In “Shalwar Kameez,” Homeland made a decision that I predict will be divisive within the fandom. There are always going to be messy personal relationships on Homeland — it’s part of what makes the show compelling — but the direction “Shalwar Kameez” started to take some of them is potentially worrisome, because it harkens back to one of the weakest aspects of the series from the past two years. Hit the jump for why “once a scalp hunter, always a scalp hunter.”
The question of whether Quinn and Carrie are OTP, or meant to be together, is kind of beside the point. The question is: does Homeland need this? It took two seasons to extricate Carrie and Brody from their unfortunate relationship (which resulted in a death and an unwanted baby), after all. Quinn and Carrie have always made a good team — that is undeniable. There’s also always been an affinity and a bond between them. But is it romantic? Or more to the point made in “Shalwar Kameez,” is it some cosmic, written-in-the-stars relationship?
If it is, “Shalwar Kameez” seemed too early to introduce it, and the way it happened (with those at Langley, including Dar Adal, questioning Quinn on it in a way that was basically one of those “don’t you realize you love her, you fool?” moments) is arguably not what the show needs right now. After last week’s double premiere, I applauded Homeland on rebooting itself as a different kind of CIA thriller than it had been before. Focusing on the mystery and circumstances around Sandy’s death is a genuinely interesting idea, and the scenes surrounding something like that are what Homeland does best.
Consider the sequence in “Shalwar Kameez” when Carrie loses her ISI tail in order to meet up with Fara and Max (who were sights for sore eyes). There was intrigue and tension in the maneuver: where was she going, and who was she meeting up with? It was also reminiscent of Sandy going off on his own in the season’s premiere, and because of that, it carried with it its own kind of horror. But it was also sleek and knowledgeable on Carrie’s part, reinforcing the idea about just how good she is.
That was reinforced again later after Fara’s failure at securing a discussion with Aayan. Carrie took over, crouching in a bathroom and feigning illness so that she could try and win over Aayan herself. The two of them coming face-to-face was a great moment that even felt glossed over in this hour, because of how many other confrontations Carrie had (such as with her surly co-worker, with Saul, and with the Ambassador). She’s on fire, and kicking ass (which Saul acknowledges like a proud father).
One thing that hasn’t been mentioned at all this season though is Carrie’s mental state. Is she on medication? Is it affecting her? I posited last week that part of her lack of emotional connection to what happened with Quinn was because of mood stabilizers, which also brought her back from the brink of drowning Franny. But as for any specifics — or anyone’s concerns about her health — there has been no word. It’s something Homeland needs to address, because it’s not just a cornerstone of the show, but of her character.
The rest of “Shalwar Kameez” was largely devoted to Quinn and his continued breakdown as he — again — tries to leave the CIA. His confrontation with Dar Adal felt anticlimactic, and his wild-eyed realization that he did save Carrie over Sandy was almost comical. The relationship he had been building with the apartment manager was interesting (like their pool-side chats), but throwing all of that character development away to have him become the new “I can’t help but be in crazy love with you” plot (i.e. Brody 2.0) feels like a big mistake. I’m willing, as always, to see where Homeland goes with this, but note to the writers: the show doesn’t need to have a love plot to make it a good.
Episode Rating: B-
Musings and Miscellanea:
— This is the first I’ve seen of that freaky new intro. It’s even more random than the original (and I use that in the truest sense of the word).
— I was thrilled to have Max back. What a lovable weirdo. (If Homeland wants a romance plot, I’d be more than happy to see more awkwardly cute interactions between Fara and Max instead of Carrie and Quinn).
— Look, I’m not necessarily against Carrie and Quinn as a couple, I just don’t think we’ve ever seen them do anything but be in a work relationship (where they are great together). If something is going to develop beyond that, let it happen organically, and don’t shove it down our throats that we’re supposed to want them together without any evidence that it would work. We’ve been down that road before.
— The revelation at the end that Sandy’s murder was premeditated was a very interesting new thread. Answering the why behind that (because Sandy’s cover was already blown) is far more interesting to follow than Quinn’s repressed feelings at this point (even though I really love Quinn. “I fucking love you, Quinn, you know that, right??”)
— Poor Aayan.
— I loved Carrie putting John in his place. He took the job he had been promised, but she’s clearly the person to run things. Go girl!
— Saul: “The tyranny of secrets.” Carrie: “the tyranny of keeping them.”
— Unless something is going to come from Saul having been engaged to the Ambassador for a second one hundred years ago (as he put it), then it really didn’t need to be a thing. Can’t people just be friends?? Jeez.
— I do like that she and Carrie started over with their relationship, though.
— The “weapon unloading” bins …
— “I told you to go fuck yourself, not come over for breakfast” – Quinn to Dar.