‘Homeland’ Review: “State of Independence”
After a thrilling conclusion to episode two, 'Homeland' feels a little deflated this week -- much like Brody's tire when he gets himself into a bit of a pickle, stranded in the woods and late to the charity event his wife is co-hosting.
To put it plainly: the Brody arc this week isn't very good. The writers test the limits of plausibility and though we're only three episodes in, it's getting repetitive. Three episodes in a row now, Roya Hammad has called up Brody with a request to help aid the terrorists that goes against everything he wants to stand for now as a potential vice presidential candidate. It seems that Brody truly does want to leave the person he became in captivity behind, but as 'Homeland' showed us last week, there's an internal switch that goes off and keeps him instinctively tethered to Abu Nazir. So when Roya calls him up and asks him to move his suicide terrorist vest-maker buddy to a safe house because the CIA is onto him, Brody answers the call, even though it puts him at risk of missing the charity event Jess is co-hosting -- the same one where he's scheduled to give a speech about the struggles of coming home from war.
But 'Homeland' asks you to suspend your disbelief even further by Brody getting a flat tire, and then his terrorist buddy irrationally runs off into the woods, and then when Brody chases after him, the guy goes and gets himself really hurt -- like, as in he needs medical attention. And when Jess calls, wondering where he is and he sounds out of breath and his injured companion won't keep quiet, Brody snaps his damn neck and spends the rest of the night, in the rain, burying the body.
In what should be a sequence of fascinating character moments, this week's episode feels sort of middling whenever Brody is around. The best stuff about him this week is when he isn't around. Even Jess -- who I don't particularly care for and whose plot elements have always felt a little too generic and soapy given the show's capacity for poignant emotional beats -- gets something solid this week when she has to step up and give a speech about how hard it was for her when Brody came home. Jess has finally found a world where she belongs and functions well, and even her snottier inclinations don't feel as grating because she's among her people now. But then that soldier she was taking up with while Brody was away gives her a ride home, and knowing that Brody is keeping secrets, and assuming that means he's sleeping with Carrie again, she suggests he come in for a nightcap. It's an interesting parallel to where Jess was at the beginning of season one, in that she's only sleeping with this other soldier because she thinks Brody isn't coming home, and in "State of Independence," that's exactly why she invites him into her home again -- because she thinks Brody isn't coming home to her, either literally or emotionally or both.
Speaking of emotions, Carrie runs the gamut this week, really showcasing her bipolarity the only way she can -- in extremes. While Saul is en route home from Beirut with the memory card that holds the key to proving that Carrie was right about Brody, Carrie is typing up a very detailed 18-page debriefing report about her part in the mission that got the CIA closer to Abu Nazir than ever. And even though she did a stellar job, they aren't very keen on bringing her back into the fold. It's becoming agonizing to watch Carrie go from apple-cheeked and proud of herself, optimistic that she might return to work, to manic, anxious, and on the verge of killing herself because no one trusts her to do what she loves ever again (well, until they see the evidence Saul is carrying). It's almost like when you break up with someone and they're still going around saying "We" this and "We" that, and you're like, "Dude, there's no 'We' anymore, but thanks for your time and tireless effort, and when I need you again I'll call you, so have fun with whatever it is you do now, and thanks for this booty call. What you've done here won't be forgotten." Carrie is still playing the "We" card with the CIA, but to them there is no "We" anymore, there's them and there's crazy Carrie, and they just used the crap out of her and didn't even stick around to make her breakfast in the morning.
But hey, the end of "State of Independence" finds Saul finally returning with that memory card to show Carrie the video he found of Brody admitting his terrorist plan. It was a bumpy hour following last week's exhilarating developments, but we're finally back to getting somewhere.