Sunday, December 9, 2012

'Homeland' Review - 2.11 In Memoriam

        On the newest episode of Showtime's Homeland, Carrie, dangerously close to exhaustion, continues her hunt for Nazir and begins to suspect there is a mole in the CIA; Roya reveals her true colors under interrogation; Saul finds himself fighting to save his career under unexpected circumstances; and the Brody family struggles to maintain anything close to a state of sanity.

        After last week's heavily critiqued, divisive hour, it is so nice to see Homeland return with a pure fantastic and triumphant hour. Every single thing that this show has been building to its lifespan came to a head in this hour as Carrie finally captured and killed Abu Nazir. Unlike last week's death of VP Walden, Nazir's death actually feels poignant and well-done. His presence has shaped every single event that has happened in this series even though he was sparsely seen onscreen. His power was ever-reaching and the circumstances around how he died felt true to his character moreso than last week's final act scheme to off the vice president. Once the SWAT team guns him down and Carrie sees his lifeless body, we as an audience got this overwhelming sense of triumphant-ness. In that moment, it was palpable how proud and confident Carrie was that her life's work has finally been fully realized. Yet, it's also very notable how she's reluctant to take all the credit for his capture. Those sequences proved how strategic and meticulous she is at this job. The show definitely could have had gone through yet another downward spiral through her bipolar disorder just like last season's park explosion did to her. But throughout this hour, we're not contemplating whether or not she's losing it after she much time away from her medicine. Instead we get to witness her be triumphant in success over Abu Nazir's death.
        For an hour centered around the capture and death of Abu Nazir, it was a distinct choice to separate Brody away from the main action and place him on the emotional sidelines with the rest of his family. Sure, I have questions about how we got out the VP's house, how no one suspects him of faul play or  why the program seems to drop that entire story out of this hour? But instead of content with how his emotional reaction to the story was the centerpiece. For this entire series' life, the character moments have severely outweighed the plot mechanics. Whereas last week's hour was plagued by those mechanics, this episode shined in character interactions. Whether it was Carrie and Roya's interrogation, Saul and lie detector scene and later against Estes or the emotional highlight of the hour Brody and Jessica in the car, it was all fantastic and game-changing.
        It has frequently been noted that many of the various plot twists and risks the writers chose to do over the course of this season were the typical material most shows would save for their season finales. But Homeland's skill of interweaving all of these twists in a very quick nature made the program feel fresh and week-to-week we had no clue what would happen next. Homeland has distinctively been my most anticipated this fall because I have desperately wanted to see the next chapter to this story as soon as possible. But as decisive as all those moments have been, none of them have truly felt like a pure and addictive season finale-like hour. Most shows penultimate episodes of the season are usually just placeholders that set everyone up in their vital positions for the next week's finale. Homeland decided to do the opposite approach here. This hour of television felt like a season finale. All of this does bring about the question (moreso than any of the other times I've raised the question in the past) - So, what will exactly happen in next week's finale? We're really only going in with the plot of will Quinn kill Brody or will something resembling a conscience stop him? If you asked me that two weeks ago, I would say 'Don't be crazy, special Black Ops Soldiers don't show emotion over who they kill!' But this week's episode, put much hesitation on the weight of his mindset. So now, I don't know but I'm more excited than I have ever been for next week!

So what did everyone think of the episode? Will Quinn kill Brody? Will Saul be forced out of the CIA? Will Carrie & Brody and Mike & Jessica be happy together? Share your thoughts in the comments.