Review of Homeland ‘Broken Hearts’
SPOILERS: Do not read this if you have not seen episode 10, series 2 of ‘Homeland’
While Homeland has never been a series that relied on a high degree of realism, this week’s episode really pushed the boundaries of incredulity and surely put an end to the pretensions its creators seem to have about it being a subtle, thought-provoking drama.
That’s not to say that its rapidly spiralling out of control, all-action plotline was not enjoyable, but it did seemingly come at the cost of the more human elements of the series, which had helped stand it apart from the huge multitude of other comparable programmes.
This week’s episode required such a huge suspension of disbelief from the viewer, from the first scene to the last, that by the end of the hour it felt as if anything could happen next and it wouldn’t be that surprising (and not in a good way).
Things were on dodgy ground from the moment that Saul met fellow super-spy Dar Adal who revealed that despite living a life so secretive it requires him to change address every two weeks and have his meetings on a bus, he always eats waffles at the same place every Tuesday. However, to be honest this oversight barely registers on the disbelief-suspension scales in comparison to other parts of the episode.
While it was clear that Carrie was going to be in trouble as soon as she switched her car radio to that well known portent of doom: jazz music, her kidnapping by possibly the world’s most wanted man in broad daylight was nevertheless fairly preposterous. Then again so were various other elements of the episode, like the CIA’s decision to mysteriously no longer bother to tap Brody’s phone, allowing him to video call Abu Nazir to his heart’s content or the apparent complete lack of meaningful security in the Vice-President’s house.
It says a lot about the realism of the episode that the eventual killing of Vice-President Walden via remote manipulation of his pacemaker was one of the more believable parts – and this is coming from someone who has a greater understanding of how such devices work than they would like to.
While the whole thing was basically impossible, unless Nazir’s technologically-minded minion happened to be hiding in a very nearby cupboard, it still seemed more plausible than the miraculous recovery of CIA operative Galvez who only a couple of episodes before was supposedly riddled with bullets and clinging to life.
Even the long scene between Carrie and Abu Nazir, presumably meant to be the profound heart of the episode that would lend some gravitas to the rest of proceedings, bordered on the ridiculous. The attempt to compare Carrie’s very brief time as Nazir’s prisoner to Brody’s seven years in Afghanistan through her refusal of the water bottle was clunky at best although the encounter was primarily let down by the pair’s dialogue which at times bordered on the bizarre.
Carrie’s attempt to threaten an Islamic fundamentalist, who series one would suggest already has a penchant for suicide bombing, with the line “You’re never going to leave this country alive,” seemed fairly redundant. However, this is nothing compared to Abu Nazir’s rant about the subjectivity of the word terrorist and the evils of the West, which despite its highbrow philosophical pretensions was a mixture of the surreal and the comic – my particular highlight being his rage at ‘organic food’.
In between all this there was still time for Dana to steal the show, taking her surly sarcasm to all new levels and delivering possibly the line of the series when quizzed about what she’s doing in the CIA safehouse: “My dad is like a super-spy and terrorists want to kill him or some shit, I don’t know,” – her total disinterest in the rapidly escalating and chaotic situation outside her protected compound ironically beginning to match that of many of viewers.
Fans of the lesser-used Brody child, Chris, were also in for a treat this week as the eager little scamp blagged his way into several scenes – even managing a bit of one-on-one screen time with his father. In fact, he possibly even got a mention in the episode’s title, ‘Broken Hearts’, which could refer to his unfinished game of cards with Brody as well as the pacemaker induced death of the vice-president.
While undoubtedly it is easy to be cynical about the lack of realism in this episode’s storyline, this is mainly because the programme has so far attempted to portray itself as having a deeper underlying message, something which is at odds with this week’s rather tenuous action-driven plot direction.
However casting this aside and suspending a substantial amount of disbelief Homeland is nevertheless building up to an exciting and action-packed crescendo, which will undoubtedly be gripping, it’s only problem is it’s just not as profound as its writers think it is.
You can follow the writer on Twitter: @thesportsfoxTagged in: Brody, Carrie, CIA, claire danes, Damian Lewis, homeland, Rupert Friend
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