“Tin Man Is Down”
What, no Brody? It would have been a lot easier to write the Brody character out of the script if the writers had just killed him off last season like they should have, or like Damian Lewis actually seemed to have preferred. I suppose it says something about the health of a show when the Emmy-winning male lead actively wants his character to be killed off.
However, I can’t fault leaving Brody out of the season premiere. The show works best when it mirrors Carrie’s violent mood swings and uncontrolled mania, and that bitch was definitely off her meds Sunday night. Carrie’s highs and lows were on full display, and they become even more glorious when they are countered with Saul’s calm resolve. The entire episode catalogs the similarities and differences between Carrie and Saul. They both have an extreme aversion to any type of spotlight, which is exploited here more so than previously. But Carrie fucks strangers on her stairs that she meets in liquor stores. Saul and his wife sleep in separate beds like the post-racial Ward and June.
Still, the foundation of the series has been built with spectacular jumps when many shows would have settled for small steps. What I felt like we got from this premiere were small steps pretending to be the giant leaps we’ve become accustomed to. Carrie’s shenanigans being revealed to the American public is one thing. Carrie black bagged and locked down in ultra-secret detention would have blown the roof off. It’s like cocaine: once you’ve been freebasing for a month, a little snort isn’t gonna cut it anymore. I’ve seen Carrie get fucked by random dudes; now, I need to see her get fucked by F. Murray Abraham. With Eyes Wide Shut masks on. That look like Bob Dole’s face.
There’s still fun storytelling to be had. I’ve seen the clichéd counter-terrorist op live streamed to headquarters before (24, Zero Dark Thirty, etc. etc.) but it never really gets old. The scene felt a little rushed, because watching that shit is always awesome and always plays out well on TV. We’re also getting a terrorist target this season with a nickname, “The Magician”. Terrorists don’t really become super-villains until they get a moniker. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed didn’t really break out on the international terror scene until he became KSM. Then, the world was put on notice, motherfucker was about to go buck wild and shit. Bin Laden didn’t need a nickname, he was the terrorist Lex Luthor. But Lex Luthor is a terrorist?
Peter Quinn’s role is obviously being expanded this year, which will definitely be a positive and inject life where there otherwise might just be character retreads. I love that they’re expanding Pete’s character. I don’t love that they aren’t focusing directly on the mystery and intrigue established with him last season. Pete accidentally killed a terrorist’s kid. General agreement is that killing kids is bad. It’s interesting if someone in the CIA doesn’t feel this way, it isn’t interesting if someone in the CIA agrees with the general public. Still there’s a lot of potential, since Quinn does seem to have a genuine heart. I’m only worried that since he’s now the fill-in young male lead, he’ll inevitably have sex with Carrie. PROMINENT FEMALE LEADS DON’T HAVE TO FUCK MALE LEADS! IT ISN’T A REQUIREMENT! Finally, I’m done with Brody’s family. Last season they were an inconvenient annoyance. This season, unless the CIA hauls them in to use as leverage against THE MOST PROMINENT CRIMINAL IN THE WORLD…seriously, why didn’t this happen? Am I to believe that if an American citizen was suspected of blowing up CIA headquarters, they’d just let his family go about their lives? And no one is going to accuse them of being sympathizers and break all their windows, or kill them or try to rape them or something? Come the fuck on. Death to Brody’s stupid family.
We’re left with the payoff and the cliffhanger, Saul at once celebrating his triumphant strike against the Magician’s lieutenants (or were they Abu Nazir’s? I got lost a little) and also not just throwing Carrie to the wolves, but giving her a swift buttfuck for good measure. Seriously, I see Saul and Carrie and every now and then I think of DeNiro humping Bridget Fonda for two minutes in Jackie Brown. This isn’t healthy. Carrie is obviously royally fucked, but it seems to me like Saul had a plan. He had to know that as soon as he dropped the bombshell, Carrie was going to be brought in for questioning and Guantanamo’d. So there’s only two places for this to go: Carrie gets black bagged (and likely is coerced by Saul into helping him find Brody and The Magician), or Carrie goes on the run and finds Brody.
I don’t know that I like either of those scenarios. The Carrie and Brody combination has been oil and water so far in the series, it has always been firing on 8 when Carrie is pursuing and Brody is deflecting. But Carrie cooped up and medicated under government surveillance for 4-5 episodes doesn’t sound all that promising either, until the inevitable “BUT I HAVE SOMETHING YOU NEED” moment.
This wasn’t groundbreaking TV, but there certainly is a feeling that it was calm before storm. Maybe Homeland has conditioned me to expect the proverbial or literal explosion, but that’s when the show is at its best and I’m expecting it sooner rather than later.