Homeland: Uh…Oh…Ah, Review

Homeland has revealed that Carrie's new enemy is not some foreign born terrorist, but the surrogate father who has mentored her for years at the CIA. It freaking hurts, and you know you love it.

“Fuck…You. Saul.” “Seconded,” says the entire Homeland viewing audience. So, how about that? Saul has thrown his surrogate daughter completely under the bus with such force that even the hopefuls hanging on a week ago, desperate to believe it was part of a master plan, can now see the malevolent intent in the Beltway roadkill that was Carrie Mathison’s career. That is not to say that Saul is malevolent or even in the wrong. As I said last week, Saul never gave Carrie a reason to crack—he clearly showed disgust at Dal for the assumed sharing of incriminating information to the U.S. Senate and Washington Post—but once that egg has indeed been cracked across the side of t he U.S. Capitol Building, what is there left to do but to stop it from getting on your face? Congress has enough of that as it is. Still, to commit her to an institution and use her own family as the key? It is diabolically cruel, particularly to daughter that HE brought back into the fold in Season 2, and apparently got a big promotion for prior to Season 3. If he was so worried about her sanity, it’d be nice if he had pushed her away from national scrutiny before he’d have to facilitate forced napping and mental vacations. Because when that needle went into Carrie’s arm, we were all thinking: Fuck you, Saul. Nonetheless, there is method to his madness with every decision made this week. Unfortunately, that cannot be said for many of the other characters. So, let’s get into it. It has quickly become apparent two episodes into Season 3 that the major storylines, at least set in the actual homeland (cough-Brody), will be following three major paths. The first is the CIA and what they’re doing, now led by the reluctantly furrowed brow of the magnificent Mandy Patinkin; the second is Carrie’s trials and tribulations as the public scapegoat for the time being, which seamlessly dovetails back into everything that is going on in the CIA; with the last being the Family Brody. And when I say Family Brody, I really mean Dana. Again, I had no issue with how catty Dana and Jessica were with each other in the previous two seasons. Quite honestly, mothers and daughters, especially when the latter hits the teen years, are going to butt heads. Also, Dana’s willful desire to be different from Momma Brody, the woman who raised her alone for eight years, at the very least allowed her to be more observant of her father, creating some important and meaningful developments in both of the previous seasons. But the hard truth is that we only tolerated their quarreling and angst because it directly affected Brody, one of the series’ two leads. At this exact moment in Season 3, there is absolutely no reason why they should directly influence Brody’s storyline, much less Carrie’s. If the show truly desires to hang on to the verisimilitude it so carelessly waved around like a suicide grenade in Season 2, then there is no reason Brody would ever see his family again unless he was in court. If Brody even attempted to do so, he would be arrested on the spot by the eternal FBI presence. Conversely, being the survivors of a U.S. Congressman who allegedly committed treason by blowing up the front of CIA Headquarters makes them more than political poison. At this point, they’re to politics what uranium left to sun-bake by an Iranian bunker would be to U.S. and Israeli intelligence.  Unlike European television, or Homeland’s Israeli roots, the Brodys are victims of American TV tropes. Because they were part of that earlier, better show, then they must continue to be on this program. But any attempt to draw them into the larger narrative of the CIA and the terrorists they chase will feel contrived and contorted. Ergo, until the writers choose to jump that water (hopefully avoiding the great white at the moment of truth), we are forced to subsist on teen melodrama: Dana tried to kill herself and is dating a crazy guy who she has already sneaked out and had sex with. I don’t hate you Dana, just the storylines that they give you. Honestly, she is about one mountain lion away from being the next Kim Bauer. For now, she looks longingly at her Bedlam Romeo and promises her mother that she is mentally healthy because she has built her entire existence and happiness around this boy she just met. Remind me when he or someone he knows leaks her sexts on the Internet for the whole world to see. When I can even call the twists Homeland, the subplot is dead weight. On the bright side, much of the rest of the episode goes swimmingly. At the CIA, Saul has found his new analyst in the sharp, young rookie Fara Sherazi. It is an intriguing set-up, as the very Jewish Saul is apparently at first put off by the hijab she wears on her head. While it is hardly a veil, he rather pointedly calls it an “insult” to the memory of the 200-some co-workers she would have known if they had not been blown up two months ago. It is startlingly racist, yet somehow realistic. It is hard to begrudge the negative attitudes of some first responders who were there when the Towers fell, and it is likewise difficult to not frustratingly tolerate such an uncalled for outburst. I am sure there will be at least a half dozen stories tomorrow morning criticizing this scene, but it is couched in a larger point of a Muslim woman helping the CIA track the money that killed 200 Americans. Is that a shield for endemic mistrust or an intriguing question? It is muddied further when one considers the kind of “characters” that CIA analysts must live with day-in and day-out. I am sure that we have not heard the last of it, but it is put to the side for Saul and company to politely interview an unnamed international bank that laundered the money of the terrorists who hit Langley. This scene is far more chilling, because it is so accepted that this practice really exists. Yet, even in the wake of horrific tragedy, the true ruling party of this increasingly oligarchic society appears safer from reproach than the marble buildings they erect in the aftermath. Enter Peter Quinn, television’s fantasy solution. As the CIA’s point man in any situation, be it political assassination or a sob shoulder for the director, Quinn is your man. He even gets to fulfill all our fantasies when he threatens a cocooned moneyman into playing ball with the CIA, leading Saul and the gang right to the steps of the Iranian government; it is all a bit vague this week, but wherever it goes, we’ll be waiting with anxious breath. There was one other important duty Peter Quinn performed this week. He played Saul’s conscience when he asked what the hell are they doing to Carrie. Saul promised that it was for her own good, but that is a lie even he cannot believe. This is about business, nothing more. I am not entirely sure that the CIA would lose its charter in the direct aftermath of a terrorist attack. The institution clearly has political enemies who view them as little more than unchecked assassins IF they’re still not picturing them as bumbling yes men all in the image of George Tenet. However, would this small, extremely narrow political persuasion have the ability to affect a majority opinion? I am not so sure, but then again we have never lived in a world where a U.S. congressman seemed to blow up the bulk of our intelligence community; a group that vouched for him, no less. In such a world, discovering that the CIA knew he was a terrorist, but planned to let him walk away quietly into retirement could be beyond damning, it’d be spy game over.  Thus, for a Company Man like Saul Berenson, it is almost a no-brainer. Carrie is the daughter he never had; the CIA is the baby that he did. He has put his life into this organization, which he knows is a necessary buffer between the homeland and the insidious Other lurking beyond our shores. Those who live in the shadows will always see an overcast on the brightest of days, but perhaps we are all simply oblivious to the coming storm. We were before. So, in Saul’s mind anything that protects his true child, no matter how despicable, is a necessity. That includes ending his relationship with little Carebear. Sure, Saul threw Carrie under the bus last week when asked if there was a woman sleeping with Brody—yes, but in her defense she’s also nuttier than Pecan Pie—but she had the nerve to defend herself to the press! I am absolutely positive that Saul believed at the start of tonight’s episode that he could protect Carrie’s name from ever being publicly disclosed. I am also positive that Dar Adal is hellbent on making sure it is eventually leaked. Carrie was smart to get out in front of the story before Dar came roaring down the street in the next greyhound, performing cleanup. But at that moment, not only did Carrie become a scapegoat, she became an active threat to the CIA. Right now, the central conflict for Season 3 seems to be turning into Carrie versus Saul in the realm of public discourse (or perhaps just him preventing her from ever getting to the public). That is a bold, fascinating direction to take Homeland. Many wondered where Carrie could go next before the premiere, and whether she’ll be on the hunt for Brody out of Langley. Homeland instead shockingly went for the kind of believable twist that nobody could see coming: The public shaming. Carrie is about to become a cross between David Petraeus and Valerie Plame. Like the latter CIA officer, she is unfairly turned into a side spectacle by people at the top who screwed up. But like the former, she should have known better than to mix sex with politics. Speaking of which, Carrie makes some of her trademark mistakes this week. While speaking to The Post, she opens with the whole “Brody is innocent” shtick. We know that Carrie is technically right—it really depends on what your definition of the word innocent is—but as an analyst, she should know that you lead with your most concrete evidence. Like say, “Hey, I’m being slandered because I called that Brody was turned as a terrorist over a year ago, and they dismissed me as crazy while he strapped on a suicide vest.” But we can excuse her mistakes, because she’s off her meds and she is in love with the ginger bomber. Similarly, it is entirely understandable why she would breakdown after discovering her family is taking Saul’s advice about her drug problems when she is, again, off her meds. The bigger issue with this sequence is why would her father and sister confront her like that BEFORE the hearing? If they truly wanted to get her out of the nut house, they should have known to bring this up AFTERWARDS. I’ve only known Carrie for three years, while they’ve known her their whole lives, yet I can predict her behavior better than they can? It is the only really lazy bit of writing this week (not related to Dana), but it does show how truly cold and Machiavellian Saul can be. There is no way he did not know that informing her family that Carrie was off her meds would cause a scene that precipitated a longer stay with around-the-clock breakfast in bed. Even Peter Quinn knew what happened. “We did this to her.” Yes, you did. It’s completely understandable, and it is exquisitely evil, especially to a colleague you consider a friend and who foresaw this threat over a year ago. This brings us back to Carrie and Saul in the TV Room where Carrie is barely cognizant enough to realize that the man who groomed her life all the way up to this exact moment was wallowing in grief right next to her. It took every ounce of energy she’ll probably have for the next 24-hours to muster the soon-to-be meme’d f-bomb. And it was so worth it. The wholly human mixture of anger, betrayal and hopelessness on Carrie’s face endears us once more to Claire Danes’ performance, and it makes it that much more painful to accept why Saul put her in that living hell. I highly doubt she will be there for much longer, though I also dread to think that there would ever be a reconciliation between the two after this level of treachery, particularly this season. But, it’s not Homeland if Carrie is vegging out for ten episodes, even with Brody returning next week, I imagine that the Homeland writers will only keep us dangling on the fate of Ms. Mathison for a few episodes more. Then again, I’ve been wrong about Homeland before, which is just the way I like it. That will be doubly true if they somehow dump Dana from the series in the next opening sequence. Den of Geek Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars


3.5 out of 5