What a disappointment – and yet nothing could have been less surprising. The first season of the Golden Globe-nominated, Showtime series Homeland came to a close last Sunday in a finale that drew mixed reactions from fans and set a record for the highest-rated finale for a freshman series in Showtime’s history. But more importantly, it confirmed that Hollywood is still not ready to take an unequivocal, pro-American stand against our jihadist enemy.
(Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS ahead)
For those who haven’t been following, the show centers on a Marine named Brody (actor Damian Lewis), missing and presumed dead in Iraq since 2003, who is discovered alive, rescued and brought home to suburban Washington D.C. to a lot of CIA self-congratulation and media fanfare. Not only does he become “a poster boy for the war,” as skeptical counterterrorism analyst Carrie (actress Claire Danes) calls him, he’s even urged by the Vice President to run for political office. But Carrie has reason to believe that Brody has been “turned” traitor and is a sleeper agent involved in an imminent terrorist attack.
She suspects correctly. Although the series toyed briefly with the idea that Brody is nothing more than the victim of Carrie’s increasing bi-polar paranoia, he was indeed working with the terrorist mastermind Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban) to take down the Vice President and Secretary of Defense in a suicide bombing. But the shrapnel-packed suicide vest fails him in the final episode, which ends with Brody pitching the idea to Abu Nazir that perhaps he can best serve their cause not by killing the Vice President, who has announced his candidacy for the Presidency, but rather by influencing public policy through him.
I wrote about “Homeland” before on FrontPage Magazine, at the beginning of the show’s season, when I expressed skepticism about how the show would depict the ill-named “war on terror.” My doubts were based on interview snippets with the producers, who hinted at the usual Hollywood moral equivalence and aversion to patriotism. But I was encouraged that the show at least didn’t shy away from portraying Islamic terrorists as the bad guys, and after seeing the complexity and ambiguity of the first couple of episodes, I was just optimistic enough to conclude that it would be necessary to see how the season played out in order to judge the series fully.
Well, now that time has come, and the verdict is in. As gripping and well-acted as the series was on plenty of occasions, the finale laid bare its disheartening true colors when the real reason for Brody’s attempted terror attack became clear.
The motivation for Abu Nazir’s murderous plan? While Brody was still a prisoner of Nazir, our Vice President had ordered a covert drone strike on a school harboring Nazir, killing 82 children – among them, Nazir’s youngest son. The VP then ordered any trace of the operation wiped clean– except for a heavily redacted document that somehow slipped through the cracks and made its way to heroine Claire Danes’ mentor Saul (Mandy Patinkin.) Then video surfaced of the VP ordering the strike despite being made aware of the presence of schoolchildren. Screw it, he says, we can’t be held responsible if the cowardly Abu Nazir chooses to shield himself among innocent children. So he, the CIA Director, and the Secretary of Defense determine that “the collateral damage count” of the attack is “within the acceptable matrix parameters” and the strike goes forward. Nazir vows vengeance against the principles involved, with Brody as his weapon.
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