As we inch closer to the season finale of arguably the best show on television this fall, Homeland slows down to do some final character work and ramp up the tension in a few key scenes. We’re no close to finding Tom Walker (Chris Chalk), but there were nevertheless big developments for both Carrie (Claire Danes) and Brody (Damian Lewis) in ‘Representative Brody.’
Let’s break it down…For me the interest level in the two lead stories swapped this week. Last week’s examination of Brody’s time in captivity was engrossing and emotional. Each time we turned back to Carrie, however, I found myself a little bored. This week it was Brody’s story that felt cursory, while Carrie’s built throughout the hour to deliver an explosive conclusion.
Let’s talk about the bomb, shall we? In what was one of the slower paced episodes of the series thus far, it was a big shot of adrenaline to blow up a character we’d spent the majority of the episode questioning. And so, goodbye Saudi diplomat Al Zahrani, who came in, got outed and blackmailed, and was then distributed like so much fish food into a Washington fountain. As much as I gush about the performances on this show (because they totally deserve it), this was an expertly directly climatic scene by Guy Ferland. I found it strangely reminiscent of the final scene of The Walking Dead last week. An explosion that nearly takes out a protagonist is nothing new, but watching Carrie’s confidence slowly transform from in control to concern and finally to panic was genuinely thrilling. When the briefcase bomb exploded (literally blowing her backwards), I got shivers…not from fear that she might actually be injured (what am I? New to television?), but because of Saul’s (Mandy Patinkin) urgent calls for her and Virgil (David Marciano) running towards the crime scene. And all of it in muted buzzing white noise to ensure we remain tied to Carrie’s point of view.
It was another difficult week for Carrie. She was rebuffed by Brody and had to resort to threatening Zahrani’s daughter with deportation, obesity and a lifetime of burka wearing. Not exactly a banner moment for her, though she had to do something to get the diplomat back to the bargaining table after he proudly declared that he loved cock and didn’t care who she told (as Saul observed early on: Naughty!). Of course in the end the expertly manipulated ‘interrogation’ scene by Carrie and Saul was all for naught: the myserious spy in the bureau struck again to warn Tom about the CIA patrolled meeting at the fountain and all they got was crispy Saudi.
Brody, meanwhile, was on damage control in the wake of the VP’s (Jamey Sheridan) visit. The “previously on…” opener reminded us that Brody was told by Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban) to agree to the VP’s offer to run for Congress, so he spent the episode working on Jess (Morena Baccarin), and ensuring that Carrie had kept their sexy weekend to herself. I was particularly fond of Jess’ reaction to Brody’s recruitment of Mike (Diego Klattenhoff) as an advocate for his decision. Incestuous indeed. The ease with which Brody played Mike (on a basketball court, no less!) was a further demonstration that Brody’s far more manipulative than people give him credit for. Remember the fragile, broken man we witnessed crouched against the wall all day back in the pilot episode? That man is long gone now.
It seems that politics will suit him, after all.
- I’ve been tough on Saul’s storyline with his absent wife in the past, but I appreciated his inclusion in the Miles Davis montage that demonstrated how alone he, Carrie and Brody truly are. Watching Saul pick out dinner from a fridge full of condiments and eat it with a ruler in his office could have been cheesy and manipulative. Instead it felt well-earned and low-key. Another clear example of how this show isn’t afraid to simply let scenes and actors go without fear of losing the audience or pandering to us.
- Although I praised the explosive finale, the interrogation scene – set in the stark upper echelons of Zahrani’s bank – was a masterful cat and mouse game that kept me transfixed. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: Claire Danes is the lady to beat come Awards season. Mark my words…
- Jess’ casual mention that Dana thinks she’s a lesbian because she’s not attracted to the boys at school? Oh barf. Call Juliet from Ringer and set up the international boarding school.
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