WARNING — SPOILERS BELOW THROUGH EPISODE TWO OF SEASON 6
I caught the early-streaming Season Premiere of Homeland a couple of weeks back. That’s a thing now, apparently. Early access for streamers. Outside of the seismic loss of money at ESPN, probably nothing points to the decline of cable more than a channel rewarding people for buying the standalone package.
When I sat down to watch that first episode with Lady C, my mind was on the election and other miserable things and I had more or less forgotten everything about the last two or three kind of shoulder-shruggy seasons.
Oh yeah! There was this German philanthropist billionaire who I swore was a shady Richard Roper from The Night Watchman type of dude but ended up being okay. And oh yeah! He was business-in-love with Carrie. Like “I have been holding auditions for ideal partner and I think your politics are best suited to mine.” Ahhhh, there’s no love like Vulcan love.
What else happened?
No Brody. Obviously no Nicholas Brody. For some reason whenever I think of Homeland, my brain wistfully twangs back to Nicholas Brody. But he’s gone.
Right, because he dead. Dead as Abu Nasir. Dead dead. And no Nicholas Brody means no Dana Brody, so THANK GOD.
Obviously, Carrie. I mean, Homeland is Carrie. Like Claire Danes or not, and I absolutely DO, she is the show.
Yes, there’s Saul, a character who was so awesome for the first few years, but then they stopped knowing how to use him, and he ended up idiotically travelling alone in the Middle East and getting captured and being a human shield and watching a terrorist get busy with his missus. It was…dumb. Saul is dumb. I mean, sometimes he’s brilliant. Remember the whole subplot of he and Carrie faking her insanity?
You don’t get better than that. But since then, he’s just super-half-ass. He needs a David Estes motivational foil like you read about. Saul stabs Carrie in the back like 92 times and yet she still always shows up to save him. She’s loyal like that.
Y’okay there dummy? Wanna PB&J?
But mostly, I was psyched to see my boy Peter Quinn! Awwww yeah! The Jason Bourne of weekly pay TV.
HE IS SO FUCKING BADASS!
Bring it onnnnnn-
Oh, yeah. I forgot about that. The whole last season where they took the most kick ass Jack Bauer shadow ninja in America’s arsenal and turned him into a Carrie emotional plot device. And then they destroyed him. In a gas chamber. Oh yeeeeeah. They do that. They take beloved characters like Saul and they use them to only be the reason why crazy Carrie does anything. Last season there was actually a German boyfriend of Carrie’s! Remember that dude? Jonas I think? But he wasn’t really the love interest. Secretly, Otto was. Jonas’ boss. But the super-double-secret-probation love interest was Peter Quinn.
And then, he frothed.
And Carrie had to make a decision. Pull him out of hypoxia, whatever the hell that is…
…to see if he had game-changing intel, or let him recover. She pulled him out. QUINN! I NEED YOU TO WAKE UP!
And then he CHORKS BLOOD ALL OVER HIMSELF AND SHE GETS NO INFO.
It’s Carrie Mathison, so she wins anyway, but in making that choice, she destroys Peter Quinn.
And as we open season six, that’s where we are: paying for someone else’s glaring, selfish mistake. Sound familiar?
Oh Homeland! You puckish sprite, you! Here we think we’re signing up for Sicario and instead it’s a flourescent-bulb-lit documentary about the absolute worst day at a VA hospital. Where’s my popcorn? This is going to be exciting as balls!
But somehow, it’s still good. Homeland is still good. Inexplicably. It’s a solid show, even on off weeks or off seasons because of the fantastic character of Carrie and how Claire Danes brings her to life and makes faces like this:
But it still doesn’t always get the love it deserves. Because it always feels just short of that bar. Case in point: six seasons in and Pajiba doesn’t even have a Homeland category. We have a How I Met Your Mother category. Because every time Dustin probably thought about making one he probably winced and thought…ehhhhhhh I don’t know.
That’s basically Homeland in a nutshell.
This particular season starts out salt-on-the-wound painfully: with a female president-elect about to take power. I almost couldn’t get past that. It’s too fresh. But more than that, Carrie is SECRETLY ADVISING HER.
Which is where we hit our biggest problem. Because if you or I are Carrie, and we are — for the first time ever — in the ear of the president with no one in between and beholden to no one — what’s job #1 to make America safe?
Say it with me, friends:
YOU NEUTRALIZE DAR ADAL.
Now, I’m not saying you kill him. But you politically castrate him. You promote him to a public position. You have three surveillance teams on him around the clock and you know the size of his boxer briefs and when he uses the commode. You own him. Until you can trick some Mossad agent into stabbing him with a radioactive umbrella.
Dar Adal has been fucking everyone in the universe over since the Cold War. Dar Adal, when we first met him, was like this spectre that you dare not cross. A ghoul of Voldermortian stature where just the mention of his name made people nervous.
And now, shockingly, amazingly, for the first time, Carrie is above him on the food chain.
So that’s when you tether that motherfucker to a chariot and pull him around Troy. No, that’s not quite right. I actually liked Hector. But you get the point: Dar Adal is the most dangerous man on the planet, and not just to America’s enemies. Don’t talk to me about short range weapons or drone strikes in Qatar. Don’t talk to the President-Elect about the first amendment or unfair FBI agents. There’s a motherfucking Elder Dragon eating brie in your pantry. You can’t even BEGIN to think about anything across the pond until you clear your own damn 6.
TAKE. HIM. OUT.
Until Carrie wakes up to that reality - the certainty of how dangerous her fellow countryman is? Well, everything else is academic.