No Man’s Land Episode 1 recap: One man’s quest to find his sister

Hulu’s No Man’s Land Episode 1 introduces one man’s quest to find his sister, who may still be alive and fighting ISIS in Syria.

No Man’s Land Episode 1 begins with some brief information about ISIS, as well as the mostly Kurdish YPJ (or Women’s Protection Units) who have been fighting them. We see that a Frenchman, later identified as Antoine Habert (Félix Moati) has been captured under unclear circumstances. However, much is explained when they flashback to Paris 5 days earlier, where Antoine is casually at home with his pilot girlfriend, Lorraine (Julia Faure).

When the couple heads to a fertility clinic, Antoine happens to see a news clip about ISIS. In the snippet there’s a man — later revealed as Luke Murphy (Mark Joyce Wolf) — praising the YPG fighters before he gets injured in an explosion. Antoine is shocked to see someone who looks remarkably like his sister, Anna (Mélanie Thierry), who ties her hair in a recognizable manner. Is it her, did she survive the explosion, and can she be reached if she did?

No Man’s Land Episode 1 recap: Seeking answers

Desiring a second opinion, Antoine shows the clip to his mom (Céline Samie) and dad (François Caron). They agree the person in the footage looks similar to Anna, so it inspires Antoine to take the investigation further.

He contacts a man named Mehmet (Abdelilah Tastafout), to arrange a meeting with the hospitalized Luke Murphy. Antoine sends a photo of Anna, but Luke has to hang up due to some unknown commotion.

As Antoine makes these connections, Lorraine still thinks Anna died in the 2012 Cairo attack, citing a 96 percent DNA match and dental records. However, while she heads on her next flight, Antoine secretly heads off to Istanbul, hoping to speak to Mr. Murphy. After door security obstructs him, he instead arranges a meetup with someone who can take him to Syria. Antoine also deceives Lorraine, saying he’s at home watching TV.

No Man’s Land Episode 1 recap: Finding answers or more problems?

Next in No Man’s Land, Antoine arrives in Reyhanlı, Turkey. He meets a man named Talal (Mouad Lasmak), who assures Antoine that it will be easy to get into Syria. However, things get crazy when, to his shock and dismay, he is being delivered to some ISIS operatives, presumably to be taken hostage or simply executed as an example. Somewhat fortunately, the YPG women he was seeking actually rescue him after setting an explosion.

This doesn’t mean the problem is over, however. There is initially a language barrier between Antoine and his captor, and they assume he is actually with ISIS. In fact, if he pleads that he is not with ISIS, they might think it’s just a ploy, especially because ISIS regards it as shameful to be held captive or killed by women in combat. Antoine says he’s looking for “Shamaran,” which is what Anna would be known as in Syria.

No Man’s Land Episode 1 recap: Thoughts on the episode

Is the presentation scandalous?  Anytime people tell a harrowing story based on real events, it opens the door to criticism.  Nevertheless, fiction is designed to make people think, to potentially even arouse controversy, and to often tell it like it is in unique ways.  As far as I can tell, this story does a pretty good job with all of that, though we should always keep an eye out for critiques.  The pros here probably outweigh the cons.

What are your thoughts on No Man’s Land Episode 1? Let us know in the comments!

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