Homeland: 203 “State of Independence” Review
Reviewed by Rich Jepson, cult TV enthusiast and author of 24: Terrorism Through Television.
WARNING – FULL SPOILERS
The question that had been on everyone’s mind heading in to this week’s Homeland was – what would Saul do with the intel he found on Brody? Would he show Carrie? Show Estes? Or, if he was the mole, would he destroy it? This put a lot of pressure on the show to follow through on the colossal discovery from Back to Beirut and not skip over what should be a huge turning point in the series as a whole.
So how did State of Independence deal with this pressure? Well, it depends on how you look at it – on one hand it simply delayed it for 45 minutes by leaving Saul stuck on a plane and on the other when he did arrive back in the states it lead to an overwhelming and satisfying pay off for Carrie. Initially this didn’t look to be the case, as Saul became victim to an unlawful bag search by a Lebanese ‘customs’ officer. Surely the experienced agent wouldn’t leave it hidden inside a diplomatic briefcase for the whole world to see? Thankfully he didn’t and instead this just served as a little bit of excitement to answer the initial question about how the show would address last week’s climax, delaying any real drama from taking place until the closing moments of the episode.
Knowing that we weren’t going to get any real blowback from Brody’s confession tape, this week’s edition of the show was able to focus on other things in both Carrie & Brody’s life. In short, this was basically a “Whose had the worst day ever?” contest between the show’s two leads with some immensely trying moments for both characters. Carrie wrestled with the issues of her mental health, the fact that she is, presumably, never going to work for the CIA again and the reality that her whole life is never going to satisfy her the way it did when she was chasing suspected terrorists. Brody was also having a torrid time, mainly due to the testing situation of lying to his wife on the phone whilst separating a fellow conspirator’s neck from his body – who say’s men can’t multitask?
Once again both of these actors pushed the boundaries of the work by taking their characters beyond a psychological breaking point. Brody seemed to be off to a good start, becoming more intimate with Jess all over the kitchen table, which was a bad moment for Dana but could’ve been worse had she arrived home five minutes later. It was from this point that Brody’s day plummeted like the oblivion at Alton Towers.
Having Roya in the mix this season has been positive so far as it adds another layer to Brody’s involvement with Nazir. However, it did seem quite farfetched that they would risk such a huge asset in Brody on a mission to pick up the bomb-manufacturing tailor and take him to a safe house, miles away. Surely, Brody is in such a unique position that only an extremely important mission should be given to him from his former mentor, especially after Brody’s life-saving text message from last week.
Since returning home, Carrie started to fall deeper and deeper into meltdown as things in her life began to fall apart. Being shot down by Estes during the debrief, moving back to her house where all those memories of Brody are, were like a one-two knock out blow for her and it’s no surprise she descended back to the character we met in the opening episode. It was a huge surprise to see her fall further beyond this, attempting to overdose was a very difficult scene to watch and hats off to episode director Lodge Kerrigan for expertly portraying this shocking moment.
To try and follow such a titanic moment in the episode was difficult but what came next showed that Claire Danes isn’t the only actress on this show who can bring it. Morena Baccarin put in a brilliant performance as she stood in for Brody at the charity dinner. Delivering her honest, unscripted speech required some great timing and just the right balance of emotion to really achieve what it was aimed to do – illustrate Jessica as much more than just Brody’s confused and troubled wife. Jess’ speech was fantastic, thought provoking and compelling, it really made you think about the hardships faced by those with loved ones in the military and once again epitomised just how close to reality this show is.
By the end of the episode we finally got what we wanted. “I was right” – in a way I didn’t think we’d get this kind of reveal until the end of the season, so compliments to the writing team for really getting the excitement going this early. I don’t think I’ve ever been so relieved for a character as I was Carrie when she finally found out that she’d been right about Brody all along. The next question is – where do they go from here? Surely this is Carrie’s golden ticket back in to the CIA but it won’t be as easy as strolling up to Estes and asking him for a warrant to arrest Brody.
What this reveal does is level the playing field and hopefully bring Carrie back to sanity. She knows the truth, she isn’t crazy and she can now move forward with her mission of taking down Brody. My guess is that the issue of the mole is going to become a major factor in the next few weeks, as surely this is the only thing that will keep Brody out of handcuffs.
If so who is it? Estes? My money is still on Danny, he just seems to tick all the right boxes but it’s always difficult to tell on this show. Surely Saul can no longer be considered a mole, if he was he would have never let Carrie see the intel and if it turns out he is then surely that’s a poor move on the show’s part to draw attention away from him. It’s interesting to note that we’ve not seen an appearance from Virgil yet – does this hold any merit? Or is it that he’s not as big a character in the series? – Answers on a postcard please.
Scene of the Episode: Jess’ Speech – It was a tough one to call this week, Carrie’s demise was amazing in it’s portrayal of such dark subject matter but it was another of the show’s leading females who stole the spotlight. If we had seen more of Carrie’s reaction to Brody’s unearthing then this could have been a much stronger contender.