Homeland: Iron In The Fire Review

Tonight's episode of Homeland features Carrie returning to her compromising work ethic and a new surprise. Here's our review...

Can it just be said that Carrie might have a thing for potential star-crossed terrorists?

Not even halfway through season four, and she’s already dipping into the honey pot again on Homeland. Somehow though, I suspect this will be the last “nice” thing she does for Aayan in this season—or his ever-shortening life.

Yes, this week was all about two things: finding out who the man in the earpiece is and luring Aayan into Carrie’s bed web. The first might have proved slightly more interesting, just because watching an old warhorse like Saul work his own kind of seduction of power and pressure is always a treat for both Mandy Patinkin and the audience, but the latter proved surprising and intriguing for where season four goes from here.

Early in the episode, Carrie approaches Saul and surprisingly begs him to join forces with her. I was actually amused at the idea of Saul becoming a thorn in Carrie’s side as an independent contractor who just wouldn’t disappear, especially after his cold welcome from his protégé last week. However, Carrie seems ready to make amends since she enlists him this week to begin putting pressure for her on an old Pakistani military associate to flush out, thereby pressuring the earpiece wet work operative for Pakistani intelligence.

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The implicit cordial respect between Saul and the general he meets with in a club that has all but forbidden Americans in a post-bin Laden world is fascinating—as is a man meant to radiate intelligence and pragmatism actually believing in 9/11 Truther nonsense. It does go to show that every side of the world has its prejudices, which perhaps raises questions about our own objectives.

Purportedly, this episode is about finding the man who killed Sandy. However, the sequence with the general brings up an interesting quagmire far greater than who ordered the hit on a former Islamabad station chief: when the U.S. leaves Afghanistan in 2015, it is not an unlikely scenario that the Taliban will return like a steamroller to the region. What is the purpose of flushing out this one spook in the large scheme of things? Of course, Saul still does it when he discovers even Pakistani intelligence has pencil pushers.

The answer, as it turns out, lies more in the Aayan story. After drugs we initially are confused about are destroyed by his would-be girlfriend’s father, Aayan hightails it to “British newspaperwoman” Carrie in order to spill his guts about what is happening to a point. However, what he doesn’t tell Carrie is that he is protecting the high-up al-Qaeda operative that they thought they killed in the season four premiere. He’s alive? I’m shocked, said nobody.

It is a convenient twist but an useful one. Earlier, Quinn questioned Carrie about how she is going to help Aayan, which I doubt she even considered truly doing before that moment. But after she knew he is “protecting” a known Jihadi, Aayan is again as dead to her as when she ordered the drone strike on him the first time. And Quinn’s the one with hang-ups? While he may be a bit over protective about trying to grab Pakistan’s buttonman from later in the episode, Carrie’s fanaticism to seize him is as zealous here as is her ability to condemn Aayan to the death of all snitches and rats. Quinn has a point when he tells her about how many new enemies they’re creating, because I believe Carrie is making a very dangerous one out of hapless Aayan, if not a corpse.

But in Carrie’s defense, this plot goes sickeningly deep inside the U.S. government beyond Sandy Bachman. As it turns out, Sandy was getting his secrets from the U.S. ambassador’s husband. This is our first introduction to the guy, and it’s safe to say that we all can hate him, as he’s barely been onscreen before he’s revealed himself to be a traitor, selling secrets to the anti-Carrie. She promises this will end well for him. I’m sure Aayan thinks so too.

Which brings us back to the actual ending of the episode when Carrie makes Aayan’s bed and then helps him unmake it. For a kid, so much a novice he doesn’t know how to respond to a kiss, that she has condemned to all but death earlier in this episode, she rather recklessly jumps under the sheets with him. Keep in mind that he was already cooperating, as his real motivation is to get to London and become a doctor. This isn’t a scattershot PTSD mole that needs a friend with benefits to escape the alien wife. So why do it?

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Well besides bringing back eerie comparisons to Brody—which I hope is the only example of this—it says more about Carrie. As far as I can see, the bear had walked into the trap without the honey needing to be laid out. In the moment before she initiates the seduction, there is a second where she looks in the mirror. What does her face say there? Regret for what she’s about to do? Pride? Relief that she found another semi-terrorist to fulfill a fetish?

I’m not sure, and I don’t think she knows either. Until she and the audience get a better handle on her actions, I treat this as tentatively intriguing. In the meantime, there is no denying that this episode was a taut and well-oiled hour of Homeland. Season four may have finally buried Brody, after all.

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4 out of 5