Wednesday, 17 October 2012

HOMELAND, 2.3 - 'State of Independence'

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

written by Alexander Cary / directed by Lodge Kerrigan

I loved how this episode began: teasing us with Saul (Mandy Patinkin) having Brody's (Damian Lewis) confession confiscated by airport customs official. It was something I didn't predict might happen last week, which was reason alone to believe this was the direction things would take (Saul knowing Brody's a traitor but without the evidence), but I was pleased this was a tongue-in-cheek deception. Saul's too clever for that to happen, so presumably hid a useless SD card for customs to find in his diplomatic briefcase, with the incriminating video concealed somewhere less obvious...

"State of Independence" kept the situation with Saul simmering in the background as he flew back to the US, with the story instead split between Brody and Carrie (Claire Danes). It was the night of the fundraiser organised by Jessica (Morena Baccarin), with the Veep in attendance and Brody due to make the keynote speech—but Brody was instead called away by handler Roya (Zuleikha Robinson) to Gettysburg, under orders to get the tailor who made his suicide vest to safety before the CIA swoop on his location using intel Carrie obtained in Beirut.

You have to accept that Abu Nazir apparently has so few American devotees that a major asset like Brody (a man in sight of the Oval Office) would be risked on a mission like this, but I'm just about willing to go with it. Homeland's definitely started its sophomore season with contrivances and stupid moments designed to push the story along, but the show gets away with it... just. It helped that watching Brody's day get progressively worse was so entertaining—first with a flat tyre preventing him making it back to D.C for his speech, then with the suspicious tailor sustaining a life-threatening injury while trying to escape Brody's escort. Things became so exasperating when Brody had to calm the injured tailor with his wife on the phone that you half understood why he snapped the tailor's neck, rather than continue his thankless task to get the man to safety.

Carrie's story was less prominent than Brody's, but Claire Danes was typically excellent at portraying her character's hope for a perfect end to her time in Beirut. Invited to the George Bush Center for Intelligence (no laughing) for a debrief on the overseas mission, poor Carrie had privately convinced herself that Estes (David Harewood) would reinstate her as an agent because of her success and professionalism... but she was only there to be given a private pat on the back, with the debrief held without her active involvement.

I'm glad the show isn't waving a magic wand to get Carrie back working with the agency, though; although it's something I imagine will happen at some point. Somehow. You surely can't have a show like Homeland with a leading character as a bipolar civilian, can you? Maybe the show will have to stretch logic to get Carrie back in the Agency, but I'd be okay with that. Anyway, Danes again proved herself one of the best TV actresses around; particularly in the scenes where she returned home dejected, decided to hit town in a sexy cocktail dress, thought better of it (she has nowhere to go or anyone to go with) and attempted suicide by taking an overdose, only to come to her senses and vomit the lethal concoction down the toilet. It was actually quite shocking to realise just how badly Carrie needs her job back, to give her life a purpose, if she was prepared to kill herself rather than live another day as a civilian.

Morena Baccarin often feels like the forgotten presence on Homeland, because the other characters are more entwined with the exciting aspects of the show's espionage backbone, but this episode gave her plenty of chances to shine as Jessica. In particular, her decision to replace Brody at the fundraiser, giving a heartfelt speech about families coping with the return of prisoners of war, was really nice done. I also quite liked the suggestion that Mike (Diego Klattenhoff), Brody's best-friend she was beginning a relationship with before her missing husband was found, could be a bigger part of things in the future—now he's been told Brody slept with someone else one weekend, which was all the permission he needed to stow his guilt and start pursuing Jess again. Who knows where it might have led if Brody hadn't returned home, interrupting his nightcap...

Overall, this episode presented us with a very bad day both Brody and Carrie—although it's going to get even worse for Brody now Saul's home and has immediate shown Carrie's his taped confession. The relief on Carrie's face felt so cathartic after everything she's been through (disbelieved and mistreated by her colleagues), and I'm still very excited to see where Homeland's going to take this storyline. I still think the CIA won't blow the lid on Brody, but instead use him to secretly investigate Abu Nazir and his terrorist network. I just hope the show doesn't lose too much if Brody's going to be put on an invisible leash for the remainder of this season.

14 October 2012 / Showtime