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Episode 6 - The Good Soldier

6 March 2012

This was another impressive, unpredictable episode. I'm still worried that Homeland is going to disappoint. The show is so interesting right now because we don't know who is working with Nazir or what happened to Brody during his captivity. When (or dare I say if) we find out the truth it could feel like a letdown no matter what happens.

The polygraph test was a solid idea to move the plot forward and Brody's ability to beat it was definitely intriguing. There were several parts to this that worked well:
- After eight years in captivity there are several explanations for how Brody might be able to beat the test.
- The use of a stressed out Saul to both plant a potential clue (that he is involved somehow) or simply to show us that these tests are not foolproof was clever.
- Then of course the use of Brody's liaison with Carrie to catch him beating the test was neatly done. It was good to see him immediately clock who was standing behind the glass feeding questions.

So we are left with a good cliff-hanger with Brody realising that Carrie is more aware of his situation than he had thought of. But again it all hinges on us not knowing what Brody is really thinking. If we did know, then a lot of tension would evaporate.

Earlier in the episode another moment hinged on this state of affairs. Private Wakefield, the soldier on crutches, calls out Brody for helping with military recruitment. Back in episode two Brody blurted out that he had no intention of helping his country fight pointless wars anymore. At the end of that episode though he marched out in front of the cameras and did just that. Wakefield drunkenly yells at Brody for saying back in Iraq that the wars were pointless and that now he is condemning other young men to a life that has caused them both such misery. It was such an interesting moment.

Again there could be so many explanations for why Brody is out helping the military. Maybe he wants to get away from his family, keep his mind occupied, maybe he enjoys the attention and so on. And yet if he is a part of some terrorist plot and his real goal is to work his way up the political ladder to get access to better targets or intelligence then that could explain his actions too. I'm enjoying the story so much but again I should point out that right now it all hinges on one revelation. And as viewers of 24 or The Killing or Twin Peaks discovered, that isn't usually a great place to be.

I don't want to give the impression that the show doesn't have other qualities because it does. Brody finally decking Mike has been a long time coming. It led logically to him getting drunk and sleeping with Carrie. Their relationship is a fascinating part of the show that definitely can exist on its own. Their strange co-dependence for comfort has been well drawn. We know she uses casual sex as an outlet and a way to find intimacy however briefly. We also know that she is obsessed with him. He is all she has been thinking about for weeks and whether she is a good actress or not she seemed pretty relaxed and happy flirting with him. For his part it probably is a relief to talk to someone who doesn't know him (little does he know) personally but does understand him professionally. His intimacy issues with his wife don't apply to Carrie and he is able to have sex in a way that's beginning to approach normality.

There is of course the issue that this is completely unprofessional behaviour on Carrie's part. If she brought Brody to justice and had to admit what had happened surely she would lose her job?

The first time we saw Brody beating his partner to death I missed the sight of a gun behind his head. I had wondered if we were meant to see that moment as him being brainwashed into such a vile act. Now that I see the gun coercing him into the murder it made a lot more sense. It also drew more sympathy to Brody as he bails out of his speech and just makes a sad roll call of his former unit, now absent one member.

Speaking of sympathy, Saul might be the character I like most on the show. He is very natural in the role and conveys a professional but emotional man well. I like his relationship with Carrie a lot. When you find someone you can be real with it doesn't seem to matter if you fall out the way they have done. In a world of secrets like the CIA they both rush back to a relationship where they can actually say what they think. I also like that he didn't understand what his wife really intended by moving back to India. It sums up the state of their marriage that he assumed she would want him to come with her and yet actually she is too kind to say it's time to split up. I thought it was a poignant line when she describes how they no longer have anything in common and just live like two friends and yet he says "Sounds perfect." They have grown apart and want different things now and it will be interesting to see what effect it has on his work.

Finally we follow Faisel and Aileen as they are pursued, presumably by the people who were telling them what to do. It would seem that as soon as the CIA became aware of them they had to be killed. Again this story is more intriguing because we have no idea what is going on. The show is being very careful to not deal in stereotypes which is for the best. So here it is white female Aileen who had training and is pushing the Arabic male Faisel into not calling the police.

This was the best episode since the pilot. It was action packed, full of intrigue and character development and left me keen to see the next one.

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  • I took that comment by David to mean that Saul would be effectively demoting himself, putting himself out to pasture. After all, isn't D.C. the center of their universe? And, yeah, he's a much older man. I get the impression David doesn't want to get rid of Carrie as long as she is useful, but she is rarely useful without problems, so he is gathering intel just in case. Either he just wants to reel her in, or he wants a legit reason to get rid of her before something blows up in his face. Can't blame him there. Might be some revenge too since he's only mentioned like a thousand times (!) how his wife and children left and don't talk to him anymore...

    Posted by Wray, 10/11/2011 2:45pm (5 years ago)

  • Also! Did anyone think much of David assuming Saul wanted to end his career in India. Was that a simple case of Saul being an older man? Or is David looking to get rid of Saul and Carrie if he can so he has a team more under his control? We haven't seen much from the agent he asked to spy on Carrie.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 09/11/2011 6:52pm (5 years ago)

  • Interesting thoughts. Did Carrie, even drunk, think that maybe telling Brody in the parking lot might catch him out and get a more honest reaction from him? You're right that in practise it meant he had time to get his lies ready (assuming he was lying of course).

    She is making a lot of mistakes. The show needs a way to bring her back down to earth a bit or at least hint more at the consequences she is facing if she gets caught.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 09/11/2011 6:51pm (5 years ago)

  • There are a couple of things that really shocked me about the most recent episode. First of all, why in the world did Carrie tell Brody the reason for the polygraph? The element of surprise may not have been truly necessary, but if discovered, her disclosure would certainly get her in much deeper trouble. Second, her last question to Brody alerted him to her suspicions...and got Saul's attention as well. We have been shown that Carrie is a loose cannon many times, but this is a very different game than bribing a prison guard to talk to a prisoner or even illegal surveillance. She seems out of control in a way that anti-psychotic meds can't fix. Most likely the disclosure (and all the flirting) was to gain Brody's trust, but -wow- she must have a great deal of faith in polygraphs. I certainly do not.

    Also, Brody hitting Mike may have been understandable, but it was totally calculated and bloodless. He looked like he saw an opportunity to delay the polygraph and possibly get more info from Carrie. And he got both. Yikes.

    Posted by Wray, 09/11/2011 3:21pm (5 years ago)

  • Watching Carrie self destruct is touch, but this is the best new show of 2011 imo.

    Posted by Aaron, 08/11/2011 11:39pm (5 years ago)

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