Wednesday, 2 November 2011

HOMELAND, 1.5 - "Blind Spot"

Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Recently reviewed for a second season by Showtime, Homeland continues to deliver fascinating and intelligent drama, and "Blind Spot" is my favourite episode yet. In this hour we learned far more about Saul (Mandy Patinkin), including the fact he's married to an Indian lady he rarely finds time for because of his work commitments, but also came to realize he's now a huge disappointment to Carrie (Claire Danes), who idolizes Saul but is frustrated he doesn't share her conviction that Nick Brody's (Damian Lewis) a sleeper agent.

The centerpiece of this episode was the unexpected capture of a Syrian guard from the Iraqi compound Nick was rescued from, and his transportation to the US for interrogation. This delivered some captivating scenes, as Nick was brought in to assist Carrie and Saul with their interrogation, by feeding Saul information into an earpiece that would give the illusion that US intelligence are omniscient and any attempts to stonewall them are pointless. It was great to see Nick and Carrie together again after their brief meeting last week (notice how he brightens when he sees her), and the show is surely leading towards them having an intimate relationship.

Nick's memories of his eight-year torture (which included being beaten with a barbed stick and pissed on), were quite understandably awoken by the guard's return, but the story dealt us a curveball later in the episode when Nick was allowed to sit across from his torturer to gloat about their reversal of fortune. Shortly after Nick's tense visit, which turned violent, the guard managed to commit suicide with a razor blade—which Carrie suspects Nick passed to his guard during their scuffle.

It's astonishing to think Nick may have been brainwashed to such an extent that he's prepared to help the man who beat him for years, but the show is still keeping elements of doubt in play. It's still possible Nick could be absolved of being "flipped", although he's definitely converted to Islam for whatever reason, but I'll be disappointed if that's the case. Then again, it could be a very effective twist if handled properly. Is it possible Saul could be the real villain here?

Carrie was also given some extra depth through her family connections. She visited her irritable father (James Rebhorn), who suffers from the bipolar disorder she's secretly taking medication to control in herself, and it was clearer than ever that Carrie's biggest source of comfort is her sister and nieces. After a cataclysmic argument with Saul over how best to proceed, which in the heat of the moment may have led to her being fired, she showed an unexpected amount of vulnerability by running to her sister's house for reassuring words of support. It looks like we're being allowed to see how high Carrie's emotions can get under stress, and perhaps a sign of how quickly she can fall apart. The fact her character takes medication hasn't been included on a whim, so I'm sure there will come a time where Carrie's access to drugs is denied and she's forced to continue as best she can.

Overall, this was a wonderful hour of television. I'm enjoying how Homeland be the story of a POW-turned-terrorist, or equally the breakdown of a gifted CIA operative who just can't shake the suspicion a war hero may have been flipped by the enemy. It seems like such a narrow idea on paper, but the writers are finding some very interesting ways to explore it. The only thing that's a concern to me is how long they'll keep us guessing about Nick's allegiance.

It may become tiresome if they keep his loyalty indefinite (where he never says or does anything to label him a turncoat), but if they don't it's hard to see why the CIA can't swoop in and arrest him before he has a chance to commit a terrorist act. Surely the next move has to be Nick discovering the CIA are onto him, and finding a way to make himself look completely innocent in their eyes.


  • Morena Baccarin really suits cropped hair, doesn't she. Maybe she realized this during filming on V. It somehow makes her look more mature, and I appreciated how her decision to change her hairstyle reflected how she looked when her marriage was stronger before Nick's capture.
  • I liked the scene where Brody caught his son praying in his bedroom, considering how their faiths are now very different.
  • Homeland's wisely avoiding making all Middle Eastern characters into the de facto villains. The Saudi prince was cleared of all wrongdoing a few weeks ago, and now Saul's married to an Indian woman called Mira. There's a feeling shows of this nature are partly responsible for promoting unease about Middle Eastern cultures and the Islamic religion, but Homeland has a more balanced approach than most. Obviously it trades on post-9/11 fears that are still around, and whenever Nick's seen praying in a foreign tongue I can't deny there's something unnerving about those scenes, but I'm glad it's not full of xenophobic stereotypes.
written by Alexander Cary / directed by Clark Johnson / 30 October 2011 / Showtime