independent

Friday 31 October 2014

TV thriller highlights our subjectivity

FR MICHAEL COMMANE

Published 13/12/2012 | 09:21

THE CURRENT US espionage thriller 'Homeland', which is showing on RTÉ Two on Tuesday evenings, is the highlight of my week. How sad can you get? For those of you who are not watching ' Homeland', putting it as simply as possible: it's about US Army sergeant Nicholas Brody, who was captured while on service in Iraq.

He converted to Islam and became a fanatical follower of Abu Nazir, who plans to hit the US. Brody is to play a pivotal role in the attack. A US drone mistakenly killed a group of children, including Nazir's son. The 'incident' was kept under wraps. The episode plays a significant role in Brody's conversion to Islam.

Brody comes back to the US. A plan is put in place to kill a number of high-ranking people, including the US vice-president. Brody funks it and the CIA gets him on their side. He becomes a double agent.

There are so many angles, sides and corners to it that you would really need eyes at the back of your head to follow it. At times it seems xenophobic. But it also highlights the CIA as not being too worried about obeying the rule of law.

The main CIA character, Carrie Mathison, has a tryst with Brody. At this stage I'm not sure whether or not it is genuine love/lust or for the sake of the CIA. She also happens to be bi-polar. It's interesting to see how her bosses at the CIA treat her when this becomes evident. Her protector, Saul Berenson, is always there to help and support her. So far he's the wise counsel in the series. But last week he falls victim to mysterious double dealing.

The CIA, at least according to 'Homeland', has no problem living by the rule of deception and lies. Of course, it's all for the greater good and honour of the land of the free and the home of the brave. Brody's wife, Jessica, and Carrie are very good looking women. I'm sure many of the men are too.

There are so many silly scenes – CIA agent Carrie chasing a helicopter in a field in the middle of nowhere. In a previous episode, a number of terrorists shoot up CIA personnel. They come in, blazing submachine gun fire. And believe it or not, Peter Quinn, a central CIA figure, bleeding from the mouth, miraculously walks away.

So what is it about it that has me glued to the screen on Tuesdays? Suspense, the goodies versus the baddies, the aura of secrecy, interesting characters. But it is also bizarre and somehow or other there is something about the bizarre that forever attracts us. Maybe after all it is xenophobic. At least so far the goodies are the Americans and the baddies are the 'foreign terrorists'. You are led to believe that the nastiness and ugliness of ' the goodies' is bearable and deep down they mean to do the right thing. So far all the ' baddies' seem to be from the Middle East or Americans who spent some time there.

Anyone who has been following what is happening in real life to US army private Bradley Manning is bound to look at the world of power and politics with a jaundiced eye. Manning is in jail for over two years since he was accused of intelligence leaks to the WikiLeaks website. As a young man he was bullied because of his sexual orientation. In the last two years he has spent long periods of time in solitary confinement. And this is not a television series. It is for real.

How we are all children of our environment never ceases to amaze me, whether it is to do with our family, our school, our town, our religion, everything. It is the prophet and the bravest of the brave who dare attempt to look out over the parapet. Maybe, in some amazingly artistic design, 'Homeland' wants us to see how we all suffer from terrible bias, subjectivity and brain washing. After this there is to be another series; number three. OMG.

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