Showtime’s Guerrilla Slowly Tackles Social Issues & Predictability with Explosive Acting and Action

Photo Credit: Sky Atlantic

Guerilla Series Premiere Plot Summary:

A British mini-series set amidst political and racial turmoil in 1970s London. Politically active couple Jas (Freida Pinto) and Marcus (Babou Ceesay) must decide whether to escalate their activism through revolutionary tactics.

Showtime’s historical drama Guerrilla is ambitious as hell.

It tackles the political, racial, and social issues of the 1970s, and whether intentional or not, it addresses with the political, racial, and social issues of modern day. While doing this it also manages to weave a love story, a story of political intrigue, and a caper plot into the premiere. Oh, and let’s be truthful — the politics of every character will incite political debate — no matter side of the argument you’re on as the issues addressed in the ’70s here are still relevant today.

Now that’s not to say that the series premiere was perfect — in fact, it’s far from it. It moves at a glacial place — not uncommon for a British historical piece. However, it moves a bit too slow here — even when things were meant to be chaotic, it still moves methodically. Also, it’s not like we haven’t seen this story before — slightly politicized people moves to radicalization by a series of unfortunate events. In many ways the premiere takes this archetype and executes it by the numbers.

Well, that is until the climax of the episode. Jas and Marcus decide, that after the death of their close friends at the hands of the police, they’re going to escalate their activism. So, they decide to break a radical named Dhari (Nathaniel Martello-White) out of prison. The plan is flawed, but the execution of the sequence from their failed attempt to hire a professional to the actual jailbreak itself is done brilliantly. Could it have picked up the pace? Sure. But, in the end it unfolds masterfully in a tense, white knuckle manner, and it hooks you for next week’s episode.

Outside of this sequence, the episode works because of the work put in by Pinto and Ceesay. These two are super charismatic, and work through the aforementioned archetype with smoldering ferocity (Pinto), and a complex array of emotions (Ceesay). The two work perfect together as a couple, and partners in crime, and it’ll be as intriguing to see the evolution of their relationship within the context of radical activism, as it is where the overall story takes us.

Is Guerrilla worth watching? Yes…if you have patience. You really have to wait for the episode to get about 60% of the way through before things really pick up. Once it does pick up, then it’s a enthralling watch. We’ve seen shows, and films like Guerrilla before, however the upside here is undeniable.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Bill Bodkin is the owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beautiful daughter, Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites