Tweetable Takeaway: Can “Homeland” handle its main character being the worst part of the show?
Airtime: Sunday at 9PM on Showtime
By: Gregório Back, Contributor
Seven episodes. That’s how long HOMELAND lasted without Brody. Granted, he wasn’t really back, considering it was all a drug-induced hallucination in Carrie’s deeply troubled mind, but still, there was that ginger hair back on our television screens once again. From a pure character perspective, the writers didn’t really have much of a choice regarding Brody (they backed themselves into this corner by keeping him alive well past his expiration date); Carrie had to, at some point, confront her emotions regarding his death, and the role she played in it. But even though I was well aware of the inevitability of this impending moment, I was still fearful of it, worried that, somehow, the writers would find way to resurrect their favorite ginger-haired Marine. Thankfully, Brody turned out to be nothing more than Carrie’s drug-addled hallucination, but even so, the writers still managed to find a way to sacrifice plausibility for the sake of a twist.
The revelation that it was, in fact, ISI agent Aasar Khan whom Carrie was embracing is completely incongruous with the conversation leading up to that particular moment. The things that “Brody” says to her simply don’t make sense if they were, in fact, coming from Khan. Why would Khan say things like “it’s ok, I’m here,” and “show me those eyes” to Carrie if he doesn’t know anything about her past with Brody? There is the possibility that perhaps Carrie just imagined those particular words being said, but, earlier in the episode, in a similar bout of hallucination, Carrie sees Quinn trying to hold her back in the hospital. In this particular instance, rather than imagining Quinn himself speaking to her, Carrie only sees Quinn’s image, and instead hears the words of the hospital security guard trying to get her under control. So, if her conversation with Brody later on was indeed entirely in her head, then there’s a major inconsistency here in the writing, with the writers sloppily choosing to go after a cheap twist, rather than working for plausibility and authenticity.
This issue with Carrie’s hallucinations continues a growing trend in this season of Homeland: Carrie’s storylines are, by the far, the worst part of the show. In this particular episode, entitled “Redux,” the best moments were undoubtedly the interactions between Saul and Hassan Haqqani, particularly the conversation they share as they eat dinner. Their discussion regarding the righteousness and virtue of their causes is not only tremendously compelling to watch, it also speaks to the problematic efficacy of the U.S.’s “War on Terror.” And while these two men fundamentally disagree, the fact that they can have a spirited, yet respectful conversation (the quiet tension in Saul and Haqqani’s talk was a welcome respite from Carrie’s incessant mania) about their beliefs highlights the murky waters in which the wars of today are fought on, with the U.S.’s campaign to fight terrorism in turn sparking more and more extremist militants. (A couple weeks ago, when Saul was captured, I discussed his calm and calculated demeanor, and how part of the reason why he was able to maintain that outlook was that he had never really been in harm’s way during the show’s run. Now a few episodes into true danger, Saul has maintained the resolution that has made him the heart and soul of the show, not only showing bravery in the face of death, but also giving us, as viewers, a steady foundation to latch onto.)
The frustrating part of this growing dichotomy in Homeland’s storylines is that the writers have clearly demonstrated an ability to develop interesting, compelling content, and yet they seem to be completely disconnected from their main character. Every single storyline involving Carrie this season has ultimately devolved into something frustrating to watch and, at times, even cringe worthy. Whether it be Carrie’s insufferable stubbornness or the writer’s incessant need to push her into some sort of romantic angle, Homeland has a clear cut Carrie-issue that it needs to address or else the show is not going to last much longer. At the end of last season, I thought that with Brody out of the way, perhaps the show could get back on track, and return to the things that made it so great in the first season. The more I watch it now though, the more I feel like maybe Carrie needs to go too.
Going forward, I don’t really know what to expect from Carrie, and to be totally honest, I don’t really care. To me, the best parts of the show now involve all the characters around Ms. Mathison, whether it be Fara and her struggle to fully detach herself from her moral core, or Saul and his resolute nature being tested as he tries to find a way to stay alive. It’s not normal for the worst part of a show to be its main character, but hopefully, everything going around Carrie will maintain its quality, because, right now, that’s the only reason to keep coming back to Homeland.
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.