Tehran recap: Apple TV+ spy thriller races ahead with more death, betrayal

Tehran races ahead with more death and betrayals [Apple TV+ recap]

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Tehran recap: We're off to the races this week.★★☆☆☆
Nobody can put the brakes on this spy thriller's never-ending deceptions.
Photo: Apple TV+

This week on Tehran, the Apple TV+ spy thriller narrows its options until there’s only one thing remaining: Mossad agent Tamar and Revolutionary Guard leader Faraz, face to face, heading to a party to carry out an assassination.

If she fails, dozens of people will die. If she succeeds, her target will be dead — but so will Faraz (and probably his wife).

The season’s penultimate episode rests on a climactic car race, with Tamar’s boyfriend Milad making life-or-death decisions and her hands tied. This slightly dodgy second season still time to straighten itself out.

Tehran recap: ‘Betty’

Season 2, episode 7: In this week’s episode — entitled “Betty,” after Gen. Qassem’s favorite sports car — Faraz Kamali (played by Shaun Toub) quietly lets himself back into his apartment, careful not to wake his wife, Naahid (Shila Ommi). He’s still covered in the blood of his deputy Ali (Arash Marandi), whom he accidentally shot to death.

Faraz killed Ali after he asked Ali to kill him. Then he left Ali’s body in his car and walked home alone. Faraz is caught in a bind by Mossad, who want his wife to become an informer. He’d rather die than see her disgraced, but that plan backfired.

Meanwhile across town, Israeli spy Tamar Rabinyan (Niv Sultan) wakes up in a cold sweat next to her boyfriend, Milad Kahani (Shervin Alenabi). She’s having nightmares. Tomorrow is the day she might kill Qassem Mohammadi (Vassilis Koukalani) — and it might be the day she dies.

She goes to Peyman Mohammadi’s (Darius Homayoun) to get Milad access to his father’s car, but a jealous ex-girlfriend shows up and blows their operation.

Assassination is the only option

Tamar now only sees one way to assassinate Qassem: Go to the fancy party tomorrow night and kill him in person. It’s gonna be a bloodbath without some help, though. So Marjan Montazemi (Glenn Close) goes to Faraz and says she’ll tell everyone the truth about Ali (his death was ruled a suicide) unless Faraz personally escorts Tamar to the party and ensures she gets to kill Qassem safely.

Marjan says she doesn’t hate Iran (indeed she has family history here), but rather just thinks Qassem is bad for the country. This doesn’t really make any sense, though, because she only wants to kill Qassem for revenge. Even if she thought he was the problem with the Iranian government, Tehran has shown that the whole system is corrupt anyway. Guys like Faraz are more responsible for the everyday cruelties of the Iranian state. Flimsy.

Faraz and Tamar finally get their face-to-face moment, replete with “we’re not so different, you and I” posturing. Faraz still loathes Tamar and he makes that clear. He also warns her: You can only push a man so far, he says. So watch it. Nevertheless he makes a show of clearing her in front of Peyman. So the party is a go, and Tamar is on the guest list.

When they get there, they encounter a snag. Mohammadi has a new car he’ll be racing in. So now they must transfer the malware from the old car to the new one. Which Tamar needs to pull off without being seen sneaking away from the party. She narrowly avoids detection.

Fast and furious

This episode’s climax is a little silly. Director Daniel Syrkin isn’t up to the task of making the car racing stuff work at all. It just looks like two guys sitting in a blue screen booth, which is what it is. When, at the last minute, it’s revealed that Qassem will be driving the old car after all, Milad, Marjan and the rest of the crew have to improvise. Milad hits upon an idea. Why not just tamper with the brakes on Peyman’s car and use it like a battering ram?

Tamar is incensed at the idea because it comes with the risk that they’ll kill Peyman and not Qassem. And wouldn’t you know it, that’s exactly what happens. I kind of like this development, because now there will always be just enough of a shadow of a doubt hanging over Milad.

Doubts all around

Did he kill Peyman on purpose because he was jealous? He did hear Peyman and Tamar making out earlier while trying to bug the car. He’d have a perfectly clear motivation for wanting the guy dead.

But it’s also great because Tamar was seen at the side of the cars before the race. Now she’s alone at the party, surrounded by secret service agents, and Qassem is going to want her dead if he finds out she did it. And that doesn’t seem all that unlikely, considering her face is on wanted posters all over the city.

With one episode left in Tehran’s second season, I’m not sure if I care one way or the other what happens to Faraz or Tamar. They’ve been betrayed by their own doggedness, by their belief that no one could carry out their missions but them. And now they’re both about to go on the run because they can be tied back to the death of the Revolutionary Guard leader’s son if anyone picks up on the technical malfeasance that caused the accident.

We’ll see what happens next, but I can’t say I’m clamoring for a third season of Tehran at this point.

★★☆☆☆

Watch Tehran on Apple TV+

New episodes of Tehran arrive each Friday on Apple TV+.

Rated: TV-MA

Watch on: Apple TV+

Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the author of Cinemaphagy: On the Psychedelic Classical Form of Tobe Hooper, the director of 25 feature films, and the director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.