I didn’t take as many notes for this week’s Homeland as I usually do, probably because my hand was tremoring more than Claire Danes‘ chin. After “Back to Beirut’s” jaw-dropping final moments, it seemed inconceivable that the show could — or would — do anything but back off of the action and take another route before coming back to what Saul had discovered in the bag. And yet, Homeland did not shy away from addressing that issue in the opening moments at all. Then to top thing off, it then pulled a twist that made the action double again. How is it possible that in only the third episode of the season I’m already needing to consider blood pressure medication? There are so many episodes left in front of us, yet Homeland continues to keep things amped to the maximum drama at all times. For more on this and why every time you have an argument you can bet Dana is creepin’ in the shadows listening, hit the jump.
Initially when watching the cold open, it was disappointing to see Saul snatched and checked and looted of his video chip almost immediately, even though it made sense that such a (literally) explosive item would not be allowed back to the U.S. for the CIA to handle. Still, it felt false to Saul’s seasoned brilliance though that he would keep the video chip in such an obvious place … but it was all was laid to rest when we saw him take out the real chip on the plane. Why did I ever for a moment doubt it? This sequence paid off in spades when he allowed Carrie to see it, something I would not have predicted the show would touch on so quickly, but given her emotional crisis, it was needed.
One of the most difficult scenes yet on Homeland was watching Carrie make the decision to kill herself. Practically, of course, we knew she wouldn’t die, but the way it played out was harrowing nevertheless. Carrie’s entire life has been devoted to the CIA in a dependent relationship few can understand. Without it, her life seems unimaginably bleak, and as she realizes her hopelessness after she was turned away from the debriefing, and her loneliness at her empty apartment where her old coping mechanisms (of going out to find a man to sleep with) were no longer cutting it. The worst part was surely watching Carrie, with a frightened but determined look on her face, close her eyes to sleep after taking the overdose of pills. Let me repeat: we just watched a woman lay down to die. Homeland … what are these things you are doing to my soul right now?
Luckily Carrie awoke, chose life, vomited up what she could, which was handy since Saul was just afterwards pounding on her door to show her something that both took away some of the demons she has been wrestling with (did her illness sabotage her life? Did it lead her to ruin because of her wrongful obsession with Brody?) with the answer that she was right. Additionally, it gave her something tangible to live for (bringing that sonofabitch down).
The problem with Brody is that he’s really not an SOB, but it still feels strange to root for him, something Homeland wants us surely to feel uncomfortable about. I found myself being unfairly angry at Jess when she confronted Brody after not coming to the dinner, and for lying to her (or mostly lying, anyway). But she didn’t just see Brody get put in an intensely unfortunate position in commuting the tailor to a safe house and, of course, killing him in the rain while on the phone with her. From her perspective, Brody has really been almost nothing but difficult and troubled, and her exasperation is warranted even if she’s being put into Skyler White (Breaking Bad) territory (most fans warmed up to Skyler after she was brought in to Walt’s plot, but we still had strangely little patience for this poor woman whose life was being turned on its head without explanation).
Homeland‘s exceptional ability to keep its drama at a maximum tension at all times is due to two things: timing and Murphy’s Law. Sometimes the timing can be a little too cute and a little too coincidental, but it’s easily overlooked or forgiven in service to our addiction to its outcome: of course Brody was asked to make this run on the night of the dinner, of course Carrie tried to kill herself just an hour before Saul found a huge reason to convince her not to, of course Brody gets home just as Jess decides to let Mike in for old time’s sake, etc.
The other side of it is the ole “if something can go wrong, it will.” Brody’s flat tire, the tailor attempting to escape and/or toying with the idea of killing Brody, Jess ending Mike’s defense of Brody by telling him about the affair with Carrie, and so forth. Nothing is ever easy in Homeland‘s world: no one takes a trip to Gettysburg without picking up a suicide bomber vest on the way home, or can plan to attend a fundraiser without killing and burying a man in a shallow grave on the way there.
Finally, it’s important to note that underneath all of the heart-pounding action though was something that ties this American series into the original Israeli one on which it is based — the idea of coming home. For veterans, especially POWs, how difficult is it not only for the soldier but for the families when it comes to the return? Jess’ speech was fantastic in its succinct realness about how difficult it is to rebuild a life with someone you may hardly know anymore. This series has, of course, upped the ante considerably past that question, but it remains its core and its heart.
Episode Rating: A
— I wonder when I’ll give an episode less than an A …
— I need someone to start a blog of everything Jess wears so I can buy it all please and thank you.
— The shower at the self serve!!
— Seriously, Dana is always creepin’ in the shadows, is she not?? Whenever some shit goes down in the Brody home you can bet she’s lurking. Her brother meanwhile is totally oblivious.
— I love how Carrie’s father is able to act as her guide, and that the bipolar issue hasn’t just been swept under the rug. Even though Carrie is managing it, it will always have an effect on what she does.
— Claire Danes does a great job of showing Carrie’s restlessness. And that attempted-suicide scene … I thought the knock on the door might be the Emmy committee.