Tension Ranking Last Night's 'Homeland': The Quinn, The Saul, and the Ugly Crying
Bravo, Homeland. Under the gun over just how it can go on without Brody and having to endure our weekly complaining about the travails of a family left behind, the poorly titled “Uh…Oh…Ah…” found a way to shut us up. It was a tight episode filled with tension, emotion and enough nervous feelings about Saul to be truly upsetting. Yes, Dana snuck away and did her thing with pretty boy Leo on the laundry room floor, but she also faced down both her mother and her own feelings in a refreshingly realistic way. The girl has a way with cutting to the truth. Do we care? Maybe not right now, but if we follow the possibility trail, these moments of trying to find a connection between her childhood memories and the man she now calls psycho dad—what if they document the beginning of Dana following in her father’s footsteps? Gansa and Co. are sensitive to the Season 2 criticism, and yet Dana had a serious presence this episode. Call it a longshot, but perhaps we’re seeing the birth of a radical. On to more interesting things…
Quinn: He’s been intriguing from the moment we met and over a short period of time, has evolved into one of the most interesting characters. Rippling off the Carrie/Brody explosion, he’s sidled right up next to Saul, but moves in his own unpredictable groove. We wanted to label him the cold, black-ops killer without a soul; Quinn’s not having that shit. He’ll do his job, but like the best of his kind—like Breaking Bad’s Mike—Quinn has his own lines, and he’s not happy when forced to cross them. We’re not surprised when he shows up at the psychiatric ward to warn Carrie to be careful; he’s worried she’ll get hurt. We’d expect him to deliver a threat to the banker who won’t cooperate with the CIA. But when he drops by to tell Saul he’s not comfortable with the way things are being handled; that he’ll be leaving after the mission is completed—that? That was a delightful surprise. Quinn is the guy you want next to you in a bunker, and he’s also the guy you don’t want to piss off. You hear me, Saul?
Saul: The moment I crumbled to the floor came too soon—my reaction to Saul’s response to transactions specialist Fara Sherazi’s (Nazanin Boniadi) assertion that the bank records she’d gone through provided no connections to Iran: “You wearing that thing on your head is one big fuck you to the people who would have been your co-workers, except they perished in a blast right out there. So if you need to wear it, if you really need to—which is your right—you’d better be the best analyst we’ve ever seen, and don’t tell me that means there’s nothing.” We’ve seen Saul under pressure a few times, but we’ve never seen him like this. Last week we could rationalize him being backed into a corner and guiltily throwing out Carrie as the obvious scapegoat. This time around, Saul barely blinks when Dar Adal informs him Carrie’s gone to the press, and Adal is going to stop her. Just a terse nod, and we’re onto the next thing; bringing in the bank heads who continue making wire transfers for Iranian trading companies after being ordered to cease and desist. Though it was at first unclear whether or not Fara had uncovered real information (rather than merely answering Saul’s demand for an Iranian link to the money trail), Saul’s nastiness got him what he wanted. The question is, who is the real Saul (and are we sure we really want to know)?
Th Ugly Crying: Bitch all you like about Carrie’s broken, twisted countenance; I’ll keep throwing Emmys at Claire Danes. The fact of the matter is that if there ever was a situation like this—if it could happen—this is how it would play out. The CIA would do everything being done to Carrie; her mental illness would be exploited, she would react just as she did, it would look like a psychotic episode to anyone outside the situation, and the whole fucking mess would be as heartbreaking as this episode was. To its credit, Homeland explores both sides of a coin so well, we can’t pick a side. Without standing on a soapbox and not having experienced anything worse than cold or allergy meds that make me feel spacey, I can understand Carrie’s dilemma. She can’t think the same way when she’s on her meds. Thorazine might wrestle her bipolar demons but she loses the clarity she needs, the sharpness of her senses—everything that makes Carrie good at her job. And while as an audience we’re able to see that, it’s also completely clear how off the wall she looks to everyone else. To the authorities, to the doctors, even to her family, Carrie is out of control; the decision to medicate is out of her hands. That bit at the end, when Danes couldn’t get control over her facial muscles to say “Fuck you” to Saul? That right there was all the motherfucking Emmys.
Episode Tension Level: Code yellow (7 out of 10)
Those photos of Damian Lewis (the hair!) Dana was looking over toward the end of the episode…hysterical.
To expand on my idea about Dana; it’s clear from the last scene that she’s trying to find a connection to the father she used to know. She sees him in the photos, but doesn’t understand who he is now. The only link—physcial or otherwise—she has to him now is his prayer mat. So, perhaps she seeks out his religious beliefs as solace, and as a way to feel connected to him, and perhaps that leads her somewhere she never intended to go.
Regardless of whether Gansa and Howard have big plans for Dana, we don’t need any more laundry room scenes. That was just stupid.
F. Murray Abraham continues to be brilliant as the cold and calculating decision maker Saul struggles to be.
In case you hadn’t heard or caught it, Carrie’s notebook scribbling had a Princess Bride reference: “You killed my son—prepare to die.”