Nov 15 2011

So Did Homeland Just Jump the Shark?

Published by at 11:00 am under Reviews,Television

Homeland isn’t getting a lot of press with shows like Dexter and The Walking Dead being on everyone’s lips all the time, but it has been a pretty solid new show, and I wrote a post that said as much a few weeks ago.

But after the past few episodes, and the one this week, I’m starting to get the feeling that this show doesn’t have any idea what it’s doing, much like The Killing on AMC. While The Killing got stupid after about two hours, Homeland has taken about seven to get there. In order to understand what I’m talking about, let me set the scene for you here.

The central premise of the show is that a CIA Operative named Carrie (Claire Danes) is informed that an American POW has been turned, and is now a spy for Al Queda. So when Sgt. Nicholas Brody (Damien Lewis) is rescued after eight years of captivity in Afganistan. She thinks he’s her guy. She starts spying on him, and though she has no definitive proof, her suspicions are raised. We, the audience, get a front row seat to Brody’s guilt as we see him praying to Mecca in his spy camera-less  garage, having converted to Islam. Through flashbacks we see that he was coddled by Abu Nazir, a known terrorist leader whom he lied about meeting to the FBI, and we watch him beat his fellow POW to death on Nazir’s orders.

Carrie is not your typical CIA operative, and by “typical” I mean “sane.” She is quite literally taking crazy pills which keep her from being psychotic, a fact she has somehow hidden from the bureau. When spying turns up nothing, she goes off book and tries to get Brody’s secrets the best way she knows how, by sleeping with him. It’s a bizarre turn of events, but after hooking up, two episodes later, she has Brody in her remote cabin. I was excited to learn what her master plan was to finally get him to reveal himself, so I waiting in eager anticipation to see her hidden brilliance unfold.

“I think you’re working for Al Qaeda!”

Um, what? After letting it slip that she knows Brody’s favorite type of tea, Brody realizes she’s spied on him, and calls her on it. In a matter of seconds, she proceeds to spill everything she’s been doing in secret the last few weeks. The spying, the purposeful seducing, how she’s pinned him as a terrorist from day one. There was no master plan. She really just is this stupid, coming out and asking a man she suspects of being a double agent, if he’s a double agent, not to mention supplying him with a loaded gun.

Brody could storm off, and we could still be left wondering, but no, the show goes to a new level of simplicity as Brody goes point by point and lays out why he did everything he’s seen. He admits to being a Muslim, meeting Nazir and being comforted by him, and even beating his friend to death. Again, NONE of which Carrie knew, but he explains it away for the audience’s benefit, so much so I’m surprised he wasn’t looking right at the camera. He says that he’s “weak” and when Nazir offered him comfort and religion and the option to live over his friend, he took it. But he’s not a terrorist.

No, the terrorist would be his POW buddy whom he supposedly beat down, but is back in the States and trying to assassinate the President somehow. What a twist! What a stupid, stupid twist!

And that’s how Homeland jumped the shark. Lazy exposition and a completely absurd twist that negates the first seven episodes we’ve seen. Where the show goes from here, I have no idea, but I’ve stopped thinking it’s all that great after this week. I’m not sure if anyone out there is watching, but I think if you are, you would agree with me.





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14 responses so far

  • jerome

    I’m afraid you are alone in this opinion.

  • Kipper

    I too am going to have to agree with Jerome on this, I fear that you may have missed the point.

    Were Carrie’s affections nothing more than a purposeful attempt to get closer to Brody? Or has she lost her self in the study of him, and actually developed feelings?

    Brody talks to Carrie in a manner that he speaks to no one else. He wants someone to talk to, he needed someone to share everything with. To have those things weighing on his conscience it makes sense that he just needed to vent and be open.

    He wants nothing more than to be honest, and the only person he found to be honest with was Carrie, as fucked up as that is.

    I feel that the porch conversation was actually quite well done.

    Walker being alive is a bit of a hand wiggler… eh. We’ll see where they go with this. However, jumping the shark? Napes.

  • MattChi

    My mom watches it. I’ll have to ask her. Sounds idiotic though, because if he was really a double agent and she called him out on it, he’d probably just murder her.

  • LEM

    I disagree I thought it was a great episode and this show is much more enjoyable than Dexter and The Walking Dead have been. The Walking Dead really needs to get its shit together for the rest of the season and I think the only thing that would work on Dexter at this point would be to have him be found out and on the run ending with a great interrogation scene between him and his sister.

  • Roberto

    And he disappeared in Iraq, not Afghanistan, but who’s counting?

  • Jim Lahey

    @Roberto

    Nobody, since the problem you found has nothing to do with numbers…

  • Random Leon

    nah, the show is still going strong. that sit-down tell-all scene at the cabin was a great piece of television. the twist WOULD be rather weak if that were the whole story, but there are still several episodes left to the season and i’m giving it the benefit of the doubt that there is more to it.

  • John

    The show seems pretty confident in what’s it’s doing. And you’re really underrating the quality. It’s easily the best show on TV right now, and if it continues to deliver episodes on the level of this week’s it might be the best show of the year.

  • kash

    To the article writer, IMHO, maybe this is just some sort of knee-jerk reaction to the multitude of revelations that have unfolded too quickly in a single episode? and that maybe you were caught off-guard and hence a bit turned off? I personally expected Saul to get a harder time trying to get that Aileen character to fess up. I thought the affair between brody and carrie would carry on a bit longer before things eventually broke down (awesome way to break up though – Brody: “F8ck you, carrie”).

    But definitely the revelation about Walker does put some extra spice to the plot albeit slightly premature…but heck, i will hold off till the next episode to see how the new direction plays out.

    For me…so far so good.

  • Sara C.

    Two words: Long. Con. Brody’s got mad lying skillz. Also, what if Saul is the one who passed Hamid the razor blade? This show is awesome.

  • Steve

    This sounds just about as stupid as all the other “The Situation Room”/”The E-Ring” garbage that’s been churned out the last few years.

  • Boiler

    Saul seems harmless but who knows. I can never trust gingers so I honestly cannot trust Brodie.

    Maybe the story is being told through Carrie’s un-medicated perceptive and she’s hallucinating everything.

  • Jerry

    The season one finale was insipid, routine and cookie cutter T.V. at best.

    It could have been a great first year close, but it would require casting a host of new players for next year and the powers to be wimped out.

    A jump the shark moment we’ve experienced time after time with viable new T.V. shows.

  • MarKBark

    Homeland appears to be losing it’s way and quickly. After a solid first season with a couple very strong episodes the intrigue, suspense and lack of focus on compelling story lines, compelling interpersonal dynamics and (as others have stated) believability/credibility of situations the producers & writers seem to be more focused on astounding adventures and “getting somewhere” (where, I’m not sure exactly?) creates more of a hackneyed melodrama with cartoonish dialogue. The supporting characters are wooden stereotypes and the direction is “forced”.

    Take for example the most recent entry (November 11th) where Broady’s brooding teenage daughter “play acts” at the angst she is facing in not coming clean about her and her boyfriend’s joyride resulting in the death of a pedestrian where everyone involved ends up handling it as if it were a national emergency. This is a supplemental storyline that is meaningless to the overarching “impending” attack on the U.S. (which is only substantiated in retrospect..eg: the gratutious ambush in the shop in Gettysburgh to extract the C2 explosives – ‘ah, now I see there IS going to be an attack…huh, where did that stuff come from? was it built into the wall? brought in?)

    The supporting dialogue to the side stroy of the car accident is played out with flat and “expository” dialooue with the VP’s wife, Broady’s wife and – then AGAIN – with Braody and the VP…all of which can be summed up with “we’ll take care of it” (whew, end of writer’s dilemma – deus ex machina to the rescue”!!).

    What else do we get in this “gem” of an episode. Well there’s the terrifically exciting and contextually irrelevant meeting in the woods where Carrie calls Broady’s and essentially says “come hither and kiss me” – spoiler alert, THEY KISS. Wow, I wonder if next episode they’ll sleep together – oh wait they ALREADY DID.

    And of course the coup de grace of this installment ends with Saul’s bitter disappointment over the suicide death of his terrorist operative (whom he moves to another cell by calling the AG for help – yikes!) after he discovers she and a SWAT team to the home of a muslim musician and with everyone in this elite group of anti terrorists standing around with their thumbs up their A**’s.

    Can Homeland be reoriented? Hard to imagine since it seems to be taking a course charted more for network TV and mainstream America.

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