In “About a Boy,” Homeland seems to have settled on its main arcs this season, and many of them continue to surprise. While Carrie continues to gain Aayan’s trust, Quinn and Fara are on a stakeout to learn more about the cleric who was harboring Aayan’s uncle, Haissan Haqqani. As Saul is about to leave the country and head home, he keeps his eye on a target at the airport, and phones in the details just before the tables turn. Secretly acting as the lynchpin to all of this is Martha’s husband Dennis, who ISI is using to gain further intel on the Americans. Hit the jump for why “I don’t want to lie to you anymore.”
Carrie’s seduction of Aayan got some dimension to it (thankfully) in “About a Boy.” As she explains to Saul, she only has three days to establish enough of a rapport with him that he’s willing to risk his life in order to tell her the secret that his uncle is still alive. Only something like taking a devout boy’s virginity while he’s trapped in a house with you seems drastic enough to establish that, apparently, but as Quinn (acting as a voice for the audience) points out, “to me, it looks like you’re fucking a child.”
Ultimately, though, Carrie got what she wanted. The way that relationship unfolded over the course of the hour was also a surprisingly beautiful thing. Aayan is both aroused by and terrified by Carrie’s casual nakedness and intimacy, peeking at her under the covers, but becoming uncomfortable as she dresses in front of him (their later conversation about his struggle to be devout was also a nice moment). After she pokes around the issue of Haqqani being alive, Aayan turns on her, and things are frosty until she starts to open up about Franny and Brody (which seems to make her genuinely emotional). When Aayan asks that they become intimate again, Carrie cries during the sex, saying she’s actually happy.
There are a lot of things to unpack in those scenes, particularly since Carrie’s medication has finally come back to light when Dennis breaks into her apartment. Carrie seems to be developing genuine emotions towards Aayan, but of course, she’s devoted to her ultimate target (though is also scarred from having sent Brody to his death, essentially). It’s similar to her relationship with Brody on a much faster timeline (remember their time together in the cabin, and all that was revealed there?), which is its greatest weakness. On the other hand, Claire Danes also plays the hell out of that particular dynamic, which is a plus.
Elsewhere, “About a Boy” kept its tension revved up in unexpected ways. Despite Quinn unpacking his gun while on watch with Fara, and their trek up to Taliban mountain territory in pursuit of the cleric, they were never in any real danger. Saul, on the other hand, who seemed to be bound for home after making a quick call to let the Islamabad team know that Ghazi was boarding a plane to Johannesburg, was the one who was snatched, bound, and thrown in the trunk of a car on the orders of ISI.
The episode did a good job of connecting its various stories together, like when Quinn confronted Carrie about going AWOL, while Fara nearly caught sight of Saul in the trunk while she was attempting to put the tracker on the cleric’s car. Saul was able to call Quinn before he was snatched, so at least when intel comes back that Ghazi was not on that plane and Saul is missing, he should be able to tie that together easily. But it is Dennis who brings it all full-circle, as an unwitting operative (as a former friend of Sandy, current husband to Martha, occasional pest to Quinn, and burglar of Carrie’s apartment) for ISI who is, of course, orchestrating the entire thing.
It’s fun to watch the near-misses and confusion (especially those that seem, at first, like triumph) by the Americans, because it will make their eventual catch-up and badassery that much more enthralling as the season eventually comes to a close. In the meantime, though, Homeland is keeping up with the expectation it set up at the start of the season, with episodes that are full of twists and turns and political intrigue. And in “About a Boy,” it also happened to successfully include some workable character moments, too.
Episode Rating: A-
Musings and Miscellanea:
— Where is Max, by the way?
— “Br– he was never my husband. Though I would have liked that” – Carrie.
— The scene on the rooftop of the safe house was absolutely gorgeous with that sunrise.
— The other issue with Saul being snatched is that he won’t be able to get the word to Lockhart about Haqqani being alive.
— I still don’t trust John, and I’m curious how his suspicions about Dennis will play out.
— Dennis = the world’s worst operative; although, Saul could really not have been more obvious or bumbling while trying to track Ghazi (even though it was all a setup anyway).
— That ISI woman is so quietly frightening.
— “I’m trying to be ballsy here, but I’m not into suicide” – Fara.
— “I would do it myself if i wasn’t white” – Quinn.
— “Men secretly fear their wives are crazy, and women secretly fear their husbands are losers” – Martha, which Dennis overhears. I’m envisioning a scene at some point later this season with him about to blow something up, or right after he reveals all of his betrayal to Martha, screaming maniacally, “who’s the loser now?!”