The second hour of Homeland‘s new season didn’t let up at all from the powerhouse nature of its first. It did, however, focus more on its characters, while also setting up the season-long arc (which is finding out who Sandy’s asset was, and unraveling that treasonous cluster). One that that hasn’t changed since Season Three is the head of the CIA, Lockhart, being a total dickhead. After the horrorshow in “The Drone Queen,” Lockhart recalled Carrie and wanted her grounded back in the U.S. as part of “accountability” (also known as scapegoating). But nothing in Kabul could frighten Carrie as much as confronting her life back home. Hit the jump for why “now, I fulfill freedom of information requests from conspiracy nuts in Ohio.”
Since I already covered everything that Homeland is doing right in terms of overall plotting for “The Drone Queen,” including its political emphasis, let’s kick things off here by focusing on where the show is going with its characters.
The call for Peter Quinn to become more of a major character has been heeded, and it is a glorious thing. Someone had to have a breakdown over what has been happening when things go wrong in Kabul or Islamabad, and since Carrie isn’t reacting to it (mood stabilizers are surely in the mix, but there hasn’t been an overt mention of them), Quinn has been chosen to lose it. In “Trylon and Perisphere,” he did so in spectacular fashion, first getting wasted by the pool and blowing his meetings, and then sleeping with the apartment manager and beating the tar out of some common douchebags who commented on his one night stand’s weight.
The horror he witnessed with Sandy, in addition to the other mistakes being made overseas, has finally cracked Quinn. He’s lashing out, and he doesn’t seem sure how to get out of it. He wants to be able to confide in the manager, but he knows he can’t. While he rightfully puts Carrie in her place regarding her anger at him wanting to take a break from working overseas, he also knows that it might be good for him to get back in the fray and try and do something. If anyone is going to kick ass and get it done, it’s Carrie, and she needs him. The letter the manager left him echoed words Carrie has said to Quinn: “no one has ever fought for me before.” Though Carrie has set off to Islamabad on her own, it seems unlikely she will stay that way for long.
Saul, too, is getting a piece of the action, as Carrie asks for his security firm to send people over to also help her track down the fuckerage happening in the wake of Sandy’s death (where Sandy was trading top secret information to get the locations of important targets. But with the wedding disaster, it looks like that asset turned on him — why?) Might Saul send himself? He’s unhappy and disgruntled not being in the thick of things in D.C., but that’s exactly what almost cost him his marriage. After a total breakdown and rebuilding, he and Mira are back together, but with a new focus on her career. Saul being Saul, though, he’s unable to fully commit to that change.
Meanwhile, back on the literal home front, Carrie is required to confront the reality of the daughter she never really wanted. One of the biggest question marks regarding this new season is how poor little Franny might fit into things, now that Mama is out from under Brody’s spell. Mama is wondering the same thing, and even tells baby Franny so. While Carrie does everything she can to avoid the baby, her sister and even the nanny need her to step up. Carrie’s sister also makes a litany of excellent points about how Carrie made the choice to have this baby, and so she needs to take responsibility for her.
The sequences of Carrie being alone with Franny for a day were perfectly claustrophobic, illustrating her reluctance and confusion. Franny is fussy, and Carrie doesn’t know how to handle her. She drives her to the Brodys’ old house (in the front seat …), mentioning some notable scenes from her past there, and then tells Franny she doesn’t want her now that Brody is gone. A subsequent scene of Carrie considering drowning her may have gone too far for many, but frankly, it felt in line with what we know and have recently seen with Carrie. She feels trapped and panicked, and thinks Franny would be better off without her. She’s also zonked out emotionally, not even registering the emotions connected with Sandy’s brutal death. To think for just one moment that this could solve her problems was horrible, but Carrie has always wrestled with incredible demons. In the end, she figures out another way: another dangerous assignment, another way to distance herself.
Over in Pakistan, Aayan has his own difficult journey. After his roommate released the video and it went viral, Aayan’s appearance on a newscast saying he thought that the retaliation murder of Sandy was just as unjustified as the murder of his family makes him a target for his own people (though Lockhart is, for once, happy to hear he is “reasonable”). But Aayan has secrets, and drops off a large back of something (drugs?) at the home of his girlfriend (or a girl he really likes, anyway), before returning to school. That little tinge of gray makes Aayan’s story more dynamic than just the model citizen and innocent student he was first portrayed as. He may well be those things, but Homeland rarely trades in such flat characters. His development is one of the most exciting to watch.
So many words spent, and yet, so much still left to say. The bottom line though is that Homeland‘s double premiere was an engrossing delight, the likes of which have not been seen on the show in awhile.
Episode Rating: A-
— Carrie holding treason over Lockhart’s head was a beautiful thing.
— I loved Quinn’s side story with the manager. It was very, very different for him, but it also deepened his character in a lot of ways.
— “It’s ok, go ahead; I speak dumbass” – Quinn.
— Franny sure looks like Brody, alright …
— “It’s not even a real country, it’s a fucking acronym.” – Lockhart.
— Claire Danes was on point in this episode, especially during her day with Franny. Incredible.
— “Carrie, here’s the thing. It’s not about you.” – Quinn.