There’s a warning for people who don’t like graphic sex scenes: There are two in this episode. The first one was just an excuse to show one of the most beautiful actresses on TV doing what we should have gotten to see her do with Malcolm Reynolds. The second one was harder to watch but necessary for character development/emotional impact/reality.
Speaking of that scene, all the acting is really great. The pacing is good. The drama is subtle and the episode was interesting. If the show improves or even stays at this quality, it will be the best fall show of the season.
(Spoilers start here)
Claire Danes plays a CIA officer named Carrie Mathison. Her job was to uncover terrorism plots in Iraq, until she got arrested for sneaking into a prison to get information. She was sent back to America with what an inmate whispered in her ear: An American POW has been turned by Al-Qaeda.
Later, Sergeant Nicholas Brody is found and rescued in Iraq after being missing for years. Since he’s the only POW in sight, Carrie wants to check him out. So she illegally wiretaps his house and interrogates him at a CIA debriefing that was supposed to be just a nice formality.
Carrie isn’t really sympathetic yet, but she’s interesting, and she just may be right about Brody. She suffers from some sort of secret mental disorder, and she’s been taking an anti-psychotic since her early 20s to manage it. Is she paranoid and crazy, or does she have a point? Also, she uses her sexuality to manipulate her superiors (unsuccessfully in this episode). She’s feeling guilty about not stopping 9/11, even though her superior tells her that “everyone missed signs that day.”
By the end of the episode, we don’t know if Brody has actually been turned, but we know he lied to Carrie about whether he had seen a famous Al-Qaeda operative. It also looks like he was forced to beat his fellow soldier to death, and he lied to the man’s wife about that. Psh, we would too. That doesn’t make him guilty of treason and plotting terrorism. But Carrie also thinks that his finger tapping on camera was code/a message. Maybe. Or it could be just a nervous tick. The show is going to have a fun time making both sides seem likely for a while.
A major subplot involves Brody’s wife, Jessica, and his two children, a boy and a girl. They all thought he was dead, so Jessica has been sleeping with Brody’s friend, Mike. Why is it always the husband’s friend. Ugh. We think Brody may suspect that they’ve been close. Jessica was about to move in with Mike when she got the news of her husband’s return. We like Jessica. She’s handling things decently, and it’s not like she knew Brody was alive.
Weirdly, during the sex scene and kissing and cookout and TV interviews and everything, we just kept wondering, “Doesn’t this guy want to lie on the couch, eat chips, watch TV, and recover? Why does his wife put on the sexy act on his first day back? It’s not like she wasn’t getting any. We wouldn’t want to put any pressure on him for at least a few days. How about some time to get settled before a bunch of people come over? How about a few days of sleep? How about some time to visit his mom’s grave?” Jeez.
Episode Grade: A, especially for a pilot