Just as Homeland was at risk of falling into a mid-season lull, last night’s episode – the fifth in the series – turned out to be the most explosive one yet. New blood was (literally) injected into this week’s episode in the shape of Afsal Hamid, Brody’s prison guard and torturer. The interrogation was fluid and well scripted, and it was refreshing to see Carrie’s professional side for once; a reminder as to why she didn’t lose her job years ago for overstepping the line.
The inevitable comparisons with 24 are only useful to a certain extent: Carrie is no Jack Bauer and neither does she try to be. A psychotic blonde with a disturbing penchant for voyeurism makes for a fascinating and indisputably unique heroine. She exploits her family members to obtain supplies of mysterious blue pills, but we simultaneously see a more humane side to her in the unplugging of her father’s iron and the cuddling up in bed with her nieces. Admittedly, the girly sleepover doesn’t last long, but it’s a step in the direction of normality compared with her uncontainable desire to invade people’s privacy.
As (British) humans, we are naturally inclined to side with the underdog, to have faith in the adamant little guy that nobody else believes. We are convinced Brody has been “turned”; besides, we have even more evidence than Carrie does thanks to our ability to see what this superficially Christian American war hero gets up to five times a day in the garage. Yet our concerns for Carrie’s mental health is a clever tool to make us doubt her; her certainty that Brody is now working with terrorists in the Middle East is undermined by the constant possibility that she it might all be in her head.
This week’s complication was Saul Berenson, the up-till-now lovable grandfather figure and most decent of a pretty dubious bunch of CIA agents. For the first four episodes he represented the moral gauge against which Carrie’s actions could be measured but this week he lost his golden boy status. The return of his wife flagged up his faults as a husband, and his unnervingly affectionate greeting towards the terrorist Afsal Hamid together with the unexplained Jewish prayer he utters raised an eyebrow or two. Could it have been Saul who passed over the razor blade to Hamid?
Homeland is picking up the pace. The series is finding its rhythm; with every question answered, another one is posed. Where is Raiquim Faizel and who tipped him off? When will the Jess-Mike-Brody love triangle come to a head? Only time – and perhaps Carrie’s utter inability to let go – will tell.
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