I was getting really worried there for a minute. Showtime usually sends off to press the link to the next Sunday’s Homeland episode a few days in advance, so that the write-ups can be published as the hour concludes. However, the link had not been posted by this afternoon. Was this an accident, or was this a way to avoid getting a potential game-changing spoiler out onto the Internet?
These questions circled this reviewer’s head during “Redux,” a wild and crazy hour of Homeland that upped the preposterousness of the last hour while also making a lot more practical sense. With the title of the episode meaning a return to life or resurgence, one wondered what this could refer to. Suddenly, when Nicholas Brody tackled Carrie onto the compound floor at the end of this disorienting hour of television, there was a tug of war between my thoughts. With the foresight that Showtime had not posted an episode link, it seemed very probable that the network didn’t want knowledge of this outlandish plot twist reaching the public before the episode aired. However, after a few sequences of delirium – brought on by the drugs that Dennis swapped with Carrie’s usual medicinal stash this week – it was always possible that Brody was a complete hallucination.
Homeland just evaded jumping the proverbial shark by showing that the man who grabbed her at the end of “Redux” was not Brody, but Aasar Khan, the shifty ISI agent. Had Brody actually been truly alive and well, one suspects that many fans of the show that had patiently waited for Homeland to return to its former heights would have bailed on the thriller. (Also admirable: the episode did not end with any hint of ambiguity, which could have made audiences just as wildly mad as Carrie had been this hour.)
Besides the hypnotic and hysterical final scene, this was a much better episode of Homeland than the one from last week, which relied on some unconvincing character decisions from Carrie. This week, her outlandish and somewhat unruly behavior makes perfect sense. Claire Danes can finally shape up as a solid contender for the Best Actress Emmy again, delivering a stark raving mad performance that was both delirious and devastating. Meanwhile, superb direction from Carl Franklin – the man behind Out of Time who will also helm next Sunday’s hour of The Affair – riveted.
The viewer’s descent into Carrie’s drug-addled madness this week featured some of the most startling and frightening material in the show’s short history. Danes presses her face into pain and pressure, walks in narrow lines and wipes sweat stains away more than once this episode, a perfect physical encapsulation of her character’s frenzy. She is really bad at hiding her volatility and pain, while the show’s creative team is superb at showing Carrie’s disoriented frame of view. Much credit should go to the sound department, which trapped us inside Carrie’s damaged mental psyche as the border between fantasy and reality collapsed. From the overwhelming noises of a whimpering bug to the vibrating spasms of the score tormenting the viewer, this was a feverish yet transporting hour. The off-speed flow and pace of the scene in the hospital, meanwhile, was just shaky enough to work without feeling overdone.