Telediction: Hello Goodbye

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Happy New Year, Teledictioners! I was patiently waiting to finish off 2013 and the fall installment of this column with the season finales of the shows I’ve been watching, until I realized “American Horror Story: Coven,” isn’t returning until January 8. So while I’ve knocked out “The Walking Dead,” and this week I will finally get to talk about the “Homeland” and “Masters of Sex” finales, “American Horror Story” will have to wait and spill on over to the winter/spring edition of Telediction.

Speaking of which, I am particularly excited for 2014 because most of my favorite shows return! “Girls,” “Game of Thrones,” “House of Cards,” and “Mad Men,” all come back sometime between now and March 2014. I’ll be covering the first three shows on a rolling basis as they premiere in addition to finishing up “American Horror Story” and “The Walking Dead” when they return. “Mad Men,” takes a special place in my heart, so rightfully I think it deserves it’s own space. More on that to come later, but if you want to read some of my “Mad Men” reviews and columns, you can check out Season 6 coverage on my personal TV blog (now in hibernation, or acting as an active museum of pre-Dead Screen blogging) or here on Dead Screen, where I’ve posted both Megan and Betty posts from my Women of “Mad Men” series.

With the amount of shows I’ll be covering and their sporadic premiere dates, Telediction will be returning on a weekly basis.

From the greatest piece of ’90s cinema, like ever, “Clueless.”

We can’t move forward with a new set of shows until we resolve the past, so without further ado, let’s get started.

This time, the mood opener is from Kendrick Lamar because there’s that one line about New Years resolutions. Makes sense right? If not, the rest of the song applies to you.


Homeland

The season finale of “Homeland,” was received with mixed emotions. Because one of my New Year’s resolutions (lol) is to stop making generalizations, I can only talk about reactions within my house, which I imagine to be multiplied on a global scale. On one hand, if you side with my dad, the episode was a dull homage to Nicholas Brody. If you’re like me, the finale symbolized a docile, quiet flame that went out. Not even Carrie’s pregnancy could categorize itself as a valuable cliffhanger because she finally had that “WTF-was-I-thinking”-epiphany moments before the closing credits.

I thought it was a different type of episode, but with that being said, it also symbolizes an end of an era in “Homeland.” With Brody dead, the rest of the show is up for grabs. If you read my reviews on “The Walking Dead,” you know I’m a total Grinch when it comes to romance on screen and because I’m a terrible, heartless, cold person, I only felt relief when Brody was publicly hanged because that meant the show could get on with itself. I didn’t think this season was as great as all the hype behind it, and that’s honestly speaking after realizing that 12 episodes later, I still felt something missing.
Brody’s death was handled with care. The writers killed him off in such a way that he was still marginally considered a hero. After the CIA and Majid Javadi betrayed him, viewers were left to side with Carrie.
Said Javadi: “Who Brody is, that’s for Allah to know. But what he did, there can be no debate. It was astonishing and undeniable, and what you [Carrie] wanted. Which was for everyone to see in him what you see. That has happened. Everyone sees him through your eyes now.”

While all that sentimentality makes for great TV, and the last scene in “The Star” was certainly emotional and slowly built up for a poignant goodbye, an episode like this could only exist in the realm of a boring season. For one, there were a lot of losers. After a season of dick measuring between Saul and Lockhart, the latter got his way. What was all that stuff about Lockhart working with Mira’s boy toy/ Israeli intelligence spy? Saul confronted the senator and soon-to-be Director of the CIA with this career-ending evidence and all he wanted in return for silence was a few extra weeks behind the desk. When Lockhart finally seized power, he threw Saul and the operation to save Brody under the bus.

Unfortunately, Quinn and Fara were left as afterthoughts. Quinn shot a boy in the beginning of the season and writers had him shoot a pregnant Carrie and absorb the blame for Javadi’s murders later on. There was a lot of room for character building and psychological exploration behind working for the CIA, but writers sort of just said “eh.” Quinn’s last words to Carrie this season were something along the lines of “Don’t f**k it up,” in regards to parenthood. Clearly, he’s been feeling a moral weight that wasn’t deemed excitable enough to focus on past the surface of his reality.

Fara, on the other hand, played more of an important role, yet the degree of her importance was never fully realized. “Homeland” could have really pushed her insecurity with the Javadi operation to reveal what “Homeland” best showcases: exploring personal and national moral ambiguity. However, “Homeland” seems to only deem Carrie and Saul important enough to make hasty decisions, so Fara was quickly fizzled out when they didn’t need her anymore. It’s a shame because Saul’s plan ended up working in the end, but there was a gap of about 3 to 4 months where we don’t know what happened, but all we know is that Saul won. Congratulations?

Carrie lost Brody, but gained a position as Station Chief in Istanbul. Understandably though, all she can think about is that she can’t raise a baby under the conditions she’s in. She thinks about giving the baby up for adoption, but her family refuses to let her think that way. If worse comes to worst, Carrie’s dad offers to take care of the baby – which means the baby subplot would have actually been useless. Sure there might be some more empathetic scenes in the future of “Homeland,” but babies don’t get a lot of airtime and are usually just character or plot-building devices. Yet, I’m not a fan of shows imposing a plotline only to drop it later on in the series, so with the circumstances, I guess I’d like to see Carrie be a mother. The only way I can see Carrie’s baby becoming something more than just a catalyst for Carrie’s emotions is if family and name complications come into play with the former Brodys – Dana, her mother and brother. That won’t be happening though, seeing as Morena Baccarin, who plays Jessica, and Morgan Saylor, who plays Dana, won’t be returning as regular cast members in Season 4.

The good in the episode came from its sentimentality. The writers finally got us to care about Brody. His cockroach monologue wasn’t as dramatic as it was in the preview for the finale, yet it still made an impact. Brody was no longer a Marine, no matter how much Carrie wanted to believe it. He did some awful things and lived with the consequences. He wasn’t a hero, but he wasn’t entirely to blame either.


Masters of Sex

Watching a series based on a true story always turns me into a cynic. I can’t really get excited about a plot twist because I know where the ultimate arch leads, no matter how many loops it takes. It’s like riding a terrifying roller coaster and knowing you’re going to be alive at the end of the ride, albeit a little traumatized. I know Bill and Virginia will invariably work together and eventually end up romantically linked, so every sort of plot twist from Libby’s miscarriage, right up to the birth of her child (Notice how I said her and not her and Bill’s – after all, it doesn’t really feel like his.), to Ethan returning to Virginia’s life and proposing via long-distance phone call from California, leaves me numb.

The season ended with the study going public. The presentation scene shines a light on sexism in a way that so many period pieces do, but it really hones in the anger behind it. The boys club at the hospital is impressed with the study when they can see themselves in it. Penis size doesn’t matter, Bill tells them and a nervous chuckle of relief escapes the room. But once Bill starts talking about the sexual capacity of females, things get ugly. The doctors become hostile and enraged at footage of a faceless female climaxing. Muscle spasms and contractions were not the focus of the video. While Masters tries to make sex clinical, he can’t avoid the reaction of his fellow doctors (all male except for Dr. DePaul). Some things about sex – like eroticism and attraction – can’t be explained scientifically.

Barton, aka The Provost, supports Bill after realizing that his initial shock of the study stemmed from fear and shame of sex. He realizes he can’t live on like this and decides that the work Masters is doing is beneficial for everyone. While Barton somewhat arrived at peace with himself as a homosexual man, he still wants to try to “cleanse” himself of such a “disease.” Chemical castration isn’t an option Barton and Margaret are willing to explore, but Electroshock Therapy is OK. This is one of the most interesting and emotional angles of the show, and “Masters of Sex” presents homophobia and homosexuality extremely well. While sexually attracted to men, Barton can’t deny a true love and care for Margaret. She is the one person in his life he can count on, but it’s heartbreaking that the two of them have been deprived of another type of love because of convention and fear.

Barton’s loyalty to Bill leads Bill to take all the blame and stage a scenario in which Barton had no idea the study was going on. What results is Bill being fired, but he’s a good enough doctor to land on his feet. The whole episode was really romanticized with the weather. Rain is often used as a literary device to convey moods such as a catharsis in a thunderstorm, or failure in the midst of a drizzle. I mean, have you seen “The Notebook”? Right before Noah and Ally get all sexy for us there’s that whole “I wrote to you every day, now let’s make out because we’re two incredibly good looking people standing in the rain”-scene. After the awkward practicality, yet endearing romance and mixed signals in Ethan’s proposal (he was in sunny California and she was in rainy Missouri), there’s another shot at attempted romance, this time from Bill, when he appears at Virginia’s door with his version of Ryan Gosling’s speech in “The Notebook.” Instead of writing to her every day, Bill put her name on the study. All these feelings, it must be something in the air.

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Author: Claudia Marina View all posts by
Journalism student at the University of Florida. Sally Draper is my spirit animal. I love writing about TV and how it affects culture. Occasionally I watch bad TV, but reviews make it better.

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