Tweetable Takeaway: With Quinn on the loose in Islamabad, how will Carrie manage to bring him in, all the while dealing with another shocking twist?
Airtime: Sunday at 9PM on Showtime
By: Gregório Back, Contributor
Dar Adal? What? Where the hell did he come from? To be totally honest, I have no idea where HOMELAND is going with this. Last time we saw him, Dar Adal had Quinn’s forearm shoved against his throat, as he tried to “convince” his former black ops agent that retirement was not a viable option. And now, just like that, he’s right back in the thick of things, doing God knows what in Haqqani’s motorcade. Granted, there was a little bit of a plant earlier on in the episode during Carrie’s conversation with Lockhart, where the soon-to-be former CIA director mentions being kept out of the loop in some mysterious high-level meetings going at the White House. But even so, the last thing I expected to see was Dar Adal riding in a car alongside Haqqani. Are they working together? Or is this all part of a bigger plot that we are just now learning about? While this development certainly does raise a lot of questions, I’m still a little hesitant about its potential effectiveness going into next week’s season finale. To throw such a curve ball at the eleventh hour (no pun intended, even though this was the eleventh episode of the season) could be a troubling sign that the writers are running out of ideas for wrapping up this particular storyline, but so far this season the show has done a pretty good job of paying off all of its setups (while also abandoning some potentially misguided storylines, i.e. Carrie’s romantic trysts). If they can manage to do that here, not only explaining Dar Adal’s involvement, but also bringing Haqqani’s story arc to an effective close, then I can safely say that Homeland has effectively re-established itself as damn great television.
The other forty-plus minutes of this episode, entitled “Krieg Nicht Lieb,” was essentially a slow-burning game of cat and mouse between Carrie and Quinn, ultimately culminating in Carrie foiling Quinn’s attempted assassination of Haqqani (that moment felt a little bit like Dana talking down Brody at the end of season one). Now, while this back and forth resulted in plenty of exciting drama, to me, one of the biggest developments of the whole episode was Carrie’s approach to the situation at hand. For much of the show’s run, Carrie has been the loose cannon, the rogue agent breaking every rule in order to make things “right.” In this particular situation though, she was the exact opposite; she was the voice of reason to Quinn’s roguish ways. She essentially became what Saul had been to her for the three previous seasons (and a little bit of the fourth too): the person able to see the bigger picture.
To me personally, this particular development was extremely refreshing. Carrie’s desperado ways had grown more and more infuriating as she followed every stupid decision with an even stupider one, making her almost unwatchable as a main character. But the kidnapping of Saul forced something in Carrie to change; she was finally able to let go of her impulses, and instead allowed herself to think critically in difficult situations. Much like Quinn, she too wants Haqqani dead, but after banging her head against a wall for so long, Carrie finally understands that this whole espionage game is a marathon, not a sprint. A suicide mission at this point would eliminate one problem, but create ten more. With all that in mind, at the end of this particular episode, when Carrie reverts to her rogue ways and decides to kill Haqqani herself (after flashbacks of Aayan’s death), she earns that moment. In the grand scheme of things, no matter how balanced we may be, we are all susceptible to snapping, to giving in to our impulses in the most trying of situations. After holding it together for as long as she did, the sight of Haqqani finally sparked something in Carrie, and she decided to take matters into her own hands. Unlike so much of what she had done before (stupid and treasonous, all to protect Brody), Carrie’s impulses, in this particular case, were born out of unselfishness. So many of her prior actions had been self-serving and narcissistic, but this time though, Carrie acted in a selfless manner. Killing Haqqani in that moment would almost certainly result in her own death as well (and countless other problems too), but that was something she was willing to do in order to protect Quinn and avenge Fara and Aayan. Her actions were no less irrational, but at least they felt justified.
In keeping with Carrie’s development as a character, this episode also saw her continue to confront her emotions. While Fara’s death forced Carrie to do some introspection, her father’s death took things a step further. For much of the season, the question of how the writers would handle the untimely death of James Rebhorn (Carrie’s father) has hung over the show. With real world issues like that, if done incorrectly, the end result can often feel quite cheap and tasteless. But, in this case, the writers managed to successfully infuse real life events into the storyline, maintaining a certain dignity in doing so. As soon as Max mentioned that Maggie had called for Carrie, I knew the time had come, and to see Carrie be legitimately impacted by the loss of her father felt like a truly human moment. Even in the midst of all the chaos going in the world, the things that affect us the most are our personal losses, and even after watching her station be taken over by terrorists, the one thing that hits Carrie the hardest is the death of her father (I’m not sure about the timing, but there may have been a little bit of real life emotion in Claire Danes’ performance.) It was nice to see her take a break from everything and just allow herself to grieve. Early on in the season, I felt like the writers were taking Carrie’s character in the wrong direction, making her grow more and more detached from her emotions. The baby drowning accident was essentially the worst thing that they could have chosen for Carrie to do in her first post-Brody appearance. But things essentially came full circle in this episode, when Carrie sees her daughter for the first time in a long time, and allows herself to truly embrace her whirlwind of emotions.
Going forward, there are still a lot of questions left to be answered. Bringing Dar Adal back at this late stage is a dangerous game to play, but I’m hopeful that this latest twist is a continuation of the calculated surprises that we’ve seen for most of the season so far. And even though Quinn seemed to be the focal point of this past episode, I felt like Carrie was the driving force behind it all. Quinn essentially drove most of the plot, but it was Carrie who carried the heart behind it all. If the writers can maintain that balance, and successfully tie up their loose ends, the season finale will no doubt be a fulfilling final hour.
Gregório is a writer, director currently living in Los Angeles. He has written and directed four short films, and is currently working on his first feature film.