Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Homeland Blows Its Cover

There’s one more week left in Season 2 of Homeland, which means there’s one week before I cancel Showtime once and for all. 

I enjoyed the first season, though I thought it was a guilty pleasure. It was a major reach to win the Emmy for Best Drama. I really do like depiction of the CIA intelligence gathering operation, and the on-the-ground stuff in the Middle East. But the hierarchal aspect is so contrived and far-fetched, it makes me cringe even in the comforts of my living room. The second season was gaining some steam but completely blew up into an off-brand version of 24.

Damain Lewis is the show’s only great character. As the tormented Sgt. Brody his performance is complicated and nuanced. With all that’s happened with him, as a POW, a terrorist, a US Congressman, and a double agent; every reaction to every situation has multiple emotions. You can see it on his face. Excellently played.

Mandy Patankin as CIA veteran analyst Saul Berenson is believable as a super-intelligent hothead. But he clashes with his superiors too often to think he’d still have a job, if not erased fro the earth. CIA assistant director David Estes is just an asshole, and Vice President William Walden (thankfully deceased) was just a bigger asshole.

Mastermind terrorist Abu Nazir was also a preposterous character. He had a nice role in Brody’s flashbacks, and how he went from being torturer to spiritual mentor. But once he showed up in the US, able to invisibly evade military TAC teams (and killing them) and move around an unlimited army of terrorists, he became farcical. I’m glad he’s dead too.

Which brings us to the show’s lead character, Carrie Mathison. Claire Danes’s portrayal transcends unrealistic and unsympathetic to absurd. Matheson, despite a schizophrenic condition that should be a constant disability, continues to be the smartest and most dogged ex-agent ever. She’s got heart coming out of her neatly tucked blouse.

She goes rogue more often than Jack Bauer and Dr. House combined, but she continues to get away with it because she’s always right, nobody can do her job as well as she can, and nobody knows the terrorists like she does.

I’m not-so-secretly hoping that everyone dies in the Season 2 finale. Then the show will have gotten it right.

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