Episode 2 - Grace
6 March 2012
This was a good follow up to the excellent pilot.
It started strong with a graphic dream sequence of Brody burying his comrade. And then the doubts begin as to whether he really is a terrorist. He seems so disturbed by his return to reality and haunted day and night by memories of his torture and captivity. Finally though he goes down on his knees to pray to Allah. That was a big moment because I had questioned whether religion would play a part in what turned him.
The key to this episode was the nature of exploitation when it comes to the war on terror. We see Brody's military and CIA bosses pushing him to not only talk to the media but also to come back to work. They argue it will help mould the public's expectations about continuing the war in Afghanistan. They don't mention the obvious: that it will be a boost to their own careers. They put dark pressure on his friend Mike who they know was sleeping with Brody's wife.
The sympathy that this situation generates for Brody is then cunningly mirrored on Carrie's side of thing. Rather than being the champion of justice and truth Carrie is sending her own soldier out into unknown territory. Her asset is a member of the Saudi Prince's harem. The glimpse into the auditioning process for that gig was a surprising and clever way to expand the world this story takes place in. Carrie is told by the same CIA boss to put this girl in danger with no extra protection in place. Carrie goes through with it and the whole sad chain of people exploiting those beneath them for the sake of this war goes on.
I thought it was a strong and sad message. In a way Brody becomes the hero of the piece when he says he won't go back to work for the military. But of course by episodes end he marches out in uniform to meet the media and Carrie thinks that's because he plans on playing the hero in order to get to his eventual target.
Elsewhere we see that Carrie gets her meds from her sister which gives a fig leaf of cover to something that viewers didn't find believable. On the downside though one of the implied pressures on Brody is the financial pressure to provide for his family. I don't buy that for one second. Without any real knowledge I'm still sure that the US military not only provides good pensions for veterans but for a man held for eight years as a prisoner of war I know there would be big compensation money. Not to mention of course that Brody could sell his story for millions of dollars.
Anyway, this was good dark stuff and confirms this show as the best new one to air in the fall so far.
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