Last week, Homeland made it easy to separate the spy thriller from the soap opera. That distinction allowed pretty much everyone — myself chief among them — to say that the soap should be scrubbed. While pre-natal visits may not be what anyone signed up for with Homeland, “A Red Wheelbarrow” at least started making the personal drama an integral part of this season’s plot. Kinda. Saul and Mira’s marital problems, for instance, now have bigger implications than just their own emotions. And most importantly, Carrie’s baby drama is now part of the larger Javadi plot. Kinda. Hit the jump though for why I still don’t think we need it, though.
There are good uses of personal drama on Homeland, and poor ones. A good one would be deepening Fara’s character by continuing to play off of her displeasure at what became of Javadi last week. Fara takes care of an aging parent who needs constant care, and uses him partially as an excuse to take time off of work, which apparently at the CIA, is nothing something you can just fake a cold about. Of course, Fara also did some very strange things, sitting in her car for a long time before leaving work, driving by the scene of a double murder. These things might go unnoticed if you really did work at a bank, but …
Fara’s home life shows the complication of a member of the, in this case, Iranian diaspora in the U.S. “I am an American,” she asserts to her father, who is disappointed in her decision to help the U.S. government against Iran, mostly for the sake of their relatives still living in Tehran. In addition to these very real fears, Fara is having to make an internal decision about who she truly supports. Though she makes the American statement, she was also not at peace at letting Javadi walk for the crimes he committed in Iran, showing her ties to her former country. It’s a very low-key version of the kind of patriotic distress that Brody went through, although the stakes here are not at all on the same level. But thematically, it’s the best thing Homeland does, so it makes sense for them to continue that story somewhere else.
Saul and Mira’s marital complications seem to be mostly resolved after his breakdown to her last week (although he’s still irritating her with his work schedule. After 35 years, she should know that people don’t change). But then a twist: Mira’s lover breaks into the house to tap the computer, and get audio on Saul. We don’t know yet who he’s working for, but whoever is in charge (Javadi?) made a brilliant move. Like Carrie’s feelings for Brody, Saul’s weakness is in his love for Mira — she’s his Achilles heel, and therefore also the Achilles heal of national intelligence. Why else would we get a Mira stand-alone scene (which, correct me if I’m wrong, we haven’t gotten before) if just for “the end of the affair”? There’s more at play here, as there usually is with Homeland.
These stories work (so far). But Carrie and Brody’s baby? There has been speculation since the revelation of the pregnancy that the baby was either Brody’s or Carrie’s hookup while she was off her meds. “A Red Wheelbarrow” confirmed that the baby is Brody’s, something she says herself. Dear God, why? Even though Carrie doesn’t want to know the sex of the baby, she seems like she’s going to go through with keeping it.
Do we really want a pregnant Carrie? Worse, with Brody’s baby? Especially since Saul has gone to, apparently, check in on (if not pick up) Brody from his Caracas drug den of filth. What’s more insufferable than Carrie + Brody? Add a baby to the mix. What are we going towards, Brody as Carrie’s ex-terrorist house husband? Of course, the scene about blood pressure and stress could easily leave the writers room to insert a miscarriage, TV’s favorite “out” for getting rid of an accidental baby. Nothing else really would make sense at this point.
“A Red Wheelbarrow” was a great episode when it came to spy games, particularly the last sequence with Franklin and the bomber. Bennett will be back, and the clock is ticking for Saul before he is ousted by the CIA. That has added a lot of pressure (and fun, like everything that Saul says and does to Lockhart) to what otherwise might be very drawn out proceedings. But baby daddy drama? Homeland, you are better than this.
Episode Rating: B+
Musings and Miscellanea:
— I actually really liked this episode, and would have given it an A- but I just CANNOT with this baby bullshit.
— Mira really did not seem that impressed by Saul’s damned impressive breakfast in bed feast.
— I like that they actually remembered that David Estes was an important part of their lives for one second in this episode.
— So many Greek Orthodox churches are so beautiful inside.
— These Martin Donovan sightings are giving me life. Any Hal Hartley fans in the house?
— Still not sure what to make of Dar Adal, though given what he knows, seems he made the right call. Carrie could have blown everything. Would Saul have played that any differently? And so was it Saul who has been harboring Brody all this time? To what end?
— I had to laugh at Fara’s dad asking her why they aren’t rich. They seem to be doing ok! Poor girl has got to be stressed.
— Lost it when Saul kicked Lockhart out of the room. He’s a pretty one-dimensional villain, but their interactions slay me.