Homeland "Broken Hearts" Review: Oh, NOW the Show Is Ridiculous?

By Tim Surette

Dec 04, 2012

Homeland S02E10: "Broken Hearts"

There's been a bit of an uproar on the internet today over last night's episode of Homeland, "Broken Hearts," but come on, you all know what you signed up for the minute you didn't turn off the television when Brody comically murdered the bomb-making tailor in the woods to shut him up so his wife wouldn't hear him over the phone in this season's third episode, "State of Independence." Or when Dana and Finn ran over that woman in "Q & A." Or maybe even earlier, like as far back as Season 1's "Crossfire," the terrible episode in which we flashed back to Brody so we could see his excuse for turning against the country that groomed him into a Marine.

Complaining about this show now (calling it "a mess" or saying that the creators are "as crazy as their characters") seems a bit mistimed given the way Season 2 has progressed. I'm not saying the complaints are without validation, because a lot of the show's plots require us to not only suspend our disbelief, but to expel it outright and ship it off to military school on the moon. This is a show about a bipolar CIA agent who's in love with a P.O.W. who becomes a candidate for vice president after simply learning how to shake hands like a politician. This is a show about a man who was willing to turn on his country and commit suicide in order to exact revenge for the killing of his evil captor's son. This is a show where the drunk is the smart guy.

I too have been guilty of taking Homeland as serious as the subject matter it deals with, but as it's carried on it's also carved out a different path for me to follow. The series has trained me to accept the ridiculous because it's created its own unique universe for its characters live in; it only looks like the one we live in and it's easy to confuse the two. Abu Nazir is a contemporary ghost story, not the subject of a training video for anti-terrorist greenhorns. I've said something like this before, but what makes Homeland so fun to watch is two-fold. We're witnessing one of modern television's greatest high-wire balancing acts and waiting for it to fall off and crash to the ground without a safety net in a grand splat, and the show could very well get there. But the show is also genuinely superb in some of its character moments, its production, and its acting, and as long as it can keep up such a high level of quality in those areas, I'll continue to watch.

The two major points of contention with "Broken Hearts" were Abu Nazir's abduction of Carrie and Brody's passive murder of Vice President Walden. Make no mistake, both of these events were outrageous (I have more beef with the VP plot than the Carrie-napping), but they're nowhere near as ludicrous as Brody's woodland murder while he was on the phone with Jess and they're light years away from Dana's hit-and-run.

I feel like I had to get that out of the way because "Broken Hearts" was emblematic of everything Homeland is—or in a more negative light, everything Homeland has become?—in Season 2. It was pure insanity and full of the juice that has given this season such a kick as it recklessly rolls down a mountain at top speed, hoping it doesn't explode along the way. Stay with me here, but Homeland has become a television show. And it's a television show that has decided that its pace will be something like that of a hummingbird on speed that's test-piloting rocket cars on re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.

The problem is, Homeland has become a slave to that pace and must maintain it, "whatever it takes," as Carrie says. However, I prefer that to the opposite, which would have us watching Brody deal with legislation and lobbyists and seeing Carrie tap away on a keyboard, filing reports. Okay enough of that, let's talk about what actually happened in "Broken Hearts."

There were two big character moments in the episode, Carrie and Abu Nazir essentially calling each other names and Brody and Walden dealing with failing technology. Carrie and Nazir's convo didn't exactly feel natural, but the content of what they were saying covered everything you'd expect them to bark about. It was also the kind of talk we've come to expect in television when a terrorist and a freedom fighter (you choose who represents which) come together. But what I liked about it was that Carrie, still in restraints, had no qualms about stating her case. That's exactly the type of all-or-nothing person Carrie is, and she was just true to her core when given the chance to debate the person she's spent so much time trying to hunt down and kill.

As for the kidnapping in general, it was a bit on the ridonk side for sure, but still in keeping with the show's rapidly difficult task of maintain its trajectory. Nazir could have easily gotten the information that Brody is bonkers for Carrie through Roya and exploited it, even if Carrie is CIA. It was reckless behavior on Nazir's part, but I get the sense that Nazir doesn't care because he doesn't feel like he's long for this world. And because Nazir's main beef is with Walden, he may be so focused on killing the guy that everything else doesn't matter as much. Nazir isn't your normal terrorist. His problems are more personal (getting revenge for his son's murder) than ideological.

The chat between Brody and Walden, however, WAS worthy of the "mess" label because no way in hell would Brody be stupid enough to play his cards like that before the veep was closer to dying. You just don't let a murder victim know you're in on the murder before you're absolutely sure he's going to die. For all Brody knew, that first hiccup out of Walden could have been a reaction to some extra spicy Thai drunken noodles and not a sign that Nazir's hackers were uploading malware to his ticker or signing his heart up for porn website newsletters. (And in case you were wondering, yes, wirelessly accessing someone's pacemaker and making it explode a heart is something that's technologically possible and has been in the news for years. But yes, it's more bad-movie plotting and very much the opposite of what Carrie has taught us is Nazir's modus operandi, which is something like "the louder, the better.")

Even with these problems, Homeland still comes off as more than competent television, and it's incredibly entertaining to boot. But if you are now complaining that some of the plotting in "Broken Hearts" was borderline stupid, have you not been paying attention up until now? Even with some of Homeland's not-as-good (I won't say bad) parts stirring frustration, it's those same parts that make the show enrapturing, and they're now part of the show's DNA. The pace and all that comes with such a high rate of speed may get tiring soon (and all signs point to something like mid-Season 3), but as of right now, this thing is still damn entertaining.



NOTES

– Brody does not like to end phone conversations with "Bye," "Talk to you later," or any other parting salutation. The guy just hangs up. I wish I was that badass.

– Well, we learned a little more about Dar Adul. He likes waffles. But other than that, we're still not clear on why Quinn and Adul are involved in the operation other than Saul's theory that Estes wants them in to muzzle Brody on the topic of their questionable drone strike that killed hundreds of innocent children.

– Can Blackberrys Skype? And shouldn't Nazir be on a burner instead of a real phone? And should Brody REALLY be screaming "Nazir!" in a building filled with CIA protection?

– More Carrie listening to jazz on her car radio! Yes! Bee-bop-a-doo-wop-bom-dom-diddly-boo!

– Sooooo... Is Galvez the mole in the CIA? His sudden return and the obvious focus on his return (only to make it not matter at all in the rest of the episode) leads me to believe that something's in store for him.

– Dana: "My dad is like a super spy, and terrorists want to kill him or some shit." BEST LINE EVER EVER. Ever.

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  • TonyMutu Dec 18, 2012

    I don't get why people are so upset about this episode.. Nazir has just lost his entire team, betrayed by his friend, beyond anything else, Brody. He is angry, upset adn desperate. He knows that he can't get out of the country alive, because they will be searching him all over the place. So the only thing that he has is to play his last card. Who he wants dead more than anyone? Walden. the reason he didn't go after him before with the pacemaker (using Roya as you said) is that that wasn't his actual plan and what he wanted form the beginning. It's a desperate move from a desperate man. What IS questionable is the way he found out about it. The last conversation of Brody and Walden was priceless. Of course he knew Walden was dying, i mean 5 minutes ago he was giving information to a terrorist how to assassinate him. How could that be a coincidence? Also, Nazir doesn't 'terrorize' just to get revenge for his son, i mean he was terrorist way before that. That was just another motive and justification he used and in the end when he couldn't do anything else, that was all that remained. The show is awesome and i hope it continues that way. The show is not stupid, you are.

  • Ankh49 Dec 10, 2012

    It was interesting to see Brodie getting crazy over Carrie for once. I wonder if her feelings for him will change now that she's seen what he is capable of? It is a great opportunity for the writers to reverse their roles. Also I wonder if Carrie inadvertantly did the very same thing she accused Nadir of, and brainwash Brody by being kind to him when he was at a low point. (Please note that I'm not saying that she did this deliberately!). Then again maybe it is Brody's fault for being so susceptible!

    You gotta love Carrie's determination by the way - only she would go back to that place after barely escaping with her life!

  • YiWernYoong Dec 08, 2012

    Galvez didn't die! hurrah :D

  • ScottMcCulloch Dec 07, 2012

    Brody had been waiting for that moment (getting revenge on Walden) for YEARS, you can't expect him to act like a cool customer there.

  • maximumbeard Dec 07, 2012

    I was an enormous fan of Season 1 and am probably guilty of taking the show too seriously but that ceased when Brody didn't kill himself at the end of the season. It's not that i wanted to lose Damian, I think he is doing his strongest work ever in this show, but the integrity of the show was lessened by not following through. Due to his change of heart, which i did find emotionally powerful, I worried how long the writers could sustain the same story line. Season 2 has plowed forth so wrecklessly that I worry it's turning into 24 without whisper/screaming from a crazed Jack Bauer. I'm sticking with the show...for now but having Nazir kidnap Carrie himself was the largest crack in plausibility thus far.

  • MichaelMcLaug2 Dec 07, 2012

    I think everybody is just waiting for the next implausible moment constantly. Some people think it's this moment, others think it's another moment. It goes a long way to show it's not so much the show, but just people willing to pick it apart. I bet if season 1 had actually been season 2, people would be picking that apart too simply because it was season 2.

  • MikeUK123 Dec 07, 2012

    I hope they don't go for a season 3. I think we are already seeing the concept running out, as great as it was. I think we've also moved at such a pace that pretty much everything these characters can experience and realistically get away with has been done.

    We are now at the stage of needing to put Dana, Saul and Quinn through the wringer.

    The only way I can see this coming back is if there is a major change in focus, one that doesn't involve the scooby doo style cat and mouse chase between Carrie and Brody, where Carrie is constantly on the verge of a mental breakdown and Brody just about gets away with everything, however unlikely.

    This show is not lighthearted like Person of Interest, so will not get away with constant extreme improbability.

    Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing Homeland end this season, with a decent finale worthy of the concept.

  • MartynWilson Dec 07, 2012

    I have to agree with that. The scenario hasn't really had sufficient legs for a second series let alone a third. If they put the Brody storyline to bed and introduced a fresh storyline about a new threat, that could be interesting. Don't suppose that could happen given that Damian Lewis is presumably signed up for the long haul.

  • OuAt Dec 06, 2012

    Nice review - I totally thought the same thing when Brody was full-on screaming Nazir's name into the phone when he was like 20 yards away from a protection detail.
    I keep waiting for the big twist, so here's my theory: Brody didn't wait long enough, they are going to resuscitate Walden, and he will be up caca creek with only a crazy blonde paddle. Although your POTUS theory is much more likely and could make a really interesting Season 3. Brody just seems so defeated now. I think he just wants to get Nazir killed, take his deal, divorce himself from his family, undergo facial reconstruction and live with Carrie... er, Meriwether... in their cabin in the woods.
    Also, I can't take much more of Dana. I know it's her shtick but get that girl into speech therapy and send her away for an episode of What Not to Wear -- don't those people come back with a whole new lease on life?

  • Grazzy Dec 09, 2012

    Ha! I love your comments on Dana, I can't stand her either. But I think the actress is probably doing a good job as a very annoying teenager.

  • CranthomRober Dec 06, 2012

    And oh yeah, I forgot to wonder out loud, what were those two CIA heavies gonna do with Saul? Were they actually bringing him to take him for a ride? Just questioning? Whats up with that anyway?

  • CranthomRober Dec 06, 2012

    Ok, well the main thing that I was thinking about was, how da heck is Brody gonna get out of this one, as far as plausible deniability goes on the murder of the VP.
    Well, at the end of this episode, the only people who know for sure that Brody did it, are Brody, Carrie and Nazir.
    If Carrie keeps quiet about that one detail, then Brody can get away with it.
    As for plausibility of events in this episode, yeah certainly there are some major reaching going on; screaming "Nazir" in a CIA safehouse can't be wise. That Brody's cellphone is not tapped is kinda unbelievable. But at least the last point is needed for the plot.
    (Most interesting though seeing Soames Forsytes still having wife troubles)

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