Like the novel, it centers on Muhsin Kadr al-Khafaji, an ex-police inspector of the Saddam-era Iraqi Police who's keeping a low profile after an American-led coalition force invaded the country and toppled Saddam from power. In the aftermath, all Saddam-era intelligence and security forces were disbanded on orders of the Coalition Provisional Authority.
Muhsin was subjected to an arrest after being mistaken for a high-profile Ba'ath official after being detained in Abu Ghraib Prison. He eventually works alongside CPA military police forces led by Captain John Parodi and Frank Temple, an experienced Metropolitan Police officer sent to Baghdad to plan out the establishment of the post-Saddam (and post-CPA) Iraqi Police Service. Muhsin works on a case where several Arabic to English translators have went MIA, including Muhsin's daughter Sawsan. Suspecting something is going on, Muhsin works as a plainclothes officer while he goes around Baghdad, including the Green Zone, to investigate who's trying to gain from the missing translators.
Be warned of spoilers. The production team has mentioned that while the novel is adapted for TV, several characters and events were added to make it distinct.
This series has examples of the following tropes:
- Everyone Has Standards: The Iraqi bystanders are pissed off when US Army Humvees ram a stray horse standing in the middle of an intersection in the first episode.
- Les Collaborateurs: Part of Truth in Television, most of post-Saddam society didn't like the idea of anyone working alongside the CPA, even if they were trying to make things better.
- More Dakka: The Humvees in Iraq are equipped with Browning M2HBs heavy machine guns on top of the roof.
- Police Are Useless: The post-Saddam IPS is seen as useless by Captain Parodi due to being incompetent and just goofing off.
- Averted as much with Frank and Muhsin working in Baghdad. The former sees a future where the IPS can be competent to do LEO work after the coalition leaves, which means trying to work with CPA military and civilian officials to get more work in to create and reform the IPS. For the latter, it's a chance to look for anyone or any information on what happened to Sawsan by going around Baghdad to look for clues and potential witnesses.
- Shown Their Work: Arabic-speaking interpreters recruited by the CPA are instructed to wear balaclavas or anything similar to hide their faces. Back then, they were seen as traitors and are subjected to be targeted via lynching in public.
- We ARE Struggling Together: Captain Parodi is not impressed on working with Muhsin on Frank's advice ever since the IP was disbanded by the CPA. The two men eventually do work together afterwards. According to the former, he noted that most of the IPS are too lazy to do anything. Of course, they may just be too scared to do some of their duties out of fear of beig lynched.