Homeland – In Memoriam

by deerinthexenonarclights

To many fans last week’s episode was the death of this show and based on the new title this one seemed fit to be its funeral (In Memoriam is a last minute replacement for the potentially profane The Motherfucker In A Turban). Written by Chip Johansson, an assistant in Breaking Bad‘s writing room, whatever it was called the episode seemed perfectly set up to show how that this series is inferior to the “real Best Drama’s”. Then there was the optimistic possibility, that here Homeland would make its last stand, would turn around and redeem itself for any past sins, saving its name in the process. None of these predictions, nor any I had about the plot itself, ended up coming true during the episode and although it wasn’t what I expected this was still a good, entertaining hour of television; which is likely more than what some others will say.

The first prediction I had was that Nazir had maybe planned this all along, that he had lured the streams of special ops teams and ex-soldiers to the scene so that he could kill them in a suicide blast: what, after all, would be more fitting to his Modus Operandi than killing the very people tasked with stopping him from slaughter? After seeing the story of the last few weeks this 24 style twist didn’t seem anywhere near out of the question but thankfully the spy side of the story was nowhere near that extravagant.

There were nevertheless though a number of action scenes scattered throughout the episode and these tread the line between class and crass with more balance then the show has shown in the past. The second sweep of the tunnels was suitably tense – in that you knew from the sweeping musical que that something sinister was coming but not from where or for whom – and despite its early extravagances – Carrie being the one to find the secret, the rest of the squad walking off without her, etc – the scene still managed to both provide the suspense a program of this genre should and subvert some of our notions of the field.

Carrie isn’t a damsel but she is still too diminutive to be a real danger in close quarters and so when push actually comes to shove she can’t physically overpower her enemies; instead she has to sprint and scream for the more sizeable SWAT team; the shots of her walking in between the soldiers after the shoot-out showed this difference in size spectacularly well. The demise of the demonic bad guy is always a big moment in a season but dying it like this, at the hands of an unknown soldier in some factory somewhere is strange. It’s also nicely evocative of all the famous figures who were killed over recent years: Saddam, Gaddafi and of course the infamous May Day referenced in the season’s second episode. It was a satisfyingly unsatisfying moment; stilted, but purposefully so.

Unfortunately some of the episodes other story lines were unpleasant in ways that no one would ever have intended: Estes steps up as the show’s new number one arsehole, Roya got a riveting but pointless and preachy interrogation that still failed to give her any identifying features and Dana quite literally cries over spilt milk. The Brody bunch were not all and though, the scene at the end of the episode between Nick and his wife was wonderful; the kind of cathartically open talk that the constant, contrived timing of phone calls has prevented them from having all year, one that should have come sooner both for their relationship and the show itself.

This scene came with my second false-positive prediction: there was a telling moment in the aforementioned interrogation scenes (better not to mention Saul’s) in which Brody is concisely compared to Nazir. Had the episode made this comparison concrete in its climax, like I was so sure it would, by killing Brody off ( a bullet bursting through the window of the car a second after that deep sigh, a balaclavad Quinn stepping into the shot soon after) then I would have been willing to call this a comeback and go into the finale sated, but his survival was an unsatisfying moment full stop and the scene after it simply rubbed our faces in what we will now have to put up with next week instead. So like Brody the show still isn’t dead in my eyes but this respite seems only temporary; one false move and it could yet be canceled in my eyes, but then what do I know?