Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Let's talk about Homeland.

There's been a ton of talk about this past Sunday's episode of Homeland - a lot of people thought it was the worst ever, potentially jumping the shark in a fatal manner, while a few loved it. And I . . . I don't know, I was going to say my feelings are mixed, but that sounds more conflicted than I feel. I suppose I mean that I thought it was okay! Certainly not the best episode. But I didn't hate it. Real-world plausibility is always an issue with this show - with the vast majority of shows, really - and I think that's something that either bothers people or doesn't. Personally, if things make sense within the universe of the show, I don't tend to care whether they would make sense in the real world. (There are, of course, exceptions, usually when a show deals with subject matter I know well and implausibilities or errors just become distracting.) Todd VanDerWerff makes this case in his review.

Far more interesting, though, is the discussion of whether the week's plot worked within the show itself. I see why people thought it was ridiculous. But I also don't really care, because when it comes down to it, plot isn't that important to me. Todd, again:
Watching TV for plot is a fool’s game, and it’s just going to end with you being disappointed. But watching TV for long-term character arcs can be very rewarding, particularly if you’re in the hands of writers who keep an eye on the characters in a way that keeps them more or less consistent. It’s all but impossible to blow through plot at the level Homeland does without running out of room (and I think the show is probably screwed next season if it tries to keep the Brody storyline going without a major reboot), but it is possible to keep the big character moments coming, and the show has done an excellent job of that this season.
So. Did it work on a character level? I thought it did. Much as I love Emily Nussbaum's conspiracy theory, and I do, I'm not convinced that it's necessary, not convinced that Brody was acting out of character at all. I think he does love Carrie, though I don't think that's the most important thing in his life or anything. (In general, I think they both have real feelings and are both playing each other all the time, which is a fascinating dynamic to watch, especially with such skilled actors.) But we've been watching this man quietly unspool for two seasons, and when you're unspooling, the thing that pushes you over the edge into a full-out meltdown doesn't have to be the most important thing in your life. It can just be one more thing.

And one more thought on Emily's theory: I love her idea of Carrie killing Brody in a Buffy-like way in a theoretical sense, but Damian Lewis leaving the show would make me very sad. He is so phenomenal, and his chemistry with Claire Danes is so fascinating, that I'm not entirely sure the show could work without him.

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