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TV Weekend: Ask What Your Homeland Can Do for You

There's a sense that, depending which choices Homeland makes, the season finale could redeem or disgrace itself utterly.What do you need Homeland to do?

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We’re approaching the end of Homeland‘s second season, and suspicions have been raised and loyalties shaken. I’m not talking about the characters on the show right now, but about the show’s fans.

There’s been a rising criticism of the show over that past few episodes—though it doesn’t seem to have hurt the ratings—that the CIA thriller has gotten unbelievable even by its own standards, that people are acting out of character, that there had better be a good explanation—there has got to be a good explanation!—for incongruities like Abu Nazir’s bizarre catch-and-release of Carrie to pressure Brody. (The weirdness for me started around when that helicopter spirited Brody away, but your mileage may vary.)

There are plenty of theories out there as to what will happen in this last episode: who will or won’t die, who has been telling the truth and who will be revealed to have been playing a different game all along. I will not weigh in on those, because I have no damn idea.

Also, I’m not sure I need the plot to resolve one way or another to be happy with this season. What I do need is for Homeland to be a show that doesn’t constantly screw with us simply for the sake of screwing us, that it doesn’t succumb to the twist-itis of so many serials wherein it feels it needs to “change the game” approximately ten times a season.

I don’t mind a far-fetched Homeland: as I said earlier this year, are we really arguing that a show about a POW brainwashed into becoming a terrorist and elected to Congress has gotten implausible? But the strength of Homeland for me, and why I named it one of my best shows of the year, is that it shows us people reacting in psychologically realistic ways to unrealistic scenarios. When the plot starts driving the characters, that’s when the show loses me.

That said, as fellow critic Andy Greenwald wrote recently on Twitter, rarely has there been such a sense of binary possibilities for a season finale: that depending which choices Homeland makes, it could redeem or disgrace itself utterly. So while we wait, if you want to share your theories of what you think Homeland will do, by all means go ahead. But more important to me: what do you need Homeland to do?

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Lucelucy
Lucelucy like.author.displayName 1 Like

Someone suggested earlier that they might be writing backwards.  That is, they have a place where the second season (in their minds) needs to end, and so they are writing the scenes that get us there.  It's unusual to me that they're being as sloppy as they are at times (those guys always go in pairs - that's a "gun on the mantelpiece" line and completely unnecessary unless it plays out in the action).  Why didn't they play out the Brody as double-agent storyline throughout the entire season?  I suspect that they wanted Abu Nazir dead.   Osama's dead.  We aren't still on a vicarious hunt for him - and they may have envisioned a long, slow-moving season while clue after clue was uncovered and viewer after viewer dropped away.  

But, what do I want?  I want a Homeland that has Carrie and Brody and Saul at the heart of it.  How the writers will carry this forward, I have no idea.  I just hope that they do.  What will I do if they don't?  I don't know.  I'm watching the last few episodes of Last Resort, a show which I have grown to hate for what they are making Andre Braugher be a part of.  I wanted an Andre Braugher vehicle that would go on and on for a while, one which centered on Washingtonian shenanigans and world-wide consequences, not entire episodes about problems with the natives or locking up half the crew in the brig.  Not faux romances that go nowhere and storylines that drop out only to drop back in again for somebody's convenience.  But if Andre is still there, so am I.  But I'm kinda happy we will both soon be released.

TheHoobie
TheHoobie like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 4 Like

Hmm. I only just this week caught up on the most recent two episodes of Homeland (it's been a CRAZY busy month at Chez Hoobie), after I had noticed the growing unrest* about its recent plot choices on Twitter and elsewhere.

So I watched the past two episodes with that unrest in mind, and I agree with it in some ways (Carrie's chat with Nazir seemed pretty superficial to me; it's REALLY hard to believe that Congressman Brody could keep disappearing as he does and move as freely as he does; the idea that Dar Adal has to change houses every few weeks but eats at the same waffle place every week; and hey, surprise, GALVEZ!), but I'm still loving so many other things about the show that I'm not as up in arms about the implausibilities as others are. For things like Roya turning the tables on Carrie in the interrogation session (which, at least to me, was a nice and consistent-in-terms-of-character surprise), the aching conversation between Jess and Brody in the car, Saul's awesomeness in correctly intuiting Quinn's mission (though you could argue that he was an idiot to reveal his knowledge to Estes), the stellar acting from everybody, and lines like "I [effin'] hope not!," I'm still willing and eager to watch the show. And maybe it's the loyal Rubicon fan in me, but a disappointing finale won't even necessarily make me desert or retroactively dislike the show. (I'm not even sure what I want or "need" from the finale; I'm trying to go into it with an open mind and open heart. Linda Holmes wrote a great essay about loving shows like this just this week: http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2012/12/10/166871786/crushes-breakups-and-natural-lives-how-the-critical-romantic-watches-television)   

*Speaking of loving shows, I just realized I always want to type "unrest" as "Unruhe" after one of my favorite/most memorable X-Files episodes. Huh. TV has really reached its Lovecraftian tentacles deep in my brain. Those Will Arnett Hulu commercials are true!