Sunday, October 21, 2012

TV Review: Homeland 2x03: "State of Independence"

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ML- There is so much good about this season of Homeland, it literally hurts to point out the scattered flaws. This week, I'd say 75% of the episode was near-perfection. Claire Danes, Morena Baccarin and Mandy Patinkin all were flawless and had story lines worthy of their credentials. It was the stuff given to Damian Lewis that made me hesitate to label this episode as highly as TV critics out there.

To recap, Roya called Brody and told him the Gettysburg bomb maker who created "The Vest" would soon be the subject of government focus and needed to be coerced into escaping to a safe house. Brody was the only man applicable for the job because the tailor apparently trusted him more than anyone else.

I call B.S. on this. Brody and the tailor met once, as far as we know, so he could get the vest. Wouldn't the tailor be a little skeptical of Brody not actually following through in blowing himself up? Weren't there other Nazir contacts who could escape to Gettysburg, especially ones who were less high-profile than a Congressman expected at a fundraiser that night? Either this was a terrible stretch of our suspension of disbelief on the part of the writers, or Roya is not to be trusted. If that's the case, bravo, this episode could end up being perfection. Maybe she knew how crazy it was and wanted Brody to take the fall? That's the only way to justify the logic behind sending Brody through a wild goose chase in the woods.

The scene where he killed the tailor was also ridiculous. Did he have to answer his phone? Couldn't he have let Jess go to voicemail while he dealt with the injured man rather than answer it right next to him and force his hand into snapping necks? Just doesn't add up for me.

The tagline for this season of Boardwalk Empire has been "You can't be half a gangster", and I think a similar idea applies to Brody. Brody can't be half a terrorist. He needs to fully submit himself to the will of Nazir and be willing to drop everything at any cost for the man. I'd say he's close, but his problem is his family. Unfortunately, he can't be half a family man, either. Eventually, something has got to give and he will need to choose. Until then, I hope we aren't subjected to more bad writing.

Everything about the episode was top notch. The Saul scenes in the beginning and end were spectacular. Of course Saul was smart enough to hide the chip! It would have been much funnier if he hid it in his beard. When he showed it to Carrie, the acting by the two of them was show-stopping. Danes killed it throughout the whole episode, especially in the long, wordless scene where she took the pills and crawled into bed to die. It proves that even though the dialogue in this show is top-notch and the actors' delivery is equally so, they can convey just as much emotion with the light of their eyes.

Another pleasant surprise was Jess, who salvaged her fundraiser from becoming a career-ending blunder for her husband into a call for better psychological support for families of veterans. It was a call to the masses, but subtextually a cry for help. Baccarin played the moment with grace, even the awkward joke about car trouble in the beginning, and made an extremely unlikable character very endearing. Her scene with Mike was well-placed, I thought. These two were days away from moving in together and Brody's return forced them apart, it's no stretch that residual feelings exist. When she finally told off Brody in the house, I cheered, perhaps because I was so angry at his story line, but more likely because it paints him further into a corner.

I have literally no idea where this show goes from here. We see in the preview Carrie and Saul briefing Estes on the tape. So the CIA knows. There goes Brody's chance at a political career. Do they try turning him into a triple-agent of sorts to take down Nazir? If so, how will Brody be able to fit another personality into his wheelhouse? A Hawthorne quote featured in an episode of The Sopranos speaks to his condition: "No man can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude without finally getting bewildered as to which may be true."

Episode Grade: A-
Episode MVP: Claire Danes & Morena Baccarin
Original Airdate: 10/14/2012

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