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Homeland

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Episode 10 - Representative Brody

6 March 2012

This was better stuff but the broad problems remain. I feel the need for my usual review structure:

The Good: The episode moved at a good pace with the parallel stories of Brody agreeing to stand for Congress and the turning of Al Zahrani.

I thought the interrogation of Zahrani had a bit more to it than it might have. It was established well why he enjoyed his life in the West, why he would be afraid of his homeland and why he had taken Nazir's money. I thought Carrie played minor desperation well as she threatened his daughter in order to get him to play along.

Brody's story mirrored that manipulation as he used Mike to put pressure on Jessica. That was definitely a big moment for the character because he was finally acting like the terrorist Carrie suspected he might be.

I liked the renewed focus on basic character emotions. Carrie's disappointment at Brody shutting the door on their relationship was solid. Saul sitting alone in his office because he has nowhere else to be was too. Mike being guilted into doing Brody's bidding and Jessica being smart enough to see through it were fine as well.

The Bad: However I would have preferred Jessica to stick to her initial reaction that being a Congressman was a terrible idea. She rightly pointed out the press intrusion and massive commitment of time that would take Brody away from her again. More than that though someone needed to point out that he hasn't yet adjusted to normal life. The writers finally remembered to have Brody feeling trapped when the secret service arrived (after last week's kidnapping was glossed over) but that is the tip of his iceberg of trauma. He is still the man who shot a deer in his garden, disappeared for a weekend and is still experiencing night terrors. It's clearly a terrible idea for him to be a Congressmen and it's very rushed to have his family agree to let him do it.

We really have skipped some pages in this story. Jessica's sober acceptance of Brody's affair with Carrie was a false moment. Of course you can imagine her thought process after her time with Mike and see a way where she would accept his infidelity with dignity. But that really isn't the character we have seen or how I imagine the average wife might react.

Her relationship with Mike only began years after she had accepted Brody wasn't coming home. Once he reappeared she shut Mike out and dedicated herself, uncomfortably at times, to rebuilding her marriage. If she found out that Brody disappeared for a weekend to sleep with a random woman do you really think she would be cool with that? I don't. I think she would have been wounded that her efforts and her years of waiting for him had been so swiftly betrayed.  

If we had had time to see her confessing her anger to a friend and taking time to give him such a generous benefit of the doubt then maybe this would have worked. But as with a lot of things at the moment we are rushing through the story.

Carrie's psychological problems no longer play an understandable role in the story. David's suspicion and concern with her behaviour have evaporated too. Now he lets her handle key interrogations and run point on field operations.

Meanwhile we are missing key information in order to understand Brody's story. At the moment it seems like he is just playing the terrorist. He is manipulating his family and friends to get what he wants and ignoring all the consequences. If we understood better what he is being asked to do then his story might regain the intrigue it once had. Right now I'm stuck on several points. Does Brody really mean anything he says? Does he actually want to make a difference? Does he actually crave a bit of focus for his life? In other words if I believed that he actually wanted to be a Congressman and the Abu Nazir question was simply one factor in that then his story would have intrigue. Then we wouldn't know what was truly motivating his actions. Instead it's possible that he has become the kind of monochrome terrorist that the show for so long refused to let him be.

Another question is how far he is willing to go? If we knew he just had to look the other way (for example) while the Vice President was gunned down then perhaps his situation would be more plausible. Right now though it seems like he is going to play an active part in the assassination and so I'm left wondering if Brody is willing to spend his life in prison for the sake of a dead child.

The Unknown: The mole storyline is the most worrying part of the show. It would be pure 24 if Virgil or Galvez or David were a terrorist with no evidence given so far to make us suspect them. On a show where two marines have also been turned it would also feel a bit silly.

Speaking of which, if Carrie is schizophrenic and is secretly the mole herself then I guarantee the show can't pull that off.

That all leaves Saul as the "sensible" choice. Personally I don't like that because he has been the most consistently likeable character and without him to cover for her, Carrie's unprofessional behaviour would be harder to swallow.

Conclusion: I guess Homeland has just morphed into a much more generic thriller than I had hoped for. Brody's readjustment to normal life and Carrie's disconnection from it have been abandoned for the sake of the plot. And I don't really care about that. I don't care about the Vice President or Tom Walker. The show seemed to have a point of view on the war on terror when it began but now it really does feel like 24 but without the limitations of the format.

I saw no real tension in the big showdown by the fountain. That felt exactly like all of Jack Bauer's setups where you knew the real bad guy wasn't about to show up. Hope remains that the writing could recapture some of the Brody intrigue in season two. Perhaps then Carrie would be pitted against the new Congressman in a way where we weren't sure what his true plan was.

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  • Yeah good point about the intimacy issues. Another reason why she would be so hurt by him cheating.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 07/12/2011 8:27pm (7 years ago)

  • Good points all. I guess I benefit from never having watched an episode of 24 because I did like the scene at the fountain. I also liked the interrogation scene, particularly the part where Al Zahrani called the CIA's bluff about exposing him. Also that his true Achilles heel was pride in his daughter and wanting to give her the best opportunities. Suddenly I actually cared what happened to him.

    One of the things that bothered me with Jess/Brody relationship (beyond the difficulties you mentioned adjusting to his current life) is his intimacy issues. I think I could understand nightmares, mood swings, even the inability to be intimate...but Brody has on at least 2 occasions used Jess as an object. I might even have more problems with that than an "affair". Yes, there would have to be a great deal more discussions about MANY things before I would agree to put my family in the public hot seat.

    Posted by Wray, 07/12/2011 6:04pm (7 years ago)

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