Episode 9 - Crossfire
6 March 2012
Sadly this felt like a different show to the one I watched for seven episodes. It feels a bit like the writers had scripted a gripping sequence that would take us from the pilot to Brody answering all of Carrie's questions but then they thought they would make up the rest.
One of the most interesting parts of Homeland was watching Brody readjust to family life. Seeing his night terrors, his scars, his catatonic knee clutching and so on. It was all fascinating and spoke of a show that was willing to go all the way in showing us how someone who had spent nearly a decade in captivity would return to a normal life.
Yet here we saw Brody beaten and kidnapped like it was any other drama show. There was no sense that he would be traumatised or frightened or just upset by this. You would think that when he woke up at least he would be angry and resentful. It all felt trivial and silly. Homeland worked so well because it wasn't James Bond and it wasn't 24. Yet that's what this episode began to feel like.
Another part of the show that worked really well early on was the confused nature of Brody's memories. The shots of him being tortured or beating Walker to death gave us clues but told us nothing definite. The Nazir-Issa flashbacks were the opposite of that. They were dull in their simplicity, generic in emotion and left a big predictable plot hole. The simplicity was the least of the problems but it did feel far less interesting to just see exactly what happened to Brody. Then the emotion of him loving Issa was about as straight forward and unappealing as possible. Brody was a soldier, he would have seen dead children before, yet because he loved this one we are expected to believe he would turn on his country?
Finally the plot hole. There are two possibilities here.
A) That what Nazir says is true. He wanted his son to learn English so he decided to make use of this American prisoner who was an honourable man. An American drone then bombed the school, killing Nazir's son. Brody and Nazir agreed then that the Vice President should pay for committing this crime and lying about it.
In this scenario Brody's motives feel too simplistic for my liking and leave him open to a pretty obvious change of heart down the line. It also makes Nazir look like a moron. Why on earth would he leave his son with a man who had been beaten and tortured?
B) That Nazir bombed the school, killing a boy named Issa to manipulate Brody. In this scenario Issa might not even be Nazir's son and the bomb was planted by Nazir to do to Brody what torture couldn't do - make him cooperate.
This is a slightly better scenario because at least Nazir looks like an evil genius rather than an idiot. However it makes Brody look a bit foolish and makes Nazir's plan look both ruthless and flimsy. He is hanging a lot on the conscience of Brody and assuming that he will choose to help create further death rather than see Issa's demise as a reason to renounce violence.
I think either scenario is less interesting than the first seven episodes promised but that will always be the way with television. Your imagination is far harder to please than you might think. Certainly the stylistic change from mystery to moral dilemma was stark and unappealing.
I didn't know what to make of Brody's return home promising to spend more time with his family. Is this the wife who he told Carrie he just couldn't be with anymore (107)? Is he lying so he can become a senator and fulfil Nazir's plan? Is he looking forward to years of prison after he does that? Again it feels like the narrative is dictating things and not Brody's character.
On the Carrie side of things I feel conflicted. She did attempt a little FBI blackmail and nearly got caught popping pills. But despite those moments I feel like we've lost something of the sense that she was an agent on the edge. Her investigation of the Imam was respectful and professional and felt like it could have been in any police show. What would she have done if the Imam's wife hadn't come forward? One of the problems of her story is that no one is investigating her actions. Saul keeps ignoring her bad behaviour and David's attempts to keep an eye on her seem to have been forgotten.
Walker remains out on the loose practising with his rifle. I assume he must have a new location to shoot from now that the house near the airport has been discovered?
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