Mindy Newell: One So Right, One So Wrong

“You are a traitor and I am the fucking CIA.” – Carrie Mathison

Have you been watching Homeland this season?

Homeland suffered not a sophomore slump but a jumpy junior year, which im-not-so-ho, admirably redeemed itself with the emotionally tortured final story arc of CIA agent Carrie Mathison (the magnificent Claire Danes) and her lover, the “almost” terrorist Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody (the brilliant Damien Lewis), which left Carrie pregnant, Brody dead, and viewers wondering, “Where do they go from here?”

Well, where they went has been one brilliant roller-coaster ride.

The season four premiere was a two-hour feast of Carrie Mathison six months after the death of Brody, with the geography shifting from Kabul to Istanbul to Washington, D.C., as Carrie coped with a failed drone strike and the death of the CIA station chief in Istanbul at the hands of an angry mob.

Oh, and the reality of her (detached) motherhood, which included Carrie deciding to drown Brody’s child in the bathtub. But was that real? Or only the tortured dreamscape of a woman in torment over sending her lover on a mission that led to his death?

And that was only the beginning.

The show this season has been leaner, meaner and more complicated than ever. It revolves around the ramifications of that drone strike gone wrong in the first episode, by which, instead of killing a terrorist leader as it was meant to, the Americans rained death down upon a wedding celebration. There are no easy questions and there are no easy answers, as Carrie, Quinn (Rupert Friend), new CIA Director Andrew Lockhart (Tracy Letts) and Saul (the glorious Mandy Patankin – and if he doesn’t win an Emmy for his work this season I’m never watching the Emmys again) deal with the twisting truths, lies, and complicated relationships that define United States foreign policy in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Middle East.

Homeland has reached season episode nine, titled “There’s Something Else Going On,” which aired two weeks ago and left viewers and critics alike with their jaws on the ground and in agony over the fortnight break. I have been avoiding spoilers – not my usual policy, as I am a spoiler whore – over what happened last night (in Mindy-time, tonight as I’m writing this) in episode 10, which is significant.

Reading what is to happen usually only whets my appetite to see the spoiler played out on screen with the nuances of the actors adding more depth to the written word – but this time I have luxuriated in the suspense and the “What the fuck!? What the fucking fuck!! – to quote Lockhart in episode 9 – aggravation of having to wait two weeks for answers. And I wasn’t alone. Yep, Homeland was the topic of conversation around the OR table for the last two weeks. Those who hadn’t seen it yet were all “Shut up! Shut the hell up!” and those of us caught up were all “Two weeks! How could they do that to us!”

I don’t want to give you any actual spoilers as to what created all this exasperation, but I will give you two hints. Think RPGs and Benghazi. Of course by the time you read this, episode 10 will have aired, releasing all the pent-up frustration, so it’s all rather a moot point. I’m only hoping that after the two-week bye (to borrow a sports term), the producers and their team don’t come on the field lazy and fat, but sleek and muscled and ready to win.

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I have a place where dreams are born / And time is never planned. / It’s not on any chart, / You must find it with your heart, / Never-never land.” – Neverland, Mark Charlap, Julie Styne, Carolyn Leigh, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green

Of course, there was Peter Pan Live! to look forward to and to help bide me over.

I have loved the musical, based on J.M. Barrie’s classic tale, ever since I saw Mary Martin as the boy who refused to grow up back in the dark ages of television. And I also have had a special relationship to the show ever since I played Peter at Camp Monroe the summer I was eight years old. I remember as clearly as if it was yesterday all the words of every song and much of the dialogue; none of the joy has left, despite the 52 years laying between the then and the now. “Second star to the right and straight on ‘til morning” will always be the direction of my life.

I so wanted it to be good.

Allison Williams was… fine. Yes, she can sing, but there was something wanting in her portrayal, some impish mischievousness missing, some boyish callousness and selfishness lacking.

Christopher Walken was an embarrassment. Was he actually reading his lines from cue cards? Sure seemed that way to me. With memories of Cyril Ritchard as Captain Hook haunting me, I just could not believe what I was watching. Honestly, I was cringing for him.

And why were the Lost Boys so grown up? They seemed more like the Lost Gen-Xers. And what was with those German schoolboy costumes? Left over from last year’s “The Sound of Music Live?”

Ecch, there was so much wrong with it. Not even the clapping of every single child in the world could bring this “Tinker(ed with)” Peter Pan to life.