“Homeland”: Crossfire Review

By Jordan Magrath

In the first eight episodes, “Homeland” has done a great job of spreading the story out without making it TOO thin.  There have been times it has teetered on the edge, but then it delivers a moment where it’s all worthwhile  We haven’t really had a rushed story…until “Crossfire.”

The end result is still good, don’t get me wrong, but it could’ve been better if the arc got to breathe.  Ultimately, this is what tarnishes the episode a little bit, making it a middle-range installment.

For the better part of the episode, we see Brody in a flashback to Iraq.  We see him teaching a young boy how to speak English.  Brody becomes engrained in his teaching role, becoming very fond of what turns out to be Abu Nazir’s son.  Over a series of flashbacks, we see them getting closer, blah blah blah, then BOOM!  A drone attack takes out a school, killing Brody’s new student, and Nazir’s son.  This is the tipping point for Brody, apparently turning him against America.  Last week I wondered what Brody’s motives were and they seem pretty clear now.

In and of itself, the story relies heavily on pathos.  It is supposed to be emotionally charged, making us sympathize (probably not the right word) for Brody’s situation.  It also paralleled the situation Carrie was in.  Both instances highlight the cost of counter terrorism.  The US isn’t perfect (or even close), and has made some irreparable mistakes in the process.  This has left 80-some children dead in a bombing in Iraq, and two innocent Muslims dead at a mosque in America.

For this, I again must tip my cap to the writers.  They aren’t afraid to show America in a bad light.

Still I can’t help but feel like child’s death could’ve been scripted a little more effectively.  Instead of cramming it into one episode, it probably would’ve been better seen over a few episodes.  They could’ve kept part of it a secret, revealing that Brody was the teacher in this week’s episode.  I also think it would’ve been less obvious that the kid was going to die.

In the end, it isn’t as much a bad arc, but more of a missed opportunity.  With all that is going on, the season isn’t becoming terrible by any means.  Instead, it just is missing chances to be great.  I still have high hopes for what will come by season’s end.

Back to the story, Tom Walker got some more screen time this week.  We got to see him practicing his sniper skills in the woods.  Oh, and he had to kill some poor hunter that recognized him.  Walker’s target appears to be either the President or Vice President.  With Brody’s orders to run for office with the Vice President, it appears he is the target.  Ultimately, I don’t think they’ll succeed.  The terrorists never win, right?  However, if “Homeland” has taught me anything, it is that they aren’t about to turn into a predictable government thriller.  Maybe they’ll have the guts to do something drastic. And no better time to do it than the first season, right?  Speaking of which, maybe Abu Nazir’s son was actually killed by his father?  Is that too big of stretch, too?

Going back to Carrie, I can’t help but feel like she is kind of stuck without a story.  When Brody was the suspect, she spent so much time chasing after him.  Now with him in the “clear,” I’m curious to why she doesn’t have the same gumption to go after Walker.  Since the manhunt has blown up, perhaps its not her place now.  In fact, Brody never was anybody else’s suspect, so with that in mind, it makes sense I guess.  I still feel like she’s a bit wasted in her current predicament.

Saul, Carrie’s juxtaposition, is also shortchanged this episode.  Although I doubt the writer’s have huge plans for his character, he has turned into emotional (speaking of pathos) character that we root for.  Since we know Brody is guilty and Carrie is crazy, Saul is our source for normalcy.  The writers should play this up as much as possible.

Still with all the problems, it wasn’t a terrible episode.  I’d even hesitate to call it bad.  It just felt a little wasted.  The episode still fits in to the plot, but perhaps it was just the calm before the storm.  With three episodes remaining, it’ll be interesting to see who ends up dead, who ends up guilty, and who gets away with something.  It’s still pretty muddled.

Rating: B

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