Final Report on Conder

We have to remember that up until ten minutes ago the left and social justice types were feverishly anti-security state3 min


I finished watching Condor. My interim report was posted earlier.

The first thing to be noted is that observations regarding the poor quality of the writing in particular continued to be relevant. By the final couple episodes, the writing left any shred of plausible suspension of disbelief in the dust (if you’ll excuse the multiply mixed metaphor). It just became ridiculous, as one quietly unbelievable plot twist piled upon another. But, in case that sort of thing doesn’t bother you, let’s get to the “woke” parts.

So, the question as to whether this show has an explicit, preachy, woke agenda never was quite settled to my satisfaction. There continued to be more woke speeches, though, again, occasionally a red pilled comment seemed to get the upper hand. Maybe it’s just one of those things, like the psychologists of motivated reasoning tell us: you see or hear what you want to. I’m prepared to concede that at the level of dialogue. However, at least implicitly, there’s wokeness all over this thing. The attitude toward the secret security establishment continued from the first half. Again, as noted in my interim report, we have to remember that up until ten minutes ago the left and social justice types were feverishly anti-security state. But since this show was in production and has been released, the security establishment has revealed itself as totally woke in relation to President Trump. So, while, in today’s context, it might feel a little nuanced, let’s remember that the Condor producers didn’t know any of that when they were making their show.

Their general wokeness, though is revealed in yet another pretty standard trope in such shows. This is the trick of pretending at first that we’re dealing with Islamist radical jihadists. But then they narratively pivot, and it turns out the Muslims were just a front (sometimes even dupes) for the real evil, which of course turns out to be a bunch of white (usually American) men – whether right wing governmental fanatics or greedy corporate minions. The lesson, here, I gather, is that you’re supposed to feel bad by the end, realizing what an awful Islamophobe you were to have really believed that Muslims might be terrible terrorists.

The first hint of what’s going on here comes in the first half of the season, when, in a rather throwaway line, the protagonist refers to some secret organization within the CIA, known as (wait for it): Christians In Action. Get that? Christians In Action, CIA? Get it? Though the term is never used again, we have our confirmation in one of the final episodes when we see what appears to be a main ring leader, before going to bed (wait for it), kneeling and praying. Praying! How evil can you be?

Well, of course, it turns out that contrary to initial impressions, Muslims weren’t the villains of the story, but the innocent targets of a mass terrorist attack. Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m all for saving millions of innocent Muslims from mass murder by biological weapons. But in what world are Muslims under threat of mass murder terrorist attacks by fanatical Christians? What exactly is the point of this kind of table-turning fiction? But, that’s a rhetorical question, isn’t it?

The meta-narrative here is: America is evil; Christians are dangerous; Muslims are innocent victims. Oh, and the secret security establishment can’t be trusted. Well, yeah, okay on that one.

If you’re looking for some Condor action, I’d suggest sticking to 3 Days, with a rather young and dashing Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway. Sure, it’s pretty “woke” for it’s time. But it does stand up surprisingly well all these decades later. And it is somewhat amusing to see how quaint wokeness used to be, even in the wake of Vietnam and Watergate.

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