Going, going… gone. Warning: spoilers everywhere to follow if you don’t watch Homeland.
Oh, it started out so promisingly–the most buzzed-about show two seasons ago that you watched because people wouldn’t shut up/stop writing about it. And what a premise: a U.S. soldier is captured during the Iraq war and held captive for years by jihadists, ultimately being freed and returning home to his stunned family who wrote him off for dead years ago. But there was something not… quite… right about him. Was he the patriotic POW returned home, or was he–a sleeper agent, programmed by the bad guys? Racing the clock to figure this out was CIA analyst/manic-depressive Carrie, overseen by shaggy dog veteran CIA boss Saul. They teased all season as to what Brody was–friend or foe–until a climactic scene where he enters a basement bunker with a VP and other government officials–wearing a bomb vest. GASP.
He had even made a suicide video beforehand–like terrorists are wont to do–explaining that he did this in retaliation for a reckless U.S. strike that killed his captor’s young son, with whom he had bonded. Topical AND action-packed! The thinking man’s 24. Oh boy was it gonna hit the fan when after the blast, Americans realized one of their own soldiers had been turned. I should mention that Carrie called it all along, but was outcast as crazy by her peers.
So what happened? Two things: a) nothing and b) Showtime intervened in the show’s plot. It is a little-known fact that Brody was supposed to detonate the vest and die along with all his victims that first season, which would have been one of the most amazing, talked-about finales in modern TV history. Yet at some point the Showtime brass decided–I am not kidding–that really, the most intriguing thing about the show as a romance between Carrie and Brody. Yes, those of us sucked in by the endless questions and complications it presented all while the clock ticked down to a catastrophic terrorist strike executed by a decorated U.S. soldier–what we really wanted was a… romance. 50 Shades of 24. And more of Brody’s kids. More on that later.
And thus it was that Brody, at the urging of his daughter on his cell phone (don’t ask) didn’t detonate the vest, which set the show on a death spiral from that point on. Side note: I’m sure whatever viewers that still remain this season are now fantasizing that he had sent the daughter in with the vest, but I digress.
So instead of the show ending on a shocking note and next season moving on to the next terrorist threat and the implications of what just happened weighing on everybody, we got: Carrie & Brody, the Doomed Lovers. *facepalm*
Some people think season two was still okay but in reality it blew, with most of it being wasted on the Romance Nobody Wanted and then with a new terrorist threat which Brody was blackmailed into infiltrating because… oh hell never mind. What was once a psychological thriller (really, this was all very Manchurian Candidate) was now a sappy, totally unbelievable love story mixed with the worst elements of 24 after that show face-planted permanently oh, around after season four. Look! Scary terrorist who of course hides out in the ole’ abandoned factory (what, no office buildings available) and then the unintentionally hilarious scene of said terrorist Skyping Brody on Brody’s Blackberry after capturing Carrie–when Blackberrys didn’t have Skype.
The show then staggered, Walking Dead-style, between trying to be 24 or a romance or–worst of all–a drama about Brody’s family (perpetually sour wife, two teenage kids) and… whatever the hell their problems were, notable only because we didn’t care about them.
Season three (the current one)? I don’t think I’ve ever seen the wheels come off a promising show in this fashion (at least not after surviving a few years before wearing out its welcome or barely holding on, like Lost), save for maybe The Killing, which blew its tires literally in the first season, struggled in the second, was canceled but then revived for a third which was far superior until… they wiped out again with the finale, which was basically the ending to 7even.
The lesson to be learned here was: you should have killed Brody when you had the chance–when you didn’t, you painted yourself into a corner which you never got out of, hence the endless attempts to distract from that fact with increasingly ludicrous plot lines.
There’s a scene in Moneyball where Billy Bean, played by Brad Pitt, says “When (after) you get the answer you’re looking for, hang up.” Killing Brody was that answer, but you stayed on the line, convinced yourself that the real story was something else, and then drove everything over a cliff as you pursued your delusion, sort of like a showbiz version of Ted Cruz.
That said, we can all take lessons from this–times when we need to remember to “Kill Brody”:
- When you want to “reply all” with that funny joke after receiving a companywide email–Kill Brody
- When you say “Sure I’d love to do this again” when really you were counting the minutes after the first five on your first date–Kill Brody
- When you decide that meal you were just served needs to be photographed and posted to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: Kill Brody
- When you’re thinking that to impress the boss, you’re going to suggest new weekly “mashup” meetings that everyone should attend so we can be “up to speed”–Kill Brody… before they all kill you and they will
Adios, Homeland, you could have been great but like the Matrix franchise, you apparently only had one good one in ya. But you’ve given us a lesson which we can all apply to our lives.
Irony alert: if we had wanted to watch a lot of drama about intellectual teenagers sparring each other verbally while trying to figure out life, we could always Netflix My So-Called Life, which starred… Claire Danes.
Who plays Carrie in Homeland.