TV: Homeland 1.8 “Achilles Heel” Review (****)

Posted: November 22, 2011 in Reviews, Television
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Make no mistake about it. Homeland is the best show on television right now. The psychological thriller has all the greatest parts of 24, without the over-exaggerated action sequences and maniacal, nonsensical plot twists. The suspense in every scene keeps you on the edge much like the characters themselves, and through eight episodes, viewers are still guessing on what’s going to happen next.

For those new to the series, Homeland tells the story of CIA operative Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) who believes American marine and ex-P.O.W. Nicholsa Brody (Damian Lewis) has been turned by al-Qaeda. What follows is a series of confirmations and contradictions to Mathison’s conspiracy theories.

Homeland’s latest episode, “Achilles Heel,” is centered on Carrie and Saul attempting to find Brody’s fellow ex-marine Tom Walker. Through this narrative, we get more than the a cat-and-mouse game between the CIA and Walker; we also see the complicated and unconventional father-daughter relationship between Carrie and Saul. They are both individuals married to their careers over their families, and each other is all they have. This stands in comparison to Tom Walker and his wife Helen whose love for each other is almost Notebook-like despite their individual betrayals to the nation. As the federal agents focus on Walker’s family (or what he terms his “Achilles Heel”), we see our heroes have their own  fatal weaknesses as well.

The episode’s conclusion was also a healthy treat for its viewers, as most reacted the same way I did — “WHAT?!” Just when you think you have Homeland figured out, it throws another screwball down the plate, and you’re left their looking, bat still resting on your shoulder. But that’s the mark of a great TV show, isn’t it? Homeland is able to frustrate its viewers in the best of ways (unlike the way The Walking Dead frustrates us), and we’re left asking much in the same Carrie and Saul must be saying at the episode’s end — What next? 

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