Thursday, 11 October 2012

My Own Worst Enemy - Homeland Season 2 Episode 1

This post arrives a little later than expected - I've had a bit of a winter cold this week, so I wasn't able to blog about it sooner!

But that's okay - you know why? Because 'HOMELAND' is back! Series One left me pretty much square-eyed (it's only 12 episodes, but I watched said 12 episodes at least 3 times each, plus special features and commentary - you do the maths).

And I'm obsessed with all things Claire Danes anyway. For anyone who hasn't watched 'My So-Called Life' - what are you doing? Go away and watch it now. Right now. I'm not even kidding.

Anyway, there's going to be some fairly spoiler(ish) material to follow so for those that haven't watched it yet, you have some catching up to do (and yes, that does include watching all 19 episodes of MSCL).

Everyone else, join me after the jump.

And so 'Homeland' returned to UK shores this week. After leaving us with a hell of a cliffhanger at the end of season one, episode 1 'The Smile' made it clear that life hasn't become any simpler for Carrie and Brody since we last saw them.

It's clear that although these characters have moved on, things haven't become any easier for them. Seeing Carrie as a teacher made perfect sense, though. At the end of Season One when she was forced out of the agency, I remember thinking, 'What the frak is she gonna do now?' Sometimes when you see someone who is so unquestionably brilliant at something it's really hard to imagine them doing anything else. But when I saw her teaching English it made perfect sense. It also led to an interesting comparison with the Brody of season one. During his time in captivity teaching Abu Nazir's son, he managed to carve out a 'career' for himself as a tutor that clearly helped him deal with the trauma of his situation. Both Carrie and Brody responded to life-changing trauma by passing on their knowledge to others, a strong reminder of the power of education for both the student and the teacher.

Following Brody's inability to carry out the attack at the climax of the first season, he looks suitable uncomfortable with his new position within Congress. His family are adjusting with varying degrees of success: Jessica and Chris are by far coping the best, particularly in their respective social arenas (Chris is on course to have a Facebook friends list that would make Zuckerberg jealous). But Brody and his familial counterpart Dana, aren't doing quite so well. Part of this is because they are both shouldering the weight of Brody's secret: the fact that he is in fact Muslim, in a country and a political sphere which are intolerant of this.

Agent Brody (Damien Lewis) faces many more dilemmas this season.
The highlight of the episode for me is the scene where Jessica finally learns the truth. The argument that leads to this revelation stems from an earlier fight at Dana's school (with a student she quite rightly called a douche, at least in my opinion). What I loved about it is that it almost felt to me like a 'coming out' scene - Jessica's sense of revulsion upon hearing his story, Brody's apparent inner conflict as Dana took a verbal beating from her mother before the truth came spilling out, her bitter declaration that his faith and his politics simply cannot go together. The situation may be different, but the nature of the emotional truth is still the same: a man who is forced to hide something that he should not have to keep secret, treated as though he should be ashamed of something that is actually an important part of who he is.

I now realise that Brody's relationship with Dana is one of the two that form the emotional heart of the show (Saul and Carrie being the other, another father-daughter relationship of sorts).

The final scene with the burial also struck a cord with me. While some didn't take to the season one finale, I join others in suggesting it was a great end to the series' well-developed maiden voyage. Dana started off as a rather angry, stroppy teenager, so I like that the attack in the bunker was stalled at the last moment by a father's love for his daughter.

I titled this post 'My Own Worst Enemy' because I think that is the problem at the core of many of 'Homeland's central characters. Whether it's Carrie's obsession with her work or Brody's inner struggle with his personal sense of right and wrong against his desire to be the hero his family perceives him to be, watching 'Homeland' every week reminds me that it's the inner demons that have the potential to do the greatest damage.

What did you think of the 'Homeland' season premiere? Were you as hooked as I was? What are your projections for season two?

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