HOMELAND “Grace” Review

HOMELAND (Showtime) "Grace" Episode 2 (2)

HOMELAND “Grace” Season 1 Episode 2 – Last week I declared this to be my favorite show of the fall, and its second episode just further cements it as the best new show of the season. It’s tense, gripping, exciting stuff without resorting to gunfights and explosions. In fact, the climax of the episode was not a Jack Bauer-esque thirty seconds to stop an armed nuke going off in Downtown LA while warring Serbian gangs fight over who can kill you, but a prayer in a garage without surveillance, Carrie’s blindspot.

Too often shows dwell in political ambiguity or, worse, pretend and indeed aspire to be nothing more than pure entertainment. Homeland manages to be entertaining, but also challenging in its assessment of the ethics of surveillance. Carrie sits in her apartment, eating Chinese food, watching Brody talk with his son and punch a reporter, watching Brody hurt his wife in a nightmarish dream (this, by the way, was handled superbly, without any sentimentality or angst, just unease and hope and despair; I trust that with all the praise being heaped on Danes’ and Lewis’ stellar performances, no one forgets what Morena Baccarin brings to the show), watching Brody refuse to say grace at dinner (another fantastic scene; I love how the daughter abstained as well, whether because of her own scepticism or because she wants to be like her father, who knows.)

It’s all so perverse and uneasy, and yet the show does not cast judgement on it-after all, Danes is the protagonist, surely she can’t be in the wrong-except to subtly show us the effects of invading one’s privacy and allowing, as far as this episode was concerned, the audience to make up their own minds: Carrie’s contact, a girl from Ohio who is now working as a prostitute and sleeping with some of the biggest terrorists in the business, manages to get a video of Abu Nasir-though she’s putting her own life at risk. Saul has something on a judge which he uses to blackmail an ignorant warrant out of him. It’s all underhanded stuff and in the end, whether it’s the prostitute from Ohio or the judge with the dark secret or Brody and his family or Saul and his career or Carrie and her health/surveillance, and it’s rich and complicated. Everybody has a motive and their motives are well-intentioned, if their methods (Carrie falsely comforting the Ohio girl by saying that she is secretly protected, when she’s got no protection at all) are just downright terrible.

The episode mainly concerned Carrie trying to convince Saul that Brody is a problem and not someone she’s superstitious about. Now, this series is already a is he/isn’t he a terrorist implant, so I’m grateful that Carrie finds suggestive evidence early on in the proceedings: as Saul predicted, Brody gets dressed up in his army outfit, steps outside his house and smiles for the cameras. It’s a moment as exciting as any nuke disarmament on a plane over the desert ever was.

I really love this show, because while it’s tackling these episodes without ambiguity, it’s as of yet apolitical and given the conservative slant of 24, I’m still waiting on tenderhooks for a sign of a political agenda.

Random Observations:

There was one scene late on when Brody speaks to his son in his bedroom where I kept hoping it would cut to a reaction from Carrie, simply because I wanted to see had Virgil bugged the children’s rooms as well. The cut never came, but I’d say he did, and I’d be interested to see the writers tackle this issue among the many others they’re facing.

Virgil’s commentary? Hilarious. I hope every episode has Virgil making obvious facts about the Brody household like a reality show.

Those opening credits? They’ve got to be among my favorite of all time. Atmospheric, intense, scary, my heart pounds just rewatching them. Serious kudos to whoever came up with them.

What did you think of this episode? Sound off in the comments below.

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