It was probably only a matter of time before the executive producers of Homeland, Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa, reverted to their roots on Fox’s “24,” eroding a lot of the goodwill that this show has built up. I’ve described last week’s episode, “The Weekend,” as the most perfect hour of TV drama I’ve seen since the Mad Men episode “The Suitcase,” and I stand by that rave. Unfortunately, a viewer’s endorsement can be undone by problematic twists, and I have a sinking feeling that’s what just happened on Homeland.
The brilliance of “The Weekend” was predicated on the idea that everything we thought we knew about former POW Nick Brody (Damian Lewis) was wrong — that Brody was not really a pawn of the terrorist Abu Nazir, that he didn’t get turned in that Iraqi prison, that he’s still loyal to the United States, and that all the seemingly suspicious behavior witnessed by Carrie and her colleagues could be reasonably explained. A lot of people (myself included) assumed, or hoped, that the Carrie-Brody conversation on the porch last week meant that Homeland wasn’t going to turn into a typical twists-and-turns show, a thriller that sacrifices psychological plausibility on the altar of “surprise.” I still hope that turns out to be the case. But the last few minutes of last night’s episode, “Achilles Heel,” do not bode well.
I am not sure how to read the final scene that occurs after Carrie has told Brody that he didn’t beat Walker to death in prison and that he’s actually alive — the fake-out where we think we’re going to see Walker in that living room and it turns out to be Brody, and he furiously confronts that man (a handler?) and tells him that he’s had it, that the Walker ruse was just too much. “I’m through talking with Nazir, and you can tell him that,” Brody said, “Tell him it’s over.”
You can read the rest of Matt’s review here at Salon.
A critic, journalist and filmmaker, Matt Zoller Seitz is the staff TV columnist for Salon.com and a finalist for the Pulitzer prize in criticism. He has worked as a movie critic for The New York Times, New York Press and New Times Newspapers and as a TV critic for The Star-Ledger of Newark.