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.