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The traditional model of the DOD’s ELOs says that they simply wait for requests from the entertainment industry for production assistance and then review the script and decide whether or not to help. This is how the process is described in the DOD instruction 5410.16 on Assistance to Entertainment-Oriented Motion Picture, Television, and Video Productions. The process is reactive in nature – the DOD are supposed to wait for the entertainment industry to come to them. The reality is that the DOD are pro-actively seeking to influence movies at the very earliest stages of production, behaving more like a corporate media conglomerate than a government agency.
New Command Doctrine
The DOD recently updated their instruction on liaising with the entertainment industry. I read about this in the Federal Register a couple of months before the new instruction was issued, and filed a FOIA request asking for a copy of it. 3 months later I received a paper copy of the new instruction in the post. That evening I checked online to find that weeks earlier a PDF copy had been posted on the DOD’s own site. Why they sent me a paper copy when I asked for an electronic version is not a question I know the answer to. Were they just trying to piss me off? Perhaps. The new version of instruction 5410.16 is largely the same as its predecessor from the 1980s. It cancels and reissues the 1988 instruction and updates the section on procedures, reproduced in full here:
However, it is clear from the DOD’s own entertainment liaison office reports that they do not adhere to this doctrine, in both small and large ways. Fundamentally, the notion that they are passive, and wait for the entertainment industry to come to them with near-complete projects to ask for minimal assistance is simply untrue. The command in the instruction above saying that they have to review a completed script before deciding whether to offer assistance, which also appears in the earlier versions, is not followed. They have engaged with a number of productions from an early stage in the script development, helping to redraft or even completely rewrite it to suit the military’s needs.
Reviewing Drafts and Rewriting Scripts
For one feature film depicting a prison uprising at Qala-I-Jangi the head of the Army’s ELO John Clearwater attended an ‘initial read through of [the] draft script’. Along similar lines is an entry from the USMC reports on the apparently unmade film Outpost Echo where reports note that they ‘provided scripts notes’ to the screenwriters’ and were meeting with them again to discuss more ideas for development of the film. Another entry from 2012 shows that the Army rewrote an episode of America’s Book of Secrets because of ‘rough draft concerns’.
The pilot episode of the reboot of Hawaii Five-O involved the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard, though in exchange they demanded ‘script revisions’. The officer whose name is redacted in the documents who was ‘on-set in Hawaii’ is almost certainly Phil Strub, given how short the redacted name is and how heavily involved the DOD have been in the relaunched series. No doubt he was there to oversee things and make sure everything went according to the script and this wasn’t at all an excuse to visit a beautiful island in the middle of the Pacific.
US Marine Corps ELO reports from the same period show that they too were willing to work with draft scripts rather than waiting for completed projects before evaluating them. Perhaps the best example is when the Army met with producer and writer Michael Keane without any specific project – let alone a draft or completed script – in mind. This special treatment – completely outside the procedures laid out in the DOD’s own instructions – was a result of Keane’s enthusiasm for promoting the military through entertainment. As the documents record, ‘Keane has a genuine and largely positive interest in the Army. He recently established a partnership for funding future military-themed programming for film and television.’
What this shows is that the DOD have an interest in helping to develop scripts from the draft stages, especially for friendly projects that will likely have a lot of good PR value for the military or are the work of trusted partners within the industry. These examples and others in my article on the USMC documents here confirm that this is still taking place, from projects as small as a TV episode on the History Channel to a mega-budget blockbuster like Top Gun 2. That the DOD have enjoyed such an influence over scripts was already known and discussed in books like David Robb’s and Matt Alford’s. While we don’t know the exact nature of the changes and rewrites the DOD are doing on these recent and contemporary entertainment projects, we can be sure that the sort of things detailed in Robb’s and Alford’s work are still going on today.
High Level Meetings and a Pro-Active Agenda
What has never been documented before is the extent to which the DOD’s ELOs are trying to get upstream in the creative process and influence productions from the very earliest stages in their development. Throughout the US Army ELO reports and to a lesser extent the USMC reports there are frequent references to immediately following up on successful collaborations with the entertainment industry to seek out further opportunities to work together. One example from Major League Baseball coverage illustrates this well:
However, it is not just individual films or shows or even individual TV networks that the DOD are pro-actively seeking to engage with on a larger scale and at the earliest stages of production. It is the largest agencies and studios in Hollywood that the DOD are targeting as they seek to pre-emptively expand and extend their influence. In 2010 representatives from the US Army met with people at William Morris Endeavor – perhaps the largest talent agency in Hollywood. They were discussing ‘how best to align U.S. Army interests with feature films projects. The goal is to enter studio projects early in the development stages when characters and storylines are most easily shaped to the Army’s benefit’.
In Spring 2012 the Army arranged for the ‘Group of 8’ (some of the biggest figures in the business) to visit the National Training Center in the hope of shaping future productions depicting the US military. The report notes, ‘These are the decision makers who decide which features films get made in Hollywood. Successfully connecting them with Soldiers will possibly influence future depictions of the Army in Hollywood feature films.’
The most explicit admission in the whole of the US Army reports is regarding two meetings in autumn 2012 with executives at Warner Bros. The documents state that the purpose was to ‘get involved early in the production timeline on potential projects and programs so we can help shape the topics before they are finalized by the studio executives’. The DOD are not simply trying to shape scripts in the drafting and pre-production phase, they are trying to influence the decisions of corporate executives on which films to green light and which to leave in the stables.
This was followed in September 2013 when they met with a senior figure within Sony Pictures Entertainment – Andy Davis, the President of Production Administration at Columbia Pictures to ‘to discuss future projects and ways we can work together on scripted projects in the future.’ Appearances on panels for the Got Your Six Campaign and the Producers Guild of America, as well as meetings with the scripted and unscripted team at TNT and other smaller outfits show just how eager the DOD is to shape productions almost from their conception.
Illustrating just how important as-yet-unscripted productions are to the DOD the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs has a dedicated unscripted projects officer for reviewing projects that are not yet written. When this role was briefly unfilled in July 2014 it was recorded in their activities reports, though within a matter of weeks someone took over the job temporarily.
The Corporate Mentality of the DOD’s Entertainment Liaison Offices
However, it’s not just a strategy of trying to shape productions even before they have been scripted that marks the DOD moving from the role of a government agency to a corporate body. The documents frequently refer to expected and recorded audience numbers and key demographics, just like a broadcast corporation looking at its own ratings, or a corporate sponsor measuring the effectiveness of its product placement. This is perfectly illustrated by the entry on the US Army’s involvement in an episode of Hawaii Five-O.
This mutual promotion activity between the show and the DOD – boosted by being scheduled directly following a major sporting event – had obvious recruitment benefits but also serious propaganda benefits. These nearly 20 million viewers, many between 18 and 49 years old, riled up by watching a major fight and in a state of heightened adrenaline were then shown a story in which a major disaster is relieved by the patriarchal protector figure of the DOD. Even for those who would never sign up to join the military – the vast majority of those watching, that is – this collaboration will have born very useful results for the DOD.
Many of the Army’s reports contain comments at the end of each entry about a TV show, film or other request, saying ‘Supports Building Resiliency’ or ‘Supports Transforming the Generating Force and Seeking Efficiencies and Affordability’. Some have suggested these are the DOD’s ratings for the shows, but the way the reports read they strike me as rationales (or excuses) for granting a request for support. A near-full list of things the DOD-entertainment relationship apparently supports is: Building Resiliency, Seeking Efficiencies and Affordability, Maintaining our Combat Edge, Reconstituting the Force, Modernizing the Force, Transforming the Generating Force, Energy Security and Sustainability, Adapting our Institutions, Broaden Understanding and Advocacy, Strength of the Army Family, Build Trust and Confidence, Care of Troops and Families, Image of the Army, Modernization, People are Our Army, Profession of Arms, Soldier for Life, Health of the Force, Meeting the Needs of Our Nation, Nations Force of Decisive Action – Ready Today, April as the Month of the Military Child, Depiction of a Trained and Ready Force, Highlighting Army Accomplishments, Showcasing Army leadership experience and Profession, Army as Force of Decisive Action.
Through several inquiries, searches of DOD websites and FOIA requests I managed to establish that these phrases do not appear in any public relations doctrine. That is, they are not terms that are part of the formal instructions given to the ELOs. Some of these ideas do appear in various Army Posture Statements and related documents from this period (2009-2014) but they are not defined, let alone in a public relations context. Thus, I can only conclude that they are meaningless buzzwords. Just like in any major media corporation, or indeed many large organisations of any type, the reasons given for many of the tasks are not the real reasons, but they are linguistic masks, disguises for the real reasons. While some of these phrases do hint at some of the more obvious military preoccupations some of them are management-level doublespeak.
The DOD’s relationship with Fox
While the itself DOD is behaving more and more like a media corporation than a government agency, some corporations are clearly favoured over others. The very first entry in the Army documents regarding American Idol makes a startling observation, that the revenue from the show helped ‘push Fox to the leading TV network in 2008’:
This is the only time in the 5 years of reports that the Army mentions the effect that the revenue from a successful show had on its corporate overlord. The corporate overlord in question, Fox, are referred to dozens of times throughout the reports and therefore produced a lot of entertainment with military assistance. As right wing nationalism and militarism go hand in hand this relationship is not a surprise, as such, but provides confirmation that the US military care more about the success of some corporations than others. Given that the Pentagon’s budget is larger than the revenue of even the biggest US/multinational corporations and that it employs over a million more people than Walmart then the DOD showing favouritism to some media conglomerates over others has a potentially massive influence on the media landscape in the US (and by extension, the world).
Another example shows just how willing the DOD is when it comes to requests for assistance from Fox. The makers of Bones initially approached the Pentagon in February 2012 with questions about the ballistics of different weapons, and the Army used the opportunity to make sure they also ‘discussed ideas for positive depictions of the Army in future episodes’. In October the Army’s ELO reached out to Fox TV’s government relations office to tell them about what the ELO does. They got a call back asking for help in developing a ‘military suicide awareness PSA’ to run immediately after an episode of Bones to be broadcast the following month. However, the Bones producers didn’t just want help with the Public Service Announcement but also with the episode itself because, ‘this episode will have a veteran theme in honor of Veterans Day and they wanted to make sure they were steering viewers to the right place.’
This 1-2 knock-out propaganda volley was conceived by the producers at Fox, but it was reviewed and assisted by the Pentagon. As the DOD saw it, ‘Supporting Fox with this information and following up with them to ensure they received the support they needed from our office will help us on future programs where we will need their support.’ That said, if military propaganda must exist then anti-suicide propaganda is about the most benevolent kind I came across in all the thousands of pages of reports. Even though there was no production assistance agreement in place with Bones the DOD agreed to help, reasoning that, ‘Our suicide prevention messages will receive millions of viewers and similar paid advertising cost for that PSA at that time slot would have cost the Army thousands of dollars.’ They also note that the show had future propaganda potential saying that it ‘could serve as an outlet for further Army messages as the character one of their leads is supposed to be a former Soldier’.
The final entry in the reports on the Bones-PSA project mentions again that ‘Bones is not one of our officially supported programs, but the studio reached out to our office because of an existing relationship and wanted to make the PSA Army only. We encouraged them reach the broadest audience of service members in trouble by working with the VA.’ The author then makes a surprising admission, ‘Though we essentially gave away an Army opportunity, we believe the risk of having a member from another service not call for help on an Army hotline outweighed the branding opportunity for our service.’
They bent all the rules for this particular project – having no formal agreement, reviewing the episode as well as helping with the PSA, and even giving away an opportunity to promote the Army over the objections of the entertainment producers. The reason for this – that they didn’t want to risk someone from another branch of the military not calling the helpline number due to it being branded Army-only – is by some distance the most humane thing stated anywhere in these files.
The scale of the Pentagon’s operations in the entertainment industry, the sophisticated pro-active nature of their strategy, their expanding influence, the absence of any serious oversight or stated mission – all of this suggests that nothing less than full-spectrum dominance of the entertainment industry will satisfy the Pentagon’s megalomania. They are trying to influence major media executives before the broad topics of forthcoming entertainment products are nailed down, let alone scripts and characters and storylines and settings. That degree of influence goes beyond what any individual producer or executive could expect to wield, and goes beyond that of any small or even medium-sized Hollywood studio.
Which begs the question – are the DOD more influential on Hollywood than the biggest studios? After all, the studios are competitors, competing for audience attention and revenues, for creative innovation, for association with the latest stars, and to some extent for the patronage and assistance of the DOD themselves. Whereas the DOD can work with anyone they like, from Katy Perry to Japanese TV networks to CEOs like Sony’s Michael Lynton:
The DOD’s ELOs are like a corporation, but without the tribal limitations of a corporation competing with other corporations. Different parts of the entertainment industry might be designated the turf of different branches of the DOD – projects involving multiple branches always have one designated as the lead – it is perhaps more accurate to compare them to a corporate syndicate, or a mafia, since they do all dress the same and carry guns most of the time. They are attempting a hostile takeover – not just of a particular rival business or section of a market – but of the entire entertainment industry. To a military mind the industry is just more territory to be conquered, seized and subsumed.
You can download the 2015 version of the DOD’s Instruction 5410.16 on Assistance to Non-Government, Entertainment-Oriented Media Productions here, the US Army Entertainment Liaison Office reports 2010-2015 here and the USMC Entertainment Liaison Office reports 2008-2015 here (all PDF).
This was not the most interesting instalment of Homeland so Pearse and I talked about topics related to the episode including the history of Kosovo and NATO’s use of jihadis in the entire Balkans region, the arrest this week of a mysterious unnamed Montenegrin arms trafficker on his way to Paris, and why it is that the US Marine Corps Entertainment Liaison Office reports do not make any mention of Homeland. Pearse hypothesises that the USMC and Homeland had some kind of deniable outside-the-loop relationship and that suggests a much larger degree of co-operation than usual.
Completing what has been a record-breaking year for FOIA releases from the Entertainment Liaison Offices of the US Department of Defense, the US Marine Corps recently sent me 1669 pages of reports covering the last 7 years of their activities in the entertainment industry. The documents reveal a number of major films that are not acknowledged in the already-released files, along with indications that the USMC are operating on a scale approaching that of the Army i.e. they are involved in dozens of productions at any given time. Unlike the Army and Air Force documents they contain details of productions that were denied assistance, adding significantly to the picture we have of the Pentagon’s propaganda operations in the entertainment industry.
The USMC reports came in two batches. The 2008 to 2012 reports are relatively extensive if mundane diary-like entries very similar the those used by the US Army during the same period. The 2013 to 2015 are much shorter, are inconsistently formatted and evidently have had a lot of information removed including most of the dates, often leaving headings that tell us nothing. A simple comparison of a page from 2011 and an undated page from the 2013-15 reports shows us the difference:
As you can see, the second page has much of the useful information simply deleted (not even blacked out – it just isn’t part of the file anymore). Given that the US Army also seriously truncated their reports at about the same time, and that the US Air Force refused to give me any reports from 2015 ‘due to a ongoing computer problem in the LA office’ it is obvious that the DOD’s ELOs are becoming more secretive over time. In all likelihood if I file a request at the end of 2015 asking for all ELO reports from this year I will mostly just get back a list of productions with little further information.
The scale and breadth of the state-sponsored entertainment phenomenon
Without a lot more analysis of these reports it is impossible to come up with accurate totals for the number of productions that the DOD has been involved in over the last few years. We know from their own database of films they’ve been involved in that in the period 2008-2015 they worked on at least 20 movies including Iron Man and Iron Man 2, the first three Transformers movies, Captain Phillips and Battleship. From other lists released by the Air Force and the National Guard we can establish, for example, that the DOD worked on both Battle: Los Angeles and the mockbuster Battle of Los Angeles. What the USMC reports add to this is a number of recent movies that aren’t recorded in any of the thousands of pages of previously-released material obtained and published on this site. Iron Man 3, Avatar, Time to Shine, Pirates of the Caribbean 4, In The Pursuit of Happiness, Pacific Rim – these and others are all referred to in the documents as having some kind of production assistance.
The last two of these films are of particular interest. In the Pursuit of Happiness starred none other than wannabe bohemian political comic and amateur porn star Russell Brand, though it appears this film was never actually released. The USMC’s entry on the film is quite funny:
Just as the film was never released, it appears Brand never performed a free comedy show for the Marines Corps at Camp Pendleton. Aside from the fact he worked with them on his film it should also be noted that Vanity Projects and Mayfair Films are Russell Brand’s own production companies. Proving that the USMC will quite literally work with anyone, they also helped Brand’s ex-wife Katy Perry make a music video:
Meanwhile, those of you who know my taste in films will be able to imagine my rage at finding out that monsters-fighting-robots classic Pacific Rim had received assistance from the USMC. Admittedly, the assistance was very minor – the producers wanted to record the sound of one helicopter taking off, but that still necessitated the DOD reviewing the script:
However, it is in the TV realm that the true scale of the DOD’s influence becomes apparent. The ELOs of both the US Army and the Marines have the capacity to work with dozens of TV productions at any given time. The US Army’s reports show that they work on an average of 40-50 TV productions at once. What the USMC reports show is that their TV work is on a similar scale, with very little crossover between the two.
If we compare a report from each ELO from May 2011 we find that the only film the USMC were working on that week was Batman (The Dark Knight Rises). Even though there wasn’t explicit DOD support for this film the USMC were still somewhat involved:
In terms of TV productions the USMC were at that time working on: Made, Veep, Extreme Chef, Swamp Loggers, Top Chef: Masters, Sniper: Bulletproof, NCIS, Coming Home, Bucket List and Curiosity: The Questions of Life. Supported documentaries were: Secret Pakistan, Horizon, Superpowers, Alternative History, Blood We Shed, Mojave Viper, Battle of Okinawa, Battlehercs, The Call to Serve, some AMC Memorial Day Documentary Shorts, Small Town Boy, Togetherness, Route 66 – Along the Mother Road, The Young Marines, Wild Planet: North America, Surviving the Cut, Operation Flintlock, Vietnam in HD, Forgotten Flag Raisers, Live Fire, Combat Outpost: Afghanistan, Patrol Base Jaker, Marines in the South Pacific and Marine K-9. They also worked on the video games Marine, Operation Flashpoint 2 and Call of Duty 5. You can download the USMC ELO report for May 20th 2011 here.
During the exact same week the US Army were working on: Glory Hounds: Animal Planet, The Body Farm, Game of Honor, Extreme Makeover, Indy 500, Army Wives, Fishing Behind the Lines, Homefront, Coming Home, Louie, Combat Hospital, The River, Superpower, Chinook Helicopters – The Sugar Bears, Dog X: Animal Planet, Aerial America, a 9/11 anniversary documentary, A Conception Story, The Mighty Mississippi, Soldiers of Peace, Blackhorse, Dust-Off, Therapists Behind the Front Lines, Battle Lab, Follow the Honey, Drill Sergeant of the Year Competition and other projects including major films Man of Steel and The Avengers, and a music video for Billy Ray Cyrus. You can download the US Army ELO report for May 17th-23rd 2011 here.
Between the two offices they were working on over 70 film, TV and video game productions in that week alone. The productions mentioned above are not even a comprehensive list of everything they were doing at that moment in time, and the documents do indicate an expansion of the Army’s activities since then. If we also include the Air Force and National Guard, let alone the Coast Guard, DHS, FBI, CIA, DEA, BPS and local/state police and other security agencies then the total number of entertainment productions being influenced by the US security state at any one time is likely well over 100.
Requests that were denied
What is unique about the USMC documents is that every report has a section for requests from the entertainment industry that they denied. While the earlier 2005-6 ELO reports sometimes refer to refusals and rejections the more recent ones from the Army and Air Force make little (if any) mention of this. The USMC, by contrast, are front and centre with the information:
Perhaps the most interesting rejection was that of the remake of Red Dawn, originally produced in the 1980s with some degree of DOD support, though director John Milius decided that full scale assistance (vehicles etc.) was too expensive. In the original the country that invades the US is the Soviet Union, bringing about a Communist takeover and provoking a small band of unrealistically good-looking teenagers to form a guerilla resistance unit. In the remake the enemy was originally the Chinese army, but the flags and insignia were changed digitally in post-production to be North Korea (after all, North Koreans and Chinese look exactly the same, don’t they?). The media coverage said that this change was made to make the film more appealing to the Chinese cinema market but the film was never released in China apart from in Hong Kong. In general Red Dawn did very poorly, being panned by critics, making virtually no money outside of the US and not even breaking even on its budget.
So why did they change the enemy from China to North Korea? It is probably relevant that this is what the USMC asked them to do. When the treatment for the film was initially sent to the Marines’ ELO in 2009 they forwarded it to the main DOD entertainment office (i.e. Phil Strub) for review.
Three years later, when the film had been produced and then edited in post-production to change the enemy from China to North Korea, the filmmakers asked for help with publicity, but got nowhere:
The message from the DOD to the entertainment industry is clear – cross us once and we will shun you forever. Even after the filmmakers changed the enemy to a less politically sensitive one and even though the request was only for one promotional screening of the movie the DOD still refused to help. The only reason for this is that the filmmakers did not accede to the demands of the DOD’s ELO at the earliest opportunity. No doubt, had the filmmakers submitted to the will of the DOD in the first place then everything would have been fine, after all the DOD wanted to support the original film, which tells essentially the same story.
What the documents don’t say
There is a lot that is absent from the USMC reports. For no obvious reason there is no mention of Homeland, a show which definitely and overtly had assistance from the USMC and which they included in a list of folders in their ELO’s archive. There is also no explanation for why some productions are rejected for having no distribution sorted out, yet they were willing to work on others which likewise did not have a deal in place. It appears that this is just another reason used to reject ‘unfriendly’ projects (such as Matt Alford’s forthcoming film The Writer with No Hands) and that use of this criteria is arbitrary and at the ELO’s discretion.
Aside from the odd comment as with Red Dawn there is no mention of what, exactly, they changed or wanted to be changed in the scripts and projects they supported or rejected. The reports from the Army and the Air Force are identical in this respect – what the DOD put in and took out of these productions is clearly not something that they want outsiders to know about. However, it is clear that they are still adding to and removing from these projects.
It is also apparent that with very friendly producers and projects they get involved from the earliest stages. They first met with the producers of Top Gun 2 back in 2012, even before the first draft script had been completed:
There are also numerous references to the USMC viewing early cuts of films and TV shows that they had assisted and suggested further edits and changes in the post-production phase, for example:
While the official reason for viewing projects before they are released/broadcast is to ensure that the producers do not deviate too much from the agreed-upon script, this is likely untrue. There is no indication of these post-production suggestions being anything other than a final attempt to shape the project before release. There is no mention of a show being canned due to not sticking to agreements made with the DOD, though no doubt that does still happen on occasion.
And finally, what’s with all the fucking cookery shows?
This is something that vexes me, because I am unable to establish a compelling reason why the DOD would be so fond of working on food-based TV. Their taste (pun intended) for this sort of programming – mostly reality shows and competitions – was made clear by the Army documents released earlier this year, but the USMC reports reiterate that, and strongly. Masterchef, Cake Boss, Cookie Commandos, Cupcake Wars, Nashville Cupcakes, Big Kitchens, Top Chef Masters, Private Chefs, Flip my Food, Food Court Wars, Food Truck Faceoff, Chopped, Extreme Chef, 101 Foods that Changed the World – all these shows and more have been supported by the Pentagon. One programme even planned to take retired members of different branches of the US military and pit them against one another in a cook-off:
That the Pentagon is for some reason more obsessed with these shows than 50-something divorcées or gay men in their 20s is quite easy to demonstrate. But as always, the critical question is why? Going back to Kissinger’s NSSM 200 in the 1970s, the US establishment has recognised that food is a weapon, and a lot of these projects do involve some kind of ‘battle’ or ‘war’. That this is part of the DOD’s thinking is implied by these two shows being listed next to one another:
But is there more to it than that? Are they also making hunger into a weapon, and not just a weapon of geopolitics as Kissinger suggested, but of propaganda? After all, most people get a bit irritable when they get hungry, and watching shows full of culinary pornography makes people hungry. Thus, the competitive, Darwinistic values of the show are more likely to appeal to people, as well as the sense that violence is necessary. Were it not for the constant and easy supply of food in Western societies, violence (in the form of hunting) would be a more everyday and necessary part of life, and that instinct, that association, that idea that committing violence is necessary to eat and thus stay alive, will never die out. By associating the military with cookery-themed reality shows the DOD is engaging in a subtle promotion that appeals to some of the most basic instincts that humans possess. Put simply, people are more likely to accept the propaganda of state violence if their tummy is rumbling. Or maybe there just isn’t anywhere good to eat near the DOD’s ELOs at 10880 Wilshere Boulevard, LA.
This is the 7th installment in our ongoing Homeland season 5 review series. Via PPR:
On this episode of our Homeland review series,Tom and I try to decipher this puzzle-piece of an episode. In contrast to last week’s fairly simple episode, this week’s was complex and intriguing. We explore the character of Alison and her trajectory from CIA station chief to Russian double agent. We discuss how the show is turning her into the ultimate villain, who is not only a master manipulator, but a cold and calculating egoist. We touch on the fact that Alison seems to be driven not by money or ideology, but by her ego and her desire to be seen as the smartest person in the room. Later we move onto to Carrie and the noticeable change her characterization has gone through. Previously the character we loved to hate, Carrie is now becoming the only character worth watching and caring about. Tom and I explore how this is a deliberate attempt to bring the audience back around to loving the CIA. We also touch on the character of Numan, how not only is he working for the CIA, but how his hack is ultimately a good thing for the CIA. Tom and I also touch what Otto Durring’s hidden motives may be. Next we discuss Saul’s “defection” to the Israelis and what this may mean for the future of Homeland. Tom and I round out the conversation by discussing the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and our overall response and feeling towards this awful event.
This is the 25th episode of my podcast series for Boiling Frogs Post. This is a weekly show that is only available to BFP subscribers (though this week’s show is available to all for free). Subscriptions are only a few dollars a month and for that you get several podcasts a week and video roundtable discussions and more. Via BFP:
The Friday the 13th massacre in Paris was the worst attack in Western Europe since Madrid in 2004, leaving well over a hundred people dead. Responsibility has been claimed by the Islamic State and French leader François Hollande has promised ‘merciless’ retribution.
In this episode I look at the context of the terror in Paris, offering a comparison with Mumbai in 2008 where Islamist militants carried out a very similar attack under the guidance of American spy David Headley. I also examine some of the questions that have already emerged: about the fake passport of a Syrian refugee found at one of the bomb sites; about possible foreknowledge on the part of the French security services; and about a little-reported bomb threat hours before the attacks that led to the evacuation of one of Paris’ major train stations.
(this week’s episode available to all, full episode usually only available to subscribers)