Homeland: About a Boy

Posted on October 28, 2014

Homeland-SEason-4-Episode-5-Television-Review-Tom-LOrenzo-Site-TLOClaire Danes and Rupert Friend in Showtime’s “Homeland”

 

As both a way to apologize for being a day late on this one (sorry), as well as an idea of what kind of show Homeland has become this season, we offer the following: Last night while talking about the schedule of posts for today, we kept saying things like “…and we have to get Carrie done.” “Carrie should be up by lunchtime or so.” “Did you get the picture for the Carrie post?”

You get the point. We’re not saying it’s a good thing or a bad thing. We presume we won’t know the answer to that question until the season is close to wrapping up. But either way, this is now The Carrie Mathison Show. Sure, Claire Danes has always been the star of Homeland, but when the show was at its best, she also had an equally as important co-star. We don’t long for the days of “Brody wuvs Carrie,” but we do miss the energy their back-and-forth brought to the show and the way a very tense and engaging (for a while) story was built around it.

But we’re not being fair here. There is quite a bit of story happening independent of Carrie, like all the stuff going on with Redmond, the Ambassador, and her husband. That’s certainly … dull. Sorry, but it feels like another show entirely; like some cheap 24 knockoff. Obviously, this is all part of the main story, but for now it feels very separate from Carrie’s storyline, even as it wound up in her apartment. Mark Moses’ acting style doesn’t fit with the tone of the show, making it difficult to feel much about him or anything he’s doing, we suppose. We figure the pictures of Carrie’s meds won’t turn out to be a great thing for her, but weren’t Carrie’s mental health problems all largely made public knowledge during that scam she and Saul ran last season that put her in a psych ward under lockdown? We don’t know. Everything in that corner of the story feels like one big shrug to us.

Similarly, the kidnapping of Saul strikes us as pretty nonsensical and uninteresting. We have to buy not only that the former director of the CIA can be kidnapped in public that easily, but that Saul would be so stupid as to follow a suspect in a CIA operative’s murder case into a bathroom with no backup or weapon or even letting anyone know what he’s doing. The script needed Saul in the trunk of Peugeot by the end of the episode, therefore Saul must act like an idiot in order to get him there. Bah. Like the Ambassador and her husband, this will all come back to Carrie in some explosive way, we’re sure, but for now it feels like a silly conceit to add tension to a season that, so far, has been lacking it.

Carrie’s storyline with Aayan, and to a lesser extent, with Quinn is the driving force here, and it’s working for us. As an avatar of the U.S. War on Terror (which is what Carrie’s always been), she’s being exploitive, manipulative, dishonest, and uncaring about the consequences of her actions on the people in whose country she undertakes them. It’s deeply painful to watch, in part because Danes is so willing to look like an asshole. And because Aayan comes across so virginal and from a culture far less forgiving about pretty blonde ladies having sex with much younger men to whom they aren’t married, the tension is high and it’s hard not to think that this could get either of them killed. On the sidelines, you’ve got Quinn and Fara being all awesome spies and shit when they’re away from Carrie. But the minute he gets near her, he gets extremely moralistic and annoying. “Where’s the line, Carrie?” We don’t know, Quinn, but she’s well in front of the one marked “killing children” so why not keep your moralizing to yourself? Not that we’re defending Carrie, but it seems like everyone on this mission is a hair’s breadth away from losing control of their emotions.

That entire paragraph works beautifully as the main story for the season. We know Saul and Mr. Ambassador’s Husband are part of that, but they feel so peripheral and to be honest, the stakes just don’t seem as high as they should. We’re in setup mode, so for now, for us, it’s The Carrie Show. 

 

 

[Photo Credit: David Bloomer/SHOWTIME]

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