CBS Reveals Synopsis of Upcoming Event Series THE DOVEKEEPERS

THE DOVEKEEPERS, a four-hour limited event series from executive producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, will be broadcast Tuesday, March 31 and Wednesday, April 1 (9:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

The project stars Cote de Pablo, Rachel Brosnahan and Kathryn Prescott in the title dovekeeper roles, Sam Neill as first-century Jewish scholar and historian Josephus, and Diego Boneta as a star warrior of the Jewish army at Masada. The series is based on Alice Hoffman's bestselling, critically acclaimed historical novel about a group of extraordinary women whose lives intersect in a fight for survival at the siege of Masada.

Night One

Historian Flavius Josephus (Sam Neill) sternly informs an anxious Shirah (Cote de Pablo) and Yael (Rachel Brosnahan) that their lives will depend on whether or not they share the truth about Masada with him. [Throughout the two nights of THE DOVEKEEPERS, their stories are told in flashbacks.]

Shirah reveals to Josephus that she was born in Alexandria, Egypt; that she never knew her father; and that her mother was sent from Jerusalem to be a kedeshah, or Temple prostitute. When Temple prostitutes are outlawed, Shirah's mother gives Shirah her protective amulets and a treasured box detailing ancient rites of magic and herbal remedies and sends her to take refuge with a distant relative in Jerusalem. Shirah became a nursemaid to the young Amram and Yael (Maia Attard), the children of Josef Bar Elhanan (Manuel Cauchi), a widower.

Yael tells Josephus that her father, Josef, forever blamed Yael for her mother's death during childbirth, but that Shirah was like a mother to her. Though, after Shirah becomes pregnant with the child of her married lover, Eleazar Ben Ya'ir (Mido Hamada), Eleazar's aggrieved wife, Channa (Fiona O'Shaughnessy), informs Josef and others of Shirah's adultery, leading the Elders to cast Shirah out of Jerusalem and into the desert. Yael explains that when she and Amram (Diego Boneta) got older, he was gentle and protective of her, despite becoming a Sicarii assassin like their father.

When the Jews in Jerusalem refuse to give their land and ALLEGIANCE to Rome, the 10th Roman Legion, led by General Flavius Silva (Sam Hazeldine) and his second-in-command, Claudius (Kenneth Spiteri), begin killing and enslaving Jews, driving the rest out of Jerusalem. Aware that the Romans are specifically searching for him, Amram leaves Jerusalem, but he first enlists his fellow Sicarii, Jachim Ben Simon (Luke Roberts), to escort Josef and Yael, in addition to Ben Simon's wife Sia (Marama Corlett), during their dangerous journey through the desert.

Shirah recounts how she was saved, after being exiled to the desert, by a wealthy, robust and good man from Moab named Sa'Adollos (Andrei Claude), who married her, raised her child, Aziza (Kathryn Prescott), as his own, fathered Shirah's son, Adir (Andre Agius), and years later, trained Aziza to be an able warrior. Despite feeling grateful to Sa'Adollos, Shirah has an abiding love for Eleazar, with whom she continues to communicate via messages carried by doves. After Shirah receives an encouraging note from Eleazar, she leaves Sa'Adollos for good, forcing the confused Aziza and Adir to journey with her to Masada. En route, Shirah insists that Aziza remove her masculine attire. She raised Aziza as a boy, and now, without explanation, she wants Aziza to dress and behave like the girl she is. Aziza is stunned and distressed; she wants to remain a warrior.

Meanwhile, Yael and Sia form a sisterly bond in the desert, but soon, to Sia's despair, Ben Simon initiates a passionate affair with Yael, who is completely bewitched by him. However, Ben Simon's love and ALLEGIANCE to Sia is clear when Sia falls ill. Yael tells the distraught Ben Simon that she knows of a medicinal flower that grows in the desert that could cure Sia, and he begs Yael to find it. Arming Yael with his dagger for protection, Yael begins a frantic and perilous search for the flower. The next day when she returns with it, Yael is anguished to find Sia and Ben Simon in a death embrace. Josef, who is more disgusted with Yael than ever as a result of her affair, buries Sia and Ben Simon, and they continue their journey. When Yael and Josef are tracked down by Amram's warrior friends, including Uri (Zebulon Simoneau), they are brought to Masada, where they are welcomed by an elated Amram.

Shirah arranges for Yael to be assigned to join her and Aziza in their role as dovekeepers. Yael doesn't recognize Shirah, who decides to keep Yael and Aziza in the dark about their former connection. Aziza is intrigued to learn that Yael is Amram's sister, as Aziza is having a secret relationship with him. Meanwhile, Shirah is relishing her own clandestine relationship with Eleazar.

When some of the Roman scouts dispatched by Silva to find Jews who are hiding in the desert start to come closer to Masada, Eleazar, Amram and their fellow warriors attack the Roman camps and bring home spoils of war. The plunder includes a slave, Wynn (Diarmaid Murtagh), whom the Romans captured in a faraway land "in the North," who ends up being consigned to help THE DOVEKEEPERS with their heavy work. Most at Masada treat the slave like a savage, but Yael is kind to him, and he is immediately smitten with her.

Amram is deeply saddened when his friend is killed alongside him in battle against the Romans and is also troubled to learn that Yael is pregnant with Ben Simon's child. Amram vows not to abandon Yael, who shares that she is happy to be carrying this child, despite feeling haunted by Sia. Shirah gives Yael a mystical remedy to rid her of Sia's spirit, and, after being kicked out of her home by her father for being pregnant, Yael moves in with Shirah and her two children. After Yael gives birth, Aziza is jealous upon witnessing Shirah dote on Yael and the child and give Yael one of her prized amulets for protection.

Despite warnings from Shirah, Yael begins a romantic liaison with the towering yet tender slave Wynn. Knowing that the Romans won't stop their aggression, he proposes that she and her daughter run away with him prior to their arrival at Masada. Yael can't bring herself to leave Masada and selflessly attempts to help Wynn flee. However, he's spotted and is jailed, with no more access to the dovecote.

Silva and thousands of soldiers from the 10th Legion ominously approach Masada, yet the warriors at Masada are still hopeful that they'll persevere.

Josephus interrupts these accounts to chide Shirah, Yael and their people for not having paid homage to ROME in order to maintain their freedom and save their lives. Yael replies that they wouldn't betray their faith, and Shirah rebukes Josephus for his choice to align with the Romans despite being Jewish.

Night Two

The next day, Shirah and Yael, who are still being held by the Romans, report back to Josephus to continue their story of what happened at Masada. Shirah takes note of the abundance of scrolls written by Josephus for the Romans, and taunts him by suggesting that his historical accounts are likely written from a point of view that will please the Romans.

Silva and Claudius strategize how to get their soldiers into the seemingly unreachable fortress of Masada, and wonder how many people have taken refuge there.

Meanwhile, with Eleazar away on an expedition to scout the Roman camps rising up around Masada, Aziza goes to his wife, Channa, to attempt to get permission for Yael to visit the incarcerated Wynn. At Yael's suggestion, Aziza brings Yael's infant daughter with the hope of currying favor with the childless Channa. Initially, Channa is not inclined to help, but she is entranced by the baby and agrees to Aziza's suggestion that she return with a potion to help Channa's labored breathing. After her breathing is eased by Shirah's remedy, Channa arranges for Yael to visit Wynn. Yael is dismayed to find Wynn bloodied and delirious, and vows to get to him as often as possible to nurse him back to health. As a result, Yael ignores Shirah's warnings to not trust Channa, who persuades Aziza to leave the baby with her overnight in exchange for another visit for Yael with Wynn.

Upon his return to Masada, Eleazar gathers the people and informs them of the horrors Silva has inflicted on fellow Jews, despite promising freedom for their surrender. He says they cannot retreat, and Amram leads the warriors with the chant, "Freedom or death!" Noticing that the mysterious warrior Yoav (Jonas Armstrong) is not joining in the chant, Amram asks if he's afraid to die, to which Yoav replies, "I'm already dead."

Yael is relieved to see an improvement in Wynn's condition, but is soon horrified to realize that Channa is planning to keep her baby. Shirah appeals to Eleazar, who retrieves the baby from an anguished Channa. As an act of revenge, Channa rallies the masses to punish Shirah for being "a witch," but with a little help from Eleazar, Shirah manages to turn the tide that had been rising against her. Back at her abode, Shirah warns Aziza not to love Amram or anyone, saying it will be her undoing. Aziza does not want to abide by Shirah's wishes and implores Shirah to tell her why she raised her as a boy. Shirah tearfully reveals that when Aziza was a young girl alone with Shirah in their tent in Moab, bandits came and violated Shirah until Sa'Adollos returned, killing the bandits in a rage. They decided then to raise Aziza as a boy to protect her. Aziza is deeply moved and tells Shirah that she wants to be a warrior - that it's her fate.

When Amram discovers that a convoy is en route to bring supplies to the Romans, he gets Eleazar's blessing to depart with fellow warriors to intercept the supplies. Despite telling Adir he's not ready to fight, Adir joins anyway and is seriously wounded by a spear to his leg. Shirah blames Amram, who later tells Aziza that she and Shirah coddle Adir, who should not hesitate to fight again. As the warriors prepare to depart for another battle, Aziza joins the ranks disguised as Adir. While battling the Romans at their camp, Aziza proves to be very skilled with her bow and arrow. Shocked to observe Amram recklessly slaughtering women and children within the camp, a distracted Aziza is almost slain by a Roman, who is killed in time by Yoav. When Yoav spies Aziza outside the warriors' barracks after battle dressed as a woman, he lets her know he is aware that she was fighting. He vows to keep her secret and suggests she fight next to him in the future. Later, Aziza asks Yoav why he's always alone, and he shares a tragic tale of his wife's death at the hands of the Romans.

Eleazar joins Shirah and her children for a Shabbat dinner, their first time eating together as a family, but Aziza doesn't know he is her father. Later that night, Shirah tells him she's pregnant. She asks if their child will ever see peace, to which he tenderly replies that he'll be fighting for that. Meanwhile, Yael finds a way to help Wynn escape Masada.

When the warriors determine that the Romans are building a siege wall to keep the Jews from being able to leave Masada, it becomes clear to those at Masada that time is running out. Yael and her father reconcile, but Amram starts to unravel and can't accept the fact that Aziza no longer wants him.

Silva tells Claudius that they will build a ramp to reach the top of Masada. The warriors plan a dangerous mission to attack those building the ramp and to destroy it. Yael, who has been training under Shirah to learn ancient rites of magic and how to make potions, grabs a vial of poison and stirs it into the water to be drunk by the Romans. The warriors are shocked to happen upon all of the dead soldiers, and everyone believed demons were responsible.

Silva calls out to Eleazar, ordering him to surrender to save his people. Eleazar instead motions for the warriors to use their crossbows against the Romans below. The Romans' siege tower and battering ram start to rise closer to the top of Masada. When the Romans ultimately get close enough to use catapults to send flames over the top of the wall, setting Masada on fire, Eleazar gathers everyone. He somberly says that they must slay themselves rather than be killed, raped and enslaved by the Romans. He chooses 10 death givers, including Amram, and Eleazar assigns Yoav to be the last standing death giver, who must kill himself at the end.

Instead of preparing to die, Shirah and Yael vow to live to tell the true story, not the one they imagine the Romans will tell. Aziza chooses to stay behind, and meets her fate - as does Amram. When the Romans make their way into Masada, they are stunned to see all of the bodies and no one left to fight them. When some of the Roman soldiers discover Shirah and Yael hiding in a cistern with Adir and Yael's baby, they are brought to Silva. Shirah appeals to Silva, asking that he grant them their lives in exchange for their insights about what happened at Masada. He agrees, which is how they end up with Josephus. Moved by their story and his shared heritage with Shirah and Yael, Josephus vows to document what they told him and instructs the Roman guards to release them.



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