"Homeland"--"State of Independence": Mission Impossible

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"Homeland" — "State of Independence": Mission Impossible

By Cindy Davis | TV Reviews | October 15, 2012 | Comments ()


"Reality was thin here." (Neil Gaiman, American Gods)

When a television series has the kind of mind-bogglingly great first season "Homeland" did, it lends itself to being examined under the highest-powered microscope that both critics and the audience can find. And while picking apart the details has validity, this show is too good to let minutiae destroy our enjoyment. Let's face it, "Homeland's" entire premise is not based in reality; Carrie's bipolar disorder would preclude her from being a CIA agent. But suspending our disbelief has allowed us to go on an exceptional thrill ride, marked by brilliant performances and non-stop tension. Every week, I marvel that though I keep expecting it, there has been no filler episode. I can't think of a single other show that manages that achievement. Each hour starts out low key, builds to that crescendo where our emotions have been taken over by the characters' own, then ends with revelations--and sometimes a kick to the head. "State of Independence" was no exception.

At times plot points can be seen coming from a mile off and yet somehow, that doesn't take away from seeing them play out. We knew Saul was too smart to let the memory card be found by airport security, but it was still a relief to see him remove it from its real hiding spot. We knew after Carrie got back into the Beruit game she was high on the experience; we'd have to watch her deflate and float back down to Earth. Still, we cringed when she barged into the debriefing and her face crumbled as Estes told her she couldn't be there. Kudos to David Harewood for joining the mile high emotions club, doing his best to give Carrie credit, even as he had to let her down. And we knew as we watched Carrie down the pills with wine, lay on her bed and seemingly doze off, that she would be okay--but it was still alarming and heartbreaking to watch her go through the process.

Likewise, from the moment Brody is sent by Roya to transport the tailor--aka Bassel (Nasser Faris), we know something really awful is going to happen. While I was convinced one of the men would get his head bashed in with a tire iron, the writers had fun toying with a rock, or the possibility that Brody would get run over by his own SUV. (I'm still unsure whether that was a Nazir setup, but they certainly were hitting us over the head with that no jack business.) In the end, Bassel suffered a fall on something sharp and a snapped neck, as Brody mentally checked out and went back into full on soldier survival mode. Damian Lewis' ability to visually transform his character's mindset without uttering a word continues to dazzle, and Brody is forced to snap back to reality when he returns home to find his angry wife about to express her wrath by sleeping with his buddy Mike again.

Even with all the Brody madness, the high point of the hour was once again in its last quiet moments. Knowing exactly what it will mean to her, Saul ends his long trip from Beruit at Carrie's doorstep, on a personal mission to help her regain herself. Incredulous even as she watches Brody's video, Carrie's voice cracks as says what we all have known for quite some time: "I was right."

What exactly Saul and Estes are going to do with this information remains to be seen, but I'd guess they're going to keep an eye on Brody until he can be caught red-handed, in an act of terrorism or contacting Abu Nazir. It still remains to be seen in what capacity Carrie will be involved; I can't imagine she'll be reinstated as an agent, but if she is, we're right back where we started (and I won't complain).

Cindy Davis still crushes on Patinkin.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • cdramy

    this show is about to enter Prison Break territory for me. Yes, good moments, but I can't believe any of it anymore. Not to mention it's also incredibly one sided wartime propaganda against muslims.

  • Cara

    I adore this show. Yes, you need to suspend disbelief for some of the plotlines - but the acting is incredible and you get emotionally involved in the characters - I find them all to be very interesting to watch. I'm so looking forward to Brody's reaction once he gets caught :)

  • Carrie/Teabelly

    I agree about the Brody plotline side of things. I love Damian Lewis and think he is an amazing actor but this ep was too much for me. I couldn't believe what he was doing. I'm not convinced about him helping Nazir either. He says he's not their guy (or something like that, right?) and yet he continues to help. I know there's loyalty etc from what went on when he was captured, but having Nazir taken out would solve some of his problems, wouldn't it? He could stop all this crap and just get on with his life? I dunno.

    However, I'm kinda hoping he goes double agent. I'd like to like him again as a character, instead of just feeling sorry for him/annoyed by him most of the time.

  • kirbyjay

    Maybe the reason that Brody was not so willing but still relented to fetch the tailor was because of the Stockholm Syndrome situation he is in. He was ready to blow himself and several higher ups to smithereens, why wouldn't he drop everything to do Nazir's bidding again? I think it goes to his state of mind, he's not thinking rationally but zealously. Besides, Brody was the only one that the tailor knew, he didn't want to go with him, nevermind a stranger.
    Why wouldn't Saul tell Carrie first? She was the only one that was right and he knew she needed it so that she could heal instead of still thinking she was totally losing it. He knew what they had just put her through, he knew what she had done in Lebanon, he knew she had put her entire being into her work. Had he gone directly to the CIA he would never have been able to tell her because it would be divulging confidential material. A technicality sure, but I'm buying it. I look at Homeland as a tv show trying to entertain me, if I wanted by the book I'd watch a CIA training film.

  • Miley's Virus

    Saul may also believe he could need her to get close to Brody in the future. Saul plays a long game, and a healthy, confident Carrie may be valuable to him.

  • Groundloop

    I just finished watching this episode and:

    I too thought the "Brody has to move the tailor to a safe house" plot was a bit too much Laurel & Hardy wacky shenanigans, except for the murder and burial in the woods part, but I can get past that because this show repeatedly kicks me in the emotional balls, and in the best possible way.

    My job also kicks my emotional balls. That, I don't like so much.

    That said, I was half disappointed that when Carrie said "I was right", Saul didn't put his hand on her shoulder and say, "You did good Peanut".

  • Steve Baker

    It is a very watchable show, but we are watching two differant series.

  • dizzylucy

    I'm OK with things not being realistic or always making sense on this one, even though I occasionally think about that, I'm usually so caught up in the characters and the story it doesn't matter to me. It's always so tense, and I'm fascinated by Carrie.

  • lowercase_ryan

    First: I thought they sufficiently explained how she managed to stay in the CIA after she developed Bi-Polar disorder. Getting her sister to treat her off the books. But last night pushed me to the limit as far as suspended disbelief. There is no way Saul goes to Carrie with that first. NEVER EVER EVER. Plus there is no way in hell the higher ups at the CIA aren't made aware of the suicide video within hours (at most) of Saul discovering it. In any kind of reality Brody's goose is cooked with the quickness. They don't need to catch him red-handed, he would be done. Also, who does Brody think he's kidding going on his fucking tailor mission in his own car? I'm assuming it's gov't issued, but even if it's not, how the hell could he risk his car (and license plate) being seen in that scenario?

    Also: I hate Roya more than any other character on television right now. Fucking asshole is ALWAYS calling Brody all like "you need to do this and you need to do that, bleh bleh bleh". I want someone to punch her in the face so bad.

  • bellaluna30

    Not only that, but don't they have "Fast Pass" in WA, or something similar? Those are issued by THE STATE, and are totally trackable!

    As far as Roya, I'd rather someone punch Jessica in the face. She needs it.

  • Artemis

    This show, even with the outstanding performances from Danes, Dancy, and Patinkin, is starting to lose me. I had real trouble with the part of last week's episode when Brody texted Nazir from inside the situation room to warn him. I have almost as much trouble with the idea that Nazir would take a uniquely valuable asset like a double-agent congressman in line to become VP (who just proved his worth by saving Nazir's life with his insider knowledge!) and would casually send him to run risky errands like collecting a man under suspicion for being a terrorist. The show didn't remotely try to provide a reason why it needed to be Brody who went to get the tailor (he "knows" Brody? He met him once and didn't seem all that reluctant to help him out on that occasion, based on orders relayed to him from Nazir; no reason the same couldn't be done here), and Brody being the one to collect him actually increases the risk that the retrieval will be noticed (he's in line for VP and his face must be everywhere, some random bystander could easily notice him running around with a scared-looking Middle Eastern man). And if Nazir wanted to kill Brody, there are a million easier ways to do that -- like just calling him up and asking him to meet somewhere -- than sending him on this ridiculous errand.

    The thing that really frustrates me is that Claire Danes' part of the story is being played out very carefully and subtly. They didn't try to jam her right back into the CIA; instead, they've created realistic opportunities for her to glimpse the old life she misses while at the same time giving her lots of space for quiet, genuine-feeling character moments that don't involve a lot of action. The Brody plot could be the same, with torn loyalty between genuinely caring about his work as a congressman and his hatred for the current VP, who he holds responsible for Issa's death but who is advancing Brody's political career. But instead, the show has given him increasingly comical action sequences every week, as though it doesn't trust itself to tell a quieter version of the double agent story in which Nazir is biding his time and Brody is suffering an existential crisis. We're only three episodes in, and Brody has already progressed from stealing files from the CIA director to single-handedly foiling the assassination of Nazir by texting him a warning from the sit room while surrounded by the joint chiefs to ferrying a terrorist bomb-maker to a safe house and murdering him when he tries to escape.

    It's absurd, and worse, it's absurd in a way that actually hampers character development. I'm not getting anything out of Brody's descent right now, because the events it's coming out of feel so blatantly ridiculous. I don't expect good dramas to be totally realistic, but I expect them to feel realistic. This just doesn't.

  • Blake

    UPVOTE x 1000!

  • lowercase_ryan

    With you completely on the ridiculousness of the Brody plotline. Seriously, snapping a dudes neck while you're on the phone with your wife??

  • Ozioma

    That 'I was right' brought genuine tears to my eyes.

  • sean

    Yes, proved that Emmy was no fluke. Heartbreaking moment.

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