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Posts Tagged ‘Mandy Patinkin’

The thing about Homeland is that, no matter how much you might want to nitpick the details, no matter how much you might think, “I’m not really sure if that would happen,” no matter how much you might worry that the show is crossing a line in believability, it somehow always gives you that one scene at the end that makes you shout at the TV, post exclamations on Twitter and curse the universe for it not being next Sunday already.

Last week, that scene was Saul discovering the SD card with Brody’s suicide-confession video. That revelation hung over everything this week, waiting again until the last moment to reveal itself to Carrie. I loved that Saul spent the entire episode on a plane (except for the awesome scene where he outsmarted the Lebanese authorities with a cleverly hidden decoy card and an even more cleverly hidden real card) – it provided a good way to delay the inevitable and allowed for a Carrie/Brody character episode to flourish. I thought the Carrie plotline was stronger than the Brody plotline, but both complimented each other and raised the stakes for both even higher.

Brody continues to find himself in over his head, as his terrorist/reporter friend calls him to tell him that he needs to extract the tailor in Gettysburg because the CIA have uncovered his name in the papers that Carrie recovered from the Beirut apartment. I think Brody is stupid for trusting her so much, and for just blindly following her orders. She didn’t give him any convincing reasons as to why he had to be the one to pick him up, but Brody agrees to it because he knows that he’s between a rock and a hard place. Previous experience has shown him that, unless he follows Nazir’s orders, he’s going to be accused of not truly being on Nazir’s side. So, despite the fact that he’s supposed to speak at Jessica’s veteran’s foundation in mere hours, Brody takes off for Pennsylvania.

Once he gets there, the tailor is understandably hesitant to trust him. We saw what happened last season when Aileen and Faisel went to a safehouse (it was rigged to explode as soon as they opened the door), so there’s valid reason for the tailor to suspect that he won’t make it out of the safehouse alive. Sure it was awfully convenient that Brody’s car got a flat tire and that there was no jack, but that exact same thing happened to me, so I’m willing to believe it. (Okay, maybe it wasn’t the exact same thing – we were in the city, not the middle of nowhere, and I wasn’t transplanting a terrorist bomb-maker at the time, but still. It was annoying as hell.) I also liked the growing tension between them. You could see the tailor contemplating his moves while holding the tire iron, then picking up a rock, and finally deciding that his best move is just to run.

While Brody chases him through the forest, he fields calls from an increasingly pissed-off Jessica. I think there was supposed to be a dark humour to the whole situation, not unlike some of the surreal predicaments Walter White and Co. get into on Breaking Bad. After the tailor hits Brody over the head with a rock, Brody chases him and causes him to fall on his own knife. At first, he tries to help him, wrapping the wound and promising to call for help once they  get to the safehouse, but then Jessica calls again and the tailor starts moaning problematically in the background. Exasperated, Brody snaps his neck while telling Jessica half-truths about the flat tire and that he’s not going to make it in time. Brody further descends into the mud, as he digs a shallow grave in the pouring rain, rinses the blood and mud off of himself in a carwash, and returns home to a furious wife and his former best friend about to head inside for a nightcap. Jessica may have made an inspirational speech in Brody’s place at the charity dinner, but their marriage is falling apart. She thinks that Brody was out with a woman (possibly that CIA “bitch”, Carrie), and the irony is that the truth would be much more disturbing. Jessica relegates him to a hotel, and Dana appears in the hallway, giving them disapproving/disappointed looks before retreating back into her bedroom. I still stand by my earlier assertion that Dana’s knack for sticking her nose in her father’s business will eventually come to play a much bigger role. She sees and knows too much, but whether the information that she gathers will help or harm her remains to be seen.

In parallel with Brody’s epically awful day, Carrie begins her day at 3 am as she finishes her report for the CIA. She gives it to Danny, who promises to confirm the 6pm debriefing with her. When he fails to do so, Carrie show up at the CIA anyway, where she discovers that they moved the debrief up without telling her. In a supreme bout of condescension, Estes tells her that they didn’t need her at the briefing because her report was so thorough, and tells her that he wanted her to come  down anyway so he could thank her patronizingly for doing such a fantastic job. Carrie is rightly insulted and leaves. She goes to her sister’s house to pack, telling her dad that she needs to figure out her life in her own house. Despite what she told Estes, it’s clear that she hoped that she’d have been reinstated into the CIA by the end of the day. With that dream crushed a final time, she returns home, slowly unpacks and then just as methodically puts on a sparkly dress and going=out makeup. Then, she pours herself a bottle of wine and takes all of the medication she can get her hands on. She lies down on her bed to die.

Now, of course Carrie wasn’t going to successfully kill herself, but as the scene drew out, it was just the question of what was going to bring her back. At first, I was convinced that someone would come to the door and save her – Saul, her father, her sister, maybe even Virgil. Then, I thought maybe her semi-consciousness would trigger the memory of Issa that she last recalled before her electroshock therapy. In the end, I’m glad that it happened the way it did – Carrie herself just decided she didn’t want to die and rushed to the bathroom to make herself throw up. No big revelation, no one coming to her rescue – she just saved herself and made the decision that, even though her life might not look like she imagined it would, she wanted to live it.

That made Saul’s appearance at her door sometime later even more satisfying. Unlike Estes, Saul does more than pay lip service to Carrie’s contribution. He rushed straight to her place from the airport, he tells her, because she deserved to see what she single-handedly recovered. Carrie’s face when watching the video was perfection as was her triumphant repetition of “I was right” during her tears. Part of Carrie’s problem this season has been her own self-doubt. As she admitted last week, she’s never been so sure and so wrong as she was about Brody – except now she knows she was right. There will be no more wallowing. A vindicated Carrie is a dangerous Carrie, and something tells me that Brody’s days of texting Nazir and burying his bodies are numbered.

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I only caught up with Homeland when Showtime replayed the entire season during the summer, so I only had to wait a few weeks between Brody’s failure to detonate and the beginning of season 2, but even that felt like too long. The first season of this show was brilliant at playing to the unexpected. I went into each episode with no idea of what would happen, who would live, which secrets would be revealed in the first act only to come back in the final scene. While perhaps not as unpredictable as the final episodes of the first season, the season 2 premiere did a good job of showing us where our two main characters are now, and what challenges they’ll be facing in the coming season.

Thankfully, the time jump (about 6 months, according to producers) means that we get to skip all of the campaigning that led to Sgt. Brody becoming Congressman Brody. Instead, we get to see him in his office, wearing suits now instead of his dress uniform, and looking comfortable in this role. Of course, this calm is immediately disturbed first when the VP approaches him about the possibility of running for VP in the upcoming election. Brody quickly accepts and the VP sets up a meeting with David Estes so that Brody can be briefed on the homeland security issues. I appreciate that the show acknowledges that Brody is vastly under-qualified to be vice president, but considering the lack of experience in the most recent VP nominees, I don’t see it to be too much of a stretch. For a moment, Brody and his family get to bask in the glow of what the future might hold (Jessica, in particular, seems to be adapting quite well to her role as a politician’s wife, and she pulls some strings to get her kids in to a prestigious school with all of the other politician’s children – more about that later). Naturally, however, Brody’s past comes to haunt him in the form of a sexy Muslim journalist named Roya who also happens to be working for Abu Nazir. She wants him to use his meeting with Estes to get a list of targets from his safe in the office. I loved Brody’s response – he stutters at first that he’s not a terrorist, that he’s still on Nazir’s side, but by changing policy, not bombing innocent civilians. Roya doesn’t accept his arguments, telling him that, after the non-event of a few months ago, stealing the list is the way that Brody can prove that he’s still on their side. Brody had thought that killing Tom Walker had proven that he was on their side, but that wasn’t enough. I wonder if Brody is beginning to realize that it will never be enough. There will always be one more step, one more thing he has to do before he can really prove himself. I was also struck by the realization that Brody actually doesn’t see himself as a terrorist. That wasn’t just some lie that he told Carrie, or his daughter. He truly thinks that if he just plugs away in congress, maybe makes it to the VP’s office, he’ll be able to change things for the better. He doesn’t see what Nazir is really about. Nazir might have been willing to let Brody live, let him infiltrate the government, but that was only a means to an end. As much as Brody might not want to admit it, if he’s going to continue doing “just one more thing” for Nazir, he’s going to end up with a lot more than Tom Walker’s blood on his hands.

The VP’s vetters might not have been able to find out Brody’s deep dark secret, but everyone at Dana’s school finds out when she blurts out that her dad is a Muslim in response to some “douche” kid whos’ railing against Arabs (or Persians) and their inherent lack of respect for human life. It gets brushed off as a joke thanks to another (potential love interest kid) who pipes up that his dad is a Scientologist, but Jessica isn’t laughing when she gets a call from the school about it. At first, she’s pissed that Dana’s lie might jeopardize Brody’s VP chances, but Brody admits to her that what Dana said was true. Then, her anger shifts and she runs to the garage, ripping it apart and finding his Qur’an. I really liked the way Jessica’s reaction contrasted with Dana’s last season. Last year, Dana was scared because she saw her dad doing something out of character, but she sat down quietly and talked to him, listened to his reasons, and ultimately she opened her mind to different kinds of Muslims, different ways of expressing religious belief. Jessica, meanwhile, is more like the other kids at Dana’s school, associating Islam with fundamentalists, wondering how Brody can practice a religion that held him captive (note: it’s the religion, not the religious practitioners who she blames), demanding to know how he can follow a belief system that would have their daughter stoned for having sex with her boyfriend. Jessica throws the Qur’an down on the ground and Brody, previously frozen in place, instinctively lurches forward to pick it up, saying in a rush “that’s not supposed to touch the floor.” Jessica is disgusted and terrified; she’s mad about the lying and it makes her wonder what else he’d been lying about. She leaves the garage wondering whether the crazy stuff that Carrie said last season might have actually been true. For Jessica, Islam=terrorism, even if it’s her husband. Once again, Dana sympathizes with her dad, as she goes into the backyard in the middle of the night and helps him bury the Qur’an. It was a sweet moment, but the burial imagery foreshadows the dangerous path Brody is going down.

Meanwhile, Carrie has spent the last 6 months recovering from her breakdown and the subsequent electroshock therapy by getting a low-stress job as an ESL teacher, gardening, and cooking for her sister’s family. She can’t totally shut off her old life, as she steals glances at the TV and looks for news of the latest Middle East crisis while she marks papers. The conflict has been ramped up since Carrie was unceremoniously fired from the CIA: Israel has bombed Iranian nuclear facilities, causing 3000 deaths (or so Iran claims), and a retaliatory attack on America seems more and more imminent. Saul is at the field office in Beirut where he’s contacted by a former agent of Carrie’s, who has direct knowledge of a plan to attack America but who will only talk to her. When Saul and Estes talk to her and try to convince her to come back (just for 3 days), it’s clear that she’s conflicted. She has been making progress in her mental state, and going back in the field will certainly jeopardize all of that. On the other hand, she’s lost without her work, and no matter how hard she tries to put it behind her, it’s part of who she is. There was never any real doubt that she would jump back in, but Claire Dane’s phenomenal acting showed just how difficult this decision was.

I also appreciated that Carrie doesn’t immediately  transform from the skittish person living with her dad an sister back into the super agent she apparently once was. She had trouble remembering her backstory and was extremely nervous as she went through customs and checked into her hotel. It was only when her scheduled meeting with Saul at a cafe was compromised that the old Carrie seemed to come back to the surface. Saul sees that they are being watched and tells her to keep walking, to go to the police, where she’ll be arrested but the Canadian Embassy (with help from the CIA) will be able to work it out. Carrie stubbornly insists that she can take him on, and the low-speed chase through the busy market was a highlight of the episode. When she is cornered by her would-be attacker, she knees him in the groin, asks the bystanders for help for her husband, and slips away into the crowd, a gleeful smile on her face. Carrie is back. I can’t wait to see what twists and turns she has in store for us next.

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