Homeland: Question Everything, Especially Yourself

After Homeland's pilot episode put the spotlight on Claire Danes' character Carrie Mathison and exposed her for the lunatic she is, Episode 2 gave us a lot of Damian Lewis' Sergeant Nicholas Brody. But the show is walking a tricky line so far, and it's either really smart or really dumb.

"Grace," as most second episodes do, gave us an idea of what to expect from the series. And so far, it looks like we're going to spend the rest of the season watching Carrie get closer and closer to exposing Brody as a sleeper agent for Al-Qaeda, because there doesn't appear to be any question of whether he's a bad guy or not, something I'd hoped would be especially ambiguous in the all-important second episode. Or is that too obvious?

Here's the $200,000 question: Is the series worth sticking with if Brody is a bad guy and Homeland doesn't make any attempt to disguise it? Most dramatic TV series today, particularly ones that have deception for a backbone, are built on the idea of surprise and the need to discover the truth. If Brody does turn out to be a terrorist, I foresee a lot of people asking themselves when it's over, "That's it?"

That's why I hope and non-denominationally pray that there is more to the series than what I think we're getting. I want to believe that Brody isn't a bad guy, and I want Homeland to lead me down that path before sucker-punching me with the truth that I should never, ever get on a bus with him. The only hope I have right now is that the series is doing the opposite, making me think he's a bad guy before yanking the rug (again, a non-denominational one) out from underneath me.

If that is what the show is doing, it's genius. (I haven't seen the Israeli series Homeland is based on, so please, no spoilers in the comments section.) Putting the entire audience in Carrie's brain would really drive home the idea of post-9/11 paranoia and a little tenet we like to call "innocent until proven guilty." Carrie, our central character, is certain that Brody's been turned, and if we continue to share her wavelength we might learn a thing or two about letting our so-called "certainty" get the best of us. Remember, we're currently getting all of our sleeper-agent info from Carrie; how much of it can we believe, knowing she's cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs? Meanwhile, we don't have a clue what's going on in Brody's head. He's either incredibly cold and calculating, like any good terrorist would be, or he's just a guy who, I don't know, is completely freaked out because he just saw the sun and took a sh*t in an actual toilet for the first time in eight years. God, this show IS making me paranoid. I can't even trust myself anymore. The more I think about Homeland, the more I think I like it.

Homeland right now is all about perspective, and we're mostly seeing things from Carrie's, with a few fragments of Brody's via flashback. If the Homeland wants us to think Brody is a bad guy, it's doing a good job. In fact, it's almost making things too easy, and if we continue to feel that way, the show isn't doing its job. Homeland's success will ultimately rely on making us feel uncertain and leaving it up to us to make sure we question even our own judgment.

So let's review the major evidence that incriminates Brody and attempt to dismiss it, just for kicks:

– We saw him beat his buddy to death in the pilot during a flashback. But we don't know the circumstances that compelled him to do it. I'll play Devil's Advocate and say that maybe the alternative was worse. At least Brody didn't seem to enjoy it.

– We saw him pray to Mecca in his garage in the present day. But maybe he simply found a religion that works for him. He never said pre-dinner grace before he crossed the Atlantic, and a lot of crazy things can penetrate a man's mind after eight years in a cell. Perhaps a little comfort in the religion of his surroundings helped him out.

– We saw him stand up before reporters, ready to talk about his captivity and "play the hero card," just as Saul predicted. And according to Carrie, that's damning evidence. But given the mounting pressure from snooping reporters asking for throat-punches, an endless barrage of phone calls from the more "polite" media outlets, and lots of visits from the dude who porked his hot wife while he was locked in a stone box, why wouldn't Brody want to share his story, get it over with, and take the spotlight off himself and his family?

I'm hoping Homeland is either tricking us, or that it's setting us up to think a certain way before revving up a roller coaster of possibilities that will have its way with our brains. You know, that HAS to be what Homeland is doing. In fact, I'm certain of it.

Notes:
– I loved watching Brody tell Mike off and tell the government and the military to f*** themselves, he's not taking orders anymore. What if this show isn't about whether a man has turned to support the terrorists, but a man who has turned on the military and government that shipped him off to a giant sandbox where he got captured and thrown into a box for eight years?

– What happened to Brody's son between this week and last week? He was so scared and adorable with a new dad, and now he's kind of a punk. How insensitive do you have to be to play set-in-the-Middle-East first-person shooters when your POW dad is in the room? And where do you get off asking him what it's like to kill a person? I think the kid may be the real terrorist here.

– My favorite character so far is Virgil, Carrie's independent surveillance guru. Who is yours?

– Can we all agree that we'd better just go ahead and order a coffin for Carrie's escort friend/informant? And how messed up is it that Carrie lied to her about protection?

– How awesome was the scene where Brody prayed in his garage? That gave me the shivers. And then the next time we saw him, he was sporting a military uniform.


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

Comments (42)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
Are you sure she has not been turned ??
Reply
Flag
Honestly if Brody does turn out to be a terrorist I highly doubt it will make the show boring because then all they'd need is a terror plot and Carrie having a mental breakdown for cliff-hangers: the terror plot to propel the show into a second season and a breakdown so it's revealed that she has a mental illness (maybe schizophrenia) and she loses all credibility so no one believes her when she claims this American "hero" is a terrorist.

Reply
Flag
I'm so sick of all this Globalist propaganda in TV shows. How dumb are all you morons that you can't see the creeping New World Order psychological conditioning persuading people to be scared of authority (everyone's guilty until proven innocent and shoved around by the cops with no repercussions) taught to worship the government law enforcement agencies with NCIS, CSI, Criminal minds, and many more. The amount of cop and border security shows saturating TV is such blatant conditioning you'd have to be borderline retarded not to see it. They constantly sneak in anti-gun propaganda, muslim terrorist propaganda when it's a fact that every major terrorist attack in modern times was orchestrated by the western intelligence agencies, 911 is scientifically proven to be an inside job. Now with shows like this they're shifting the definition of terrorist to domestic population that are aware of the new world order and the evil corruption of the globalists. I could go on educating for pages and pages but do the research and wake up!.
Reply
Flag
Yeah, 911 is an inside job : when I dial 911, I always get an american on the line !
Reply
Flag
I think your right Tim....they are tricking us, trying to make it look too easy that he is the bad guy. I think he has issues, he's no longer happy with his gov't or the military, but hasn't actually "turned". He did as he needed to do while in captivity to stay alive. Why else would they keep him for that many years. Certainly he would have been turned within the first 3 years, and could have been used as an asset much sooner. As they would have us believe though, they wanted him to be rescued in an inconspicuous way. And regarding his praying in the garage. He probably just converted to Islam, and that would vastly change his views of the western world.
Reply
Flag
I'd say there's a third possibility, what if it turns out he's some kind of a double agent? what if he's pretending to be "turned" in order to foil a terrorist plot from the inside..... It could certainly get more complicated that way. With a crazy unstable cia agent chasing him on one side, a cold calculating religious extremist on the other and him in the middle trying to do what he believes is right- which might not be exactly sane.. The potential of the show is endless specially with an actor the caliber of Damian Lewis.
Reply
Flag
what religious extremists ???
Reply
Flag
Wow, I'd like that... but in that case, he wouldn't be alone. We would need to know if he has some kind of an handler.
Reply
Flag
Love this show so far but I absolutely hate that opening intro. Looks more like American Horror Story lol.
Reply
Flag
They should make more TV-shows like these... Instead of vampires and wolfs and witches and dinossaurs



GOD, I miss 24 :|
Reply
Flag
With this second episode, I can't help but think about that Damages comparison that you made Tim last week. Exactly like Damages, Homeland makes sure that we are sure of nothing by giving us pair of contradictory clues. Each time a clue led us to think one way, a second clue came to make us think the other way (twitching finger vs cryptoteam without answer, screws&electricmatrial&garagehiding vs DIY&praying).

How long can this situation be hold ? If the situation of Brody is revealed soon, will the rest of the season be as tension filled ? I think so. Actually, after having watched the trailer, I thought that this show was about a turned soldier... that why I tuned in so...
Reply
Flag
I smell Abramsification (in reference to JJ's method of promising hidden plot twists that never come, or are disappointing when they do. Yes you can steal that.)
Reply
Flag
I think the scene where he prays is one of the most brillant scene i've ever seen in a tv show because it says more about us spectators than it says about the character. We suspect him to be a terrorist and suddently we see him praying and it's difficult not to make a twisted parrallel with terrorism or sees it somehow as an evidence that he has been turn. And here we see that religious discrimination and association between islam and terrorism are easy but existent in the mind of an occidental spectator. I also think that the show is not so much about a 24-like plot. It is more about voyeurism (there's something metaphysic about seing the cia agent watching and commenting the life of a common family just like we do when we watch a drama) and about the impact of terrorism on people state of mind and that is why Homeland isn't just entertaining, it's intelligent and artistic.
Reply
Flag
"We suspect him to be a terrorist and suddently we see him praying and it's difficult not to make a twisted parrallel with terrorism or sees it somehow as an evidence that he has been turn"

I get your point, it's a very intelligent one. But to be totally honest, that wasn't my interpretation of the twist. To me, it was more like "ouf ! He's not building a bomb, he's just praying". That was more for me a proof of his innocence than of his guilt. So saying "it's difficult to make the [amalgam]" seems quite unfair.for the occidental spectator that I am.
Reply
Flag
I don't think Brody is a terrorist .

the prisoner from first episode said "turned" so it just maybe means converted to a muslim .

p.s.Someone needs to educate Brody the right way to pray :P
Reply
Flag
The dude risks the life and career of his handler just to say to her that "a soldier said bye bye to Jesus and Hello to Hallah"... it seems quite unlikely to me.
Reply
Flag
He did want to only tell her the info after he got a stay of execution and when she said she couldn't he thought she was lying and said he wasn't going to tell her but when she promised to look after his family he told her - he could've lied just to make sure his family got protection after his death.
Reply
Flag
I have a funny feeling that the show will keep us on our toes with regards to him being a terrorist. I have a feeling I'll change my mind several time during the series. My current thinking is that he probably isn't, but I hope the show has the balls to show that he actually is if, in the end, that is the case.

I have to say that the acting and writing was just as excellent as the first episode and I hope they keep it up.

As for favorite character, I think Virgil comes across as the most likable, but I prefer Carrie. And yes, Carrie's "Asset" will be leaving in a body-bag.
Reply
Flag
I like the intrigue the show has so far. I believe the clues as you mentioned leave "no doubt" as to whether or not Brody is a terrorist. This is what actually makes me wonder they are deliberate and intended to lead us into that direction (Just as Carrie sees it). As you have already discussed the "clues" are way too obvious to be ambiguous. Even if all the clues so far have only been revealed to the audience, I do not see a need for such flagrant use of his point of view in the show; other than to lead us to the wrong path obviously. I'm with you on this one Tim, Brody is definitely not a terrorist.



So Here are my questions:



1-) Why is Carrie the only one that seems to believe she is right? Just as she manufactured the protection detail to her asset, I think she manufactured this story as well. She does after all have a mental illness that we are not privy to yet.



2-) Why as a CIA operative would you wait 10 YEARS to let your government know that the last words of an asset that was killed solely because he was going to talk were "A pow has been turned". Why does the POW have to be a military personnel....What if they were a civilian?? What if Abu Nazir (Spelling?) is cunning enough have it all planned so that the CIA is wasting their resources on someone innocent while the real terrorist is free to aid in the planning of the attack? I know he hasn't shown his face until Brody's release and that they found him because of evidence left behind by Abu Nazir. What if its all just a very well thought out ploy?



Feel free to comment to further the discussion.
More+
Reply
Flag
This show's strength and merit are in its ability to challenge the audience and make us question the boundaries on the grey areas. Straight away this show is making us face some of our stereotypes and held beliefs about taboo issues in our society, most especially mental illness, racial and religious issues, the government, surveillance and civil liberties. Is Carrie crazy or impassioned and driven by the catastrophic failure of the intelligence community leading up to 9/11? Is Brody a sleeper agent or a scarred POW who did whatever he had to do to survive and return to his family? Does the government care about preventing another major terrorist incident or is it peopled by self-important bureaucrats interested only in CYA? Is it acceptable for an agency of the government to annihilate the civil liberties of any American, especially this war hero and his family, in the interest of national security? (This one has me horrified, watching Carrie watch the Brody family with snacks like it is the latest incarnation of Big Brother, then using Brody's PTSD behaviors to shore up her sleeper theories, disturbing.)



All this being said, the writers do not offer the audience a very positive image of the US Intelligence community (peopled by the mentally unstable, free-lance spooks, and cold, crass, philandering bureaucrats aiming for the high-profile easy wins), nor the military (applying pressure to a traumatized POW and his family in order to have a poster boy to garner public support for an expensive, faceless, geographically ambiguous war). I am also concerned about the show's treatment of Carrie's "mood disorder" and can see her hiding this will come back to bite her and the agency at a crucial time - her behavior is erratic, and her sexscapades will be an issue as this is the perfect fulcrum for leverage against her at some point. Her unwillingness to seek proper treatment, the increasing pressures from the case and her inability to deal will make for the perfect storm (expect Carrie to have a mini implosion when her professional girlfriend asset winds up dead).



This show has buckets of potential, and I think it would be a mistake to fall prey to believing the writers have laid the cards on the table this early. I'm committed to the long game.
More+
Reply
Flag
Let me start with so far, I love this show. Great characters, well acted. As for the whether or not he's been flipped, I would agree with you Tim in that I want it to be ambiguous as much as possible for at least this first season. As you defended above, all the "clues" can currently go either way.

-Great one-sided speech. Valid points, and there are more still to be spoken if I'm not mistaken with this show.

-His son? Way insensitive. Seriously, you're playing this game and asking that question? I'd use the "he'd never really met the guy" excuse except that sucks as an excuse for this.

-Virgil's a lot of fun, but I'm a Pitinkin guy.

-And yeah, that escort is dead, and seriously so. I wouldn't say messed up about Carrie lying to her. I'd say cold and calculated. If she said anything else, that chick would bail, hard. Carrie's hoping she pulls it off, said what she needed to say to give the lass some confidence and is likely now silently praying that nothing goes wrong.

-Brody in the garage was shiver-worthy. To all those who just say "it's a valid religion and means nothing about his guilt or innocence", I agree. It's just that the show presented the scene in a very significant way so as to indicate, at the very least, his time over there has affected him and changed him in a way that he sees in himself as a positive way.



As for you naysayers to the future of this show I have two directions in which I would be quite happy for the continued show to be going.

1) Season 1 ends with the following revelations (to us, not necessarily all characters, and not necessarily in this order): Brody is not a terrorist, Brody is framed as a terrorist, Somebody else quite intrinsic to this operation is actually the terrorist, Claire discovers a terrorist plot in the USA

2) Same rules as in 1: Brody is a terrorist, Claire discovers his terrorist truth but because her illness is revealed or she burned all her bridges with Pitinkin no one will believe her, Just to confuse us Brody publicly gives information leading to a lot of terrorists getting taken down, Claire probably gets fired



I like my first idea better, but whatever, I'm sure both of these will be wrong anyway because I'm not writing the show. If one of them is right, and we all agree that it's a good job well done, I'd like someone to hire me as writer. Please? <-- Not Serious.
More+
Reply
Flag
I'd add to what others have already said- in which instance does the show tell that he is really the bad guy? Remember that he said "since when we say prayer" before the dinner i.e. 8 years before he probably wasn't religious at all... and knowing no religion and having to spend 8 years in some sh**hole in Afghanistan can make you adopt Islam as your religion either because of Stockholm sindrome or... who knows? Maybe there was some compassionate guy, a Taliban soldier who helped him as much as he could and told him about Allah and religion... that it can help him survive etc.



Also about beating a friend... there could be any reason why he did that. Maybe he was told that otherwise they'll skin his friend alive, maybe his friend was co-operating with Taliban and he just was overcome with rage about that, maybe they just made him believe that he killed his friend using some brainwashing technique...many things suggest that Brody (and, of course, that's understandable) can't tell reality from hallucinations, dreams, nightmares...



About him hitting a reporter- a lot of people do that to paparazzi.... even relatively sane ones. Again, he didn't want to kill him and if he was really 100% turned, would he do such a stupid thing?



And about hero card I wouldn't worry much too- might be so that tis ep was meant to show his gradal transformation to the enemy but maybe he just found peace praying and knew that he really could help family if he played the hero card....
More+
Reply
Flag
I love this show! I was riveted, and cannot wait for Sunday. My only qualm is with the first episode, why wasnt his family taken to him. They were left all alone, in the airport waiting for him. I cannot see that happening. And where is the psycholgist, That should be awaiting him? That just would not be the way it would happen after being released from 8yrs of captivity. There is no way he would just hop off a plane, be quickly debriefed and sent to his family like nothing had ever happened.
Reply
Flag
The psychiatrist report was done in Germany before returning home... and for sure it was not done in just one day...
Reply
Flag
part 3 . I wouldnt even underestimate the role of Mandy Patinkin as Saul, he seems so ambiguous. as if he were hiding something. For me as an European is also intresting to watch this show, cause is something new, a Marine a National US hero turned to Islam? Wow. As I told before there is something new in this show and I like it.

Until now, is the best show that we have.

Reply
Flag
part 2 Homeland is a different story. Damian Lewis and Claire Danes are fantastic in their roles. Damian was already great as a hero of WWII (which is why I find it hard to imagine him as a terrorist), and we must not foget our schizophrenic friend Carrie ... are we sure that in the real world, outside the set she is not bi-polar? jokes aside.

I do not think that Homeland up to this point have said much. except for the fact that Brody has found faith in Islam,and that Carrie ishunted by 911 ghosts.

Reply
Flag
Part 1 Now that Breaking Bad is over till next year, all we can do is cry... or maybe not? However, House is back and Boardwalk Empire it seems to continue where they finished last season (although to tell the truth' I was expecting an improvement).Terra Nova, was promising a lot ... but I am sorry to say, is far far away from the first Jurassic Park. the special effects are terrible not to mention the acting. The dinosaurs are not the only reason to continue watching the series.
Reply
Flag
Homeland has not thus far indicated clearly whether Brody has been turned... What we see are signs of post traumatic stress disorder which are to be expected... and we see short flashbacks of Brody under extreme duress over a very long period (for 8 years!!!), that he prays in his garage and that he later puts his uniform to talk to the press which again does not mean anything... He could simply be trying to save his marriage and provide for his family by being more like 'uncle Mike'? I hope the show is precisely intent in showing how it is not all the time obvious who is good and who is bad... It may be also that Brody is not fully conscious all the time of what has been done to him and that he has been 'programmed' to react to certain stimuli
Reply
Flag
Great show.HATE CARRIE....!!!!
Reply
Flag
I'm confused. Why does anyone think that Brody is a bad guy? What exactly has he done that's bad? Yeah, he punched(killed?) his brother in arms a few times while he was captured but apart from that. Since he's been home, all he's one that suggests any malice is twitch is fingers a few times, punch a reporter and pray to Allah(something that could be a result of Stockholm syndrome in some way and by no means suggest he's a terrorist). So far, his allegiance couldn't be more ambiguous IMO.
Reply
Flag
I think Brody is the good guy but the show wants us to think he's the bad guy. Yeah, he's playing the hero card but the army wants him to play it also that doesn't mean he is a terrorist. Yeah, he was praying to Allah but that doesn't mean he is a terrorist. He have listen to Muslims pray every day for 8 years and I think he just finds peace in having something that hasn't change in his life.



Carrie's escort friend is definitively dead next episode.
Reply
Flag
Nothing special. Too slow and its getting me on my nerve, but still keep watching maybe it will amaze me !!!
Reply
Flag
As I see it, Nicholas Brody(Damian Lewis) is a good guy who just did "bad" things while being captive and they were part of his torture. And what we have seen so far is just to throw us off thinking he is the terrorist.



Also I don't think Damian Lewis would take a role on a show where he would be killed off in just one season or do I think the writers will drag the plot out for several seasons. What I suspect is there will mid season reveal of the true terrorist threat where Damian Lewis character will play a major role in solving or even stopping the terrorists where in future seasons he may work as a freelancer of sorts along Claire Danes character, basically being part of a small team.
Reply
Flag
Just a side note: Damian Lewis and Claire Danes rock!
Reply
Flag
How obvious can it be two episodes in? His praying to Mecca is a clear play on modern American emotion toward Islam. It's almost so blatant, it's insulting. Nothing about praying to Mecca is bad. Granted Tim wrote that maybe Brody just found a religion. Yes. I believe that's the case. It's the more liberal, contemporary argument in an anti-Islam America. Given this information, we're not JUST in Carrie's head, since the garage is outside of prying eyes.



At the end, I really don't believe this show has much going for it. Where do we go next season? Do we end this one with, "is he or isn't he?" syndrome, or do we end with, "he is (whatever the case may be) and..."? It's interesting television, but it's not good yet. It still needs to grow. We should know by the 4th episode. Such is known as the 4 episode test...Tim will know what I'm talking about.
Reply
Flag
I acutally like the way they are handling the whole "is he a terrorist or not" thing. For example in the pilot you see him beat his friend to death. That makes it easy to think that they broke and turned him. But then in the second episode you see him kneeling next to his friends grave (that he had to dig) and sing about bein a proud United States Marine. That would suggest he had not been broken and turned at that point. I think if they can keep things going like this it might actually stay interesting until the very end when they reveal whether he was turned or not. So far I think Homeland has been the strongest new show of the season.
Reply
Flag
fantastic show, best one so far from the new ones.
Reply
Flag
Here's the $200,000 question: Is the series worth sticking with if Brody is a bad guy and Homeland doesn't make any attempt to disguise it?

My take on it: Why not? Is the only big question whether he is a bad guy or not? If he is a bad guy I can very well see a lot of people going "that's it?", but to me there are other interesting aspects to it: 1) What is he going to do as a terrorist? 2) The cat and mouse play between Brody and Carrie. 3) The conflict between his family man side and his new terrorist alter-ego. 4) What made him convinced to turn to the other side? These are just a few other reasons I'm interested in the show, so I'm not going to be disappointed if Brody is revealed to be a terrorist early on.
Reply
Flag
Dig it very much.
Reply
Flag
I think you're overstating Carrie's mental disorder a bit. She's bipolar, which could certainly hinder her job performance (and probably does), but she's managing it with medication so she's still a little up-and-down, but on the whole extremely functional.



I also hope that his identity as a terrorist or not remains ambiguous. Although it will be tough to create the right amount of tension to believably continue to keep us in the dark. It's not a plot line that lends itself to serialization. We'll see, but I can't help feeling: should this have been a miniseries instead?

Reply
Flag
Maybe as a foreigner I have a different perspective on the show, but Brody's alliance has been far from obvious from my view point. Like you said, we don't know what the circumstances were that made him beat his friend, and after hearing his wife's reasoning, going to the press seems like a very logical thing to do. Also, Brody praying in his garage does nothing for me. It's a religion like any other and I can't really see how that makes him a bad guy. If you ask me, calling it "a crazy thing that penetrated his brain" seems pretty effed-up and offensive Tim.
Reply
Flag
I'm up for that rollercoaster! Is he bad? Isn't he bad? Is he bad? Isn't he bad?

up and down, and up and down. The show so far has been brilliant, and the actors are doing one heck of a job.
Reply
Flag

Like TV.com on Facebook