Monday, March 05, 2012


Spoiler alerts...

Carrie Mathison is a very creditable addition to the recently burgeoning ranks of socially inept, borderline bonkers female investigators. Claire Danes fully deserved her Golden Globe for this role and overall the show deserved its own gong for Best TV Drama.

That said, it was at its best when it was feeding our interest with the is he or isn't he dynamic through roughly the first seven episodes. Deep down we had to know that he was, but there was enough genuine paranoia knocking around in the head of his principal doubter that we were highly susceptible to this play on our hopes and fears.

After this point the narrative took a stumble, though one suspects it was at least in part a feigned piece of clumsiness. Still, I never felt Homeland quite recovered its composure after that, in spite of the undoubtedly exciting near climax.

I'd already been wondering whether the CIA was really an organisation of rank amateurs led by a kind of David Brent figure when in walked the FBI in order to demonstrate where the show's political leanings really lay. Amateurs they might be, but the folk at Langley were bleeding heart liberals compared to their Quantico-trained counterparts, and this rather arch distinction struck me as pure silliness. And in general the latter stages of the season seemed to be at pains to show off more rounded edges than you will find at your local Apple store.

This story originated on Israeli TV and one suspects that therein lies the origin of some of the detectable stretch marks. In the Middle East the issues are that much more up-close-and-personal, such that I would have fewer problems believing in the figure of the ideologically-flipped front-line soldier. Bring this plot to the US and a more expansive cultural (and geopoltical) reality becomes the backdrop, and somehow in this format, it can't quite jump the credibility hurdle.

The scriptwriters seemed to want to have their cake and eat it here. For Brody to be both a fanatic and yet still a sympathetic figure, a somewhat spurious back story involving a government cover-up has had to be concocted. It's as if we are being asked to consider that the real American equivalent of the UK's native suicide bomber is a Democrat not a Teahadi Republican.

Meanwhile Brody's former partner is permitted to go full-on terrorist without so much as a hint of explanation (or sensitive depictions of the Muslim way of life). So one has to conclude that Marine 1 and Marine 2 represent two unlikely extremes, and thus two cop-outs in terms of addressing why a man out on the sharp edge of the war on terror might 'turn'. I could also not help but notice that the two least sympathetic most blunt-headed characters in the series are the two most prominent African Americans.

There were also a few of the kind of arbitrary plot points that got on my nerves a bit during Forbrydelsen (The Killing)*. Brody is worried that Carrie might goss about their affair and scupper his political career, but surely the fact that he has returned from Iraq a practicing Muslim would be an equally, if not more dangerous piece of personal information to protect?

Anyway, all these caveats aside, I can't wait for the next batch of episodes. I somehow suspect that the Israeli version ended with more of a bang at the end of its first season.

* Like, why would Meyer's last words be a cryptic reference to the design of the killer's sweat shirt and not his surname!

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