Category Archives: Homeland

Homeland – The Star (S3, Ep12)

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UPDATE 12/27/13 – This episode has been bothering me for a while.  Since it has aired, I’ve been thinking about how… boring it was in hindsight.  Moments obviously stood out, but overall, it was dreadfully slow and dull.  I believe that Seasons 2 and 3 are what Homeland is, and will be in the future.  Season one, as a whole show, over performed. The acting has stayed excellent, but the story telling half way through Season 2 fell flat. I’m very interested in seeing how Season 4 will evolve or devolve, but as of right now, I’m glad to be taking a break from this show.

 

SPOILER ALERT

Let’s throw logic out the window because this show has clearly done that already.  Okay, we’ve done that? Good.

Where was this show the whole season? The last fourth of this season was full of excitement and actual mystery and intrigue.  The stories were stripped down as much as they could to feature the emotions and relationships of the character, especially Carrie and Brody.  They had some wonderful moments that led to the episode’s most heightened scene, the death of Nicholas Brody.

He’s dead and gone and got some really nice final scenes to say good-bye.  His story may have carried on a little too long, but when it worked, it WORKED.  Those scenes in Terhan were great and helped to keep the flow of this hour episode moving. I’m glad they killed him and it wasn’t too surprising.  It’ll help progress the story.

The chemistry between Carrie and Brody has always been exceptional, so it will be missed, but as a function of the story, he had to go.  I’m very interested to see how next year works.  It’s a blank page of opportunity.

The four months later sequence was nice, especially Carrie’s legit fear of being a mother.  Overall, this show wasn’t as good as it has been and probably won’t be ever again.  At least they’re still keeping it a little interesting.

Other thoughts:

  • No Dana? No Jessica? No problem.  That just goes to show you what a waste of time they were.
  • Really? Lockhart trusts Carrie? I mean, I don’t think she ever proved herself to him on a subordinate level.  She has been a nasty wild card, regardless of how consistently right she has been. Carrie, are you really gonna tell the random military guy that you know his boss?
  • How is security the easiest thing to get through in Tehran and Langley? How!?

Until next year on this one!

Keep on Watchin’

-Bryan

The Halfway Point

There’s only so much I can review, regardless of how much I actually watch.  Since we’ve reached the midway point of all of our favorite TV shows’ seasons, I’ll give you a quick report card of what I’m watching.

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Arrow (CW) – A

It has been pretty great this season.  Not only is it course correcting some season 1 issues (island flashback importance), it is making the hero genre fun for TV again.  It’s exciting how it is incorporating the DC universe into the action (the pretty great for TV action), as well as dealing with interesting themes.  It has taken a giant leap forward.

Bones (FOX) – C

It’s average. I stopped watching after the wedding episode, as it became my background show that I wasn’t even paying attention to at all. I’m just not engaged in their stories anymore.

Castle (ABC) – B+

Somehow this procedural knows how to keep things fresh and interesting, while still delivering the fun they promised early on.  Some episodes do fall flat here and there, but overall, it nails it week by week.

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Eastbound and Down (HBO) – A+

What a way to go out! This final season was outstanding and dealt with Kenny Powers on a human level–not just baseball.  It dealt with a man addicted to fame and showed it’s effects on his family and friends.  Also, it was freaking hilarious.

Homeland (SHO) – B

It still isn’t the great show that season one brought us, but it still delivers in certain moments.  The acting is always outstanding, but realistically the plot and pacing are suspect.  I’m hoping the finale can bump this grade up.

How I Met  Your Mother (CBS) – D+

This is severely below average.  If you read this blog, you know how down on it I feel.  If more mother was involved we might be at a higher grade.  We’ll see how this plays out over all.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FXX) – B+

For being a comedy so late in it’s run, I’m still amazed that it’s still this funny.  Episodes idea are brilliant, highlighted by the met-Emmy awards plot.

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Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC) – B

The pilot was fun, but then the show took a while to find itself.  While it still isn’t there 100%, the midseason finale was a huge step in the right direction and has given me more hope that this season will only get better.

Nashville  (ABC)- C+

It’s getting better as the season progresses, so let’s hope the drama and music stay top notch and over the top.

New Girl (FOX) – B

It’s had a rough go at it thus far, but it still makes me laugh, so I can’t complain too much.

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Parenthood (NBC) – B+

Some of the plot lines aren’t doing it for me.  Everything else always works, so it’ll iron itself out.  I do have to say, there haven’t been many tear moments this season.

Parks and Recreation (NBC) – A-

Despite the Leslie being negative episodes being one too many, the show is still as stable as ever as it continues to be hilarious.

Sons of Anarchy (FX) – N/A

I have to say I stopped watching because it’s gotten to be too much.  A lot of the plot developments only happen because actors’ contract dictate that they need to be on the show.  It just keeps going and going with no end in site.

The Big Bang Theory (CBS) – B+

There have been some excellent episodes this season, which is way more memorable than it’s been in the recent past.  I especially loved Sheldon’s mistake being a success, then retracted.

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The Walking Dead (AMC) – B

It’s been an inconsistent season–again.  It started strong, then lost it’s momentum when they reintroduced the lame governor. Still, the moments are great here and there, but the zombie attacks were made enjoyable.  I have a good feeling about the second half of the season.

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan

Homeland – Horse and Wagon (S3, Ep9) and Good Night (S3, Ep10)

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I’ve combined these two episodes not only because I didn’t have the time to write two separate reviews, but because these were the best two hours of the season thus far.

Let’s just get this out of the way first: The plot and it’s developments are stupid and overly absurd.  Even for a show that’s supposed to go above and beyond, the plot is outrageous.  A lot of what happens is to serve the purpose of “what needs to happen for dramatic reasons.”

Carrie would have been fired too many times for her to still have that level of clearance.  Brody would never have been able to recover that quickly.  A miracle drug… really?  Sending Brody into save the day? Somebody has out stayed their welcome.  Saul’s wife’s “friend” has been running a long con spy op for the Senator?  Please.  Carrie taking him off base twice? No way.

But the reasons, despite these flaws, the show nailed it with these episodes are two simple word: simple and focused.  Sure the ideas were big, but the execution was simple.  Everything was completely focused.  Carrie and Brody.  Saul and his mission.  Even with locations and story lines it was cut down.  It only focused on the ongoing momentum at CIA headquarters.  Our time wasn’t wasted with frivolous plots, such as Dana.

Dana was even used appropriately.  Somebody had mistakenly decided that since she was interesting and engaging in scenes with her father that giving her a plot line of her own was a good idea.  We all know that to be false, but we were reminded of why they even had that idea in the first place.  Her scene with Brody in the hotel room was fantastic.  It was tense, scary, sad, happy, and just overall emotional.

Additionally, the acting in these episodes were top notch.  From Brody’s withdrawal, to Saul’s stone cold negotiating techniques, to Carrie’s balance of paranoid pregnant woman/calm presence to Brody, this was a solid two outing in Homeland world.

Is this my favorite season? No, but it is shaping up to be a successful back half of a season.  So, with two more episodes, let’s see it they can keep up the good work.

Keep on Watchin’

-Bryan

Homeland – A Red Wheelbarrow (S3, Ep8)

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This show is still pulling wacky punches and is becoming more an more silly with their twists an I’m starting to feel apathetic towards these reveals.

On the other hand, at least they’re trying to keep things interesting.  We learn that Mira’s hunk side piece is bugging their house, so he’s a spy?  I guess so.  He’s been spying the whole time? I guess so.  Okay.

I’m glad the show finally is addressing her pregnancy head on, especially her irrational behavior (the drugs, etc.).  The doctors would still have found she was pregnant through her blood test in the hospital, but oh well.  At least we know that she believes that Brody is the father.

Additionally, the Langley bomb plot felt like it had some gravity to it as the story unfolded.  All of the church scenes, the motel scene, as well as the Dar Adal restaurant scenes had a nice ebb and flow to them.  They pulled me in as much as they could at this point, so I can’t complain.

Other thoughts:

  • Any Dana-less episode is a good episode in my book… I mean blog.
  • Now that Brody is seemingly going to be appearing regularly on the show again, let’s hope it gives certain plots and characters a little more focus.
  • I have to say, I was rooting for Quinn to take the shot, so when he did, I was pleased, as Carrie is unbearable.  (Sometimes all she is seems to be unbearable.)
  • Whenever Saul has a minor victory, like having the Senator leave while he briefed the Secretary, is always a highlight.

Hopefully this means they’ll try a little harder with these last few episodes.  Brody’s return might be a good thing for all of this convoluted plot.

Keep on Watchin’

-Bryan

 

Homeland – Gerontion (S3, Ep7)

 

Homeland-GerontionHomeland isn’t doing what it usually does to me.  I know that’s a vague statement, so let me plunge further in.

Season one and most of two had me on the edge of my seat.  I was engaged in both the actually plot, built in mystery, the Carrie/Saul relationship, and the Carrie/Chemistry.  Season two built from that with the excitement of the tense “Q&A” episode and the outstanding acting from all of it’s participants.

This season, I’m just not into anything that’s happening on level more than: Well, I’ve been watching it for this long, so let’s just see what happens.

Dana’s life, while starting off with some promise, has just spiraled down a well of obsolete story telling.  Just because her scenes with Brody in the first few seasons were great, doesn’t mean she deserves her own sub plot. Carrie on and off her meds is nothing new and very unexciting, as is her pregnancy, which we know very little about.  All of this season’s ‘twists’ make me trust the show less, as I don’t know what is real and what isn’t, but this time I have no true investment.  At least in season one, the set up was that we didn’t know Brody’s motivation.  Quinn is a interesting character, but I wished I cared more.

Other thoughts:

  • This show made the mistake of taking Brody along for the ride.  He truly serves no purpose anymore and is dragging down the plot.  Granted he is barely on the show this season, but he isn’t relevant.  Hopefully this season can move on from his story, as it isn’t enjoyable when he’s not in the crosshairs.
  • This show usually finds some footing in the latter half of seasons, so I still have that TV viewer hope.

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan

 

Homeland – Still Positive (S3, Ep6)

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See, now that wasn’t so hard, was it Homeland writers?

Homeland is about Carrie and Saul and the intrigue of the CIA.  The past two episodes have focused and honed that aspect of the show that we haven’t missed Brody.  We know he’s out there, but we’re not too concerned about it all.

The more we deal with Saul and his past, the more interesting this show ends up.  From his broken relationship at home to his work miscues, Saul is by far the most interesting character on the show.  He is the heart and soul of all of this.

Some parts of the show still flounder, such as Dana and crew (her mom didn’t even ask for the address? I mean come on), but overall it seems like things are beginning to click again.

My favorite moment was Saul’s aggression in the last scene’s closing seconds.  His old enemy has flipped a switch in him and all of the pent up anger and sadness will most likely be directed towards him. We will see!

Other thoughts:

  • Quinn is very hit or miss for me as a character, so while he brings very little to the table, I still don’t mind his presence.
  • Carrie’s scenes with our new “bad guy” were excellent.  It’s so nice to see her in her spy world, feeling so confident.
  • Oh yeah, I guess she’s pregnant?  The episode title says it all.  Probably with Brody’s kid, based on how many tests she’s taken.  We’ll see how this plays out, but I am not happy with this development.  At least they tried to weave it all in with her concern for the crying baby in the house, but that could have been for a number of reasons before we learned her secret.
  • All I can say it, thankfully Dana isn’t preggers… or is she?
  • The murder sequence in the house was brutal.

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan

Homeland – Yoga Play (S3, Ep5)

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If you accept that fact that Carrie and Saul were in cahoot the entire time, then this episode was pretty engaging.  It seems ridiculous that they planned this from the very beginning, but it is what it is and it helps from a plot standpoint.  This week drew from what worked in seasons one and two (the thriller aspect of things) and incorporated it well.  From the yoga cover to the final sequence, I was enthralled with what was happening in front of me.

Saul just can’t catch a break, can he?  He’s being pushed out as CIA director and his distant wife is being not so distant with somebody else.  At least we’re meant to believe that.  His speech to the CIA head incumbent was pretty excellent.  What will happen to his play when he’s not in charge?

In the past, Dana’s antics have at least tied into the major plot lines.  When she was in the car with the VP’s son and they we’re involved in a hit and run, it linked directly with how Carrie still had a handle on Brody.  When he tried to turn his daughter in, Carrie stopped it to show us how much she owned this poor pathetic man.  Now, aside from Jessica seeking Carrie’s help, which didn’t actually help, it only put Carrie and her mission in danger, it seems like a dead end plot.  She came home on her own after discovering her boy-toy’s lies?  Are we supposed to believe that Carrie would still do anything for Brody?  That she would help his wife and children?  I don’t know.  It just seems like a chunk of time wasted again by Dana.  At least the yoga stunt was pretty exciting.

For the first time all season, I’m actually excited to see what happens to Carrie next week now that she’s really on her own having been “abducted.”

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan

 

Homeland – Game On (S3, Ep4)

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I was digging this week of Homeland.  The writers put Carrie, a once sympathetic character, into a hard and annoying place.  I really didn’t think they could ever recover this character.  She had been dipped so deep into her own psyche and had no handle on reality.  Season one was supposed to make us question if she was right or wrong or unstable or just lonely to the point of insanity.  This season is just her losing her mind.  Then the twist came.

…And you lost me.  I just don’t believe it.  Claire Danes is an excellent actress.  Carrie Mathieson is not a better actress than Danes.  If she is working still for Saul and the CIA, why is she crying away from Bennett?  It’s as if she’s acting for the Showtime cameras and not Bennet’s possible “hidden ones.”  I would believe that she would lose it a little in the “loony bin,” but when she was actually executing the portions of the plan that didn’t depend on her ignorance, I didn’t buy it.  I don’t think that she’d be as fragile as she was in the field.  The fact that they told it from her point of view with no hint of motive was a complete mistake on the writers’ fault.

By concealing her motives, most of the scenes from the past two episodes are just Danes emoting.  There were no stakes at all, but now that we know her motive, I feel cheated as opposed to excited.  When she was in the ward, I wasn’t connected to her at all.  It felt like a total detour for Carrie and her story.  In theory this twist should enhance those scenes in hindsight, but in a miscalculation on their part, I don’t care at all.  I feel like this twist cleans up the first few episodes, but creates so many more problems that it wasn’t worth it.  Patinkin and Danes are excellent in the final scene, but I can’t overlook plot for great acting, especially in a show like Homeland.  I actually didn’t miss Brody this week, as they didn’t bombard us with CIA mumbo jumbo and played on the intrigue of the characters.  Then the twist happened.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t DISLIKE the twist, I just think it was poorly executed.  By totally keeping us in the dark, we lost our sympathy for poor Carrie and Saul.  Hopefully in the coming weeks everything will be explained, like if the charade was set up from the beginning or when Carrie was already in there.

OH! And don’t forget about Dana!  Oh man! How about Dana’s situation… She’s so—oh wait… I don’t care… at all.  Not at all.

Keep on Watchin’

-Bryan

Homeland – Tower of David (S3, Ep3)

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Welcome back Brody! But is it really a happy welcome?  This week’s episode explored Brody and Carrie each trapped in their own personal hell.

I think at some point we’re going to look back at this show and pinpoint this episode as the “Jump The Shark” moment.  They way they are handling Brody’s disappearance is so unenjoyable, that I am thinking of cutting my losses now and not watch any further.  Really? Addicted to heroin? This is how far we’ve come?  The episode started out promising, as Brody is brought into “surgery”, but like all of this season’s episodes, it gets repetitive very quickly.  Brody brings a body count where ever he goes, but I don’t want to be one of those dead too.  I understand what they are going for, but it’s missing the mark.

Carrie, attempting to deal with her psych ward imprisonment, is approached by a mysterious law firm who wants to help her.  Their intentions aren’t clear, but it can’t be good. I think one of the major issues I have in staying engaged in this season is that I’ve lost any sympathy or empathy I once had for these characters.  I have no emotional investment in them anymore, even after two solid seasons of emotional television.  My enjoyment of this show is plot related now and that quality has gone down.

While these two stories do work well as a foil to one another, the other characters were missed to balance it all out.

Other thoughts:

  • I just don’t believe that nurse would break the rules like she does, but, hey, plot called for it.
  • Really Brody, that’s the “sneak out” outfit you put on? A Bill Belichick cut off hoodie?
  • I also like Carrie’s house.
  • The acting is always excellent (Brody watching the thief get murdered or Carrie in the bathroom), but that may not be enough anymore.

This show needs to pick up the pieces quickly.  The further away all of the story lines move from each other, less the coherency the show has overall, and the faster it will shatter.

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan

Homeland – Uh… Oh… Ah… (S3, Ep2)

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Bum. Bum. I want to take you to. Bum. Bum. …CRAZY TOWN!

Just some quick thoughts on Homeland’s second attempt this season.

Snooze Fest!

As a viewer, I’m having a very hard time attaching to any one story line.  I don’t care about Quinn and his demons, I’m over “crazy Carrie” as we’ve seen her before, and Saul is just eh.  Of course there have been a handful of moments that I appreciate: Saul confronting Carrie’s family or the final moment, but I am not impressed with the first two episodes.  There are no stakes that I’m emotional invested in.

The closest story I’m to engaged to is Dana’s, especially her monologue in the “redone” bathroom. The thing is, they cut the scene too early.  We barely get to a see a reaction from her mother or a rebuttal.  It was a beautiful moment from a child who is hurting and we don’t get to really explore this relationship when the time is right.  How disappointing.

It’a amazing how much this show misses the presence of Damian Lewis.  He carried these first two seasons as a nice balance to Carrie.  When suspense, depth, and mystery are removed, what are we left with? Pretty much boring CIA stuff and a woman off her meds with no foil to ground the rest of the show.

This should have been an extended mini-series because it’s going downhill fast.

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan

P.S. If Dana is pregnant I am not watching the show anymore.