Homeland Blog: Episode 10, Broken Hearts


Series Two, Episode Ten: Broken Hearts

Yes, that is F. Murray Abraham sat at the counter as Saul walks in at the beginning of this week’s episode, and blimey isn’t it good to see him again? The one-time Oscar winner’s been a bit quiet screenwise since playing a stretchy-faced alien in Star Trek: Insurrection 14 years ago. It’s hard to feel there isn’t an off-Broadway production missing an Uncle Vanya somewhere.

Not interacting with Brody (though they get a brief and disappointingly un-homoerotic telephone call here), Saul’s been limited to paternal partnerships. Of course, Mandy Patinkin plays the father figure excellently, but he deserves someone of equal maturity and acting chops to spar with. Let’s hope the pair get more screen-time together in coming weeks.

The episode spends longer resurrecting Finn. Easily the least notable character, his return feels forced and is seemingly there only to keep Dana’s storyline ticking over. He slips into the soap opera cliche of delivering a poetic soliloquy despite having been previously constructed as lacking insight.

Such rumination works in a book, where an inner monologue may be granted an eloquence of which the individual is not aware or consciously capable. Put those words into the mouths of your character and you confuse the omniscience of the narrator with the limited awareness of that individual. The writing shows through.

Abu Nazir’s grandiloquence, on the other hand, works – of course you will talk in terms of hands from the sky if you believe you are God’s vengeance – though it does play into old prejudices. His promise that “we will defeat youâ€? whether it takes one, two or three centuries is the sort of self-description that legitimises the constructor’s view of its enemies as an amorphous whole. Nazir talks like a Limehouse Mandarin from the era of the Yellow Peril or a Hollywood Communist of the 1950s.

And yet there are subtleties. We can be pretty sure Nazir’s plan doesn’t end with mucking about with the Vice President’s pacemaker. As his discussion with Carrie elsewhere in the episode indicates, what’s the point of an attack if no one knows you did it? Though it’s not been remarked upon, Nazir has shaved his beard: traditional for a jihadist who is about to martyr himself.