In “Iron in the Fire,” Homeland expanded on the conspiracy surrounding Sandy Bachman’s death, and brought it all back to Homeland‘s central theme of trust. As Carrie builds her team in Islamabad, she also wrestles with the CIA operatives already in place there; though as she quickly discovers, she needs their help, too. (Although it isn’t, of course, that simple). Homeland also snuffed out some of its own fire by revealing the identity of the confidential informant, but did so in a way that shows that arc is far from over. Hit the jump, because “what I need is your help, not your goddamn foot on the break.”
Much of “Iron in the Fire” played out like a good whodunnit, complete with misdirection and several surprises. In “Shalwar Kameez,” the bombshell was Quinn’s astute discovery that the attack on Sandy was all orchestrated, though by whom and for what ultimate cause was unclear. What he and Carrie did have was a face, who seemed like he could be the man they would be searching for over the rest of the season. Was he Sandy’s informant? Who did he work for?
Instead, he was identified almost immediately at the start of “Iron in the Fire” as no more than a local thug named Farhad Ghazi. And it was Carrie’s co-worker John, with whom she has an antagonistic relationship (rightfully so — he’s a dick), who came through with that intel. But a few scenes later, we see that he’s also having her tailed, explaining later that it’s for her protection, when really, he’s trying to siphon information from her andhoping her team will also turn.
Though there were some nicely tense moments when Quinn went to Farhad’s apartment to clone his phone (and had a tough time getting out of there), getting up on that phone turned to be another false lead. Within a day, Farhad received a command to shut down his comms and get out of town, and while Carrie wanted to grab him for interrogation (which Quinn resisted), she was distracted by another bombshell: Fara witnessed (and caught on tape) Aayan meeting with his uncle, handing over medication that he had bought with money gotten from Carrie. Despite confirmations by the CIA and the Taliban, the uncle was not dead. “We may have a game-changer here,” Carrie says to her team. They certainly do.
This particular thread is just one of the many that are now starting to intertwine in Homeland‘s landscape. Saul helps Carrie by meeting with a Pakistani General — a frenemy of sorts — who puts him in touch with … well, I’m not altogether sure who. Pakistani Intelligence? British Intelligence operating in Pakistan? Someone, at any rate, who allowed Saul to play his hand about knowing Sandy’s death was not just mob rule, and who then likely contacted Farhad, instructing him to get the hell out of Dodge.
Elsewhere, a new character was introduced: Dennis (Mad Men‘s Mark Moses), husband to Martha (the Ambassador). He’s currently working as a professor in Islamabad and, it turns out, was stealing secrets from her to pass on to Sandy. Believing his cover to be blown, he also sets up a way to flee Islamabad that won’t tip off his wife (though ticking her off is another matter). First, though, he’s approached by a woman (presumably from ISI?) who tells him that he just needs to do them a few favors first. You know, to keep him from being arrested for treason, and annihilating his wife’s career.
All of these twists and turns and tensions are what make Homeland a really fun and fast-paced drama. Where it has less success is when it comes to personal relationships and character study. “Shalwar Kameez” introduced the Carrie/Quinn OTP factor, which was teased a little in “Iron in the Fire,” but not overtly addressed, thank goodness. Instead, things took a really sharp turn when Carrie gets Aayan to trust her enough that he agrees to stay in the safe house while she finds him safe passage abroad (an idea she has nixed now that she has seen his continued interactions with his uncle). Her vague flirtation with him then turned into an all-out seduction, which felt (like the Quinn reveal) like too much, too soon.
Homeland has a lot going for it this season. The Pakistani locale and the political issues stemming from that (as well as commentary on drone strikes and the emotional toll of covert ops) is all rife with potential. What Homeland needs to consider now, though, is how it handles the rest.
Episode Rating: B+
— That was a great, short conversation between Carrie and Saul when he told her she needed to clue Langley and the White House in to the conspiracy. She detailed how it would work, and why it wouldn’t be satisfactory, because it wouldn’t lead to any accountability. “That’s not in the job description,” Saul replies, but helps her anyway.
— When Saul brought up how Quinn was worried about Carrie’s lack of an emotional response to Sandy’s death, I thought he would finally address her bipolar and possibly her meds/therapy. Nope! Still remains the great unspoken of this season.
— The argument between Martha and Dennis about her career is essentially a gender swap of the problem faced by Saul and Mira. Although, Mira never plagiarized an entire chapter of a book, so.
— Sorry Franny, but I’m glad Homeland hasn’t tried to continue showing Carrie’s awkward Skype calls to home.
— “Who is speaking? Saul Berensen, private citizen? Saul Berensen, former CIA director? Or Carrie Matheson?” – the man Saul met with for breakfast.
— I like how John just casually mentioned that there’s a tunnel in and out of the building. Thanks, dick.
— Dennis gave an assignment on why Pakistan and the United States shouldn’t tell each other to f off, in less than 5 pages. How about ideas on Israeli/Palestinian peace talks in less than 3, maybe?
— Quinn’s arrival made for some great face-offs between him and Max (who seemed a little unsure of him — maybe because he seems him as a rival for Fara’s love? Is this all in my head?), as well as Quinn and Carrie, when he questioned her about the promises she had made to Aayan. Quinn also seemed a little jealous by the hug she gave Aayan … wait until he finds out the rest!
— I’m still intrigued by the conspiracy, who is behind it, and why it took place to begin with. I also like that Homeland is throwing us a lot of false leads and red herrings. Fun stuff.