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Series / Guerrilla

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Guerrilla is a 2017 British miniseries about an activist couple in London c. 1971 during a time of social turmoil when Britain has recently passed the Immigration Act 1971 as law. It stars Idris Elba, Freida Pinto, Rory Kinnear and Babou Ceesay. Jas (Pinto) and Marcus (Ceesay) are members of the British Black Panthers, working now to politically educate black prisoners. Due to facing high unemployment and police brutality, many black and Asian Britons are angry at the government.

After a demonstration against the British National Front ends with the police beating the black protesters, one to death, they become infuriated and adopt increasingly radical methods in their struggle against social injustice in Britain.

The show is a collaboration between Showtime and Sky Atlantic. It's a series of six episodes.

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The show provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Agent Provocateur: Some of the black protesters are paid by the police to start throwing stones at National Front members, giving them an excuse to break up the rally.
  • Amoral Afrikaner: Pence is an Afrikaner policeman whom the British police hired to help break up black radical groups (no doubt because of his experience doing this in South Africa). He shows the same ruthless nature as usual, though he's also involved with his black female informant.
  • And the Adventure Continues: It ends as the group goes off into exile, while pledging they will continue the fight.
  • Category Traitor: Anyone who informs or otherwise cooperates with police is viewed this way by the black radicals.
  • Coitus Ensues: Marcus stumbles on Dhari having sex with Eliette in Belgium, when before this they were barely even shown as interacting with each other.
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  • Great Escape: Jas and Marcus arrange to break their friend Dhari out of prison. Jas gets the idea from a TV story about how Timothy Leary got broken out by the Weathermen in the US. Jas smuggles glass pieces in which Dhari then eats, and he's rushed to a hospital near the prison where she works. They then break him out there, taking a guard hostage and shooting another in the process.
  • The Informant: One of the black radicals turns out to be a police informant. He points out the leader of the protest for the police, who beat him to death. Pence also has a female one, whom he's involved with and fathered a son by.
  • Insistent Terminology: Marcus is upset that their Black Army Faction is called the "Bishop-Mitre Gang", after Dhari and Jas, saying it's not just about them. This is an obvious reference to the Red Army Faction, commonly known then as the Baader-Meinhof Gang.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: The police use brutal torture to get information on the Bishop-Mitre Gang.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: An activist is sold out to the police by other black radicals who dislike that he's involved with a white Irishwoman. To them, this is "protecting the movement".
  • Mixed Ancestry: The son of Afrikaner Pence and the black informant who he's involved with.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: A black activist leader is beaten to death by police while lying on the ground.
  • Not So Different: Cullen, a policeman of Irish descent, somewhat sympathizes with the blacks' grievances about being discriminated against as he remembers when shops openly barred both them and Irish people. Pence, however, will have none of it, calling them simply ungrateful.
  • Police Brutality: The police are shown to beat people just for talking back. Later they deliberately beat a black leader to death after he was identified for them by an informant. This is one of the grievances the activists have against them in general already.
  • Race Lift: Critics have accused the series of invoking this by making Jas South Asian and not black. Actual members of the British Black Panthers have defended the show, however, saying the Black Panthers were also often South Asian (women included) and "black" then was used as an umbrella term for both.
  • Trouser Space: Jas smuggles a container of glass shards into prison by hiding it inside her vagina. She's in quite visible discomfort on the way over.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: A German Marxist group isn't keen about supporting the British Black Panthers, since they aren't sufficiently radical for their taste. Eventually they come around.
  • Western Terrorists: The faction of British Black Panthers Jas and Marcus are with, plus the IRA and the German Marxist group they seek help from. Also a member of the Quebecois separatist/Marxist FLQ is introduced.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Pence is having an affair with his black informant, and they have a son.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: The Black Army Faction view themselves as freedom fighters, but of course are called terrorists. While on the one hand they fight a racist, corrupt system, their methods also include assassination, bank robberies, bombings and prison breaks.
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