I like Homeland. I like that it’s not portraying Islam as the contributing factor behind Brody’s evil actions. But I can’t help but feel it’s missed a few opportunities.
There are four main terrorist characters that we’ve seen: Abu Nazir, Brody, Roya, and Tom Walker. And yes, Brody is a terrorist. You cannot ask us for more than a decade to call out and reject any sign of terrorism in our people and then not expect us to be able to identify it. He went into a chamber filled with people while wearing a suicide vest and pressed the trigger. He was going to kill many people, including himself, some innocent, some not, but even had they all been war criminals, neither Islam nor American law condones execution at the hands of a vigilante. He is a terrorist and in no way represents my religion.
Oh, but his defenders will say that he was held under supreme psychological torture and then saw with his own eyes what havoc America wreaks. Yes. Under what conditions do they think real, living terrorists are made?
So yes, Brody is a terrorist, and somehow, as a white male, the only one of the four main terrorists to be portrayed in a sympathetic light and given any justification. Even Abu Nazir, who at first seems to define the very stereotype of terrorist leader. Before the death of Isah, he had already been anti-American and could have been for a great many reasons, including the invasion of Iraq, Al Qaeda type ideologies, etc. But which was it? Did he see other people die at the hands of America? Could he have been–gasp–humanized in some way?
Tom Walker deserved much more explanation than he got. Presumably there was no other boy, no other Isah-equivalent, for Abu Nazir to use to win his sympathy. Then? Total coincidence that the second of two main Black characters (the first of whom was the sycophantic, always wrong David Estes) was an American marine who was so easily brainwashed by terrorists we didn’t even see how it happened?
The biggest opportunity Homeland missed, though, and one for which I would have handwaved away the others is when we finally focused on Roya. We had her at the interrogation table! For a brief moment, she even pretended to have fallen down the same hole Brody did, but quickly and cruelly denied that. What, then, did it take for this (presumably Western-)educated woman to help Abu Nazir? What would make her give up her freedom and conscience to help bring about a world which Abu Nazir wanted, one for which there would be no place for the Roya as we know her. Did she see her own family killed? Does she carry very strict religious beliefs within her? Does she the injustices committed by the US and want to retaliate? Has she, even as a citizen in the West, always felt an outsider? This wouldhave been the besttime to show how some of the most dangerous Islamic terrorists are made, sympathizers who have grown up in the West and can easily move about without raising (too much) suspicion, as opposed to US soldiers caught and brainwashed.