Homeland: 210 “Broken Hearts” Review
Reviewed by Rich Jepson, cult TV enthusiast and author of 24: Terrorism Through Television.
As we edge closer and closer to the season finale of Homeland’s second outing, I can’t help think that the show is moving too quickly against last season. In the short term this makes for good entertainment but lessens any huge plot twists in the long term. The meeting between Dar Adul and Saul kicked the episode off neatly and gave us a sense that these two characters have more than Quinn in common. From then on however, the excitement became more of sugar rush than the well-rounded meal of entertainment than it should have been with Carrie being incarcerated by Nazir and subsequently Brody letting Walden suffer a heart attack.
When you look at the first season compared to this year’s you’ll see that it was a slow burner but intriguing plot that paid off 10 fold in one storming feature length season finale with “The Bunker”. The second season has moved much quicker, giving us the same level of excitement and drama that we’ve seen in the past with similar shows such as 24. This is satisfying to watch and has given us some fantastic episodes in recent weeks but the negative impact this will have is that it’ll now take more and more to give us some unique moments of tension.
In the past two episodes we’ve seen both Brody and Carrie take it in turns to be abducted by Nazir, Walden collapses and possibly dies, Roya’s unit get captured and Saul finds out that Quinn is black ops. These are all brilliant storylines that will demand the bar to be raised in order to fulfil a highly anticipated final two episodes.
When Howard Gordon began his new terrorism drama, he placed it further along the scale than 24 in terms of the balance of action and realistic narratives. What was both 24’s brilliance and biggest challenge was the time constraints and enlarged number of episodes that it faced each year. These meant a lot of explosions, plot twists and a huge roster of characters, had to come and go to maintain the level of drama. When Homeland began it didn’t have to face this demand and so it took it’s time to deliver and eventually paid off by the season’s end. Now it seems the writers are using the same template as 24 to maintain the intensity when it doesn’t need to. This could do the show a lot of damage, as instead of giving viewers a well-timed plot that simmers to a boil, we’re getting a series of quick flashes in the pan.
Just looking at this past week and we’ve had a truly amazing season finale of Boardwalk Empire and a thoroughly entertaining mid-season climax to The Walking Dead. The secret to both of these was timing, controlled levels of excitement and a final episode that saved the best till last. I just hope Homeland can do the same, otherwise it’s going to make it extremely difficult to create future seasons of the show with the same level of exhilaration.
Scene of the Episode: “Who’s the real terrorist?” – The exchange between Nazir and Carrie where they took it in turns to cite examples of the other side committing atrocities was both thought provoking and humbling. It’s this sort of augment that epitomises the world today and shows just why shows like Homeland are important in our representation and understanding of a post-9/11 world.