HOMELAND “Clean Skin” Review

HOMELAND (Showtime) "Clean Skin" Episode 3 (6)

HOMELAND “Clean Skin” Season 1 Episode 3 – Like my favorite serialized shows, we’re three hours in and I’m still not sure how Homeland ticks. This is a good sign. When I first started to watch Breaking Bad, the first three or four episodes involved Walter’s run in with drug dealers and saw him eventually killing one of them. I had no idea how the show would move on afterwards, and that’s sort of the same way Homeland is going. Carrie’s inside woman Lynne has just been shot, her link to Abu Nasir is gone and now she’s pretty much back to square one: just watching the Brody reality show live in her home.

Lynne’s death was shocking and more effective than twenty hours of Criminal Minds or any other show featuring maudlin music and screaming children. Maybe because it was so sincere: it wasn’t clinical or cynical or manipulative. This was just a girl who found herself in a game so large she couldn’t even see it until two bullets were popped in her chest. Her parents will only know her as a hooker who made her living sleeping with some Saudi prince. They won’t know that she risked – and ultimately sacrificed – her life getting useless information off of a phone for an agency that lied about protecting her.

But Carrie will and it’s just handled so perfectly by the writers and director and Claire Danes herself. The camera does not cut to a close up of her face when she’s spilling her heart out to Saul. That would make the moment too intimate; get the audience too close, when instead the camera is just set in a position where the director isn’t trying to manipulate us to feel sympathy for her. Instead the camera is there to watch her, and we watch her and judge her judgements knowing all of her motivations.

There characterizations are great and I’m especially thrilled that they managed to cast and create a teenager girl who isn’t miss polly perfect, who isn’t miss rebel without a cause, who’s just completely frustrated – and with good reason. There’s a lovely scene between Dana and her father who tries to explain that his return caused a huge disturbance and that he understands that her mother had moved on while he was kept prisoner but she should cut her mom some slack. Of course that Dana knows that her mom was screwing her father’s best friend gives her some serious motivation to be angry at her mother – and I loved Carrie’s reaction to Virgil’s excitement that he had some big news, when really it’s just the uncovering of the affair.

Random Thoughts:

I loved the ending as Saul urges Carrie to use her head and together they figure out why the prince was so upset about Lynne’s death. It was a scene as involving and tense as any gun fight or car chase, and it was two people at a desk, talking.

I loved the scene of Dana smoking weed with her friends. For anyone who’s ever been a teenager with activist persuasions, it will probably ring out as hilariously, cringingly true as they think up ways for her to sabotage the interview and show the truth about her father’s reunion.

Award for most awkward sex scene I’ve seen in some time goes to Brody and Jessica. That scene was just tragic – in the best possible way.

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