“The Paring Knife” deals with themes of betrayal and entrapment. Nessa (Maggie Gyllnehaal) is kept emotionally and physically hostage and must overcome the demons of her troubled past that still haunt her in the present-day.
The final episode begins with Hugh (Stephen Rae) explaining his newly acquired knowledge that Samir Mishal (Adnan Rashad) was a “go between” for the Americans and the Palestinians as he met with Kate Larsson (Laurel Lefkow) the day before he was killed. The Americans overheard the phone call where Mishal asserted “She. Has. Agreed”. The information was in regards to the Secretary of State and, knowing that through the tapped wires of the communications network the Israelis would hear too, the Americans ordered his death before Israel could ascertain more information on the agreement. The Americans suddenly come under close scrutiny by Hugh. Cold and always scheming, Monica Chatwin’s (Eve Best) stone-faced demeanor crumbles as she gets nervous about her future.
Meanwhile, Nessa is locked away, bloodied and bruised as a result of the explosion. She leaves a voicemail for Shlomo Zahary (Igal Naor) to tell him that she is still alive and Hugh too is informed. Hugh questions Atika (Lubna Azabal) about recent events, exposing her alliance with the Palestinian terrorists and questioning her beliefs and faith in “the cause” for Palestinian statehood. Now working to help Hugh, Atika goes to Israel to free Nessa. Once seen as a strong and united pair, Nessa and Atika are now two very separate people with differing beliefs and feelings. Trapped in a cell, a two-shot sees Atika standing over Nessa as she holds onto the keys to Nessa’s freedom. Nessa appears vulnerable and drained of her power; a montage is employed that depicts acts of terrorism, war and its many casualties and victims all entwined with footage of Nessa’s childhood with her father. Charting the long history of war and suffering between Palestine and Israel, a message is communicated via this montage that the conflict has gone on for long enough and the festering wounds of both sides have hurt too many, for too long.
As Atika talks to Nessa, she reveals that Eli Stein is responsible for the loss of her entire family whilst she was only twelve years old, and so Atika joined “the cause” and helped plot the kidnapping of Nessa and Kasim (Oliver Bodur) and the assassination of Ephra (Andrew Buchan). Zahid Al-Zahid (Nasser Memarzia), Kasim’s grandfather and father to Saleh Al-Zahid (Philip Arditti), reveals to Nessa that he ordered his son to rape her, as well as arranging the deaths of Eli and Ephra Stein. He decides to let her go but refuses her plea to take Kasim with her.
Accusing Zahid Al-Zahid of being motivated by his own selfish need for revenge above service to the cause for Palestine’s statehood, he stabs Atika with a knife and she retaliates by jabbing his neck with a piece of shrapnel and manages to kill him. She calls Monica and tells her that the Americans must take Kasim, but then calls Hugh and warns him too. Nessa is introduced to a mysterious man from the US Embassy, who reassures us of his trustworthiness; Atika delivers Kasim to Nessa, with Hugh watching overhead by a surveying device. Nessa runs to Kasim in a moment of overwhelming joy, which is short-lived as Atika shoots the American and exposes his plan to kill both of them. With shots firing at the car, Atika stays behind and consequently gets shot by the American, while Nessa and Kasim drive away. The car breaks down and they are forced to walk to the Israeli border; upon reaching the fence, they are finally free. Atika’s last words to the American – “get off my land” - encapsulates a deeply rooted theme embedded in the over-arching narrative. The conflict is never-ending, especially when parties such as the Americans and British get involved in the politics of war, without a care for the suffering and devastation it causes. Meanwhile, Monica is hung in her own bed whilst she sleeps, and is perhaps evidence that the feud is still far from over.
Nessa, Kasim, Shlomo and Rachel’s (Katherine Parkinson) children visit Rachel and her new baby in hospital. The final shot closes in on Nessa’s fraught face that maps the turmoil of her past and the destruction it has caused.