Tag Archives: Saul Berenson

Homeland “Big Man in Tehran” Review (3×11)

8 Dec

bigmanSergeant Nicholas Brody is a traitor; there’s no dispute about that. However, is he someone who will try to repent for his sins? Is he someone who will put aside his differences with his country and carry out the assassination of General Akbari? For most of the episode’s running time, we’re led to believe that no, this is not the case, and the episode cleverly manipulates our notions of who Brody is.

Is it one manipulation too many? You know what? I don’t believe so. When he tells his assembled Iranian fan club that he has nowhere to go, he’s being 100% truthful. There’s no way he could ever be accepted back into American society–if he was, it’d be an egregious plot twist that would serve absolutely no purpose, save for the satisfaction of the Showtime executives–no matter what he does. In fact, we can see that he prepares himself for any outcome; he’s much more rational here than, say, Carrie, who’s still off being an awful CIA agent and ruining the plans of pretty much everyone.

Getting back to Brody, his conversation with Nazir’s widow is very telling; in fact, right then and there is his repentance. Right then and there, he acknowledges how much he’s ruined his daughter’s life (yeah, I know you feel the deepest connection to Dana, but again, no mention of the other two members?). At that table is essentially Nazir’s family, two people brought together through a mutual love, but two people who are working together to move on in their lives. Brody’s smiles in response to the outpouring of the Iranians’ love are genuine, but he recognizes the necessity of paving a new path. He takes a second at the end of the episode to revel in “the place where it all started”, but also deems it appropriate to begin anew there.

So, it’s a nice handling of Brody’s character; my one gripe with the ending is how it validates Carrie to an extent. I like how Javadi takes her aside and criticizes her attachment to Brody, as well as how Brody acknowledges the insanity of her plan, and hopefully this kind of scolding continues to take place. There’s no way Saul and the rest can forgive her for intervening and acting like a righteous asshole, even considering Brody takes out Akbari at the end. Carrie’s biggest asset and her biggest flaw is the same: doing what she believes is the right thing. She believes that running away with Brody will benefit both of them, and she believes that Brody is still the same person, the same embodiment of her idealized version of the future.

Nevertheless, the episode itself continues last week’s excellent spy/suspense scenes, delivering some tense sequences that are thoroughly entertaining and compelling. Hopefully next week’s  finale is able to deliver a satisfying conclusion to a, for the most part, redeeming season.

GRADE: A-

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-I like the more grounded portrayal of Adal and Lockhart recently; they’re acting like reasonable government officials with a job to do, not like mustache-twirling villains who want to take Saul’s job.

-I wonder if we’ll see the Brody family next week. I don’t think we really need to.

-Will Brody die next week? I’m hoping he does; the writers have given him a pretty nice arc here, and even though he’s redeemed himself somewhat, he’s still in a position where’s he got nowhere to go. Any progress he makes now is in service of both the operation and his own psyche.

-Once again, Damian Lewis does some fantastic work.

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 “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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