Brief thoughts on last night’s Homeland

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZjPzWPdoqw]

Warning: Homeland spoilers below.

I seem to be in some weird alternate universe in which I disagree progressively more strongly with the critical consensus on Homeland episodes. Yesterday’s episode, “The Clearing,” is a case in point: many reviews I read took a decidedly “meh” tone about the story, while I thought it may have been Homeland‘s strongest week of the entire series (or at the very least, in the top three or so).

The one thing almost everyone agreed upon was the pool scene, in which a solitary Nick Brody was momentarily able to escape his increasingly complicated life by taking a brief swim in the dark. The combination of the music, the deliberately slow pacing (which contrasts heavily with the general feel of Homeland), and the solitude rendered this one of the single best moments in the entirety of the show. Just a beautifully executed scene.

In all other aspects of the episode, reviews were mixed. But I thought all the storylines were actually well-constructed and helped to contribute to a pervasive sense of betrayal and abandonment. Jess feels betrayed by Brody (for not telling her about killing Tom Walker), by Dana (for running someone over and not confessing earlier), and — to a lesser extent — by Cynthia Walden (for immediately seeking the coverup instead of acting ethically). Brody, in turn, feels betrayed by Carrie for using him in the eponymous clearing of the title, and then for her humiliation of him in front of Dana at the end of the episode. Saul feels betrayed by Aileen, with whom he’d believed to have established a rapport. And Dana feels betrayed by a compromised father whom she once idolized, and by Finn for his coldness after she forced their confession.

Also, can we please see more of Mandy Patinkin? That guy’s the best actor on the entire show. As Alan Sepinwall alluded to in his review, Patinkin’s scene with Aileen — especially after he realized what she had done — should single-handedly win the man an Emmy. What a performance.

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