All season long, Danielle Kurtzleben and Tierney Sneed will be recapping Showtime's "Homeland," and discuss what they're hoping to see in the rest of the season.
Tierney: Crazy Carrie is back in full force, with Claire Danes gunning for an Emmy three-peat. But I am more shocked by Saul's transformation. For two seasons, he was the character I trusted the most on this show. Now, in two episodes, he is the character I trust the least. There were times that I thought I saw old Saul in there – like in his face, when Dar Adal told him he was "going to stop" Carrie. But that slight he made to Fara about her head scarf was abhorrent and seemed completely out of character.
Then there's that speech he gave to Peter Quinn: "We're on to something. And if it leads to where I think, it will have been worth it ... Have a little faith."
You know it's bad when Peter , who's as sketchy as they come, is doubting your prerogatives.
Danielle: Agreed. Saul's transition is a wide swing – weirdly wide, I'd even say. Since he's been such a sympathetic (and sympathizing) character until now, is our rationale as viewers supposed to be that the pressures of being the boss are getting to him? Not only taking him off of Team Carrie, but also making him a racist? I want a little more of a view of what's going on with him.
I can't say my inclination to give Saul the benefit of a doubt is entirely gone though. When he tells Peter he has a plan, I believe him, but I think there are consequences he doesn't remotely foresee –completely alienating both Carrie and Peter, for example.
Speaking of Peter, I can't tell if the show is luring us (and, if your new-romantic-interest theory is right, luring Carrie as well) into trusting him, only to reveal later that he is as sketchy as we always thought he was. Or maybe his newfound compassion (going to Carrie's hearing, expressing worries to Saul) is genuine.
Non sequitur: So do we get Brody back next episode?
Tierney: I kind of hope not – at least not yet. I know he has to come back eventually, but "Homeland" should wait as long as it can to play that card. This season has done a great job of exploring the characters closest to Brody in his absence, particularly Dana. She appears to be on a Crazy Carrie streak on her own: running away in the rain, having a tryst with someone she shouldn't be seeing, pulling the old "let's run away together" sentiment (but with appliances, I guess). Yet she had some really wise words for her mother: "I am not crazy and in case you're wondering, neither are you. Dad was crazy."
Self-blame has become the characters' primary source of motivation – for better or worse – this season, from Carrie quitting her meds to Peter and the 9-year-old. It was refreshing to see Dana willing to give herself a break about the awful situation her father put her in. But that doesn't mean she has abandoned him entirely, at least emotionally. When she found his prayer mat, it reminded me of that scene last season when she helped him bury the Quran. How do you cope with the people you love doing terrible, terrible things? That seems to be at the heart of everybody's struggle right now.
Danielle: That one line of Dana's – "I'm not crazy and neither are you" – did so much to redeem her (and the way her character is written) for me. We're watching her on an after-school-special-worthy path of self-destruction, and yet despite her constant bad choices, she still has more sense in this one way than even the adults around her. So does she end up pregnant, disgraced when her nudie photos are spread around, or both?
Also, as long as we're talking about Dana, I'm digging the glimmers of her relationship we're getting with Chris this season. The way Chris protects Dana – even from their mom – is sweet, and their reunion after she came back from the hospital was touching, if badly written ("Dingus"? Really?). I do hope this guy eventually gets a character arc of some kind.
OK, back to your initial Fara comment, before I forget. I think what we might have here is Saul's new Carrie, despite their head(scarf)-butting. He has a new, intelligent, volatile protegee, and if/when Carrie comes back to the CIA, the jealousy might just drive her crazier. Meaning more Emmy-fodder but also more of a season that already seems bent on dragging poor Carrie through hell.
Tierney: As I mentioned, Saul's head scarf jab really rubbed me the wrong way, but I can see the way he mentored Carrie in his other tough-love tactics he's using with Fara. He also told Fara that she should keep her mission "between us," just like he and Carrie's Nick Brody operation was off the books. Considering the political fallout he is facing over that, you'd think he would learn his lesson about secrecy – even in the CIA. I don't know if I would call Fara volatile. If anything, she seems a little green, a little sensitive, but she has kept a cool head. She's Carrie's replacement but also her foil, and not just in personality. Physically Fara is diminutive, dark skinned and traditionally dressed, where Carrie is this brash, all-American blonde.
Carrie's breakdown is painful to watch. There's things I know she's right about, but when she says them it still sounds like the crazy talking. And now there's Peter's newfound loyalty. Has he always held her in this esteem or is it a result of him killing the child?
Danielle: You are absolutely right when you say that Carrie sounds crazy, even when she's telling the truth, and bravo to Claire Danes for that.
But I'm not sure it's Peter so much suddenly holding Carrie in greater esteem as that he now holds the CIA and his work in lower esteem, now that he has killed a child in the line of duty. Maybe the operation humanized him a bit, meaning that he does things like talk back to Saul and threaten bankers. Perhaps aside from this being the season of coping with terrible things, like you said, this is also the season of going rogue (Peter, Dana, Carrie).
For sure, the episode left everyone in a pretty awful place. I personally can't wait to see if the next episode digs a deeper hole or shows a bit of mercy.