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Prisoners of War “Homecoming” Post Mortem with Mili Avital [Exclusive] 

Prisoners of War “Homecoming” Post Mortem with Mili Avital [Exclusive]
Photo Credit: KCET
Photo Credit: KCET
Photo Credit: KCET

I can’t begin to imagine the hell Uri, Nimrode and Amiel were put through. I mean, 17 years of living as a prisoner of war. We know they were tortured physically and the two who are still alive obviously have psychological scars as well.

From the extended preview I found online (and also because I watched a few seasons of Homeland), I know there’s the question of whether or not Uri and Nimrode been turned. And while I think that’s a great question to ask, I’m personally more invested in watching these men try to move on with their lives. Will they be able to get back to “normal?” What does that even mean? For Nimrode, is it getting to know his son and trying to reacquaint himself with his wife and daughter? Will he try to go back to work? For Uri, does that mean he’ll try to make some sort of life with Nurit? We know the truth of Nurit’s situation, but so does Uri — or, at least the part where she married his brother. How long can they both keep pretending?

Photo Credit: KCET
Photo Credit: KCET

When I talked to Mili Avital about the premiere, I was full of questions about her character’s motivations, the Nurit/Talia dynamic and Nurit’s journey this season.

TV GOODNESS: Nurit marries Uri’s brother and when he returns, she’s persuaded to act like nothing’s changed. Can you talk about how Nurit struggles with that?

Mili Avital: “Basically the Mossad tells Nurit to help this man. He’s coming back to the life he left. Let’s just pretend nothing changed to keep him stable emotionally and see where he’s at, not knowing that maybe they have other agendas. But at this point, from an emotional point of view, it made sense.

But, of course, everything has changed. Absolutely everything. On one hand, I’ve moved on with my life. I’ve married somebody else. But now I have to act as if I did not. So the entire time I’m conflicted even though I’m pretending to be someone I’m not.

But at the same time this is someone I loved and it offered this question that we have in life sometimes, which is: what if I met my ex-boyfriend now? Would I feel the same things that I felt then? In the life that I did not chose, could I actually go and relive it?

It was one of those weird situations. It’s like we’re trying to feel if we are the same people or not. What was really hard is that I know he’s trusting me and that I’m the only one he’s trusting, and yet I’m the biggest liar. That was so hard for me. I was angry at this character while I was reading it for the first time. But after I played her I felt — in a way she’s actually helping him. But how are you gonna explain that?”

TV GOODNESS: In the episode we saw a brief interaction between Nurit and Talia. It’s chilly, which is putting it mildly. What can you tell me about their dynamic?

Mili: “Talia and Nurit represent the two approaches, basically, to life. One is, I’d like to hang on to the way things were and with that I have memories and I maintain the culture, maintain the life of the person, maintain my own identity.

And Nurit, is loyal to nothing. She’s saying life’s too short, I’m moving on. The person might be alive, might be dead. He’s not here right now. She’s here and now. She moves on. She knows this is her chance to have a child. As we know, there’s a time limit on that window. She like, ‘I’m gonna have a family. I’m gonna have a child and I’m gonna move on.’

The reason why the story works so well and these two women’s scenes are interesting is because they really represent two approaches that we all, I think, as people have. Do we let go and move on? Or do we hang on to who we are and what we actually know? Letting go of someone you think died, does it mean that we say goodbye to them forever? Does it mean we actually keep them alive? Is it possible to keep memories alive?

So it’s two characters that also represent, really beautifully, two ideas. And also, I think, people identify with both of them because they resemble types of people that we know. There are these people we know who would maintain the life that they knew and there are people who are here and now. They’re moving on and have no sentimentality.

This concept also resonates in Israel, even politically it resonates. Do we hold on to what we had or do we let go and begin a new concept of our lives. So it’s a very potent conflict.”

TV GOODNESS: What kind of interactions are we going to see between the two?

Mili: “We’re gonna see more interactions and more conflict. These characters really do develop and change. They really do grow a lot and surprise us. They stay very different, these two characters.

There are certain occasions that bring them together and they have to confront each other, but also have to support each other because they’re the only ones who really know what it’s like to have a husband who comes back after 17 years of being held hostage and that close relationship is something I’m sure prisoners of war’s families understand.

Any family that’s gone through a similar trauma would understand another family who’s gone through [something] similar, even if they made different choices in their lives. So, they’re always in each other’s lives, even if they don’t want to be always.”

TV GOODNESS: For Nurit and Yaki and their son, what’s coming up with you guys and how is she going to reconcile her current life with her past life?

Mili: “I won’t spoil the show for you because it really is about that. Our show has more of a psychological journey of the characters, different from Homeland where it has a lot more thriller elements. This has thriller elements, but it has more of those questions.

How do they reconcile? We go deeper into those questions. The great thing about the conflict that Nurit has is that no matter what choice she makes, it’s the wrong choice or the right choice, depending on your point of view. Her choice whether to stay with her son and husband would devastate her fiancé, his brother, or to go back to her real, old true love, would be a completely betrayal of her son and current husband. It’s such a juicy character because no matter what you choose, there’s always a heavy price to pay. I can only say that she explores every option.”

TV GOODNESS: I loved the first episode and I can’t wait to watch more. I’m really looking forward to it.

Mili: “Thank you. It’s so thrilling to know that something that has been so specific to the Israeli culture resonates universally, things we thought only one small country would understand touches other people. So it’s a huge moment for us in terms of Israeli television. It’s very, very exciting. I’m so proud of this show. It’s one of the highlights of my career.”

Edited for space and content.

Prisoners of War airs Mondays at 10/9c on KCET.

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