When Heroes Fly: Season 1 – Review

The hit Israeli television series When Heroes Fly premieres January 10 on Netflix.

By Rachel M.

The first season of the Keshet network’s series, a total of 10 episodes, is now available to Netflix subscribers around the world in its original Hebrew with subtitles. In April 2018, before its May premiere in Israel, the show won best series at the first Canneseries festival, a competition aimed at highlighting international television shows.

The drama is the story of four veterans of a special commando unit from the 2006 Lebanon War who reunite 11 years later for a final mission: to rescue a woman, the girlfriend of one of the commandos and the sister of another, after she is abducted by a cult in Colombia. The story is a combination of the present-day escapade to find the woman, Yael (played by Ninet Tayeb, the Israeli singer who rose to fame after winning the first season of Kochav Nolad, the Israeli version of American Idol) and flashbacks to the war and its aftermath. The series is compelling when it is telling the past history of the four central figures: Aviv (Tomer Kapon from Fauda) who was Yael’s serious boyfriend, Dubi (Nadav Netz), Yael’s Jewishly observant brother, Dotan, nicknamed ‘Himmler’ (Michael Aloni of Shtisel, which just launched on Netflix two weeks ago) and Benda (Moshe Ashkenazi) and is tracing their individual lives for the past 11 years. Each has dealt with their experience in Lebanon differently and each has faced personal challenges.

All together again in Bogota to search for Yael, whom they thought was dead, the four must combat a lot of old emotions that have been festering for years. They question their own previous actions as well as their feelings for each other. In the first five episodes available in advance, a lot of screen time is devoted to the very interesting backstory that led to the current situation in which the friends find themselves.

Only in episode 5 does the dramatic thriller, set deep in the Columbian jungle, really begin. We get a first glimpse of the cult leader (Oded Fehr of The Mummy films) and are set for the conflict that will surely arise as the group searches for Yael. With some hints that there is a link between the cult and the Columbian government (and maybe even the Israeli embassy), the second half of the season is bound to be exciting. I’m hooked to see how the story unfolds.

Written and created by Omri Givon (co-creator of Hostages), When Heroes Fly provides a lens into the lives of Israeli veterans, but does it by telling a contemporary, suspenseful tale. It’s a show with a message, but it makes sure that the story stays front and center. Taking a plot loosely based on a book of the same name by Amir Gutfruend, and embellishing the stories of each of the characters has made for an international hit.

I give When Heroes Fly an A-.