Week 2: Season One Episodes 5-8: Relationships and Character Development

After viewing episodes 5-8 of the first season of Homeland, I am intrigued by the show’s portrayal and continued development of several key relationships in the series. Even though at this point I have only skimmed the surface of the basic premise of this show, it is clear that Homeland is a complex and engaging series with storylines that keep the viewer on the edge of their seat.  As any good writer and story teller knows, even the best storyline could not come to life without the inclusion of several richly detailed and complex characters.  Homeland certainly does not disappoint in this aspect of the show. It is through these relationships that Homeland attempts to showcase the values and dominance of these characters within these respective relationships. Not only do these relationships provide additional detail into the some of the primary characters of the show, but they also contribute to the fast paced and suspenseful narrative that is felt throughout the show.

To start, perhaps the most intriguing relationship is the one between Carrie and Nicholas Brody. Viewers were introduced to the notion of a sexual relationship between Carrie and Brody in the beginning of the first season where a flirtation developed between these two characters at a support group meeting.  Their relationship intensified by the middle set of episodes in the first season, when Carrie positions herself as Brody’s mistress in an effort to continue her surveillance on him. We already know Carrie bends the rules to suit her own agenda and is impulsive. Homeland’s portrayal of the first sexual encounter between Carrie and Brody is reflective of this – the quick and tawdry sex scene in the parking lot. Carrie’s actions resulted in her not only bending the rules by sleeping with a married man (the show foreshadowed this behavior in the first four episodes by revealing that she slept with her married supervisor) but also by potentially putting her career and reputation at risk. A particularly interesting plot twist revealed a potential dire consequence of Carrie’s impulsiveness. It was during an impromptu trip to Carrie’s family cabin when Carrie revealed she knew Brody’s favorite brand of tea.  Although she tried to cover up this gaffe, Brody quickly realized she was spying on him and confronted her about it. Ultimately Carrie had to reveal to Brody her belief that he has turned and is plotting an attack on the United States.carrie-and-brody

 

Further development of the Carrie/Brody relationship provided insight into the dominance Brody has in this relationship. After Carrie revealed her belief that Brody is a Jihadi and will carry out a nefarious plan against the United States, he became so incensed that she apologized several times to him after she learned from Saul that Thomas Walker (the second MIA Marine) was actually alive and was the one who was plotting such an attack on the United States. It was up to this point that Carrie, despite her flaws, was portrayed as a strong and independent woman. However the anguished tone Carrie used to apologize and the fact that she repeatedly apologized showed that Brody was gaining dominance in their relationship, even if it was no longer a sexual one. Ultimately it is revealed in these episodes that Brody is an excellent liar and a significant threat to the United States when the show revealed that he is in contact with Abu Nazir, an al-Qaeda commander who is the main target of the CIA.

 

Another pivotal and complex relationship central to the show is the one between Saul and Carrie. It was revealed early on in the first season that Saul trained Carrie and despite this, their relationship is frequently tested. Saul does not allow her to manipulate him (as was evident when Carrie made sexual overImage result for saul and carrie picturestures to him when she thought her job was in peril and he rejected her). After one particularly heated exchange, Saul threw Carrie out of his house. However despite these volatile exchanges, it is clear they respect each other. Saul placed Carrie at Brody’s debriefing and defends her against her boss, David Estes. Saul also arranged for Carrie to legally provide surveillance on Brody after Carrie found a rhythmic pattern in the way Brody tapped his fingers during televised appearances. Even when Carrie revealed her affair with Brody, Saul did not punish her for this transgression despite him not approving of her actions. Although Saul is clearly more grounded and operates with a higher code of ethics than Carrie, they both are similar in that they prioritize work over their personal lives. So despite the turbulent nature of their relationship at times, ultimately it is one that is inviolable.

Of course Homeland contains several other relationships that rightfully deserve an analysis similar to the Carrie/Brody and Carrie/Saul ones I just mentioned.  Although in an effort to curtail a lengthy blog post, I will limit my analysis to these two relationships.  The final four episodes in season 1 of Homeland are sure to contain plenty of suspenseful and gripping story lines to pad a third blog post.

 

 

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7 thoughts on “Week 2: Season One Episodes 5-8: Relationships and Character Development

  1. Interestingly, one of the things that most troubles me about the first season of Homeland is the character portrayals. I feel the show swings the pendulum too far for each character from episode to episode, and only provides relationship background and complexity through dialogue. For example, we don’t see Carrie and Saul together, in a mentor/mentee type relationship, for almost any time before she attempts to keep her illegal surveillance by seducing him. Then, from episode to episode, Saul is either irate and frustrated with Carrie, to the piont of not speaking to her, or going out of his way to continue her illegal activities. We also have almost no background on why everyone feels Carrie is such a great agent. All we ever see her do is follow a man who may or may not be a terrorist, break protocol, sleep around with men, force other men to break the law, and fall in love with the man she believes is a terrorist. To make us think she is great, though, the show has other characters TELL us she is great, which is the preferred method the show uses to enhance character. Also, though Brody is now a confirmed terrorist, we really don’t know WHY he would agree to go against his country. Or why does Tom Walker agree to become a terrorist? These answers don’t come until the last few episodes of the season, which, I believe, actually take the show to a higher quality than what we see through episode 8. Character motivation creates more tension, drama, and rounded characters, and the show does a better job, in my opinion, of motivation starting in about episode 10 or 11.

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  2. These two relationships are certainly intriguing. I tend to agree with Brian (in his comment) when he states that the Saul/Carrie relationship is often operating in extremes (one minute Saul is mad, the next he is on her side). I wonder, however, if this is just a condition of being in such a high stakes position. Carrie can be brilliant (or so we are told) but she is also a bit of a maverick which places Saul (quite often) in a precarious position, particularly since he is operating as a moral center for the show.

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  3. The relationship between Saul and Carrie is interesting to me as well. It may have functioned as more a mentor/mentee relationship in the past (before the point where the show begins) but at this point she has little regard for what he thinks or wants. She does whatever she wants, often putting Saul at risk or betraying his trust. It’s unclear to me why he still trusts her (other than maybe for her “brilliance” or something like that). He puts up with a lot in a pretty one-sided relationship with her.

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  4. Maybe I will slightly disagree with Marilyn and Brian–I think Carrie is pretty special when she notices the finger tapping and has intuitive suspicions of Brody’s relation to Abu Nazir. It’s a bit unorthodox how she gets there. You’re certainly right about Brody being an “excellent liar.” He goes from being a hurt schoolboy when he finds out Carrie’s motives to being the guy who can slip a razor blade to a prisoner or threaten a diplomat–almost like a Jeckyll and Hyde. Maybe that volatility is what makes the show so interesting. We’re definitely on edge about what’s going to happen in the next four episodes. In internet writing you might want to make your paragraphs a little shorter than they are.

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  5. I expected Saul to be more stern with Carrie about the affair with Brody. However, he was in the midst of a discussion with his wife that wasn’t exactly positive. I also wonder if Carrie would’ve even taken the time to spend the weekend away if she knew Tom Walker was on the loose.

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  6. I do believe that these two relationships will be a main focus in the upcoming episodes. They both seem to be Carrie’s most important ones and the people she is closest to. I think the one between her and Saul will develop even more now that his wife is once again leaving. The relationship between Carrie and Nick on the other hand seems to be tethering on a seesaw with no matter which end it drops to it will end in misery for one of them. I am interested in seeing how these will continue to develop.

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  7. I agree with Brian’s points about character in the first half of season 1. I found Carrie to be quite unlikeable at first, and her relationship with Saul to be forced, and uncomfortably strained. But as the show goes along, I am finding myself liking Carrie a bit more.
    I find the relationship between Carrie and Brody to be very strange. I like that you pointed out that seeing Carrie with Brody makes her into a weaker character. I don’t like that he seems to have the “upper-hand” in their relationship and interactions..

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