Since everything Homeland-related is pretty spoilery this week I’ll talk for a moment above the cut here about the surveillance van in Brody’s neighborhood. CIA, you don’t have a better, more discreet idea? An unmarked van with blacked-out windows sitting in front of a house for days would certainly cause curtains to flutter. I guess I’m just used to the presumption that the CIA is smoother than that, and yet here they are camped out on Brody’s lawn and sending Carrie to do all of his related errands (which I predicted would backfire). Omnishambles. In any case, hit the jump for the details of what has been the first truly heart-pounding Homeland in a few weeks.
Last week, as I took in some other reviews of Homeland, it seemed that most TV writers were still growing increasingly nervous over the show’s trajectory, and it sneaking into 24 territory. There has also been considerable backlash over the Dana story, which reminds me a great deal of a certain plot in Friday Night Lights that was referred to at the time by the A.V. Club as “the very bad mistake.” It was a mistake on two levels — one by a character who took retribution a little too far, and the mistake of the writers to make the character “go there” in the first place.
But the show moved on from it as well as any could, and now it’s just a regrettable footnote that created some interesting changes for a few of the characters, all things considered. With Dana though … not sure about the point. Her confrontation with the daughter was reckless and selfish — why would this girl want to ever see her again or hear her apologies? I found it entirely unrealistic that she would let Dana in to begin with, but the scene was redeemed by her screaming at Dana to get lost. She’s been paid off, and while justice hasn’t been served (how could it be?) at least she has received something to help ease her burden, no matter how wrong it feels to Dana.
Having Dana run to Mike in her time of need keeps him around (now that the CIA has told him to back off from the Brody/Walker issue) and also gives Jess something to do besides nag Brody (meanwhile Chris just plays video games and watches baseball, totally oblivious that half of his family are murderers). I’m actually torn in trying to decide if this is decent family drama or just filler. There’s something very real about how some of it is portrayed, but something so equally ridiculous about it that cancels out into nothingness. I’m glad that Mike got some acknowledgement from Dana about his feelings at having to stay away from the family, though. As pro-Brody as I am, that had to have been extraordinarily difficult for him as well as the kids who had grown so attached to him.
As Dana has her meltdown, Brody is mirroring it by feeling crushed in from all sides — his family, Nazir and the CIA. After Jess lays into him about Dana’s disappearance at the police station, Brody botches his meeting with Roya and claiming he is done with everything and everyone. I liked that callback just before that meet that showed Brody crouching dead-eyed in the dark of his hallway as his coping mechanism. Though he’s played it cool for most of this season, let us not forget his complete inability to readapt to his home life, knowing what he ultimately had to do, which was such a big part of the first season.
What makes Homeland stand out from other action series or spy shows is the emotionally layered portrayals of Brody and Carrie’s inner worlds, which the show has gotten away from a little bit in the last few weeks. Returning to “the cabin” (proverbially) may not have been the best way to rekindle what we already knew was a difficult and doomed relationship, though. But Carrie’s speech to Brody was right — if he was able to bring in Nazir, it would erase all of his prior sins. He would truly be the hero people think he is, and his slate would be wiped clean on all fronts.
Obviously, that’s not something that’s going to happen now, or maybe ever, but the shock twist at the end of “I’ll Fly Away” when Carrie witnessed Roya whisking Brody away in a helicopter where he ended the episode face-to-face with his friend and oppressor Abu Nazir was heart-pounding stuff. Nazir bringing Brody back into the fold is key to continue the dramatic tension, and I have no idea of where things might go from here. But Homeland has raised the stakes at exactly the right time for us to want to stick around to find out, its other issues aside.
Episode Rating: B+
— I was dying from laughter and embarrassment when Carrie and Brody’s wild sex audio was broadcast all over the office. Saul could not have been more uncomfortable. I think Quinn kind of liked it. Saul having to have some gum afterwards also cracked me up. Good grief.
— “That is, your attachment to a terrorist you were boning last night!” – Quinn to Carrie
— Once again, Jess’ outfits are flawless.
— I was glad that Saul brought up Carrie’s reattachment to Brody has potentially having very negative consequences on her life. Lest we forget, she tried to kill herself not all that long ago. I’d like to see her family come back into the picture soon, too.
— When Carrie walked towards the field I got so incredibly nervous. Her bucking orders like that makes me scream, but she’s usually right!
— Once more with feeling: Nazir!!!