Debuting December 4, 2005 on the Showtime network, the weekly, hour-long drama Sleeper Cell was at base an I Led Three Lives for the post-9/11 era, albeit with a bit more depth in, and understanding of, the villainous characters. In the opening episode, a disgruntled Muslim ex-convict named Darwyn Al-Sayeed (Michal Ealy) was recruited into a terrorist sleeper cell based in Los Angeles and headed by the fanatical Faris Al-Farik (Oded Eher). In order to best follow out his plans of sabotage and destruction in the US, Al-Farik posed as a Jewish-American named Yossi, who ironically worked for a security company. Similarly, the other members of the cell held down legitimate jobs while carrying out their dirty work--and, as if to put the lie to the assumption that terrorism has but one face, the others were drawn from a variety of ethnic and social backgrounds. Blue-eyed, blonde-haired All-American boy Tommy Emerson (Blake Shields) was the privileged son of liberal activists; Frenchman Christian Aumont (Alex Nesic), a former Skinhead and National Front member, led an outwardly respectable life as a suburban husband and father; and Al-Farik's Bosnian right-hand man Ilija (Henri Lubatti),who had witnessed the slaughter of his family by Orthodox Serbs, hid his terrorist activites behind the façade of a high-school science teacher. What none of the cell members realized was that Darwyn Al-Sayeed was likewise a "poser": He was actually an undercover FBI agent, assigned to infiltrate Al-Farik's cell and covertly thwart his various sinister schemes against national security. Only his FBI supervisor Rayl Fuller (James Legros) was aware of Darwyn's dual identity; others, including Darwyn's single-mom sweetheart Gayle Bishop (Melissa Sagemiller), had no idea of his actual mission. In keeping with pay-cable tradition, Sleeper Cell was infinitely more profane and violent than standard over-the-air action fare. And in many ways, the series was also infinitely superior to its non-pay cable competition.
by Hal Erickson synopsis