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Review of Homeland ‘The Choice’

homeland 12 300x225 Review of Homeland The Choice

(Channel 4)

SPOILERS: Do not read this if you have not seen episode 12, series 2 of ‘Homeland’

After 11 episodes of unquestionably differing merit, this week saw series two of Homeland draw to a close. It is fair to say that, not totally surprisingly, this series has failed to completely live up to the high expectations set by series one – however there was still the feeling that with a brilliant final episode things could be redeemed and moments like Brody’s carwash shower could be expunged from memory forever.

Unfortunately in the end this week’s episode was as flawed as the rest of this series, with its good parts so heavily diluted that they lost most of their impact. Even the episode’s surprise twist, the enormous CIA-wrecking bomb, struggled to revive my interest levels, particularly as it effectively just seemed to serve as an all too convenient way of tying up a few loose ends.

Perhaps here I am being too cynical but much of the blame for that has to go to the first part of the episode, which was truly terrible and resembled some kind of weird Homeland rom-com spin-off set in Carrie’s cabin. A particular low point was the scene involving potato juggling which seemed so forced and hideously awkward that it could have passed for a date between two particularly incompatible Take Me Out contestants.

Proceedings were not helped by the terrible dialogue between the two, such as Brody’s cringe-worthy “my only plan is to be a good person again” which had you wishing Quinn would just burst in and get on with assassinating him and put us all out of our misery. In the end, after all his time spent spying through telescopes and eating what looked like tins of cat food in conveniently-located, abandoned log cabins, Quinn found a conscience and decided to spare Brody while Carrie went out to buy croissants – which perhaps surprisingly seemed to be available only five minutes drive away from their cabin in the middle of nowhere.

His facing down of Estes meant that Saul could be freed from the imprisonment that seemed to have given him an insatiable thirst for milk and appeared to set up an interesting dynamic of conflict between the three, although this turned out to be fairly pointless given the episode’s main event.

It says quite a lot about the preceding events in the episode and the series as a whole, that even a gigantic explosion, which killed hundreds of people and had huge implications for basically all of the programme’s main characters, failed to really provide the thrilling finish that the series was crying out for.

In the end the bomb just seemed like a fairly cynical way of sorting out a few tricky problems in the storyline. In one swoop those pesky Waldens, with their hit-and-run concealing, fancy fundraiser-loving ways, were killed off. So too was Estes, for conspiring to kill off the only red-headed Old Etonian in a military uniform who can match Prince Harry’s popularity levels, not to mention for daring to lock up and discredit the almighty beard Saul Berenson.

That’s not to say that there weren’t some good parts, Dana’s confrontation of Brody and subsequent discovery that he came very close to blowing up a large proportion of the American government was well done and the use of Brody’s original suicide video, which even convinced his own family of his guilt, was also a clever twist – even if it did provoke Dana into doing a startlingly good impression of Claire Danes’ signature downward-lipped fish face.

However, despite the powerful final scene with the room full of shrouded bodies and Saul, now the ‘ranking officer on site’ because in Homeland only about five people seem to actually work for the CIA, ultimately the episode was not able to totally rescue the series as a whole. Its dramatic twist was just a little bit too convenient and even the much-praised chemistry between Brody and Carrie was much less convincing when both of them were supposedly happy.

While this series has not been able to match the first, I am sure many will be now eagerly anticipating the proposed third run of episodes. If only to see how the storyline can possibly develop with so many of the original characters dead, disillusioned or exiled. 

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  • Philip Magnier

    This has been a brilliant series. It’s impossible to guess what’s going
    to happen, the acting of the principals, Brody, Cary, Saul, the CIA
    black guy, has been excellent. The intensity of many of the scenes has
    bordered on unbearable at times. It never took easy options like
    spreading out the plot twists, they just kept coming at you.

    Yes,
    there were some scenes in the episodes following Brody’s killing of the
    scared bomb manufacturer that weren’t as plausible somehow but my God
    what do you expect over a full two series?

    This is a golden age
    of American television series; they’ve taken over from cinema in the
    genre of serious drama even thrillers. Being a critic doesn’t mean you have to be overly cynical, similar to so many jaded, boring reviewers. Recognize reality, or just watch sitcoms.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jdbirch Jonathan Birch

    It is completely possible to be flawed in any line of work. Brodys flaws as a person created one of the main focal points of the show.

  • Dave Thompson

    I shan’t be watching next year.
    As I watched the series end, I realised I no longer cared who was the mole. This constant “enemy within” crud was done to death in 24, Lost etc. It’s old.
    The initial premise re Brodies’ loyalties was well done, but that’s getting silly. I wish TV series could end without milking every option until only dust comes out.

  • swanandprasad

    I am not sure if you are being sarcastic?

    I liked everything that the reviewer hated. I thought the dialogue was extremely realistic. Suddenly there are no ‘terrorists’ to chase so they revert to what most of us do. Bungle along on a first date.

    And all that mediocrity just made the explosion more terrible.

    I even liked the second series as much if not more than the first especially Carrie in Beirut market.

    My only criticism is Carrie’s spoilt teenage expressions. What the hell it didn’t spoil a good romp.

    The scenes with Dana were very clever.

    Not a patch on Spiral, Braquo etc. though.

  • John Smith

    Saul is the leak! Thats is my guess. He didnt want brody dead because they are both working for Nazeer. Also Saul was there at Nazeers burial. and Saul is just shady. I think he is the leak. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/lesley.a.stafford Lesley Stafford

    I was a little disappointed in this episode, and in several others in this second series. However I do find some of Mr Reynolds comments a little snarky. We are treated to this gem “despite the powerful final scene with the room full of shrouded bodies and Saul, now the ‘ranking officer on site’ because in Homeland only about five people seem to actually work for the CIA”. Had Mr Reynold wanted a series with a “cast of thousands”? Really? The death toll was in the hundreds and presumably included most of the agency brass, so I can’t see a problem with this. However, I too had hoped for better.

  • Emily Thorne

    OH Pleeez. I am with Charles Reynolds on this one. Quite why people feel the need to criticise the reviewer and not just say that you disagree & offer a different critique is beyond me. Don’t shoot the messenger.

    I have really enjoyed these reviews and they belong in that (very) rare category, for me, that have quite often made me laugh out loud. Mostly in recognition and agreement of that point. Plus the enjoyment of making that point deservedly comic. Plus this reviewer agrees with me about Jazz! Hey:Homeland deserves to be made fun of:it takes itself waaaay too seriously.

    It survived its overly drawn out stretching over several episodes from the wonderful original Israeli Hatifum (Prisoners of War) of one series only on the strength of some fairly wonderful and charismatic acting from Brody and Claire Danes.

    But lets face it:they were cartoonish characters, with cartoonish grimaces and facial tics. They were cartoon capers made large.

    Yes, Americans do glossy and slick Dramas so very well. The wife is always dutifully Stepford: Jess gave a whole new meaning to Stepford: scarily so. i would secretly have been relieved if Jess really had turned into a fish person from that brilliant alien/fish people invasion series set in the swamps of the American South years ago. At least that would have been interesting. It might have explained her stone faced seriousness.

    The only time Jess ever became animated was in her cringe-worthy message to the troops/wives/families speech at the fundraiser. One wondered how on earth she ever managed for 8 years. Oh but then there was Mike. Equally plastic and stereotyped.

    Jess was like somebody in an enclosed Amish community: shut off from the modern world. Oh wait, she lived in a Military milieu. Even though she didn’t live on the base i guess those social restrictions still remained. I could have sworn Jess had a job at one point?

    Anyway:i digress re the language used in the programme:the official American dialogue. This is the curse of American Drama. the ever insidious interminable and insipid and completely meaningless pyschobabble. Yes folks, it sounds good,
    it even looks good but it means absolutely nothing.

    Jess was probably the worst perpetrator:conversations between her and Brody were near unintelligible for any meaning whatsoever.

    Question:do people Really talk like that? I don’t think so. Not All. The. Time. However possibly quite a few Americans who have been subliminally or actively brainwashed into talking psychobabble for the rest of their lives. By some regular dialogue invasion of the bodysnatcher therapist.

    Psychobabble is the dark matter of dialogue and drama. It is one long interminable therapy session going nowhere. It mostly speaks in negatives:eg. “I’m not saying that I’m Not..etc. etc” If you stop to examine this dribble by way of the double negatives rule it becomes plain that it is the most patently execrable verbal garbage. Script-Writers should do and Must Do Better.

    Regarding the infamously cringeworthy potato peeling scene:of course it was meant to show us that they had no day to day conversation or even relationship. Since so far they had mainly been in bed. In, as our reviewer rightly puts it:some kind of dreadful Lovers Guide to Log Cabin Loving old Video.

    However putting all logic and reason aside: eg. whether Carrie,a vulnerable Bi-Polar sufferer who had obviously really fallen in love with their target would really have been allowed to carry on thus? Answer= apparently-all is fair in Love and the Cold-oops War on terror..

    Since nothing seems to have changed in America and the dreaded reds under the bed are now all eponymous ugly bearded official ‘Arabs like on the last video shown in this episode that they get from Arabs R us. Like for the equally eponymous market scene in supposed Beirut. ‘Cause that’s all there is in Arab countries:large markets where people ‘haggle’ geddit?

    Well:unless the terrorist is handsome and deliberately painted as sympathetic Nicholas aka Osama Bin Laden (OBL). Since what else was the uncomfortably realistic Islamic burial at sea scene other than to force those of us who hadn’t seen the Documentary on the killing of OBL and the subsequent replica reconstruction of his burial at sea-to watch said burial?

    Question:why does Islamic chanting deliberately have to sound more ‘holy’ somehow? likewise the overdone Hebrew chanting of the supercilious and sanctimonious Saul at the again enforced sight of about a hundred black bin bagged wrapped bodies back in the CIA Hall?

    The forced as in you shall watch it symbolism of 9/11 was pretty clear to see. I reject with some annoyance being forced into viewing these obvious ‘Teachable Moments’ in fully lit flashing lights.

    Yes, Nicholas was a nice handsome terrorist, like OBL, was that it? he lost his family to a drone strike. We geddit.

    Likewise Brody. it didn’t need to be rubbed in and we could have done without the bin bags and the uncomfortably realistic burial at sea. Which looked like a real live body to me, or did they get a dead one specially and shoot it full of four bullet holes? Whichever: its icky.

    For the rest of it i hate to admit that being a soppy romantic i was fully buying into the love affair=Ahhh..Well once away from the uncomfortable Maris Piper or were they King Edwards juggling in the cabin. that were never cooked..

    At least the conversations of Carrie & Brody were a touch more realistic and lively than those of Brody and Jess? Whose interchanges resembled a flat-lining heart monitor a little like Walden’s Thunderbirds Are Go set-up in the basement..

    However overall Homeland, as mentioned as far as women go seems oddly set in the 1950’s:or is that just America today?

    Yes:supposedly Carrie had an important high-flying job yet she didn’t, did she? She was just being pimped out for The Greater Good.

    Then, much like the women in American Vampire Dramas, Jess & family were treated like medieval chattel and officially handed over by a jolly chat in a bar over a beer to Mike by Brody!

    The whole earlier plot with Brody, his improbably stored suicide vest in his cupboard and his praying in the garage rested on the extremely unlikely idea in
    this day and age: that good stepford wifey never went into his ‘man places’, you know, like the British shed.

    The fact that Carrie, as an agent, was a woman at all was only so that the audience could perve on her generally: twitching naked but for a hospital gown in faux-orgasmic pain. (Likewise Dana, albeit to a lesser, more surreptitious degree) Nice one.

    Offensive to both women And sufferers of Bi-Polar disorder whose illness was coopted just for this purpose and to further fully stereotype Carrie as an official weepy hysterical woman. Whilst absolving themselves from this via the disorder. Well thats OK then..

    Oh and don’t forget the umpteen shag-athons :both maximised aural and visual in which poor Jess had to partake too. That was the essence of first Jess then Carrie’s roles.

    As far as Saul goes i agree with the other posters:although its hard to care any more about the ‘mole’ I have long suspected Saul and particularly since his shady ‘here borrow my glasses’ visit to oh so quickly dispatched Aileen.

    Mostly i just find Saul severely annoying due to his whole caring sharing persona coupled with the full on righteousness of his religion thrown in..The deliberate coupling or mirroring of these two religions in Homeland is irksome in the extreme.

    No, we don’t need the official ‘Balance’, thanks..

    Nb. I will miss the delectable ever hands on hips whilst angry & unaccountably shouting with the most endearing Spock-like ears:Estes=boo hoo..

  • Emily Thorne

    good point:i agree, i was still all along kind of hoping that he was not just a double agent but a triple one..it would have had more dramatic punch than his:
    “Goodbye love” at the shadowy Canadian border..

  • Emily Thorne

    killer line of this episode:
    “Is there anything else I can help you with?”
    Brody, ever so solicitously, to Mrs. Walden at the memorial service..

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