HOMELAND “Crossfire” Review

Homeland (episode 9)

HOMELAND “Crossfire” Season 1 Episode 9 – This episode of Homeland left me with some conflicting emotions. On the one hand, the previous eight episodes were television gold and I’m loath to dislike a show which provided its audience for so many weeks with some truly fantastic moments.

On the other hand, this was a pretty weak episode at a point where the show cannot risk being weak, not at this point when we’re on the brink of finding out exactly what Brody’s motivations are.

I would imagine that marine soldiers are even more patriotic than the most patriotic and I would imagine that they’d get plenty to training to prevent brainwash (hell, the United States is probably top dog when it comes to brainwashing: was I the only five year old to stand up with my hand over my heart and recite the Pledge of Allegiance every morning in school, despite the fact that I had no idea what a pledge was, never mind the whole allegiance bit?) The idea that this marine, who for five years (the flashback took place three years previously) was kept in a hole and savagely tortured could be turned towards the US’s enemy through a friendship with a boy…it just seems too easy.

I could understand him becoming disillusioned with his country and with the war. I could understand him even hating the United States government and its media for the lies and cover ups. But exacting revenge on the United States because a boy he grew fond of, perhaps even grew to love, was murdered in an airstrike? Sure, it’s devastating, but it’s not something that would turn you to al Qaeda, is it?

Now, I could see how the show would turn Brody from a patriotic American to a man who realizes that his government is so corrupt and maintains a greedy, jingoist attitude which is rotting the world that he would conceivably try to take matters into his own hands and change the government. But that would require the show to go to territories so morally complex and mind-fucky that not even the US news media at the height of the invasion (or even during the aftermath) touched it. It would also require Brody learning the recent history of the Middle East. The episode could have been called “How The West Fucked Us Over” and featured several CliffNotes classes on the sanctions the Clinton administration imposed on Iraq during the 90s. This part of the episode could have had the subtitle “How To Kill Half A Million Children” or “How To Fire UN Experts Who Call The Sanctions Genocides.” Now, these segments would have been far more interesting than watching Brody kick a ball around. And they would have been far more challenging to a viewer-as well as posing a much more believable catalyst than soccer. Kicking a ball around is the second most clichéd way to indicated bonding with a doomed child. The most clichéd way to indicate this is if said doomed child hands you a crappy crayon drawing, which also happened and, whaddaya know? Ka-boom!

Now, of course Brody may turn out to be a double agent, but the effort put into Brody’s relationship with Isa (I think that’s how you spell the boy’s name) was slight at best (especially when you wonder how he could possibly still listen to Nazir when, after returning home, he finds two children of his own. Unless he doesn’t like his children. Which would be an awesome plot line.)

Killing Isa off was a sure fire way to get the audience’s sympathies, not because we’re invested in the relationship between the two, but because Isa is a kid and it’s sad when kids get blown up. Or so I’ve heard. But sympathy is not what anyone wants to invest in: I’m interested in empathy. Sympathy requires me to feel pity for someone, and I am incapable of that. Just ask the homeless children crowded beneath my window where I dangle pennies on strings.

Carrie’s storyline was much more interesting because it simultaneously advanced the plot on her end and it showed, once again – but in a totally different way – just how ruthless Carrie is, just how engrossed she is in her job as she jumps from potentially screwing up the FBI’s relationship with the CIA to plotting an interrogation of a subject to finding out dirt in clothes stores. I really liked to see just how difficult – or rather, just how impossible – it was for her to get the information she needed. Even though the imam seems to be a pretty straight forward guy, I’m thankful he was not persuaded to side with the CIA by a little speech, at least not without a public apology from the FBI (which he was never going to get). I like it when things aren’t as simple and clean cut as they appear, which is what I’ve loved about the show so far and what I was missing from the Brody side of the story.

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