I felt compelled to write something about this episode because for the first time in the show’s history I was on the verge of napping within 20 minutes. This was, without a doubt, the worst episode of Homeland to date and makes me even more seriously [than I did in my Episode 1 review] question the direction of the show.
I want to begin by positing the same question: what is this show about? Season 1 had a clear story arc: we had the good guys at the CIA trying to stop a terrorist attack, and a very ambiguous and interesting ‘bad guy’ in Nicholas Brody. Season 2 began to unravel during Q&A when we were finally convinced Brody was good, but it introduced the subplot of Dana’s boyfriend (and the VP’s son) running over some person with his car. As the season wore on it became more and more ridiculous: electronic triggers used to give the VP a heart attack; Brody being considered a viable VP candidate; Abu Nazir* shows up in America; some crazy American-backed assassination attempt on Brody; etc. Season 3 has plunged even farther into the weird, inane, and unexplained.
*As a brief side-note, Abu Nazir is a fucking genius name for a terrorist. It’s perfect.
The hero of the show is being kept in a mental asylum as she struggles to get a handle on her disorder. Keep in mind this is a disorder she says she has a handle on via running in the morning and tequila in the afternoon. By the end of the episode though, she doesn’t seem to have learned anything. Carrie still goes from calm to furious in seconds, is completely paranoid about Saul being behind everything happening to her, and is unwilling to admit she has any problem at all. I don’t understand why the writers want her to be sooooo unlikeable. When the show began, we knew Carrie was right, but the bureaucracy of the CIA forced her to cut through red tape on her own. However, while she was breaking the rules and dealing with the same disorder she has now, this was ultimately forgiven because it was in the service of protecting the country from the potentially most dangerous terrorist in American history. Now though, she just seems crazy–repeating over and over how she ‘should’ve seen it coming’ and her meds keep her blurry. Now, we’ve seen Carrie at her most crazy–making that insanely detailed and colored wall in her house–and we know that Carrie is capable of thinking clearly about the issue at hand. However, she’s become so fucking annoying in touting this clarity that I no longer want to see Carrie in ‘all systems go’ mode. Frankly, I dread whenever she’s on screen at this point, because she’s gonna be crying about something within 60 seconds. So I ask again, what is this show about? Is it about Carrie’s struggle to overcome a mental affliction, or is it about the CIA thwarting terrorists? I didn’t sign up for the former.
Speaking of the CIA, did anyone notice how they were completely ABSENT from this episode? Explain to me the rationale behind holding Brody out of the first two episodes and then devoting half of this boring ass hour to him at the expense of the only interesting characters the show has anymore. I just don’t know what storytelling vision was enhanced by doing this rather than having all three storylines start simultaneously. While it’s nice to devote more time to Brody in episode 3, it results in the most compelling part of the show being absent for a week, which isn’t a good thing. Instead, we have a stupid, stupid, STUPID, re-introduction to Brody. He’s somehow in South America, and he’s been saved by some shadowy group of people that are loyal enough to Carrie to keep him alive, but have no plans after that. Despite half the episode’s run-time devoted to him, we don’t know a fucking thing. How did he get from Canada to South America? How and why was he shot? Who are the people who took him in? Obviously it’s intentional to keep us in the dark on all of this, but I don’t think it was smart. Instead, the scenes attempted to establish Brody’s mood and environment. I think better writing could’ve answered more questions while doing this.
I’m sure people noticed how much they used Spanish without subtitles in this episode, and that’s totally fine with me if it adds to the story, but I thought they used too much ENGLISH in other instances. As far as I’m concerned, there should’ve been no English at all aside from the leader. Fortunately however, some random doctor is there who also speaks english. Furthermore, the daughter of the leader was the most transparent plot device I’ve ever seen, clearly there to fall in love with Brody and help him escape. Somehow she also learns English at the rate of an idiot savant. And now after his botched escape* attempt he’s apparently going to get addicted to heroin? Where have I seen this before…oh right, JACK BAUER WAS ADDICTED TO HEROIN (note: the show’s creators formerly worked on 24). However, Jack did it to go undercover with the Salazars, while Brody apparently sees heroin as an easy way to get through the day–even after he turned it down earlier in the episode!? Why the sudden shift!? Surely Brody, a man who survived torture for years at the hands of terrorists, would not succumb so easily to chasing the dragon. Suffice to say, the failure to kill Brody off in Season 1 has forced them to create more and more ridiculous scenarios for him to suffer through.
*I must point out also, courtesy of our buddy G-Ross, how horrible the line the Imam says to Brody is: “You are not a Muslim, you are a terrorist.” How devastating it must be for Brody to hear that! I wonder if that will be the kick in the butt he needs to clear his name!
Thankfully, Dana was also conspicuously absent from this episode. After setting her up as an apparent major part of the story through the first two weeks, why go cold turkey on her? Instead I’m sure the writers were jerking off to the parallels these star-crossed lovers were going through. Scene after scene cut between images of Carrie’s face and Brody’s. Dear God could you make it any more obvious? We get it, they’re both struggling right now. They’re both trapped in metaphorical cages.
I want to finish by asking the same question: what is this show about? I don’t want to watch the Carrie-Brody emotional roller coaster anymore. It was fine when it served as color to the larger terrorist conspiracy story, but now it has become the centerpiece of the show. PLEASE, get back to the CIA fighting innovative bad guys and let’s call it a goddamn day.