Wednesday, 31 October 2012

HOMELAND, 2.5 – 'Q&A'

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

written by Henry Bromell / directed by Lesli Linka Glatter

Homeland has the curious ability to appear very unpredictable in the moment, while in retrospect things seem almost inevitable. This season's direction and pace has astonished almost everyone who's been watching, and yet "Q&A" took a path many people predicted it would last week... although that's not necessarily a bad thing.

"Q&A" was a very straightforward episode with a sharp focus on Brody (Damien Lewis) being interrogated by the CIA over his involvement in Abu Nazi's US terrorist cell—hinging on his video-taped confession to the planned murder of Vice-President Walden six months ago. This inevitably meant the whole episode was an actor's dream for both Lewis (as the interrogated) and Claire Danes (as Carrie the interrogator). Both are Emmy-winning actors for this show already, I'd be surprised if they don't submit this episode to the voters next year. Lewis was particularly impressive as Brody: starting off defensive, becoming deceitful, before ultimately having a psychological weight lifted thanks to Carrie's "good cop" performance after Quinn (Rupert Friend) took the Jack Bauer-style approach of ramming a knife through Brody's hand in frustration.

You can't really write about this episode without reiterating the fact it was a tour de force of acting, and Henry Bromell's script did an impressive job of bringing this chapter of Brody's story to a close... while simultaneously setting up major changes for the rest of the season. Now that Brody's been "de-programed" (fully?) and has accepted the CIA's olive branch of a peaceful existence if he'll help them catch Nazir, the rest of the season will perhaps become more of a typical spy drama with Brody as a double-agent. It remains to be seen if this will be as fascinating as the psychological study of a US marine turned against his own country by the enemy, but I strongly doubt it will terrible. I guess it's feasible Homeland could now continue into a third season with Damien Lewis involved, although I still think that would be unwise... but if I'm proven very wrong, fine.

As respite from the Brody/Carrie tension and drama, we had the rather strange situation with Dana (Morgan Saylor) going on a late-night drive with the VP's teenage son and, while evading their Secret Service chaperon, becoming involved in a hit-and-run incident with a black lady. It was certainly a surprise and a decent way to add an extra flavour to this teenage love story, but I'm still a little puzzled by this whole storyline. In some ways it feels like the writers are simply acknowledging they've found a great young actress in Saylor and want to give her something to do, but I'm just not clear what that is. It's obviously important her young boyfriend's the Veep's son and a colleague of her father's, so I can only assume those two worlds are going to collide over this matter. Perhaps the political ambitions of Walden and Brody will be dealt a lethal blow when their children's road crime is revealed? If the woman dies, it's manslaughter. Mind you, wouldn't the Secret Service people be able to piece together what happened afterwards?

Anyway, back to the more pressing concerns with Brody/Carrie, and Homeland's definitely started its second movement this season. I'm not completely sold on the idea that years of programming by Al Qaeda operatives can be undone in a day, so maybe there's a chance Brody's just going along with whatever Carrie's offering because the alternative is worse? I wouldn't be surprised if a twist is coming where Brody tells Abu Nazir that the CIA think he's a double-agent, so he can feed them erroneous information. But accepting that Brody's been brought back from the dark side, it opens up the potential for a more standardised but enjoyable show where Carrie's effectively Brody's handler and helping Saul (Mandy Patinkin) bring down Abu Nazir from within his own network. Either option has its pro's and con's, so it'll be interesting to see which one gets chosen. I just wonder if Brody will ever tell his wife Jess (Morena Baccarin) the whole truth, or just what she can handle.

28 October 2012 / Showtime