Previously on The Looming Tower, “Y2K”
Diane Marsh claims her authority over Alec Station and leaves subtlety at the door as she goes out of her way to ostracize the two FBI agents, especially Vince Stuart. Marsh even goes as far as speaking in Arabic about mere pleasantries among her team to exclude the I-49 representatives. After Stuart presses her about his boss John O’Neal needing to know about Khalid al-Mihdhar being in America, Marsh threatens to have him arrested for treason if he relays that information to O’Neal or anyone else outside of Alec Station. To further attenuate Stuart’s involvement in the Al Qaeda investigation, Marsh schemes with Leonard Bliss to offer Stuart a “promotion” with a position in Morocco. O’Neal later demands that Stuart turn the position down and figure out what Alec Station is hiding.
The suspicions about Stuart, and therefore O’Neal, being shut out are further cemented when O’Neal is forced by his new boss Sanchez to attend a FBI retirement conference in Florida. While in the Sunshine State with his favorite mistress Liz, O’Neal leaves his briefcase with money and confidential papers unattended. His briefcase is stolen and found behind a dumpster with the money having found a new home. O’Neal debates with Liz, but in the end decides to report the incident. Based on evidence found, they believe that his briefcase was only taken for robbery purposes and not to obtain confidential information. However, Sanchez reprimands O’Neal for also losing his palm pilot earlier and not reporting it; Sanchez demands that he turn it into forensics for analysis. His boss also makes a point to remind him that his personal finances are still under investigation as well. I wonder if O’Neal is still going to be an FBI agent by the end of the show.
A Boy in Yemen and The Cole
We finally discover that the lone surviving boy of the U.S. missile attack’s name is Walla. He has traveled from the al Qaeda terror cell to Yemen to stay with three men. At first, we are lulled into a false sense of stability for Walla. Perhaps after losing everything, his family and friends, he has found a new home. However, the audience is reminded through Walla’s chilling account of witnessing his mother and sisters being killed by “the devil in the sky” that his innocence and sense of normalcy has been stolen from him. Walla foreshadows the suicide attack that him and two of the men conduct against the USS Cole when he describes the Navy ship as the devil in metal form. Seventeen American soldiers die in the attack and the audience is left with the odd combination of sadness (for Walla) and trepidation (for Walla being so at peace with losing his life).
The title cards utilized this week helped to organize the episode into four different parts. However they were a little off putting since they have not been used in any previous episodes. Additionally, the structure of the episode suffered some with the abrupt ending. Dr. Zawahari, the al Qaeda informant who has given statements to newspapers in previous episodes, sends a man named Mr. Atta to help with the mission in America. The episode ends with him arriving at Khalid al-Mihdhar’s apartment and inquiring about the sleeping arrangements.
It also goes without saying that I am still annoyed that Marsh has to seek the council of Schmidt for every big decision she has to make. However, it was slightly refreshing to see her colluding with Bliss to the chagrin of Schmidt.
The standout act of this episode was Mohammad Ashraf for his depiction of Walla. For much of the season he has depicted Walla’s emotions through mere body language and facial expressions. In this episode the audience is finally privy to an entire monologue of Walla’s world perspective after witnessing the horrific murder of his entire community. It is within this speech that we understand how an adolescent boy can go from a lover of soccer to being a proud suicide bomber who can wave and smile at his victims.
- The audacity of O’Neal! He actually has his other mistress, Sher, believing she is going to stay with him in New York right up to the moment where she is loading up her U-Haul. He instead puts her up in her own apartment, but with what money is beyond me. He even has Soufan and Stuart to help her unpack. Sanchez had a point when he said O’Neal has an issues with separating the personal and professional aspects of his life.
- Stuart can speak French, English, Spanish, and Italian.
- The framed photo of Bin Laden on the wall in the house in Yemen reminded me of how African Americans have MLK on the walls of their homes.