Tagged: Rupert Friend

Mindy Newell: Homeland, 24: Legacy and Yiannopoulos, Oh My!

Before I get into the meat of today’s column…

Do you watch comedian and political satirist Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO, Friday, 10 PM ET)? What I especially love about Mr. Maher’s show is that he invites people on who are from all shades of the political spectrum and that he’s unafraid of calling out bullshit when he sees it, whether it’s coming from the left, the right, or anywhere in the middle. Yes, he can be crass, profane, and occasionally downright rude, but he’s not sitting on the sidelines.

One of Friday night’s guests was Milo Yiannopoulos, a public speaker and a senior editor for Breitbart News, the alt-right news site that brought us such lovely individuals as Steve Bannon. This was my first experience with this guy, and it was incredibly unpleasant and I cannot be-lieve that anyone takes this very sad, very mixed-up little boy seriously. Er iz a meyvn vi a bok af a klezmer, which translates to He’s an expert like a goat’s an expert on musicians.

Homeland has been back for a month, and though perhaps the first three chapters were a bit slow and tedious in the set-up, last week’s episode kicked the series into high gear. To bring you up to date, Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) is back in the States, living in Brooklyn with her daughter by the now-dead Nicholas Brody (Damien Lewis) and working for a foundation whose goal is to help Muslims living in America, while secretly advising the new President-Elect on foreign policy and the intelligence agencies motives and games. The foundation’s latest client is Sekou Bah, a teenage convert to Islam who had been arrested by the FBI for terrorist-related activities – he had been posting videos critical of American policy towards Islam and the Middle East.

Meanwhile, the incoming President’s policy agenda – she wants to cut down on what she terms “America’s interference with foreign countries” – is antithetical to Carrie’s old co-workers at the CIA, Saul Berenson (Mandy Pantikin) and Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham); they believe that Iran is clandestinely working with North Korea on a “parallel nuclear” project – in other words, Iran is helping North Korea build a nuclear bomb and the means to deliver it – and breaking the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a.k.a. the “Iran deal.”

And Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) is one fucked-up ex-spy; no, he didn’t die in that hospital bed last season – as I and just about everyone believed – but he is suffering not only from the lingering physical effects of the Sarin gas, but also one helluva case of PTSD. When we first saw him, he was living in a V.A. rehab center; now he is living in the basement of Carrie’s brownstone. And he has discovered that someone is spying on Carrie from an apartment across the street – only Carrie doesn’t believe him.

Last week’s episode, “A Flash of Light,” saw Saul visiting his sister, who lives in the disputed West Bank of Israel, using her as an excuse to hide his real reason for being there – to meet an Iranian general and ask him to investigate Iran’s [possible] “parallel nuclear program” with North Korea. The general agrees, but as Saul is about to leave for the airport to return to the States, the Israelis pick him. They know that a senior Iranian official was in Palestinian area of the West Bank, and they know that Saul had crossed over the previous night. They detain him.

Meanwhile, Carrie has used her espionage skills to get the FBI to release Sekou and to clear him. There is one warning – that Sekou not post any more videos. But when Sekou arrives home, his friends are suspicious of how he got off, and think he has become an informant. To prove them wrong, Sekou posts a new vid, in which he outs the real FBI informant, a former gang member named Saad Masoud. Carrie is able to eventually convince Sekou to take it down; although she does not tell him she is ex-CIA, she does let him know that not only will the Feds lock up Sekou and throw away the key, she could go to jail if it is discovered that she took what she calls “highly risky measures” to clear him.

That night, Quinn, who is now convinced that the man across the street is spying on Carrie – he broke into the apartment and found a stool placed next to the window; its indentations in the carpet indicate to him that he has been there a long time – takes her car and tracks the man, who has been picked up by a car. He follows him to Medina Medley, a warehouse and distribution center where Sekou works; Quinn takes pictures, until a cop hurries him along for illegal parking.

The next day newspapers feature a story on the President-Elect having information on Iran’s nuclear program and not acting on it. She believes Dar Adal leaked the story. She wants Carrie to give her information on Dar – and by inference, Saul – that the new administration can use against him, but Carrie is reluctant to betray her former colleagues. She leaves to pick up her daughter on the street, where Dar is waiting for her – he makes a nasty crack about the color of her daughter’s hair, a reference to Carrie’s affair with Nicholas Brody – and tells her he knows that Carrie is giving the President-Elect advice. When Carrie denies it, he says, “I’m not Saul.” (Great line!)

He tells her that she has been out of the CIA for three years, and that none of her information is pertinent.

The next morning, Sekou is back at work. He drives his delivery van into midtown Manhattan.  He hears a beeping. The van explodes.

And in Israel, Saul is told he’s being released. “You’re needed back home. There’s been an attack in New York.”

A great cliffhanger. And which today, as you’re reading this, will have been only sorta resolved, because the thing with Homeland is that you still don’t know what’s coming next…even if you think you do.

Which brings me to…

I’ve also been watching 24: Legacy. I don’t know if I’m going to stay with it. For one thing, I’ve been missing Supergirl, which is on the CW the same time Legacy is on Fox, Monday at 8 P.M. ET, and CBS video-on-demand is lagging behind the Girl of Steel’s episodes, and I don’t want to pay for CBS All-Access. But the other thing is that 24: Legacy kinda sucks.

I don’t know whether it’s because I’m missing Jack and Chloe and Tony and everyone else at the “old” CTU, or whether it’s because the plotting on 24: Legacy is “eh.” I’m not going to go into an extensive rundown of it, because I’ve already immersed you into my recap of Homeland; but one thing that really bothers me is the “jealous girlfriend,” a trope so old that its gray hair is showing. The other thing that’s really bothersome is that I can see the “twists-and-turns” coming from a mile away. For instance, last week, when the new Jack Bauer – see, I can’t even remember his name – was stuck in a police precinct with every cop and SWAT team member about to blow him away, I knew that CTU was going to ring up in the nick of time and call off the dogs. (And that was the cliffhanger the previous week. That’s a long time to see what’s coming.) I only rarely guessed what was about to happen on Jack’s 24. More important, I didn’t want to. I just wanted to lose myself in the story – and I was.

That ain’t happening with what one of our readers, ReneeCat, calls 24: Light. Nope. I’ll give it one more episode, which is being more than fair. But I’ll watch it later, either on VOD or via streaming.

Because tonight I’m watching Supergirl.


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.

•    •    •    •    •

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.