I’m about halfway through catching up on a program, Homeland, that wrapped its first season some months ago. It could not be much better: a Federal agent (Claire Danes, as Carrie Mathison) tries to exorcise her guilt over the botched intelligence of 9/11 by preventing the next big instance of domestic terrorism from occurring. She becomes convinced that a former Iraq POW, Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), now returned and trying to adjust to American life, is working on carrying out such an attack. Once convinced, Carrie is not the kind of person who’s likely to change her mind.
One of the best things about Homeland is Carrie herself: an intense workaholic who is both an asset and a liability at work. Early on, we see her struggling with a medical issue, then we learn that it’s a mental issue, next that it runs in the family. Throughout, this woman is persuasive. She has a knack for convincing her colleagues that the things she believes are really happening.
Hell, she convinces us.
But Carrie’s lows are dramatic. She cusses, rants. Has alcohol-fueled impulses, sleep disturbances, crying jags. Declares that I just can’t do this anymore (never mind this is her life, her passion, all she seems to want to do). Naturally she does these things. I’m not sure you can depict a mental patient in fiction without showing them. Continue reading