Episode 8 - Achilles Heel
21 December 2012
As I suspected the dynamics of the show switched significantly for me after last week's revelations. Now that Brody was apparently innocent and Carrie was on someone else's trail I cared a lot less about what was happening.
I felt the episode's priorities felt conflicted as a result. We spent a lot of time on Saul and his departing wife but didn't actually learn anything new about that situation. The episode should have focussed on the tortured emotions of Tom Walker's wife. She was put in the horrible position of having to accept both that he was alive and that he was now a terrorist. Her confusion and distress could have given this episode the focus it needed and then her decision to warn him of who was listening to their call would have been more dramatic. Instead the warning felt like a plot device and the chase which followed felt uneasily like a scene from 24. Carrie barked instructions down her phone about how the team should operate entirely for dramatic effect. How on earth could she know what they were seeing or how it was best to apprehend Walker?
A couple of innocent Muslim men were shot in the confusion. Again that itself could have been the focus of the episode with a major PR disaster for the CIA. Instead it was blown off and no one asked the question of why they were shooting live rounds at Walker when surely capturing him alive would be of immeasurable value.
I think too much about Carrie's behaviour is being blown off too. I just about accepted Saul not turning her in over the surveillance stunt because Brody presented a real threat. However she now confesses to sleeping with him in order to try and gather more intelligence. If Saul were really a dedicated professional how could he let something like that slide? Carrie is clearly a danger to herself and the CIA but again this was ignored. And again that could have been the focus of the episode. I would buy a story where Saul explicitly let her off the hook because with his wife leaving he couldn't bear to lose his surrogate daughter too.
Instead of that character stuff being the focus it seems like we were meant to be lulled into a false sense that the story had moved on. Brody manages to play happily with his family at last and may even be considering the political career he is being groomed for. Then suddenly he barges into the house of a middle-eastern man who we saw passing a message to Walker. Brody implies he has been following some sort of Abu Nazir plan and is not happy with the surprise that Walker is still alive.
This wasn't a shock and the ambiguity of Brody's statements don't actually prove he was planning on participating in any attack. Once again the show is at a crossroads. Are we headed in a horrible 24 direction where silly twists and revelations dominate the characterisation? Or can the writers drive the drama with believable personal issues? This was not an encouraging episode to support the latter.
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