Review: ‘Homeland’ – ‘a red wheelbarrow’

A review of tonight’s “Homeland” coming up just as soon as I bring you breakfast in bed…

There’s a moment late in “a red wheelbarrow” where we cut from discussion of Franklin the evil lawyer  texting the Langley bomber to Mira’s lover frantically doing something with a computer, and the way the two scenes are edited together briefly suggests that the lover is the bomber, which would be perhaps the most ridiculous thing in “Homeland” history. Instead, we quickly see that he’s in Saul and Mira’s house, not a motel, and is there to bug the place – meaning he’s a spy, which is not the most ridiculous thing “Homeland” has ever done but still qualifies as very silly.(*)

(*) Among other things, it means he was playing a very long con with Mira on the extreme off-chance that she would reunite with her husband, when giving her a dreamy and attentive lover would perhaps not be the best way to put her back into that house.

But I bring it up because “Homeland” at this stage has become the kind of show where that guy could have been revealed as the bomber. Things are just that crazy at this point. I don’t know that I expect every single character to have the potential to be a spy, a mole for the Syrians, a supervillain, etc., but other than Brody’s family not being who we think they are, everyone is in play at this point. (And I’m not even 100% sold on Chris’ innocence.) It’s a show where a lawyer like Franklin can also turn out to be an ace assassin, capable of calmly executing the bomber and then melting his corpse with acid, Heisenberg-style, in the motel tub (though Walt would tell Franklin to get some plastic tubs instead), or where Carrie’s Venezuelan friend with the spider tattoo might happen to be even more indebted to Saul than he was to her (or just suddenly need the $10 million more than he did a month ago).

And on the one hand, these crazy twists and character reveals afford the writers a lot of opportunity for surprises. On the other, it all becomes desensitizing. To paraphrase “The Incredibles,” if everything is surprising, then nothing is.

And when you add this wackiness to Carrie inevitably going rogue again because her love of Brody – whom she identifies as the father (to us, if not to her OB/GYN) of her unborn baby – trumps her love of country, of the Agency and of her own career, you get an episode that moved with more urgency than last week’s, but that still felt like “Homeland” scrambling to figure out what it’s about at this point and what’s going to drive the narrative and viewer interest forward.

For the moment, that answer seems to be “Brody,” who is oft-discussed before Saul finds him, catatonic in his foul-smelling cell in the Tower of David. When last he appeared, I said I wasn’t sure I ever needed to see him again on the show. I’m still skeptical that the writers will get enough value out of his continued presence, but it at least provides a clear focus for Carrie, and for the show, even if they’re both hanging on too tightly to the memory of someone whom they’d be much healthier letting go of.

What did everybody else think?