Monday, 20 February 2012

Homeland: It's all in the finger tapping, probably

Paranoia and intrigue seem to be high on the menu with Homeland, Channel 4's slick new US drama.

A presumed-dead Marine is found in the captivity of Al-Qaeda after eight years missing; he has a shave and a haircut (no-one wants a lead with long straggly hair), and returns to America a hero - but he has to adjust to life back home.

Despite that set-up, it's not a sitcom: there aren't any comedy misunderstandings where he's perplexed by the intricacies of internet banking or has to remember how to use the tumble dryer, although he does get a bit jumpy when his wife pulls off the price tag he'd forgotten to remove from his new tartan PJ bottoms.

Instead, things are far more serious. British actor Damian Lewis's portrayal of the mysterious soldier Nicholas Brody matches the pervading mood of the show: all quiet and brooding.

Reunited with children who don't remember him and with a wife who had secretly moved on to another lover, Brody has a lot to take in, and you could forgive him his polite but stunned reactions. At least until you see how he greets an old soldier friend called Mike, that is - their big warm bear hug is far more enthusiastic than the one Brody even gave his wife, so the inevitable moment when Brody discovers that Mike's been seeing his wife should be a scene to watch out for. 

Even all of this would be fairly straightforward and even a bit mundane if it wasn't for a sparky CIA analyst called Carrie Mathison (Clare Danes). Every show needs a sparky CIA analyst, especially one with a bit of 'danger'. Carrie remembers a tip off from an informer while on a job in Iraq, when she was told that a US prisoner of war would be plotting against the US government, but until the discovery of Brody she wasn't aware there were any.

A quick installation of covert cameras in Brody's home later, and the discovery that she takes anti-psychotic medication which she keeps hidden in an aspirin bottle (you see: danger!), we're being asked if we can even trust our brave soldier. A few scenes earlier he was our damaged hero, having an early morning run past the White House to clear his head - and now we're wondering if he was just plotting to blow it up.

It feels quite clever and slick, and Carrie's information turns everything on its head. And, when she spots him perform a mysterious and apparently specific finger tap whenever he appears on television, as if drumming out a message to his co-conspirators, we start to doubt him too. A bit.

So paranoia, intrigue - and finger tapping. Who would've thought?

Related stories:
- Homeland episode 1: It's all in the finger tapping, probably
- Homeland episode 2: Who can we trust, and is that Lynne doomed or what?
- Homeland: Key points from an interview with its writers and creators Howard Gordon & Alex Gansa
- Homeland: Well that'll teach her to take her men-folk back to the country cabin, won't it

1 comment:

  1. That guy in the picture looks like some douche bag that bought Marine Dress Blues at the flea market.