SPOILER WARNING: IF YOU AREN'T CAUGHT UP ON THE MOST RECENT EPISODES OF SHOWTIME'S "HOMELAND," SKIP TO THE END!!!
One of the things that frustrated me about "24" was the constant way the writing ran off the rails because the producers felt the need to rush plotlines in order throw in twists and such.
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When the same producers revamped an Israeli TV series and turned it into "Homeland," I got nervous that it would follow the same path as "24." But the first season was marvelously plotted, and the show swept through the Emmys last month, including a much-deserved Best Drama win.
While I won't say Season 2 has gone off the rails, I've been frustrated by the way the writers have pushed through the plotlines this season in such a way where it's hard for them to pass the willing suspension of disbelief test which I always apply. To wit:
--The terrorists ordering Brody to go hide the bombmaker who made his suicide bomb vest. Seriously? I realize the terrorists are concerned that the bombmaker's cover might be blown, and that he might blow Brody's cover if captured by the CIA. But to send Brody, who has infiltrated Congress and who has access to all sorts of valuable intel, to move the bombmaker seems just silly. Not only does Brody miss a speech that could have helped get him on the campaign ticket as the VP candidate -- allowing the terrorists even more influence and intelligence gathering inside the US government -- but Brody ends up killing the bombmaker anyway, so why not simply have another terrorist agent do the deed?
--Carrie realizes what an asset Brody could be in leading the CIA to the other terrorist contacts. Yet she blows the mission by arresting Brody, thus risking the entire terrorist network getting away from the CIA. I suppose you can chalk this one up to Carrie not taking her meds that day, but to screw up such an important operation based on the fact that Brody looked into her eyes and "made her" seems a little over the top.
--Brody breaking under interrogation in just a few hours, and then being turned by the CIA. Brody was held by terrorists for SEVEN YEARS and tortured without mercy. Yet he breaks in just a few hours because Carrie sweet-talks him? Though the acting between Claire Danes and Damian Lewis was marvelous in the episode, the writers didn't do the show any favors by having this plotline turn around so quickly. Maybe there will be a payoff down the line, but I simply can't believe Brody would break that quickly.
--The CIA is now willing to trust Brody, because they lay out the alternatives of what will happen if he doesn't cooperate -- he'll go to prison, he'll disgrace the Marine Corps and he'll ruin his family. Except .... Brody was willing to do all that anyway when he strapped the bomb on and made the video. The only reason why Brody didn't do it was because the bomb didn't go off, and then he got the call from his daughter. But that didn't change all that much -- he is still working for the terrorists. Especially since the CIA doesn't believe he wasn't wearing the vest, can they really trust him not to screw them over at a later date? Again, the writers didn't show the patience they did last season and rushed this plotline along too quickly, so it's very hard to believe the CIA would trust Brody to act as a double-agent.
--The subplot between Dana and the VP's son running over the woman. That seems straight out of "24," having a subplot we don't care about among minor characters that would have been avoided in real life. Of course we know someone will trace the accident back to the VP's son, and Dana will somehow be blamed (of course, egging him on to drive like a loony and escape his Secret Service detail, she deserves some of the blame). This isn't quite as bad as Kim Bauer getting trapped by the mountain lion on "24," but it's starting to drift that way.
Of course, I'll stick with "Homeland" for a while and give them the chance to work out the kinks. The acting is just too great and the show still has so much potential. But I've been a little underwhelmed by "Homeland" this season.
MONDAY'S BEST BETS: "The Voice" (NBC, 8 p.m.) starts eliminating its competitors tonight. The fact that Fox is countering with an "X-Factor" rerun because the World Series is over, I expect "The Voice" to deliver an even worse drubbing to its rival than usual. It's followed by a new "Revolution" at 10 p.m.
ABC has two hours of "Dancing With The Stars," followed by "Castle," while CBS' sitcoms are new, followed by a new "Hawaii Five-0." The CW has new episodes of "90210" and "Gossip Girl" from 8-10 p.m.