Review: 'Homeland' - 'Clean Skin': Let's get a taco
A review of tonight's "Homeland" coming up just as soon as I torpedo your briefing...
"Me? No, I'm never done." -Carrie
Howard Gordon spent a whole lot of time working on "24," a show that allegedly told a single story over a whole season, but that really found ways to cobble together two or three long arcs per year and pretend that they were all part of the same story. "Homeland" doesn't have as many hours to fill, and it can't as easily deviate away from Carrie's obsession with Brody. But the last couple of episodes have done a good job of populating the world with other characters and stories we should be paying attention to, even as the main event is still the unstable analyst versus the cracked Marine.
Not only did we get two episodes of Carrie trying and failing to keep her asset safe, but the episode's end suggests that Nazir may have an entirely different plan afoot than something involving Brody - or else that the plan is significantly more complicated than just putting Brody in position to martyr himself in a very public, deadly fashion. Those scenes were all appropriately tense, even as it became abundantly clear that Lynne wasn't going to survive the hour - all those mentions of her non-existent security detail, and Carrie's concern about her lack of protection were like Chekhov's Absence of Gun - and now we've ended two out of three episodes with potential terrorists ominously looking at potential targets (first Brody with the Capitol, then the new homeowners studying the flightpath above their house).
Still, Brody and Carrie are the drawing cards, and both Damian Lewis had some great, squirm-inducing material to play this week.
Regardless of what we believe about Brody's loyalties, it's not hard to see that Jessica is in an awful situation. She had made peace with his presumed death, understandably moved on to another guy, and then Brody parachutes back into her life, the same and yet not. She's been doing all the parenting for eight years, and suddenly he gets to be the hero with Dana and share jokes and laugh about a "video called YouTube" with her. And that's not even factoring in the bedroom. In the pilot, there was that ugly, violent sex scene. Last week, Brody attacked her in mid-nightmare. And tonight, after giving it yet another try, Jessica was rewarded by being the mortifying subject of an in-person stroke fantasy.(*) There are pay cable shows that insert sex scenes just for the prurient value, and/or because it's expected, but "Homeland" is using these kinds of scenes to really illuminate character, showing the dark place Brody is and making Jessica more sympathetic in the process. (Some fine work by Morena Baccarin throughout this episode, in fact.)
(*) Note how Carrie keeps trying to look away from this stuff, but is drawn back, in part because Brody's sex life is one of the rare times where he's completely unguarded and she gets to see who and what he's become. But I also liked the conversation between Carrie and Virgil about Jessica and Mike's conversation. Virgil thinks it's important, but Carrie compares it to watching a reality show - which is what this whole thing is, but with vastly higher stakes. Brody's sex life matters to her; Jessica's doesn't unless it involves Brody.
Carrie has to split her attention between Brody and Lynne, and also deal with ongoing emotional fallout from Saul over her decision to set up the Brody surveillance without telling him first. (And Mandy Patinkin was predictably great in the scene where Saul tells her off.) But Brody's not giving her anything in the moment - and she gets a 50-ton weight of guilt dropped on her when Lynne is made and murdered.
This is a messy business they're in, and we're only 3 hours into the season. Can't wait to see what happens next.
What did everybody else think? How do you think Lawrence O'Donnell did playing himself?