I’ve been dreading this blog ever since around episode five (Blind Spot) when Homeland suddenly got really, really good. I knew then that this show was going to take off and my in-flight meal would be crow, lots of it.You see in a previous blog I called the first two episodes of the show lukewarm and predictable; now after the show’s inaugural season finale I should make good on my promise to allow Donald Rumsfeld to waterboard me if it turned itself around…
Just pluck the feathers and tell Donald not to get any up my nose.
Homeland can now boast three Golden Globe nominations: Best Actor for Damion Lewis (who will probably lose to Bryan Cranston, I think he’s due), Best Actress for Claire Danes (who should be a shoe-in), and the big one, Best Drama Series (which should be awarded to Game of Thrones).
The second best part of this show is Claire Danes. On the heels of another great performance in the HBO TV movie Temple Grandin, for which she rightfully won a Golden Globe, Danes has moved seamlessly from an inspiring autistic cow whisperer to a bipolar CIA analyst. The writers put her character through the ringer, especially at the end, where we can see every bit of frustration and ill communication coming through Danes’ character as she looks for someone to believe her. Betrayals come from all sides, even from those she thought to be friends. Magnificent work embellishing these manic emotions by Danes.
And here’s how they did it: After Carrie (Danes) starts sleeping with suspected-only-by-her terrorist Sgt. Brody (Lewis); she is soon forced to come clean about her suspicions to him. He is dutifully flabbergasted, and we are thrown for a loop when we find out that Tom Walker (Chris Chalk), Brody’s POW buddy who he thought he killed is actually alive. He was turned by Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban).
As the CIA starts to close in on Walker, he creates an explosion killing their only lead to him and Nazir. This explosion also incites Carrie’s manic side, exposing her mental disorder and jeopardizing her security clearance. Still focused, she recreates a timeline for Nazir and discovers an 18-month lull that she correctly theorizes to be due to a tragedy in Nazir’s life.
We learn that a drone attack ordered by the Vice President (Jamey Sheridan) killed Nazir’s young son Isa. Through flashbacks we learn that Brody was there, teaching him English. Brody had grown very fond of the boy, hence motivation. Brody subsequently accepts an invitation by the Vice President to run for Congress.
On a family trip to Gettysburg Brody gets himself fitted for a bomb vest. He is to be there when the Vice President announces his presidential candidacy. Meanwhile Saul (Mandy Patinkin) tracks down the drone attack and learns of Nazir’s son. Carrie finally loses it completely by calling Brody and asking him about Nazir. Brody calls the CIA, and Carrie is summarily dismissed.
At the press conference, Walker and his sniper rifle take a few shots, forcing everyone, including Brody and his special vest to seek shelter in close closed quarters. Carrie’s downward spiral hits rock bottom as she goes to Brody’s house and beseeches his daughter to call him and tell him to not go through with it. She calls the cops instead, and Carrie is hauled off.
Brody hits the switch, but it doesn’t work. He fixes it and before he can hit it again his daughter calls, very worried. He promises her to come home, the threat outside is cleared, and everyone exits. Later Brody meets with Walker and kills him for real to prove his continued loyalty. Carrie voluntarily undergoes shock therapy, but just as the anesthesia takes effect, she recalls Brody waking from a nightmare calling “Isa!! ISA!!!.”
I love how this worked out. We now know that Brody possesses the resolve for heinous acts but is just as capable of redemption. Whether or not Carrie remembers Brody calling for Nazir’s dead son after her shock therapy is a question that will needle me until next season. My sympathy for the terrorist Nazir is complicated; a dark and vengeful part of me hoped that Brody would succeed.
That is the best part of this show, the part which forces us to examine our own culpability in the creation of terrorists, beyond warped religious ideology.