Though it’s still struggling to figure out what sort of show it wants to be, “Homeland” makes several improvements in its second episode “Uh.Oh.Ah.” over last week, except for that god awful title. Everything still feels fairly scattered, but the individual, more emotional scenes land in a satisfying way.
Picking up a week after “Tin Man Is Down”, Carrie loses control completely and faces yet another hearing, this time at the hospital to determine if she is fit to live on her own. Meanwhile Dana, who is suffocating under her mothers attention and concern, also returns to her hospital, only she is there to see her boyfriend. I enjoy how this episode continues to focus on the characters instead of immediately spinning a new terrorist conspiracy, but I could have used much less Dana. It’s not that I don’t like her, it’s that her plot lacked subtlety and featured the second worst scenes of the episode.
“Are you okay?”
“Uh.Oh.Ah.” takes all of Carrie’s madness and paranoia to the extreme, and isn’t afraid to assassinate her character completely. Everything she does is a reaction to last weeks final scene, where Saul essentially threw her under a bus. Her quest to get her very classified version of the story into the press clearly puts her against the CIA and Saul, and the episode doesn’t try to justify her actions. It’s a bold move, and I can’t help but wonder if that was the writers idea, or if it was Claire Danes’ ideas since she is now a producer.
Everything else involving the CIA is still the C-plot, but thankfully it is much more prominent than last week, though no one gets shot or blown up this time. The writers are taking a different tone this season in regards to their portrayal of what the CIA does, which is definitely the best move. Season one was focused on surveillance and spying, where as season two was quicker and kept on changing what sort of show it wanted to be every other episode until it decided that it wanted to be like “24,” where most of the writers and crew had come from. Based on what we see here it looks like this season will be much more low key and based on the inner workings of the CIA, not what they do in the field.
“I’m gonna take her out.”
Mandy Patinkin’s Saul has always bee the heart and soul of “Homeland” as the voice of reason and Carrie’s confidant. After this episode though their relationship is shattered. The last line of the episode, a medicated Carrie struggling to say “fuck you Saul” to his face, really stung. With the weight of the CIA on his shoulders, and F. Murray Abraham’s Dar Adal acting as the devil on his shoulder, I really empathized with Saul this episode.
All of this goodwill gives Saul a pass on his one terrible scene this week, the worst in this episode, where he berates a new civilian specialist with extreme prejudice for wearing a headscarf into the CIA. It’s a horrible scene that doesn’t do anything to illuminate the irrational hatred directed towards Muslims and others from Middle Eastern countries after an attack, and doesn’t fit in with Saul’s character in the slightest. I’m giving Mandy Patinkin a pass, but I’m not giving one to the writers. If there are any more scenes like this one, then I am going to have some serious problems with this show.
“There have been some adjustments, but we knew there would be.”
All in all “Uh.Oh.Ah.” is a much better episode than last week, though the lack of Brody still makes for a disjointed episode (and that stupid title. What were the writers thinking?). I was shocked at how far the episode went to break Carrie down again, especially after all of the torment she went through at the end of season one and two, but ultimately I think it is for the best. Damien Lewis returns next week in “Tower of David,” which is one of the those situations that could go either way, so we’ll have to see if watching Carrie be beat down to such an extreme was worth it.