation: Episode seven has quite a noticeable time problem. As Nawras waits for Foutoun and her family to start arriving so that he can help them escape, Foutoun and her family waste time talking.
Then, to add onto that, Mantoura goes off to talk to Amarieh about the escape plan so that Amarieh can tell Fayez, and when Mantoura returns no one asks her where she went and more time is wasted, when Foutoun and her family should have been escaping.
This is all done in order to create drama and ultimately get Foutoun and Mantoura to the palace, and could have easily been avoided and restructured in a more logical way.
Back to the palace, Narjes’s character begins to gain more depth as we discover that she and Ayoub are actually married and have been this entire time.
Lamis lashes out towards Maysoun creating more animosity between her and her younger siblings.
Upon their arrival, The High Noble’s wife Kemleh tries to learn more about Mantoura, Foutoun and the whereabouts of Mantoura’s daughter who is, in fact, Kemleh’s granddaughter, and sees through her son Fayez’s strategy in bringing Mantoura to the palace.
Foutoun connects with Salim, who is still grieving, and Maysoun.
Within this moment, it is unfortunate that we as the audience did not get the chance to see Salim interact with Rabha more before her death - another issue of expositional dialogue.
Nawras preys on a delusional Lamis, dressed in an exaggerated wardrobe, and as in all dramas is seen by Foutoun who is heart-broken by that interaction.
Kemleh and Narjes show serious concern about Lamis’s current behavior and hint of a trigger that caused Lamis to lose her mental stability, though we still have no idea what it is, if one pays attention it does seem to have to do with the possible loss of a baby.
Fayez and Rameh have another duel with Fayez casting some serious shade on Rameh leaving him to stew in his own misery.
Foutoun discovers the truth behind why they were brought to the palace so early, and as a result officially ends her friendship with Mantoura with one of the most historic slaps to ever grace Lebanese television.
These four episodes have really brought the narrative to an interesting place and the pieces moving create a landscape full of theories and possibilities for what is to come, and this is an exciting thing to be able to say.
FARMER’S REBELLION, created by veteran television writer Claudia Marchalian and directed by Philip Asmar, is a fictional historical prime time drama produced by Jamal Sanan’s Eagle Films currently airing Sunday through Wednesday on LBC after the national news.
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