Tag Archives: Carrie Mathison

Homeland “Good Night” Review (3×10)

2 Dec

Homeland-Good-NightI like how simple this episode is. It isn’t trying to do too much; it’s just a straightforward spy/suspense story, and while it obviously isn’t perfect, it strikes a nice balance between the character moments and the (still implausible but entertaining) operation. Homeland’s strength is taking us through these specific set pieces, a la The Weekend and Q&A.

Anyway–and I’ve said this ever since the inception of the storyline–this Brody arc is really implausible. So what, he’s just going to traipse into Iran with no plan and just kill the head of the Revolutionary Guard? Sounds fun. When Brody’s car essentially gets sliced in half, we don’t expect him to survive, but we do because we know he won’t die here (if that makes a lick of sense). Also–and this will be my final gripe about this–I find his quick turnaround into the badass Marine again a bit contrived.

Of course, the show’s yet again found some way to make this entertaining. The whole shootout sequence is very well shot for a nighttime scene, and when the episode strays away from the operation, there isn’t any forced political intrigue by way of an evil Senator Lockhart; although there’s a tension simmering between everyone, their actions here seem realistic and the interactions don’t seem all that meandering.

As for Carrie, I do think the Brody-Carrie stuff does have some good aspects, save for of course that awful “We have to abort!” line. I don’t think it descends into soap opera shenanigans TOO much here because 1) they play equally off of Carrie seeing the Marine in Brody as seeing the Lover in Brody and 2) Carrie realizes the “I have faith” line is bullshit and just a fantasy. Fantasy is Carrie’s greatest flaw, and it’s nice to see her recognize it here.

Carrie still does mind-numbingly stupid things, but this episode also helps reflect a bit of why she’s good, what with her manipulation of Fara. It’s not enough in the grand scheme of things, yes, but she and Patinkin are just able to sell her arc in this episode.

All in all, it’s another solid outing that has me looking forward to the final two episodes.

GRADE: B+

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-The pregnancy stuff is as bad as I thought it would be; I find it hilarious that people have to keep reminding her of it: “So this operation is going to involve this and this and OH YOU HAVE A BABY INSIDE OF YOU!”

-I half expected Carrie to blow up in the conference room and start telling everyone the baby actually is Brody’s. “Look at this ultrasound, world!” she says, waving it in front of Saul’s face and pointing out the red hair she scribbled on it with marker.

-For some reason, every time they cut to Carrie or Saul chewing the gum, I got really annoyed.

-After the other guy went “I don’t have kids, you dumbass!”, I fully expected Brody to go “Yeah, same here.”

Credit to Showtime and Homeland for all pictures. I own nothing.

Homeland “One Last Time” Review (3×09)

25 Nov

Homeland-One-Last-TimeLet’s get this out of the way first; much of what goes on in this episode plot-wise is absolutely ludicrous; Saul’s Iran master plan, for one, as well as everything involving Brody’s ridiculously quick recovery, Alain Bernard, and the like. Of course, like I mentioned before, sometimes you just have to put that aside for a bit.

Character-wise, this is a fantastic episode. The acting, as always, is impeccable, and Danes and Lewis convey the tension and desperation of two people clinging to each other out of necessity. Lewis in particular goes through a wide range of emotions in a short amount of time, but we’re still allowed to see the detrimental effects the heroin has caused. In addition, his first scene with Carrie is a highlight.

Although I’m still frustrated with Carrie’s continual playing of the victim card and her penchant for not giving a damn about orders, it still paves the way for a great Dana-Brody scene that is miles better than any other Dana offerings in a while. It reminds me of those fantastic season 1 scenes in which her character isn’t bogged down with extraneous storylines and idiotic boyfriends. Here, when she asks Brody to write down what he wants her to say, you can see the conflict in his eyes; he obviously knows she’s not serious about it, but she’s one of two people that he sees as truly understanding, and he wishes everything were as easy as writing a script. It explains in part why he doesn’t ask to see Jess and Chris–although seriously, Brody? Not even one mention?

Elsewhere, we’re at least seeing Saul’s plan come fully into focus, as implausible as it is. Patinkin’s always greatest when bouncing off of Danes, and this week does a nice job of tying Saul, Brody, and Carrie together while propelling the endgame even farther forward. Saul has a similar control over Brody as he does Carrie; he can always get them to do something “one last time”, and we’ll see how Brody’s turns out. Here’s hoping the last fourth of the season ends the season on a good note.

GRADE: B+

OTHER THOUGHTS

-Not much Quinn this week. Hopefully he doesn’t get pushed aside in favor of Brody’s increased presence; in fact, the show should play off that dynamic a bit more.

-I like to think Dana’s friend just abandoned her there.

-I’m just grateful the show gave some scenes a chance to breathe here. So far this season, it’s either been mind-numbingly slow or way too quick, and I’m happy for the change of pace amidst the forward momentum; an example of this is Carrie and Brody’s first scene.

-Will Brody survive this? Knowing the Showtime executives, they’ll probably have him accidentally kill Javadi, go through a foot chase through the streets of Iran, then blow up an embassy or something before jumping into a river and seeing Chris at the bottom of the water.

-I said last week I wouldn’t get this up until much later, but it turns out that’s not the case! Still, next week looks to be crowded yet again, what with The Walking Dead’s midseason finale, Homeland, Masters of Sex, and Treme’s premiere.

Credit to Showtime and Homeland for all pictures. I own nothing.

Homeland “Gerontion” Review (3×07)

11 Nov

627-19Just a few quick bullets coming up here…

-I think it’s really nice seeing how both Javadi and Quinn question Saul’s tactics past and present; as much as Carrie/Saul are a great team, there’s no doubt that he put her through a whole lot of shit. It’ll be interesting seeing that Saul-Quinn dynamic play out with Carrie caught in the middle and Lockhart off doing whatever in the middle of nowhere.

-Going off that last point, Lockhart’s cartoonish, but he makes legitimate points (not to mention being pretty hilarious). Underneath that exterior is a voice of reason, but he isn’t seen as a legitimate threat, more of an annoying child that needs to be in a timeout; this might come back to bite Saul in the ass sometime. Or, at least hopefully it does, because Saul shouldn’t always come out on top. Nevertheless, it’s a nice parallel drawn to Quinn’s storyline, where the police just ask him point blank if the CIA’s actions are really justified.

-That Quinn interrogation is a really fantastic scene. What I like about it the most is that it’s an interrogation that consists of absolutely no BS. No one’s trying to manipulate anyone into saying what needs to be said; it’s just one person bluntly asking another, “Why the hell are you doing all of this?” Also, nice cameo by Clark Johnson there.

-That stuff with Saul and Dar locking Lockhart in the conference room? Priceless.

-However, I’m not entirely sold on the whole Javadi plan. Frankly, it’s a bit implausible and way too easy, not to mention it undercuts many of the previous scenes.

-“Senator Lockhart managed to get himself locked in the conference room. Can you get facilities to let him out?” I’m really happy they’re strengthening the dynamic between those two bearded folks, even though I do feel like Dar’s a guy that’s just going to play sides.

-I like the focus on Saul this season, but I’m not sure we need to see all that cheesy homefront stuff.

-I’m happy they’re organically bringing Brody back into the fray, rather than coming up with some quick contrivance to do so. I’d rather have him not here, but I admire the restraint by the writers; or, who knows, maybe they just don’t have anything for him to do.

-No Dana, Jess, or Chris. This is a good thing.

GRADE: B+

Credit to Showtime and Homeland for all pictures. I own nothing.

Homeland “Tower of David” Review (3×03)

14 Oct

627-3

Wherever you go, people die.

Nick Brody is the reason for Homeland, but does Homeland even need him?

I’m not sure yet. The character and the actor are magnificent, but would the show have been better off if it had killed him already? There’s no way of knowing, and while I’m sure the writers can come up with something for him to do, it’s all a matter of how well they do it.

As for this episode, it’s a nice digression from the normal episode organization. The episode cuts between Brody’s and Carrie’s stories, drawing parallels between the two, albeit a bit heavy-handedly. Still, this works as a fitting end to our two main characters’ journeys, but I’m not sure if it works as an episode of this show because it’s not the end of their journeys. The show can still surprise me later, but the writers have written themselves into a hole, yet it’s one that is necessary given the road the characters have gone down. There really was no other way this could all turn out if neither died.

It’s a nice character study, that’s for sure. It’s necessary to focus on both Carrie and Brody because they’re simultaneously parallels and foils. The Tower of David represents everything Brody does not want it to be: the end of the line. In reality, it represents everything that he is: a scar that can never heal. Much like Carrie, he can’t come to terms with the fact that he’s got nowhere to go; he’s come full circle from his captivity in Iraq, now in a situation that’s strikingly similar to those miserable years. There truly is no escape, and that is exactly why this storyline can’t really sustain itself much longer, however compelling Danes and Lewis are. It’s time to bring in the aliens.

There are some intriguing scenes in this episode, though, something that seemed to be missing from the first two installments this season. First off, we have Carrie meeting a lawyer that seems to want to help her, but in reality is trying to manipulate her. She sees right through this; Carrie’s never been someone that can be manipulated by strangers, bad guys, and the like; her sharp instincts are always on in regards to those kinds of people. Where her weakness lies is with people she’s supposed to be able to trust: her own government, Saul, and even Brody to an extent. Her need to please those around her holds up blinders, not allowing her to see herself falling deeper into the hole those very people have dug.

Speaking of holes, both characters end the episode in both literal and metaphorical prisons. Brody’s been beaten down physically and emotionally; he’s the guy that always seems to survive, but hurts those around him. Now, all he can turn to is heroin. I’ve seen some grumblings around the Internet about this scene, but I believe it works; he can’t hold on any longer because he’s been holding on for years. As for Carrie, she still has a flimsy support group, but she’s only going to allow herself to work with Saul. She thinks that everyone else is out to get her. The thing is, Saul can’t risk working with her, and rightfully so.

It’s a beautiful closing shot, that’s for sure, but it’s one that suggests finality. I’m not sure where this is going. What is finality but a prison? We can always look for an escape, we can always move on, and we can never be satisfied.

GRADE: B

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-Henry Bromell was a fantastic writer, and this is the last episode credited to him. RIP.

-No Dana this week, who’s probably off banging her boyfriend in the middle of a restaurant somewhere.

-No Jess or Chris, either. Nothing feels different. No Saul, either.

-I appreciate and respect the ambition of this episode more than I actually like it.

-Esme is like an Issa replacement. Of course, “Take me with you!” got a big groan out of me. She’s cute, though.

-I think the time with each character gets shorter as the episode goes on. It’s an interesting stylistic choice that culminates in a final quick shot of the two, and it creates a nice constricting atmosphere throughout.

-I enjoyed Brody’s captors.

Credit to Showtime and Homeland for all pictures. I own nothing.

Homeland “Tin Man Is Down” Review (3×01)

30 Sep

627-1Consequence is a tricky subject to tackle. What exactly should we be punished for? How should we be punished? To what extent should a government that has let a terrorist slip out under its nose be punished? Homeland asks all these questions in a contemplative, melancholy season 3 premiere that completely scraps the frenetic pace of Season 2.

This is no doubt a good route to take, as last season descended into a world of plot contrivances that soured many peoples’ opinions of the show. We left off with Brody on the run, the CIA in pieces, and David Estes and Abu Nazir dead. The premiere, naturally, deals with the fallout of this mess; there are Congressional hearings and detrimental effects abound.

On the CIA front, Carrie is now the scapegoat, taking the full brunt of the blame for Brody’s escape. Danes is still magnificent here, conveying so much pain and guilt in just a few looks. Mathison’s own government has now turned on her; she’s not fighting for some hidden cause, and she can’t ever have the hope of being the hero anymore. This is Carrie’s biggest fear: having nothing to fight for but herself. She can continue to protest Brody’s innocence, but not even her closest ally has the luxury of listening to her. She’s truly trapped.

We also see the effects of the bombing on Saul, who’s now been promoted to head of the CIA. He’s now a much harder character that is slowly descending into a pit of darkness. Whereas before, he was mainly motivated by a sense of loyalty to his institution, he’s now spurred on by revenge. He seems defeated and determined all at once. There’s a wonderful dichotomy between Saul and Dar Adal, an intelligence operative that pressures Saul to cut ties with Carrie. Saul’s being backed into a corner here, much like with Carrie.

On the home front is where the episode mainly stumbles. Jess, Dana, and Chris were absolutely essential in season 1, as they represented one side of Brody’s moral dilemma. It was fascinating to watch the family slowly succumb to the pressures of his occupation and ultimate decisions, but now, the question arises of how interesting the family is without Brody. Sure, showing the aftermath is important, but we don’t exactly feel a connection with Dana or Jess (no one cares about Chris), and more importantly, we don’t feel their connection to Brody. Baccarin and Saylor are great actresses, but they don’t have much to work with. Still, I’m not going to be one of those people that blasts the scenes dealing with the consequences because they’re as much a part of the show as the juicy stuff.

a_610x408This is a show about how personal relationships are affected by a impersonal problems. Last year, like it or not, the Brody-Carrie relationship was essential to the show, both thematically and plot-based. Season 3 smartly removes Brody from the equation early on, but the question of whether he should still be on the show remains. Still, if season 1 suggests anything, it suggests that the guys behind Homeland can create a compelling character piece with spy undertones. Season 3 starts off slow, but hopefully it’s on the right track.

Grade: B-

Other thoughts:

-So Quinn is still here. His scenes feel a little shoehorned in, and I hope his character is expanded on later.

-Dana tried to commit suicide, and she now has a new boyfriend. I really hope we don’t go down another hit and run type storyline this season.

-Oh, how I miss the Carrie-Brody “The Weekend” dynamics.

-There’s an interesting new CIA agent played by Nazanin Boniadi.

-So, how’s Brody going to return? Hopefully he jumps out of Saul’s beard or something. Speaking of, nice beard-off between Saul and Adal.

Credit to Showtime and Homeland for all pictures. I own nothing.

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