Sunday, November 11, 2012

'Homeland' Review - 2.07 The Clearing

        On the newest episode of Showtime's Homeland, Carrie and the team scramble to gain control in the aftermath of the ambush; Brody attends a well-heeled fundraiser at a Virginia horse farm; Saul visits Aileen, in solitary confinement, hoping she can shed some light on the latest attack; and a conflicted Dana leans on Finn to fess up to their crime.

        Dana and Finn have gone through the whole spectrum of criticism and praise this season. In the beginning, they were sweet and simple. Audiences could just be happy that something small was happening with other characters on the show. But then the whole hit and run thing happened and the two of them have taken the major blunt of complaints for the season. Throughout these last few episodes, the show has built this story up so big that its ramifications have taken root amongst many of the show's characters. Amongst the fan community, we have all been speculated how this story would be used down-the-line. Many thought it would be a way to take the Walden-Brody presidential ticket. Elements of that angle were heavily present throughout this hour as Dana convinced Finn to tell their parents and the Waldens are all too eager to quickly sweep this under-the-rug. But the Brodys have a distinct moral compass and want to do what is the right thing to do. In the end, it wasn't anything plot-related like blackmail or deadly secrets that this story was created to achieve, it instead showcased just how trapped Brody really is. He feels like he has no control over anything in his life. Roya and Abu Nazir are expecting him to help them with the terrorist attack on the country while Carrie, Quinn, Saul and Estes are expecting him to work for them with the threat of revealing who he actually is to the whole world. He is trapped and being used. Nothing illustrates this powerful theme better than the scene in the clearing with Carrie. It is in that moment where he gets the realization that everyone already him is molding him to be what they want him to be. The moment before that was equally striking where the property's owner wants to see himself and shared experiences in Brody even though Brody doesn't admit to them. All of this oppression made him see the Dana issues with the hope that he could do the right thing for once and be the better man. The fact that even in that respect Carrie has to silence him is painful to watch and throws into question what he will be willing to do in the near future. Will he follow the same path as Aileen?
        Meredith Stiehm wrote season one standout "The Weekend" which was the hour of the pivotal Saul-Aileen drive across the country. She penned this episode as well and the narrative has reintroduced the back-and-forth of those two characters to wonderfully effect. This has been a rather quiet season for Mandy Patinkin so far and yet when the show does decide to bring him to the forefront for a while he proves just how great this role is for him and why he should be nominated for awards. One-on-one character scenes are truly breathtaking and the highlight of this series as both characters are given the opportunity to be open with each other. Saul opened himself up to Aileen during their long car ride and again here where he desperately needs her to ID this man which allows emotions to get in his way. He sees Aileen as an American woman who got caught up with the wrong people and is now being punished and suppressed by the U.S. government. Plus, he has an intimate past with her. When she brings up his family issues (the first mention of them this season), it strikes a nerve in him and he foolishly in turn puts his whole trust in her. The fact that in the end she scammed him just so she could a final day in sunlight is a powerful character moment for both of them.

So what did everyone think of the episode? Surprised by how thematic the Dana-Finn plot actually became? Were you distracted by constantly looking at the size of Damian Lewis' mouth (Darn you SNL!) Share your thoughts in the comments.