A review of tonight’s “Homeland” coming up just as soon as I think you’re ready for the glue factory…
“Let’s go close that door, Sergeant.” -David
In case you missed the news from a few days ago, Showtime ordered a second season of “Homeland.” On the one hand, it’s a no-brainer: this is arguably the best new Showtime series since the first season of “Dexter,” it’s getting rave reviews that consistently call it the best new show of the season, it has a shot at awards recognition (though Claire Danes has a much easier path to that than Damian Lewis, who would be in a stacked category that should feature the return of Bryan Cranston and the arrival of Dustin Hoffman), and it’s Showtime’s highest-rated freshman drama ever.
On the other, what is the show long-term? Howard Gordon says he has a plan, and my brain can conceive of a lot of ways the show could go in a second season, some continuing to involve Sgt. Brody, some not.
For now, though, I’m choosing not to dwell too much on any of those ideas, or even on the question of whether Brody has turned or not. On the former, the show is great right now, and if it falters later, I’ll worry about that then. On the latter, I’m inclined to think that he is (it provides much more potential story for this season, at a minimum), but I’m just so engaged by the character parts of the show that I don’t really want to go back and watch Brody and Hamid’s fight frame-by-frame to figure out if Brody slipped him the razor fragment (and we did dwell on him shaving earlier, a scene included to at least create suspicion), or to start wondering if there’s a mole in David’s team that could be leaking intel to terrorists and slipping suicide implements to prisoners. On lots of shows, I obsess on that sort of thing; on this one, I just want to see what Carrie and Brody – and, this week, Saul – are doing.
“Blind Spot” gives us the larger picture of Saul’s life, and it’s not dramatically healthier than Carrie or Brody’s. He has a wife who loves him, but also one who doesn’t want to be with him anymore because he’s married to his job. And I liked the way those scenes didn’t paint Mira as the shrill, nagging wife who doesn’t understand; she entirely understands the value of what Saul does, and isn’t angry about it, but also wants more stability in her life and knows that Saul is every bit as addicted to the job as Carrie is. She doesn’t hate him; she just needs something else. And bull-in-a-china-shop Carrie (or, if you prefer, McNulty-ish Carrie) has the bad timing to arrive at the house just as Mira has made her feelings plain, and to then accuse Saul of being a quote-unquote “pussy.” (Saul, quietly, furiously: “I think you should leave now.” We know from lots of roles – most notably Inigo Montoya – just how much coiled rage Mandy Patinkin can convey in a whisper, but damn, that was good.)
The family theme continued with more time spent with Carrie’s dad (played by reassuringly grouchy character actor James Rebhorn) and sister. On her last visit to that house, it seemed that Carrie’s only connection to her family was to use Maggie to stay secretly medicated. Here, in a more vulnerable moment after the case hits a big snag and Carrie realizes how badly she’s offended Saul, she’s still using them, but in a way that any relative uses any other: for love and comfort and reassurance. Some nice vulnerable moments for Claire Danes near the end there.
Brody’s motives are harder to suss out – again, either he’s genuinely seeking closure or he’s working his agenda – but I did like seeing the contrast between the physical torture used on Brody as compared to the more psychological approach used on Hamid, complete with the regular bursts of that one heavy metal sting, over and over.
Again, I don’t know what the long game for this show is, but it’s damn good right now, and that’s all I’m concerned about until “Homeland” gives me reason to think otherwise.
What did everybody else think?