Sleeper Cell: The Complete Second Season – DVD Review


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Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris


Michael Ealy Darwyn
Henri Lubatti Ilija Korjenic
Oded Fehr Farik
Melissa Sagemiller Gayle
Alex Nesic Christian

DVD Release Date: March 20, 2007
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 445 Minutes on 3 discs

The Show

September 11, 2001 not only brought about death, horror, and fear among the American people but it brought about war. There were feelings of sadness, anger, and revenge that still burn in every single American today if even just a little bit. No-one can deny that they walk down the street, will see someone of Arab descent or even just look like they are of that nationality and perhaps will hold their purse. Cross the street to get away. Or even just shoot them a dirty look.

Terrorists can be anywhere and everywhere. They possibly can be of Arab descent. They could be an American or even a Frenchman. You could see a turban sitting atop their head or even just a baseball cap. One never knows until it’s too late and a building or a car is blown up. Perhaps an entire floor of people in an office building is taken hostage.
Maybe a couple planes are hijacked and flown directly into buildings killing thousands. It’s for these reasons that everyday citizens must lay their faith in the hands of those who delve deep into enemy territory. Those who go undercover to keep us safe while risking their own lives.

Darwyn Al-Hakim is an FBI agent who practices Muslim and once went undercover in order to make contacts and find out classified information about any terrorists attacks that may happen on American soil. He found out about a sleeper cell of terrorists working for Al-Qaeda that is planning an attack on Los Angeles. Led by an extremely powerful man named Faris Al-Farik, Darwyn gets in his good graces and manages to become a part of his team. In the first season of Sleeper Cell, Darwyn was successful and helped foil Farik’s plans landing the terrorist leader in jail.

The second season begins with Darwyn finally settling down into a normal life with his love Gayle, and being offered an FBI position at an office where he can just live like everyone else. A top agent soon convinces Darwyn to simply check out a possible suspect and see if he is leading another sleeper cell. Against his better judgment and thinking it is nothing more than a short stake-out, Darwyn soon finds himself now the leader of another sleeper cell. Darwyn and his three cell members Mina, Benny, and Salim are planning their attack but laying in wait until the time is right.

The normal problems arise for Darwyn considering he can not be with Gayle on a regular basis and is in the middle of a terrorist plot to kill hundreds of people. But he also has to deal with new agents like Warren Russell that doesn’t quite mesh with him and his style; and perhaps the worst part of all is Mina learning about his relationship with Gayle which of course makes her very curious. Throw in a new leader named Karrar who takes over the cell and their plans for the nuclear attack on Los Angeles start getting close and closer to happening.

Farik is back as well after being taken over to Saudi Arabia but still staying in custody for his crimes. It is there that a band of terrorists break him out of prison in order to get him to join them again in their fight. Farik has some moments of sanity as he begins to think about his life outside of terrorism but soon realizes that is not possible. The only other member alive from Farik’s first sleeper cell, Ilija, also begins to think how his life could be without terrorism. He wonders if he can have a quasi-normal existence and even make peace with a woman he once knew, but he realizes that normalcy is not an easy task considering who he is, what he knows, and what he’s done.

For both Farik and Darwyn, their lives have changed quite drastically since they were in the sleeper cell together; but at the same time they also remain quite the same. New obstacles have fallen into their ways and they realize there is no way for them to enjoy their lives as terrorism continues to threaten the United States. It’s only a matter of time before their paths cross again and they must deal with each other face to face.

The second season of Sleeper Cell was a very pleasant surprise to me considering I never actually saw the first season. I merely read up on it in order to be caught up once I started watching this set. The story was very easy to catch up because the only thing I really needed to learn were the names of the characters and the relationship between Darwyn and Farik, which overtakes everything even when they aren’t together on screen.

I’m not saying that the relationship of Darwyn and Farik takes authority over everyone else in the show because every character is vital to the role they play in either the FBI or the sleeper cell itself. Gayle is someone that Darwyn loves having in his life, but their love is almost looked as a hindrance to both of them at times. She is always without him and he wants to see her so badly that he takes extreme risks to spend time with her. Then Mina finds out about them and she incorporates herself into another storyline besides being affiliated with Darwyn in the cell. Every character has a deep quality about them that leads to many sub-plots all intertwined into the largest one of all the attack on Los Angeles. And I must say that it is excellently done and never gets overwhelming.

The episodes are full of action and there is always a lot going on so there is plenty to pay attention too. What surprised me most was just how deep the storyline actually gets considering the battles and fights interspersed throughout. There is so much thought and planning put into the sleeper cell’s plans that it’s sometimes difficult to remember that this isn’t a news broadcast but merely a one hour show. After all is over with, it’s obvious that Sleeper Cell turns into more of a drama than an action show and is very enjoyable to watch.


Disc One:

Al-Baqara: Darwyn is relieved that his ordeal in the sleeper cell with Farik is finally over and he can spend more time with Gayle. Before long though he is trapped right back in another cell after a small surveillance turns into a lot more.

Salesman: Darwyn becomes the leader of his new sleeper cell and is trying to adjust to such a position of power while also trying to keep his real identity covered up. Meanwhile Farik is not willing to give up any information so his interrogators come up with a new place to probe him for information where extreme measures are quite commonplace.

Torture: Farik is taken to Saudi Arabia and the interrogators have turned from mere questioning to torture to find out what they want. Darwyn learns a dangerous secret about his cell when he discovers that their method for attacking for Los Angeles is going to be more than just a regular bomb. It’s going to be nuclear.

Disc Two:

Faith: Ilija makes his way to Canada to try and make peace with himself for a murder he once committed while a now free Farik is quickly making plans to get the nuclear material sent to Los Angeles for the cell to pick up. On top of dealing with the arrival of that, Darwyn almost blows his cover trying to keep an Islamic televangelist from being murdered.

Home: This is an episode where there is a lot going on and one that I could consider to be the best in the second season. Ilija is finally confronting his dark past and fighting with all the guilt that rages inside of him. Darwyn returns home and has a not so pleasant reunion with his father before learning that the nuclear material is going to be arriving soon. Darwyn alerts the agency to let them know of the shipment and thus changing the entire order of the cell.

School: Karrar has stepped in as the new leader of the cell and doesn’t quite consider Darwyn to be part of the group anymore and cuts him out of all planning. It is now that Mina sets off on her own mission to figure out exactly what the relationship is between Darwyn and the woman he had seen him with many times Gayle.

Disc Three:

Fitna: Independence Day has finally arrived and the cell believes it’s the perfect day to make America pay as they have two specific locations for simultaneous nuclear bomb attacks. Darwyn and the FBI are working together much more intensely now to stop the bombings before it’s too late. Little does Darwyn know that the cell was planning one more surprise behind his back as Mina has gone to confront Gayle face to face and deliver one more message.

Reunion: Darwyn has suffered great loss even though the nuclear attack on Los Angeles was not successful thanks to his information and the quick work of the FBI. But it’s not over and Darwyn seeks to end this once and for all. He gets all the inside help he can and is dead set on finding Farik to take him down for good. The ball is in Farik’s court though as Darwyn has one extra bargaining chip his wife.

The Video

The episodes are shown in 1.78:1 Widescreen format and look great. I saw no real problems with anything honestly because the colors are very sharp and bright except when they don’t need to be in darker scenes. An excellent transfer and quite the joy to watch.

The Audio

The episodes are heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and are also fantastic. The action sequences sound great and the music choices are a perfect fit for whatever is going on in each scene. As I said earlier, the dialogue is more so the biggest part of the show considering the planning and such that goes on for each attack and it can be heard perfectly so all is well.

Special Features

“Infiltrating The Final Cell” – Creators Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris discuss how they went about making the show itself. This is your basic “making of” featurette but delves a lot more into how they came up with some of the plot lines and followed them along throughout the entire season.

“The Enemy Within” – A rather interesting feature comparing the show and what goes on in real sleeper cells. Law enforcement agents along with some of the cast and crew discuss how they worked together in order to portray the most realistic views in the show. Not the longest extra in length but there is a lot of information packed into it that is very fun to find out and it’s a nice follow-up to the “infiltrating” extra.

Audio Commentary – Creators Reiff and Voris provide commentary for Al-Baqara and then are joined by Alex Wood on “Salesman.” Nothing too interesting that you can’t get from the other featurettes, but if you feel like watching the episodes again then it wouldn’t be a waste of time.

Farik’s Story – This is nothing more than a bunch of clips from the second season involving things that Farik did. I didn’t see the real point of this special feature considering I had just watched all the episodes and saw everything already in it.

Biographies – Read a little about the characters and how they got affiliated with the show: Michael Ealy, Oded Fehr, Henri Lubatti, Melissa Sagemiller, Thekla Reuten, Omid Abtahi, Kevin Alejandro, Ethan Reiff, and Cyrus Voris

TrailersPenn & Teller Bullshit: Season 4, Dexter, Brotherhood; Season 1, The Tudors, and a preview for Showtime Entertainment

The Inside Pulse

Not knowing anything about the show other than a little bit of hearsay, I fully enjoyed the second season of Sleeper Cell and plan on going to buy the first season so I can update my set. The shows bring a lot of action and a lot of drama that can satisfy everyone’s tastes no matter who you are. The extras weren’t many, but they were still informative and interesting to watch. I would highly recommend this set to anyone who enjoys such shows as 24 or Prison Break because Sleeper Cell is somewhat of a mix of both of them.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Sleeper Cell: The Complete Second Season
(OUT OF 10)