Monday, October 07, 2013

Homeland: Season 3, Episode 2

The Carrie-Brody relationship may be the face of the show, but the heart of "Homeland," and its secret weapon, has always been the relationship between Carrie and Saul. Now that that relationship seems to be on the rocks, the show feels strangely rudderless. Which is not to say that it actually is, only that it's a bit disorienting in how fast it's rewriting the rules of who's on whose side.

Saul says he's on Carrie's side, which both is and isn't bullshit. There's no question he's using her as a sacrificial pawn to save what's left of the CIA (unless you're one of the conspiracy theorists who think he's playing a deeper, long-con game to undermine it). At the same time, he's right that Carrie, in her present state, is her own worst enemy. That scene in which he manages to turn her own family against her says it all. It's cruel, but I don't think it's entirely cold-blooded calculation on Saul's part: he knows that Carrie's completely bonkers and that letting her run amuck poses as much danger to herself as to the CIA. His methods of containment may be morally questionable, but arguably not wholly unwarranted as far as Carrie's well-being is concerned.

Carrie doesn't think so, of course, and her final, whispered "fuck you" to her erstwhile mentor was far more wrenching than any of her previous confrontations with him. She's so consumed with his betrayal she barely registers the fact that she's acquired an unexpected ally in Peter Quinn, who appears to be questioning where his own loyalties lie. This threatens to put him at odds with his erstwhile boss, Dar-Adal (F. Murray Abraham), who in yet another realignment, appears to be in an uneasy alliance, or at least equipoise, with Saul. I couldn't help wondering if Saul didn't order Carrie's commitment to prevent Dar Adal from taking even more extreme measures.

Meanwhile, as one mental patient is (re)institutionalized, another finds herself adjusting to release, which feels to her like anything but freedom. The parallels between Dana and Carrie - as well as the points of divergence - are heavily underlined, as Dana, too, tries to convince a skeptical (albeit less hostile) audience that she isn't crazy. I continue to be profoundly uninterested in her semi-secret boyfriend, rain-soaked angst and laundry room sexcapades and all. But I did like her cathartic bathroom scene with her mother, even if her plaintive insistence that she's healed/healing is way too tied up in a probably ill-fated romance. Something uncomfortably familiar about that, too, no?

As for Carrie, I don't know where her narrative arc is headed, but I don't believe for a minute that Showtime will allow "Homeland" to sideline its lead, Emmy-winning actress. That said, it was interesting to watch a fresh female face, Farah(?), make a bid to fill the role of Saul's protegee. I liked the way the show introduced her, with no explanation - just the long tracking shot of a young woman in a head scarf entering the CIA, uncomfortably aware of the less-than-friendly stares of passersby, until she presents her credentials. Things get off to a rough start between her and Saul, with an ugly and uncharacteristic, frankly rather unbelievable bit of anti-Muslim bigotry from the latter that brings tears to the girl's eyes. But she ultimately proves her mettle, with a little assist from Peter Quinn's brand of persuasion. I'm looking forward to seeing her character further developed.

Random observations:

-Crazy credits are back! With a few changes. Most significantly, instead of Carrie's quivery "I missed something once - I can't, I won't let it happen again," we get “I'm not the one who got it wrong. I'm the only one who got it right!” I hope this isn't a portent of Carrie's trajectory, as I'm not sure I can take an entire season of wild-eyed, furiously self-righteous Carrie.

-Not sure what to make of Dana's folding herself on to dad's prayer rug. It wasn't quite an obeisance. Felt more like her trying to find some clue, any clue, to what could have turned her father, belying her assurances that she's moved on.

-Is there any significance to Saul telling Farah to keep her discovery of the "missing" transaction fees between themselves? Only if you're a Saul-is-evil conspiracy theorist.

-Line of the week: "I'm FUCKING zen!"


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