“THE HONORABLE WOMAN” Recap: Episode 1 (The Empty Chair)
A still shot of open shutters creaking in the wind. The sounds of children talking, a baby’s cry.
A man disguised as a waiter serves bread to Zionist arms dealer Eli Stein and his young children Nessa and Ephra. He then assassinates Stein before the children’s eyes.
29 years later, Nessa Stein is running her father’s company alongside Ephra, having shifted its focus from weapons to cable and communications technology for supposedly ideological reasons. Nessa outlines this change in a speech in the room where her father was killed. She also announces that she’s awarding a major contract to Palestinian Samir Meshal instead of longtime family ally Shlomo Zahary. Nessa tells Shlomo his past business dealings suggest a possible link between his company and Hezbollah, a scandal the Steins cannot risk coming to light. Shlomo angrily denies any connection.
MI6 agent Monica Chatwin introduces herself to Nessa and corners Ephra on her way out. When an agitated Ephra tells Monica to stay away from his sister, Monica teases Ephra about an unspoken shared secret. Nessa greets Meshal’s young son Kasim, who demonstrates a toy watch which plays a recording of a staff member’s voice.
A subordinate trades barbs with retiring MI6 spy Sir Hugh Hayden-Hoyle, accusing Sir Hugh of scoring his high-profile position in the Middle East through an affair with MI6 head Dame Julia Walsh. Afterward, Hugh pays a visit to his embittered ex-wife, Anjelica, who also accuses him of on-the-job dalliances.
Nessa and Sir Hugh both receive word of Meshal’s death by apparent suicide. A security detail protects Sir Hugh while Nessa speculates about the possibility of foul play with bodyguard Nathaniel Bloom and watches home movies of her childhood.
Nessa weeps and agonizes about an unspoken plot being discovered while her co-conspirator, Atika Halibi, also Ephra’s nanny, reassures her.
A contact tells Sir Hugh the Israeli government had no hand in Meshal’s death. Sir Hugh assures the Israeli that he will get to the bottom of the case, which is likely to be his last.
A Palestinian official warns Nessa she must award the contract to another Palestinian, rather than an Israeli, to avoid bad optics after what happened to Meshal. Nessa says she will choose whoever is right for the company.
In a flashback to eight years ago in the Gaza Strip, Atika is torn at gunpoint from a car also carrying Nessa.
A benefit is interrupted by an alarm and young Kasim is abducted in the ensuing evacuation. Nessa chases the fleeing kidnappers on foot. One kidnapper corners her and takes aim, but Nathaniel shoots him before taking several bullets to the torso himself. The kidnappers escape on a motorcycle with Kasim.