“Why,” I asked my wife, as we both sat on the edge of our seats, riveted to the screen as we watched the FBI Tactical Team make its way through the darkened corridors of an abandoned factory searching for the world’s deadliest terrorist, “do these idiots have their flashlights on? Are they trying to get blown up?”
Sunday nights are TV Gold: The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones and Homeland. As a parent, there’s nothing I like more than sitting down to a few hours of gore, profanity and sex after a weekend full of Phineas and Ferb, Austin and Ally, Jessie, the Two Kings, and all of those goddamn Ponies. The fact that the gore, profanity and sex come wrapped up in two really good and one great show is the icing on the cake. And now that The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones are on a break, my TV watching is somewhat less academic – I don’t have to frantically scribble down notes and pause/rewind for recapping purposes, and I can shift my attention fully to Homeland. And last night’s episode was a bit of an eyeopener – not because there were any new Startling Revelations about POW-turned-terrorist-turned-double agent Nicolas Brody, his mostly crazy CIA handler/girlfriend Carrie Mathison, or any of the other main players in Showtime’s critically acclaimed spy game. No, it was because last night’s episode revealed how much this show veers off into Stupidland.
Take, for instance, the whole “Is Nazir Holed Up In The Old Factory Or Not?” Well, of course he is, but how Carrie comes to that conclusion is a bit of a stretch. After she botches up Roya’s interrogation, Carrie has one of the show’s many contrived Carrie Is A Genius! moments in which she realizes that when Roya tells her that Nazir would never run from the Americans, she’s speaking literally. Ok, sure, why not. Then Carrie rushes back to the factory and finds that the FBI guys are packing up, after having searched the place a few times. But the crazy lady convinces them to check just one more time, and so in to the dark factory they go, once again announcing their presence by shining their flashlights everywhere. Haven’t these guys heard of night vision goggles, which one might wear if one wanted to sneak up on any terrorist masterminds hiding out in dark abandoned buildings? Then Carrie – who isn’t carrying a gun, by the way – spots what looks like a secret room, something that the highly trained ex-military FBI Abandoned Building Search Team missed the first four times they checked the building. Then Carrie grabs one guy to go with her to investigate the secret room. Then when they find Nazir’s stuff in the secret room Carrie – again, still not carrying a gun – leaves the one guy there by himself. Guess how this ends.
The show’s creators are the same guys that were behind 24, and while Homeland is nowhere near as silly as that (the whole “everything is in real time” premise falls apart when one remembers that it’s set in L.A., where it takes an hour to drive ANYWHERE), a lot of Homeland simply falls apart if you think about it too much – or at all. Killing the Vice President by hacking into his pacemaker? Putting up Brody and his family in a “safe house” that is basically one giant window, where anyone with binoculars and/or a sniper rifle could have a go at them? The CIA letting Carrie The Crazy Lady do fieldwork after Nazir’s people know that she’s actively working on the case…actually, the CIA continuing to let Carrie do ANYTHING is a bit of a stretch.
As drama, Homeland’s a great show – Claire Danes and Damien Lewis are both amazing actors, and the supporting cast (especially Mandy Patinkin, whose Saul is perhaps the most realistic CIA guy in the series) is top notch. But as a spy show – man, is it ridiculous.