Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Walden’

Homeland - Courtesy Showtime

Well, fuck you, Homeland. You suckered me in last season with a daring and innovative take on the spy/surveillance drama by mixing in a forbidden love affair and a realistic take on the consequences of mental illness. You gave me twists that I both didn’t see coming and yet fit entirely within the realm of plausibility. You gave me an anti-hero in Nicholas Brody, the maybe-terrorist who didn’t reveal exactly what he was thinking until the very end and even still remained clearly at war with himself over his own decisions. You gave me all that, you made me look forward to Homeland more than any other show since Breaking Bad, and then, you basically undermine it all with an episode like this one. 

This whole season, Homeland has been toeing the line between plausibility and implausibility and I’ve been forgiving it. I didn’t really mind when Brody texted Nazir from inside the Pentagon, or when he chased after the tailor and killed him in the woods and then rinsed the blood off of himself in a carwash, or when there was a terrorist attack on the CIA agents in Gettysburg in broad daylight. I also could buy that Nazir would get Brody to break into Estes’ office (Even though he apparently has a mole in the CIA that tells him everything) and even that Nazir would be able to sneak into the States by shaving his beard. I sure as hell wouldn’t have recognized Osama Bin Laden without the beard. I could even accept Brody being whisked away by Roya into a helicopter that the CIA were watching but still couldn’t figure out where it went. All of that, I was willing to put aside because everything else was so strong. But this episode, they finally went a step too far for me. To borrow a phrase from Joey Tribbiani, they went so far past the line, the line is a dot to them.

Let’s try to puzzle it out, shall we? Okay – Abu Nazir was apparently the one driving the SUV that t-boned Carrie. Why would he put himself in harm’s way like that? The only explanation could be that he is now completely on his own, since Roya and the TV crew were captured last episode. But for a terrorist mastermind as careful as Nazir is supposed to be, would he really let all of his crew on American soil be in the same place at the same time, ready for capture? But whatever, let’s say that he does. Would he then really show up at a gas station when he has to know that the entire CIA is still out looking for him? And alright, fine, maybe he felt it was a risk worth taking in part of his plot to . . . capture Carrie? And then once he captures Carrie, he calls her on his GOVERNMENT ISSUED BLACKBERRY and without first checking to see if he’s alone or, you know, with the entire CIA, Nazir pops his face up on the screen, points a gun at Carrie, and tells Brody that he needs him to do something for him. Forget the inherent implausibility of Skype working that smoothly on a Blackberry (I’m apparently willing to overlook all manner of cell phone-related sins), are we really to believe that the CIA would just quit monitoring Brody’s phone? At the end of last episode, they were desperately seeking Nazir, and now they’re gloating over the arrest of his minions and Carrie is talking to Brody about resigning from Congress as if he’s actually going to be able to just walk away? But, okay, FINE. No one thinks that it’s possible that Nazir might try to reach out to the one person he still has a connection with in America. Fine. The CIA has done stupid things before. But then Brody goes into another empty CIA apartment, shouts Nazir’s name about a billion times, then rushes out and says he needs to go to the VP’s house immediately, and no one bats an eye. And then he gets there, is more jittery than Carrie ever was in the midst of her mental breakdown, and is allowed to just wander around the house. The whole idea that a pacemaker’s serial number can somehow be used by a random terrorist hacker to induce a heart attack is pretty Bond villian-ish, but again, I’m willing to overlook that (see how generous I am?). I don’t even really take issue with the idea that Brody was able to find it (and a magnifying glass) and read it in the nick of time. No, what I have an issue with is that killing Walden to make it look like an accident would ever be Nazir’s Plan B. We’ve been told over and over and over again that Nazir strikes for maximum emotional impact. This has zero emotional impact on a wider scale. The general public will not be shaken to its core when it finds out that Walden is dead, because they will never know that it was anything other than natural causes (save, of course, the requisite conspiracy theorists who will be promptly ignored). Still, this was almost saved by the scene where Walden comes in to talk to Brody and Brody stares him down, waiting for him to have a heart attack. The moment where Walden reaches for the phone to call a doctor and Brody pushes him away could’ve been very powerful. Indeed, Brody lets down his guard in Walden’s final moments, telling him that he is, in fact, actually killing him. What should have been a moment of emotional punch was undercut for me by two things: 1) Why weren’t there any Secret Service agents standing outside the door? and 2) I spent most of the scene flashing back to a much better death-by-inaction scene in Breaking Bad, where Walter White stood by and watched as Jesse’s girlfriend choked to death on her own vomit while in a drug induced haze. Think, for a moment, how much more powerful it would’ve been if Brody had just happened to be around Walden when he has a heart attack and then seizes that moment to finally get revenge for Issa’s death. If that had happened, instead of it being the result of some behind-the-scenes string pulling by Nazir and a nameless hacker, it would have been the result of Brody’s own emotional truth. As it stands now, we don’t know if Brody let Walden die because he truly wants to help Nazir, or because he just wants to save Carrie’s life.

Oh, that’s the other thing – this whole plot by Nazir hinged on the fact that Nazir thinks that he’ll be able to manipulate Carrie and Brody’s “love” for each other. The worst part is, he seems to have been right. Brody risks everything to ensure that Carrie was able to run away, and, when Carrie finally gets a cell phone and calls the CIA to tell him where Nazir is, she conveniently leaves out the detail that the Vice President is likely being murdered by pacemaker hacking at this very moment. The only reason I can think of to omit this information is to protect Brody. And if Carrie’s love for Brody is going to go to the extent that she forget all about stopping terrorist attacks that has been her life’s calling then . . . I really don’t know what to think anymore. Is Carrie really deluded enough to believe that she and Brody will just be able to run off into the sunset together? Why does she even want to run off into the sunset with a terrorist? What happened to the Carrie of earlier this season, who fairly spat at Brody when he was captured in the hotel room after she tried to seduce him? Who venomously told him that he was both a traitor and a terrorist, and now he was going to have to pay for that? Now she’s just willing to overlook everything to live some kind of domestic fantasy? Last season, Carrie’s erratic behaviour could be partially explained by the fact that she was quickly spiralling downward into a state of mania. This season – what? Carrie’s lovesick? Is that her mental illness? I hope I’m wrong and there’s some other explanation given for her behaviour.

Meanwhile, Saul’s continued inquiries into the real identity of Peter Quinn lead him to have a delightfully understated conversation with Dar Adal in a waffle shop, followed by an overt confrontation with Estes in the hallway of the CIA, and finally by being prevented from leaving CIA headquarters to capture Abu Nazir. Instead, he’s dragged downstairs to some kind of interrogation. Oh also, Galvez is back. Remember Galvez? Last seen shot up in the tailor shop in Gettysburg and apparently not expected to make it? Well, now he has his arm in a sling but he’s back and ready to take out Nazir! Or, perhaps, live up to his mole-y ways. In any case, it seems more and more clear (and the previews all but confirm) that the series is moving closer towards revealing who the “leak” in the CIA is and I’d like to just go on record as saying that if Saul turns out to be the mole, not only will I never watch again, but you will see the kind of impotent rage not aimed towards a TV show since the season one finale of The Killing threw in a twist that both undermined a character they’d spent a season establishing and didn’t even answer the fucking question of who killed Rosie Larsen. If Galvez turns out to be the mole, I’ll be annoyed at his clumsy re-introduction but at least they won’t have destroyed one of the remaining sympathetic characters on the show. My only question is – if Nazir still has a mole in the CIA, why didn’t this mole just, oh I don’t know, call Carrie and tell him to meet him somewhere so that Nazir could abduct her from there. Or talk to Brody and tell him about the pacemaker plot, or any other number of things that could’ve been accomplished much easier if Nazir actually had someone in the CIA.

Anyway. I think the reason this has gotten me so riled up is because I thought this show was something else. I thought it was an intelligent, subtle, character-driven drama that just happened to have bouts of heart-pounding action and suspense. Now, it’s morphed into an action movie that is more focused on shock value than character development and that makes me sad. Maybe the final two episodes of the season can find a way to redeem themselves. I really hope so, because I really don’t like feeling duped.

P.S. Memo to Jessica and Brody: Neither of you gets to play the jealous spouse card. Jessica, you banged Brody’s best friend the first chance you got, and with your children in the next room no less. If that wasn’t enough, the next morning, you had a little post-coital gloat-and-makeout session in the middle of your echo-y safehouse again with your children in the next room. And Brody, you banged Carrie in a motel room with the entire CIA listening in and tell her every chance you get that you love talking to her and just want to be together. The fact that either of you has the audacity to act pissy towards the other about Mike/Carrie is ridiculous. Your marriage is a complete sham, quit wasting your energy.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »