21 February 2012

Thoughts on the Homeland Finale

Spoiler alert: Read no further if you haven’t seen the final episode of Homeland, or indeed any of the middle ones; I have a rave in me that needs to get out!


Last night’s Homeland finale was everything I wanted it to be and more.
Brilliant acting on the part of all my favourite characters. Brody was as ambiguous as ever, but this episode at least gave us a lot more of a look inside his mind, and at his conflicted nature. I can't recall any show recently that managed to evoke as much intensity as the suspenseful moment when Brody was preparing himself to flick the switch.
As the episode progressed I was swinging back and forth regarding my feelings toward Brody the character; about what I thought he was going to do, if he would survive, and then when the big moment came, how he would get out. My wife suffers the brunt of this as I voice my every concern, theory and hope as the show goes on, just in case I end up being right later (I like to have confirmation). Though in this respect Lizzie is far better at predicting shows than I.
Fuck this shit indeed
Carrie was really going crazy in this episode, and Claire Danes' acting had you believing the fine line she was walking on between driven passion and downright insanity. The best thing about this show is that you don’t really know what is going on, and that at any point it seems like it could go either way.
We finally now have insight into Brody and who he is, though it was left ambiguous most of the season. The best part is we know his whole story, and what he was prepared to do, but then were surprised by his last minute reversal, so now we just have to ponder what he will do next.
Conversely we have the opposite situation with Carrie now, as everyone else looks at her tipping between reality and insanity, whereas we know she is one of the few characters with a definite road she is traveling on (she knows the truth, or at least suspects it; but everyone else doubts her).
Who wouldn't trust that face?
My favourite character in this show has to be Saul however, and in this episode he truly shone. We learned early on in the series that he was willing to do a bit of blackmail on the side if it lead to apprehending the bad guys, and this episode brought that side back to bear. However unlike the other duplicitous characters in the show you actually believe that Saul is working for the greater good. He is willing to blackmail to get around some hurdles in the beginning, but now he is blackmailing one of the ‘bad guys’ to try and get to the truth. A truth he uncovers, and then has to agonise over whether or not to make public.
On the other hand you have the Vice President and the other ‘conspirators’ who take to heart the fact that they are working for the greater good, and seem all the more blinded by this assurance, and thus willing to commit atrocities that they feel are fully justified. Hell, the Vice President even seeks to remove himself completely from blame after bombing children! You really see why Brody would despise these people so much (if not for the unfortunate fact that he doesn’t know how truly complicit they were in Issa’s death).
But Saul, I have to commend him and the actor Mandy Patinkin. His character has gone through a lot, and still manages to stick by those in need. Sure he set the bodyguards on Carrie when he thought she was nuts, but it seemed to be more of a compassionate move than a mere dismissal of her part in his life. This is all the more evident by the fact that he continued Carrie’s quest in her absence.
The great moment where he realised the extent of Carrie's problems
Mandy really brings this character to life, albeit in a quiet and brooding manner. You get the feeling that Saul is always deeply in-tune with whatever he is dealing with, to the detriment of his own personal life.
Oh, and what was the deal with the lie detector thing halfway through the series? Was he responsible for the blade? I really don’t want him to be the mole, unless the shows writers can do an equally good job of explaining these motivations as they did with Brody's; which I think would be damn near impossible.
Speaking of the mole, I like how nothing was revealed here yet. There is going to be a second series, and though this really does feel like a nice ending, it only appears thus if you know there will be further resolution; otherwise you would just feel jilted.
Another character I was happy with in last nights show was the daughter Dana. I remember earlier in the series liking the way she was portrayed. There was something different about her, true she had the standard teenage girl lines and motivations, but it was less two dimensional than most other teenage offerings in dramas. After all you can expect a level of stereotype with these things, as teenagers as a group generally do have defining qualities. But too often a show will rely only on these quirks, and leave true characterisation for the grown ups.
To watch Dana dealing with her fathers suspicious behaviour in the previous episode, and couple them with her discovery of Brody in the midst of a late night Muslim prayer, really made me want her to do more as the finale progressed. And I was not disappointed!
She knew something was up, but didn’t quite know what. She was worried about her dad, and suspicious of what was going on, but wasn’t willing to believe the worst about him. I don’t know how much we are supposed to believe that she truly knew her dads motivations that day, but the way she handled the phone call; forcing her dad to connect, and to promise things without merely pushing her questions aside with platitudes, was actually quite brilliant.
Then there were the characters I didn't like, but that nevertheless formed a part of the show. There were those you weren't meant to like, and those that I think I just didn't like.
I will start with the purposefully dislikable.
The Vice president. What a douche.
I remember thinking this early on, that he seems like a douche, and a bit of a prick. But as this episode went on, I just started to dislike him more and more to the point where part of me was actively wanting Brody to blow the fucker sky high! He had shown in previous episodes how self-centred he was, and how willingly he put his needs before others, and their safety behind his own machinations for power. He was willing to circumvent proper protocols by effectively bribing Estes with promised future promotions.
Then as the icing on the ‘hate cake’, we are privy to a discussion in some clandestine war room where the VP orders a school to be bombed, regardless of the inevitable human casualties.
What a prickhole.
Must be odd to be an actor that can play smarmy so well..
Speaking of Estes, he is purposely unlikable character number two. We discovered in this episode that not only does he thwart Carrie's investigation because of personal feelings toward her, and seek to further his career at the expense of doing his current job. But he was also instrumental in the reason for Abu Nazir's current plot, and withheld useful information to save his and the Vice Presidents futures. It was a pleasure to see Saul rip into him in the end, but he slimed his way out yet again, and no doubt will annoy me next season too.
Just look at him, and his grey suit.
Now, the characters I found unlikable, but that weren't necessarily meant to be.
The wife. I was glad that her character didn't have much to do in this episode, as I really haven’t grown to like her that much. Though at the end of the last episode I was feeling for her, if only for the fact that I thought Brody would most likely be leaving them again soon, though on a much more permanent level.
And then there is Walker. The boring robot sniper terrorist Walker. He was too evil, too snarly, and in this episode I found him speaking with a bit too much of a ‘street dawg’ accent. I was glad when Brody put a bullet in his head, because his character had no real sufficient motivation, which given the whole ‘American soldier turned into a terrorist’ storyline, is something you really need.
"I'm a terrorist because............ Grrrrr America and such" - Generic bad guy
But as great as the finale was, my favourite line still comes from episode #10?#, and was delivered by the Saudi diplomat the CIA was hoping to blackmail onto their side via the threat of exposing his homosexuality to the world. What was that line? Only this bit of unexpected brilliance:
“Thats right, I suck cock; and I love it. Yummy, yummy, yummy!”

Delivered with flair, realism, and humour.

Needless to say I am eager for the next season to start, and have a while to wait till it does. Luckily a new Game of Thrones is around the corner.......

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