TV Review: “Homeland” Episode Nine – “Horse and Wagon”

Written by Spencer Sterritt November 25, 2013

Homeland, Horse and Wagon

I’ve been pretty hard on “Homeland” the last few weeks. Act two of this season has certainly deserved such criticism, what with its random plotting and nonsensical twists. Thankfully the newest episode “Horse and Wagon” manages to withstand such harsh criticism, barely. The endgame on “Homeland” is finally kicking in, and Saul’s grand plan has been revealed.

At the end of last week we saw Saul meeting a strung out Brody in Caracas. Now Brody is back in the US, and being trained for a mission in Iran. It’s a convoluted mission that involves Brody seeking asylum in Iran and killing the head of the Iranian Republican Guard. How the hell he’s going to do that is anyone’s guess. Even Saul doesn’t have a plan for that one. “He’s good at getting himself into tight places,” is the only reason Saul can give.

“Kill Me Now”

Though it was fairly dour, I enjoyed the first two thirds of this episode. Brody is in a bad way, what with the heroin addiction and the desire to kill himself, and watching him wrestle with the addiction wasn’t the most original thing I’ve ever seen, but it invested me in Brody again. Between this episode and “Tower of David,” where we first saw him arrive in Caracas and get hooked on heroin, we’ve really seen Brody at his weakest, shitting himself and yelling that he needs it while struggling to get some junk into his system. The quick scene where he breaks a chair and rips his arm apart with the debris was harrowing, and the flashback that followed of his captivity in Afghanistan was a nice way of reflecting the CIA’s actions.

Homeland, Brody, Horse and Wagon, suicide

Though there are a few plots at the fringes of this episode, most notably with Senator Lockhart, this was the Brody episode. His heroin withdrawal is pretty quick, only the first twenty minutes, but it’s effective. Once Brody is well again he meets Carrie, and that’s when this episode overcame my jadedness towards “Homeland.” The magic between Claire Danes and Damien Lewis is still there, even when they are barely talking. This episode takes us back to the super romance between these two, which was a direction that nearly derailed the last half of season two. There’s no tension between Carrie and Brody anymore, which is what made the show really thrive, but I’ll still take some quiet well-acted scenes over ridiculous plots.

“Sixteen Days Later”

I do have one major gripe with this episode, and that’s the transition into act three. We jump ahead sixteen days and see Brody training to be a soldier again for his upcoming mission, and he’s doing great. Never mind the fact that roughly eighteen days earlier he was a complete junkie burnout who couldn’t control himself. We even get an absolutely ridiculous training montage in the last ten minutes that only needs some snow and tree trunks to be “Rocky IV”. I’m glad the writers aren’t dawdling in misery as we watch Brody overcome heroin addiction, but the abrupt cut was incredibly sloppy.

Homeland 91

Brody in Iran is clearly the endgame, but this season has built up too many threats at home to suddenly shift to action overseas, and I’m worried that everything we’ve seen so far has been for naught. The only real constant this season is how far Saul is willing to push people to get what he wants, but since Saul will only be overseeing the operation overseas and not actively pushing people, his plot won’t have been meaningful.

“Why are you here?”

There are still three episodes to go, with the one next week chronicling the start of the operation in Iran, so there’s still time for “Homeland” to make some crazy decisions and go in a completely different direction than I thought, just like it did last year. I really liked two-thirds of “Horse and Wagon,” which isn’t too bad for this season. Hopefully things will coalesce in a better fashion next week.

My Rating: 8/10

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About Spencer Sterritt

Spencer Sterritt

Spencer Sterritt: former Editor-In-Chief for We Eat Films, future President of the Men With Beards Club, and hopefully candidate for ruler of the world.

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