Friday, January 6, 2012

Broken

Can we talk about Homeland, the Showtime series about a prisoner of war's return home, and the secretly bipolar CIA agent who suspects he has been "turned." Their chemistry really dials up the suspense in a series that refuses to apportion blame in the usual broad strokes. Everyone is flawed, lives skewered by the global machinery of politics and religion. Claire Danes is riveting as the agent, Carrie, a tough profane piece of work whose face can also betray a heart wrenching march of emotions. She has hidden her mental illness for years, knowing it would disqualify her from being a security analyst, but as a New York Times reviewer noted, "Her mental illness, an ability to spot connections invisible to others, is also her gift."

As Brody, the POW returned home to his wife and family, a manufactured war hero who may or may not be a terrorist, Damian Lewis is tightly controlled. His demons, like Carrie's, threaten at any moment to incinerate and overwhelm. Their woundedness makes them irresistible to each other—a slow-burning fuse. I couldn't resist them either. Since Monday, I've been compulsively immersed in the series late into the night and came home early yesterday to watch the finale in an empty house; I knew it was going the intense. "The ending was always going to be emotionally violent," Damian Lewis told a reporter. "Brody's been systematically brutalized; he doesn't make his decisions from a rational, stable place."

Mandy Patinkin, as Carrie's older Jewish CIA mentor, whose Muslim wife has just left him to return home to India, is also superlative. In a subtle turn, he is a man snared by his job, deeply humane but never sentimental, except perhaps when it comes to his wife. He is quietly shattered by her departure. If I really think about it, perhaps what so compels me about the series is the way these three people who've been broken by life's randomness, ruggedly press on, risking heart and sinew to construct lives that matter. I am already dug in, counting the days to the next season.


15 comments:

  1. I'm only hearing good things about this. Can't wait until it comes out on Netflix. Thanks for not giving away any major details.
    m.

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  2. yes, i'll second Mark on that.
    we do TV series in marathon sessions only. and this sounds terrific.
    we just finished inhaling 3 seasons of Sons of Anarchy, an utterly trashy but really well-written and well-acted series about motorcycle gangs, to my mind far more involving than other more talked-about shows. the character development, in particular, is excellent.
    thanks, angella!

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  3. I wish I had more evening time to watch stuff like this, as Lord knows there's not a lot of it about. Having spent two hours on 3rd grade math homework last night though, it's still off on the horizon! Sigh.

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  4. You've definitely lured me in! Wonder if I can get Netflix in Azerbaijan ...

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  5. Oh darn another good series I've missed? I'll have to check it for Netflix as it sounds like one my hubby would enjoy too. What would we do without DVR recording and Netflix or the like? So nice to sit down and zoom through the commercials!

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  6. I read about this and can't wait to Netflix it- sounds wonderful

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  7. I need another series to be addicted to like I need the proverbial shot to the head! I've heard so many good things about this show, though -- all from people whose opinions I not only respect but who have similar sensibilities. The trouble is that I don't have Showtime. I could perhaps wait, though, and download on Netflix or Amazon Prime. I'm completely obsessed with "Breaking Bad" -- phenomenal acting, writing, etc. Have you seen it?

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  8. Yes, thank you for (a) no spoilers and (b) such a lucent assessment. We'll be watching for it on Netflix or some downloadable venue. And the way you summed up what you find in the characters is not unrelated to your New Year's post...for none of us has ever had the steering wheel as anything but a prop - or a delusion. We are all, I have no doubt, battered in ways that eventually overlap and I much prefer the stories about those who manage to go on, even go on and thrive, in spite of life being life. Belated wishes for much happiness in the New Year, your daughter's fondest wishes realized, peace and the letting go of all that is beyond our control. That should leave time for reading and other good things. xo

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  9. what a great post! I've been hearing nothing but great things about this show. i really need to check it out on netflix.

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  10. showtime!!! argh!!! i don't have showtime!!!!


    i fell in love with claire when my daughter and i used to watch "my so-called life" about a million years ago. in fact, if my son had been a girl, claire was to be her (the girl who isn't) name.


    thanks for this tip. i think this show sounds really interesting. netflix will have to do for me as well.

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  11. We don't have TV, but I can imagine how good Claire Danes is in this role---she does a beautiful job with her portrayal of Temple Grandin in the HBO movie.

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  12. Thank you Angella! I do hope this is on Netflix somewhere. Yum.
    love,
    Rebecca

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  13. Oh, Greg and I loved this show so much, we were enthralled from the very first minutes of the first episode. All of the performances were brilliant and the writing is just wonderful, the characters are all so real and so flawed. I can't wait until the next season either. I'm so glad you watched Homeland, it feels like I've just discovered we have a mutual friend :D

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  14. Wow, I'm going to have to catch up this series! I've been hearing good things about it.

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  15. I've never heard of this show! I'll watch for a DVD just in case it doesn't make its way across the pond!

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