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Review of Homeland ‘Broken Hearts’

Homeland episode 10.11 300x216 Review of Homeland Broken Hearts

(Channel 4)

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: @thesportsfox

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  • Jean des Esseintes

    But as it says in that article “an attacker would need to be in close physical proximity to the victim” not miles away…

  • yellowbenzene

    also, pacemakers wirelessy transmit a standard 3-lead ECG trace, blood pressure and respiratory rate!

  • Dan

    You’re right. I guess they could have told him.

  • Emily Thorne

    May i say-what a wonderful and funny review this week: i actually laughed out loud at the line about jazz! =hilarious:)
    thank goodness somebody else feels about that hideous jazz as i do, i too felt something dreadful was going to happen as soon as that irksome noise wafted out from the radio..

    agree that it was an absolutely ludicrous episode however no more ludicrous than they have been..only that it is increasingly tiresome the more shouty the delectable and wonderfully Spock-eared Estes gets and hardly credible either. Not that any of that seems to matter.

    Myself i found the officially Arab guy in the basement with the ancient computer screen more Maxwell Smart than sinister. However it was it’s very ordinariness that was creepy;the banality of evil and all that.

    The dying scene with Walden was faintly cartoonish which only matches the increasingly comic-book cartoonish grotesquery level reached by Brody’s face when he is officially 007-ing or would that be ish…:)

    p.s agreed about Abu Nazir’s rant:can one be guilty of unfairly stereotyping an evil terrorist or certainly his official terrorist rant? Yes. it seems Homeland can..

    & furthermore: i award this one the gold star of silently invoked recriminations voiced at the screen as Carrie does yet another thing that seems both unreasonable and unwise: eg. go back into the (industrial estate) terrorist;’s lair into which she had been ensconced and minimally tortured more like tickled a bit with fan shaped bandages tied in her mouth.

    Yep;Carrie takes all her time and trouble to return there after running down the middle of the road and narrowly avoiding not being run over by a passing car which she shouts at to stop and declares them a***holes for not doing so .

    Yes, how very dare they? Don’t they know that they’re now in an action movie and urgent orchestral music could be played any time now? the time for delightful jazz being long passed..
    (in fact as mentioned by our reviewer this is clearly what happens when you play Jazz-the dark anti-matter of music)

    meanwhile Sarah, i mean Carrie has done a Lund and been swallowed up into the bleak darkness of the already dangerously clanking warehouse, sans torch or even gun..

    & what are they doing with jolly avuncular Saul? whose Uncle-ish charm for once did not work on the mighty hit-man Quinn’s ex-wife last week?
    did Duran Duran bearded man, Saul’s alter-ego in Black Ops reach that far?

  • Emily Thorne

    Oh pleeez: do you really think well bred terrorists rant and rage about “organic food”. Like it keeps them up at night? That was this reviewer’s point. It was terrorist by numbers and a very poor picture at that…

  • Emily Thorne

    i think you have missed the point:since that was our reviewer’s very , um, point?…

  • Melville2010

    Our Jurno From The Twitisphere writes:

    “However casting this aside [the doubts] and suspending a substantial amount of disbelief Homeland is nevertheless building up to an exciting and action-packed crescendo” er no it is building to a – CLIMAX! NOT a Cre—sen—-do – a cresendo can go on for ever! Which is precisely what we don’t want!

    NB if you are going to use musical terminology there are ones more appropriate like DE-cresendo and the interrupted (Carrie-Brody) cadence (get it?) Boom Boom.

  • Emily Thorne

    it can only be a crescendo when there is another series to follow:D’oh..

  • Melville2010

    Yes just like Colby’s following Dallas….

  • Emily Thorne

    it was the same warehouse that Carrie was ensconced in that she returned to wasn’t it?


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