Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Showtime Homeland “Broken Hearts” #210 Catch and Release

by Catherine Giordano

Showtime’s “Homeland” season 2, episode 7, continues to deliver action at break neck speed. This episode is entitled “Broken Hearts.” The meaning of the title doesn’t become truly clear until near the end of the episode. Spoiler Alert: Brody causes VP Walden to die of a heart attack.  

Here’s how it comes about. Carrie is kidnapped by Nazir. Carrie’s car is struck at an intersection by a truck that strikes the driver side of her car. Carrie disappears from the scene of the “accident’ which, it turns out, was not an accident at all.   

When I watch this show (or any other for that matter) I make allowances for plots that strain credulity because I know that the show needs a lot of action. But this plot contrivance is so far-fetched that it crosses the line.  

Nazir is now operating alone, security cameras place him in the vicinity of the accident so it seems that he was the driver of the truck. One small question: How could he get himself in just the right position at just the right time to strike Carrie? OK, a whole lot of questions. How could Nazir know that she would be at that intersection at that moment? How could he know that he would not be killed or severely injured in the accident? How could he know that Carrie would not be killed or severely injured in the accident?  

Maybe Nazir found someone to drive the truck, but it is still quite a feat to be in just the right place at just the right time. Maybe Nazir was following Carrie and the accident was just a lucky break for him. Maybe Nazir was following Carrie and he had found someone else to drive the truck and he called the driver to give him Carries location.  Maybe that is how it happened.  I don’t know.  

Even the CIA might find it difficult to pull off this kind of stunt despite all their surveillance devices and operatives. Remember, the CIA couldn’t even track a helicopter when Nazir kidnapped Brody back in episode 8.  

Whatever, the stunt succeeds and neither Nazir nor Carrie appears any the worse for it. (Carrie has a little blood on her face, that’s all.) We next see Carrie alone inside in an abandoned cavernous building that we later learn is an old mill. One small question: Doesn’t it seem like there is an endless supply of abandoned cavernous buildings for Nazir to use for clandestine meetings.  

Putting all the questions aside, I’ll continue with the recap of the events leading up to VP Walden’s death. Carrie is handcuffed to some type of horizontal girder. Carrie is sitting on the floor with her cuffed hands above her head. She gets to her feet and slowly and is able to slide over to the end of the bar. There are some tools lying on the floor; one of them is a file or perhaps just a piece of metal that loks like a file.. She stretches her leg out as far as she can, but just as she manages to drag it towards her, nazir arrives and pulls her away and secures her more tightly. 

Losing the file was not a big deal. Carrie most likely wouldn’t have been able to use it—he hands are boundto the girder which is about waist high when she stands up.  She would have had to pick up the file with her feet, then raise her legs so she could grab it with her hands or teeth and then contort herself further to cut herself free from the plastic cuffs.  Nice try Carrie, but it was never going to happen. 

Nazir calls Brody on a camera phone and shows him that he has Carrie. Brody sees him point his gun at Carrie’s head as he threatens to kill her. Nazir wants Brody to get into the Walden’s home office  at the Naval Observatory which serves as the official residence for all vice presidents.  Nazir instructs him to find a small plastic case that contains the serial number for Walden’s pacemaker. This information will allow him to remotely trigger a heart attack. One small question: How does Nazir know where Walden keeps this box?  He says he read it in the New York Times. Another small question: Is it even possible to control a pacemaker using a wireless connection just by entering some code into a computer? But never mind, it is necessary for the plot. 

Brody at first refuses. He tells Nazir, “You’ll kill her anyway.”  Nazir answers, “If you don’t do it, I’ll kill her right now.” Brody agrees. 

He gets himself to the naval Observatory. Walden is having a meeting with some foreign dignitaries in the sun room. Brody says he will wait, then pretends to hear “nature’s call.” This leaves him free to wander about the house, find Walden’s office, locate the box, and call Nazir.  

However, Brody will not give the number to him until he releases Carrie. There’s a bit of a stalemate: Nazir is concerned that once he lets Carrie go, Brody won’t give him the number. And Brody is concerned that once he gives Nazir the number, he will kill Carrie.  

Finally Brody says, “I swear on the soul of Issa.” (Issa was Nazir’s young son who Brody came to love as he tutored him. The boy died in a drone attack ordered by Walden. Nazir knows that Brody wants to avenge Issa’s death.) Nazir decides to take a chance that Brody will honor his oath. Carrie is freed and Nazir holds his camera to the window so Brody can see Carrie on the road running away. Brody gives Nazir the serial number.  

He ends the call just in time because Walden comes into his office and sees Brody there. Walden asks what Brody wants. Brody says that he has come to tell him that he wishes to withdraw his name from consideration as a running mate for Walden’s presidential run. He says he is doing it for family reasons. Walden is angry that Frody would place family ahead of the chance to be vice president. He is trying to get Brody to change his mind, when he clutches his chest and stumbles a bit.   

This emboldens Brody to go full Monty with the naked truth. He tells Walden that he despises him and everything he stands for and that he is not worthy of the presidency. Walden becomes furious just as chest pains again cause him to clutch his chest and fall into a chair. He begs Brody to call for help. Brody says, “Don’t you see that I am trying to kill you?” Walden struggles to his feet to reach the phone, but Brody pushes the phone out of reach.  He grabs Walden and appears to be holding him up.  It sort or looks like he is trying to strangle him. (I’m assuming Brody didn’t actually strangle Walden and that this was just a gesture done to manifest his hatred and anger.)  Finally, when Walden is dead, Brody goes into the hall and shouts. “Get a doctor. The vice president is having a heart attack.”    

During Carrie’s captivity Carrie and Nazir have a discussion about terrorism. Each calls the other a terrorist. They argue about whether the East or the West will win this battle. Nazir insists that the East will be the victors because Westerners know nothing about “believing in something bigger than you.”  He knows that he himself may not survive, but the fight will be carried on by generations and generations of Muslims.  He sneers that Americans are too soft for this fight. They are not willing to sacrifice and die for their cause. I’ve heard these arguments before, but this scene brings the arguments to us in a vivid way. Both sides are caught up in a struggle, and there is no release. 

There is a bit more “catching and releasing” and “heart breaking” going on. 

Jess speaks to Mike. “About last night”, Jess says referring to their midnight tryst, “It was fun.” Jess, you little slut!  I thought this was an affair of the heart and you did it for love. I think that’s what Mike felt too. And you were just having fun!  You are going to break Mike’s heart. 

Finn, the vice president’s son, comes to see Dana. He tells her that she is the only one he can talk to about the hit-and-run. He tells her that he wakes up each morning and “for a few brief seconds, I’m free.” The he remembers that he is responsible for the death of another human being. He asks Dana if they can “start over”, and return to the feelings they had for each other before the hit-and-run. Dana says, “Whatever we felt, we broke it.” Dana and Finn are both heart-broken with guilt. Dana appears to be sinking into a clinical depression. I wonder how Finn will react to the death of his father? 

Before she was kidnapped, Carrie had a little heart-to-heart with Body. She told him that now that the terrorist plot has been foiled, he must tell Walden that he doesn’t want the VP spot on his ticket. He must also resign from Congress. During Brody’s little tete-a-tete with Walden, he fulfilled the first part of that demand.   

During this conversation with Brody, Carrie is all business. If I were Brody I’d be thinking that now that their business is concluded, their affair is also concluded. Will one or both them be broken-hearted?  

We can see that Brody still cares. Saul picks up Carrie’s phone at the scene of the accident, and uses it to call Brody, and we see his excitement when he sees Carrie’s name on his caller ID. Saul tells him that Carrie is missing, and we see his concern. (Shortly thereafter he gets the call from Nazir and finds out why Carrie is missing. He is clearly terrified that Nazir will kill Carrie.) Brody and Carrie were caught up in their passions; now that it is over will they both be released from their emotional bonds? Brody has saved Carrie’s life and Carrie knows what he did in order to save her life—how will that change their relationship? 

At the beginning of the episode, Saul had a meeting with Dar Adal. He is trying to get some information about why a black ops guy, Peter Quinn, was put in charge of their operation.  Adal says “Estes doesn’t trust you.” At the end of the episode, Saul is taken into custody as he tries to enter the CIA.  He tells them that this is a mistake. They should call Deputy Director Estes. They reply, “He’s fully aware.” 

Saul and Brody both know too much about the drone strike on a Madrassa that killed Issa and close to a hundred other little boys. There are people who want to make sure they don’t talk. They are both caught in a black ops web. Does Walden’s death change anything?  Will they be released? 

Carrie remains unbroken in body and spirit. After she survives an automobile accident, after she is handcuffed to a pipe for hours and had a gun held to her head, after she runs from the old mill, when she reaches the two-lane highway near the mill, she stands in front of an on-coming truck to force the driver to stop. This girl has amazing stamina. She grabs the truck-driver’s cell-phone and has enough energy to outrun the driver who is chasing her for stealing his phone, and she does this while dialing Saul’s number and telling him where she is. This strains credulity. 

Saul tells her stay where you are. Don’t go back to the mill. What does Carrie do?  You know what Carrie does. She goes back to the mill. She finds a piece of metal pipe to use as a weapon and goes running through the mill looking for Nazir.The episode ends with her opening a door and walking through it.  

Again, I know Carrie has to be all plucky and spunky in order to advance the plot, but she does a lot of crazy dangerous things. It starts to strain credulity that she is still alive. 

I hope the writers ease up on my strained credulity a bit in the last two episodes. This show has caught my heart and I would be broken–hearted if I couldn’t remain a fan of this wonderful show.  

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A picture of Homeland's Vice President Walden (played by Jeremy Sheridan) in happier days.