Review of Homeland ‘The Clearing’

homeland episode 7 300x225 Review of Homeland The Clearing


SPOILERS: Do not read this if you have not seen episode 7, series 2 of ‘Homeland’

After the violent drama of last week’s episode, which injected a much-needed sense of purpose into the series with major plot developments, this weekend’s instalment of Homeland seemed purely designed to crank up the tension a couple more notches.

However, this ultimately was no bad thing. While the central storyline did not move any further along – the episode ended with the CIA essentially no closer to tracking down the gun-happy terrorists and their filing cabinet full of explosives – elsewhere some of the plot’s smaller tributaries began to join up and gather dangerous momentum.

In what seems like a deliberate reaction to last week’s action-centric episode, this week the scenes were much more character-driven. An enormous amount of the episode comprised of prolonged conversations between a revolving selection of differently paired characters, from the very beginning when Roya and Brody meet to the very end when Saul and Peter discuss the failings of their recent mission. Almost all of the major characters have an important one-on-one conversation with someone in this episode, with each tête-à-tête slowly bringing all the threads of the storyline closer together.

One of the best things about the first series was the way in which it portrayed the strain Brody was under, as he simultaneously tried to undertake a secret terrorist mission while adjusting to normal life after years of captivity and brutal torture. So far in this series, any attempts to recreate that same sort of pressure have felt a little forced, the prime example being Brody’s ludicrous and disastrous trip to the woods with the Gettysburg tailor.

However, in this week’s episode that sense of total isolation for Brody is successfully brought back with the realisation that he is essentially being exploited by all sides. The CIA only want him because he is close to Abu Nazir, who in turn is now only really using him for his connection to Vice-President Walden, who is just using Brody because he ironically makes him appear tough on terrorism and for his celebrity status as a war hero.

Perhaps the only side not attempting to use Brody for their own gains is his family, but he is increasingly unable to keep them happy and protect them as a direct result of having to juggle his other highly stressful commitments. It is refreshing to see that Brody’s switch to working for the CIA has not been used by the writers as an opportunity to dramatically make his life easier, but instead it has made things infinitely more complicated for him.

While the scenes at the prison involving Saul and Aileen are perhaps a little heavy-handed in their attempts to portray the harshness of the American penal system, in particular the inclusion of the rather clichéd ‘sadistic prison warden’, the fluctuation in emotion in the scenes is done very well. From the highly depressing first scene between the two, to their positively cheerful makeshift picnic, and then back to tragedy with Aileen’s suicide, the bleakness is also amplified by the sense that absolutely nothing was achieved by the whole thing.

So much was crammed into this episode, from Brody confessing to his wife about killing Tom Walker to the extremely brief resumption of his relationship with Carrie, ending abruptly when he realised just how much he was being played by her. There are even moments of comedy, admittedly quite dark ones, that include a flippant 9/11 reference and an allusion to Carrie’s fondness for jumping into bed with people at the first opportunity.

There is also a certain painfully awkward comedy to be found in the hugely insensitive questioning Brody gets about his time as a prisoner while he is poolside at the ludicrous and bizarre mansion for the fundraiser, which resembles a cross between an outbuilding at Disneyland and a Welsh golf resort.

Even the hit and run storyline involving Dana and Finn proved to develop in a more interesting way than it had previously appeared. As it is now not only driving a wedge between the Brodys and the Waldens, and highlighting their total happiness to abuse the power of their high office, but also between Dana and Brody. Finn Walden was also made to look a little better, it became clear that for him it is as much a painful and cynical understanding of the way in which the situation would play out, as it was cowardice that had prevented him from confessing earlier.

With just over a quarter of the series to go, it is clear the tension is only going to become greater and greater as the story reaches its conclusion. As long as it manages to keep all the different strands of the storyline together as effectively as in this episode, then it looks set to be a thrilling final five weeks.

You can follow the writer on Twitter: @thesportsfox

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  • bobbellinhell

    The Independent shouldn’t be giving this programme any publicity at all. It’s clearly just propaganda designed to keep up support for the war of terror.

  • creggancowboy

    Disagree amigo as I am sure Broxted would do if he were still with us. Homeland tries to portray rounded Arab characters instead of bearded fanatics. Likewise all the US parts are not gung ho handsome flawless parts. It would have worked far better if truncated by Hollywood does not understand that less is often more.

  • porkfright

    Why anyone would want to waste their precious time watching this plug for the current pathetic political status-quo is beyond me.

  • Emily Thorne

    i dunno, i’m starting to find it a bit pedestrian:kind of like terrorists R us versus good Ole military Homeland Home an Away soap opera? tragic and fairly ludicrous story of Aileen notwithstanding. eg. Would Aileen really have been left alone in that room all day to make and mend with Saul’s glasses? well i think that is how she did the deed.

    Homeland received a black mark from me last week for the completely gratuitous and unnecessary shot of young Dana in her pants. However that is pretty much, sadly, what the focus on young daughters rather than sons in dramas does seem to be for these days..

    & why the resounding and oddly inexplicable silence over the so-called “terrorists” last week who clearly weren’t terrorists but a large an well trained swat but not SWAT team in their dinky WWII style black tin helmets?

    presumably showing one of the swat but not SWAT team taking off said black tin hat to show us his European/American? appearance was meant to be the killer dramatic blow?

    Granted we have had our teachable Homeland moment that terrorists can look like Aileen. However not that many terrorists surely are trained in teams to carry out military style operations in swat look-alike gear the aim of which was to remove a large black box which looked like an updated prop from Raiders of The Lost Ark?

    My first thought was:having seen this plot subversion/surprise once before in a drama that it was a black-Ops super duper secret swoop from an equally super duper secret side of the Americans? and yet why kill all or most of the crew there? Just to avoid them seeing the dreaded box and turning into fiery skeletons a’ la Raiders of the Lost Ark?!

    cue complete plot twist and turn and serious questions asked from the CIA about who exactly is controlling/watching who? i predicted:however nothing..

    & what was/is in the box? we were meant to presume explosives however we don’t know that for sure and if they weren’t ‘terrorists’ which i doubt then they were already watching and aware of the tailor from Gettysburg..

    Wasn’t here talk of a mole in the first series???

  • Emily Thorne

    i agree-this is pretty huge for an American drama. Although the portrayal of Lebanon left a lot to be desired. Why are Arab countries always signified by the market Soukhs?! However who i s Broxted?

  • creggancowboy

    Worst blopper was Nicosia being shown as a coastal town. Dana in her pants? Wow.

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