The use of product placement can be a particularly frustrating tool. Take this week’s episode of Homeland, in which we discover that Saul’s lucky chewing gum is Black Jacks. The forced dialogue that revealed this little titbit was distinctly clunky, ruining the building tension that enveloped the episode. It was a shameless moment of advertising that one would expect to find on a scathingly commercial reality show, not a well regarded thriller.
At least Saul’s reasons for chomping down on such inexhaustible amounts of his favorite aniseed flavored treat were justified. Brody is taking his first steps on his mission to assassinate the Iranian president. We find him, along with his team, camping out in Iraq and chowing down on some goat, not far from the Iranian border. Back in Langley, Saul and Carrie are monitoring the situation while Dar Adal and Mike Higgins watch on from the White House.
This is the first time Homeland has so intensely dramatized an operation being conducted overseas and the highly charged worries and emotions felt by different characters in different parts of the world, all bound together by the same mission, made for a thrilling episode of drama. Once again the writers were admirable in their exploration of the darker side of American espionage; the callous murder of innocent Iraqi policemen, killed to protect the mission, was especially shocking.
Even that could not prepare us for the shock of seeing Brody’s car go up in smoke though. As the dust settled and Brody took cover in a barn along with his team, the writers unleashed one of the show’s finest set pieces. The gunfight itself was an explosively taut affair; the darkly lit set and handheld camerawork plunged us into the heart of the action, the chaotic scene resonating in the faces of those back at Langley.
Finally Brody, accompanied by one of his marines, made it to the Iranian border and was immediately detained and taken to a holding cell. Enter Javadi, Saul’s man on the ground, to help bring Brody to Tehran. Not before he coldly shot Brody’s marine companion though, leaving Brody with no one left to turn to… could his days be numbered?
On the whole, another cracking episode that perfectly set up the final two. No doubt there are still many twists and turns to come, plus there’s still the case of Carrie’s child, which this week she revealed to not be Brody’s; although there’s more than a little chance that was just Carrie trying to throw Quinn off the sent. Scenes from next week’s episode show Brody with slightly longer hair, suggesting a possible jump forward in time; maybe that will mean Carrie’s pregnancy story may finally gain pace… whether we have our faces rubbed in whichever brand of nappy she buys remains to be seen.