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Homeland

"Trylon and Perisphere" (Aired October 5, 2014)

Samantha Wessel

The second hour of the Season 4 premiere "event" didn't let up. The episode begins with the flag draped coffin of Sandy Bachman, his body being returned to his family in the U.S. Carrie, and CIA Director Lockhart are both there giving their condolences to Bachman's wife. When Carrie tries to bring up what happened with Lockhart, Lockhart throws out the word "accountability," making it clear he's going to pin this disaster on Carrie, and that he is recalling her back to the U.S. These are 2 of Carrie's least favorite things: 1)Being held "accountable" for something she didn't do and 2)Being back in the U.S. where she will have to see her kid. That's not going to stand. 

 

After her conversation with Lockhart, Carrie drives to her sister's house. As she's walking up to the house, she hears the baby crying and is about to leave. NOT SO FAST! Somehow, Maggie knows she's there (which is weird because as far as I could tell, Maggie had no idea Carrie was in town). Carrie looks so uncomfortable around her baby. We then find out the baby's name is Frannie and we also find out that THEY STRAIGHT UP CLONED DAMIAN LEWIS, YOU GUYS! That baby looks so much like him my brain simply cannot process it. Which makes sense why Carrie can't be around her kid. First sign she doesn’t like her kid: she picked the name Frannie.  Second, Frannie is the spitting image of the love of her life who she watched die. That's not a comforting memory, and for someone who already wasn't cut out to be a mom, yeah, it makes sense why Carrie feels uncomfortable around the kid.

 

Also that night, we see Quinn hanging out by a pool drinking. His landlord walks up, and they get to chatting. It's clear that Quinn is pretty good and drunk. After some light flirting, we see, Quinn and his landlord hooking up. Alright then! The next morning, Quinn invites her to breakfast. Next to their booth, two douchebags are commenting on his landlord's weight (I don't know her name. I don't know if it is ever even mentioned during the episode.) Quinn, likely suffering from PTSD, beats the CRAP out of the two guys. He's arrested, but Carrie comes and gets him out of jail. Ahhh, friendship. Quinn tells Carrie about the former Islamabad station chief who Bachman replaced. Quinn tells her that this guy is now working in the records room of the CIA, a fate worse than being fired. 

 

So, Carrie being Carrie, is off to see the former station chief. He tells her he doesn't want to speak to her. The harder she pushes, the more he shuts down. She isn't able to get anything out of him. 

 

When Carrie gets home that night, her sister Maggie is already there holding Frannie, and Maggie is furious. Carrie was supposed to be home hours ago, and Maggie had to cancel two appointments to take care of Carrie's responsibilities. Maggie reminds Carrie that she agreed to be back-up, but that having a child is a responsibility that Carrie needs to fulfill.  Maggie has her own husband and kids to take care of, a fact that seems to have been forgotten by the writers until just now. Carrie doesn't acknowledge that Maggie is right, but says that she can spend the next day with Frannie. 

 

The next day, Carrie is spending time with Frannie, probably for the first time ever. After feeding and changing the kid, which Carrie does with a look of disdain on her face, she drives, with Frannie in the front freaking seat (I'm not a mom but even I know you don't do that!), to Brody's house. Jesus, Carrie, are you trying to get a restraining order against you? Here, Claire Danes goes for her next Emmy. She tells Frannie how much she loved Brody, and that Frannie's arrival was the last thing Brody was happy about. Carrie also tells Frannie that she tried to hold on to that feeling, but now that Brody is gone, she can't remember why she had Frannie. It's an emotionally complex scene. Carrie was never meant to be a mother, but she kept Frannie to try and hold on to some memory of Brody. Now, that memory is too painful, and Carrie is left with a baby that she never really wanted and doesn't know what to do with. As a viewer, I'm torn between totally understanding Carrie's feeling, and feeling awful for Frannie who had no choice in any of this. 

 

Carrie drives Frannie back to the house and gives her a bath. Everything is going well until Frannie slips and almost goes under. Carrie panics for one second, then we see a look on Carrie's face that honestly scared me. She realizes how easy it would be to just let Frannie drown. And she comes pretty damn close to doing it too, until the last minute she realizes she can't, and pulls Frannie out of the tub. 

 

After this traumatic scene, Carrie decides to take one last shot at the former Islamabad station chief. She meets him at his car, and gets into it as he's about to drive away, which would have left Frannie alone in the front seat of Carrie's car. After telling him that she'll do everything she can to get him back in the field, he decides to give her information.

 

Meanwhile, Saul and Dar Adal are meeting in New York. Dar Adal tells Saul that there are rumblings that people are not happy with Lockhart's performance as CIA Director, and that perhaps someone else needs to step in. As if those weren't obvious enough hints that Dar Adal was telling Saul to take over, Dar Adal straight up tells Saul that knowing the Secretary of State could be useful right now. Guess who's going to take over the CIA soon?!?!

 

At Bachman's funeral, Carrie confronts Lockhart. She tells him that she knows Bachman was feeding his source U.S. intelligence in exchange for intelligence on high-priority targets. She tells Lockhart she knows he was complicit in this, and that it is treason. She uses this to leverage her way into becoming station chief in Islamabad. Inside, she tells Saul the news and says she's going to need his assistance. Good to see the old team back together again.

 

After the funeral, we see Quinn arrive. Carrie informs him that she's going back to Islamabad, and insists that she needs Quinn with her. However, he says he's not going back. She tries to tell him that she was also upset about Bachman's death, thinking that's what it will take to get him to go with her, but Quinn still refuses to go. When Carrie says she needs him, Quinn says it isn't all about her and walks away. What I love about this scene is that it shows how selfish Carrie really is. While she's doing it for the greater good, her methods and social ineptitude are truly astounding.

 

That night, Carrie returns home and informs Maggie that she's going back to Islamabad, which means she can't take Frannie with her. Maggie has had it. She knows Carrie is intentionally requesting stations in active war zones so that she can't take dependents. Maggie tells Carrie that she at least has to go tell Frannie goodbye. We then see Carrie go into Frannie's room, look at her for a minute, and say "I'm sorry" before walking out with no hesitation. We then see Carrie on a plane back to Islamabad, telling the Captain, and trying to convince herself that she's "fine."

 

Aayan, meanwhile, is bombarded by interviewers on campus. He says that killing Bachman was just as bad as what the Americans did and walks away. (His sentiment clearly impressed Lockhart and removed him from suspicion, for now). He goes up to his dorm, clears out some vials, and heads to his girlfriend's house. He asks if he can leave the duffel bag with her for no more than 10 days (something tells me it may be longer than that). He doesn't tell her what is in it, but she agrees. During this visit, we also find out that Haqqani was his uncle. Uh-oh. A couple of nights later, Aayan is sleeping in his room when men bust in and take his computer, beat him up a bit, and tell him not to post anymore videos or to take anymore interviews. I couldn’t tell if Aayan knew who these guys were. The fact that Haqqani was his uncle leads to the question: how much does Aayan know? He doesn’t seem to hold terrorist ideals, but that’s clearly the set-up the show runners are going for.

 

You guys, I really want to believe that this show is back. I am really intrigued by Aayan’s character, who they are setting up to be the "new Brody." There's clearly going to be some question as to his loyalties, and what the heck those vials are. And now Carrie is to determined to find out who Bachman's source was, and why they were pumping Bachman for U.S. intelligence. It's once again murky and adds to the ambiguity of what is right and what is wrong. I hope the season keeps going like this because right now, it's gonna be a hell of a ride. 

"The Drone Queen" (Aired October 5, 2014)

Samantha Wessel

I finished Season 3 of "Homeland" several months after the finale aired. While the season was on, I cared so little about what was happening that I forgot the show was still on. It wasn’t until the summer hiatus that I finally caught up. Watching Season 3 of "Homeland" was incredibly painful, and I felt validated in my decision to stop watching the show mid-season. When there are so many good shows on TV, it's hard to keep up with the ones that are bad. And the particularly frustrating thing about "Homeland" was that Season 1 and the first half of Season 2 were SO FREAKING GOOD. I finished Season 3 disheartened and sad, and not just because of Brody's death (cause that shit should have happened in Season 2. Yeah, I said it.) I was sad because a show that had been so wonderfully written had fallen apart.  

 

When good buzz started building around Season 4 I was incredibly skeptical. I wondered if it was fake positive buzz send out by Showtime to try and get some viewers back. So when I sat down to watch the two hour premiere event (broken up here into 2 different posts because they are, in actuality, two different episodes) I was very pleasantly surprised. I know we're only 2 episodes in, but I am EXTREMELY hopeful that "Homeland" is back. With the Carrie/Brody storyline gone, the writers can now focus on what was so intriguing about the show to begin with: the questions of what is considered good, what is considered bad, what truly is the enemy, and the political and moral intrigue of it all. These first 2 episodes were fast-paced and I'm hopeful that the rest of the season will follow suit (though part of me is still apprehensive as I was lured into a false sense of security in Season 2). With that, let's do this thing, shall we?

 

Season 4 opens up with Carrie riding in a vehicle with several army personnel. We see that she is in Kabul, Afghanistan, and not Istanbul where she was supposed to be stationed at the end of Season 3. They're driving her home at the end of the day. Being the station chief and all, she's got to have some pretty hardcore protection. Carrie decides driving with the armed military men is too safe, and decides she wants to walk the rest of the way home. Sure, that seems like a great decision. Go for it.

 

As Carrie begins her stroll, she gets a call and she returns back to her station. Once there, she learns from the Islamabad Station Chief Sandy Bachman (played by Corey Stoll), that they have intelligence about the location of a high value target, Haissam Haqqani. Carrie is informed that a drone strike isn't possible and there aren't any boots on the ground near the target. There's not a lot of time to make the decision to strike, so Carrie makes the decision to go ahead with attack without receiving confirmation from a second source. Bachman's intelligence has always been right, why wouldn’t it be right again? I’m sure this won’t come back to bite her in the ass at all. After the mission is completed, Carrie's colleagues present her with a birthday cake, inscribed with "The Drone Queen." Aannnddd we have an episode title! Also, who the hell wants that on their birthday cake? Her colleagues need to learn some manners. Carrie seems gracious enough though, so I guess she's cool with that shitty nickname.

 

When Carrie gets back to her place for the night, she pours herself a couple glasses of wine and pops some pills. Good to see she's keeping up old habits. She then has a Skype convo with her sister Maggie. She was supposed to also see her daughter, but gosh darn it, she JUST missed her. Carrie (very unconvincingly) feigns disappointment. Now, I'm sure no one thought Carrie would be a good or even enthusiastic mother, but for goodness sake Carrie, you're part of the CIA. Fake it a little! You're telling me you could pretend to be a double agent in Season 3, but you can't even convincingly fake interest in your kid? Bullshit. 

 

While Carrie is Skyping with Maggie, we see a group of Pakistani citizens scrambling through the wreckage left by the bomb. It turns out that they hit a wedding. And while it appears that they took out Haqqani, they also killed several innocent citizens. One survivor, Aayan, a medical student, took video at the wedding and captured the moment of the bombing on his phone. The next day when Carrie and her crew are using a drone to survey the damage, they see Aayan kneeling beside the bodies of his mother and sister who were killed in the strike. Carrie doesn't perceive him as a threat, and let’s him go about his business. After Aayan heads back to his medical school in Islamabad, his roommate tries to convince him to upload the video footage online,  but Aayan refuses. However, his roommate steals the footage and posts it online anyway. The footage sparks outrage and protests in the streets of Pakistan. Aayan is furious, but his roommate insists it needed to be done. 

 

As the protests are heating up, Carrie arrives in Islamabad to meet with the American ambassador to Pakistan, the Pakistani station chief Bachman, and Peter Quinn. Oh good old Quinn. He's hands down my favorite character on this show, and I think, probably the moral compass for the audience. Anyway, Quinn arrives to pick Carrie up at the airport. When he expresses concern about the lack of actual intelligence and information as to who was present in the farmhouse when it was bombed, Carrie says that it was well known that Haqqani was a high-end target, and those who were at the wedding put themselves in danger by being with him. Quinn expresses concern at Carrie's comment, mentioning that Bachman said the same thing.

 

Meanwhile, Bachman receives a text from a mysterious "X," presumably his source that he's been using for the normally reliable intelligence. Bachman decides to step away from the CIA station before the meeting with the Ambassador. As he goes out, Carrie and Quinn, still at the airport, see Bachman's picture on the news. Someone has outed him. When Bachman's source refuses to answer the door, he goes to leave, but he's made by local Pakistani citizens who begin to follow him through the streets. As he's surrounded by irate Pakistanis, Quinn and Carrie arrive to try and save him. However, their vehicle is quickly blocked in, and they are unable to escape. The windows of the vehicle are smashed and Bachman is dragged from the car and summarily killed by the mob.

 

Quinn and Carrie arrive back at the station office. Quinn is visibly shaken, but Carrie is ready to go meet with the ambassador. When Carrie tries to give Quinn a pep talk, he turns the attention on her, asking whey she picked Kabul considering it meant that she couldn't bring her daughter. Carrie's reaction when her daughter is mentioned is the reaction you'd expect her to have after seeing a fellow station chief killed in front of her. Carrie deflects the question and asks Quinn why HE didn't come with her to Kabul, but he doesn't answer. He insists he needs a minute before meeting with the ambassador. Carrie goes inside, and tells the receptionist she's there. When the receptionist tells Carrie she has blood on her face, Carrie wipes it away, oblivious. The episode ends with Carrie staring at herself in the bathroom, wiping the blood off her face. She then puts on some lipstick and her game face, as if nothing has happened. And yet, she can't even pretend to love her kid. Go figure.