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Review: ‘Homeland’ Season 4 Episode 5 ‘About a Boy’ Threatens the One Person We Hold Dear

Review: 'Homeland' Season 4 Episode 5 'About a Boy' Threatens the One Person We Hold Dear

Immediate Reaction:

I understand events took place in Episode 5 after Saul was kidnapped from the airport bathroom and thrown in the trunk of a car Fara walked right past on her trepidatious attempt to follow the rabbit, but I don’t really care. It’s all about Saul. What will they do with him? When will Carrie & Co. realize he’s gone? Where will he end up, and, most importantly, is he the next victim on the “Homeland” kill list?

Another high profile death doesn’t seem in the cards for a show still trying to find its new footing, but putting Saul in peril is one heckuva great dramatic decision. Carrie is completely lost in this Aayan thing, possibly overlooking him as the credible threat he poses (more on that in a bit) and definitely neglecting her responsibilities. Quinn is right to come after her, even if he’s only partially doing it for the right reasons — can we please put the ixnay on this Carrie/Quinn romance? — because she’s repeatedly hung her team out to dry. Quinn can probably handle himself, but Fara is as green as they come and we’ve already seen how dangerous this area can be even for hardened vets. 

I don’t want Saul to be gone for long, but a focused and fearsome Carrie is what we need — and what we’ll get — as soon as she finds out her mentor has been taken.

Best Classic “Homeland” Twist: 

I hate to bring up Saul again — and by that I mean I’d love to — but his kidnapping was a pretty exquisitely constructed twist. From the moment Saul spotted Farhad Ghazi at the airport, things kicked up a notch. Instead of living on the sidelines, Saul was back in the game with eyes on the target. Ghazi did an excellent job of not noticing he was being followed, while Saul fumbled it just enough for us to believe he might have been spotted — kudos to Michael Offer’s direction and the editing team. 

By the time Saul entered the bathroom, my level of suspicion was low. Saul had already phoned ahead to tell someone else to pick up Ghazi at his connecting airport. He wasn’t going to keep him from boarding, so risk to our favorited bearded ex-CIA head was minimal. Then two men walked in after Ghazi, and they came back out without him. Saul stepped inside and saw Ghazi appear with a deathlike stare fixed directly on him. Next thing we know Saul’s been stabbed in the neck and abducted for God knows what reason. This cleverly crafted twist made for the first sit-up-and-scream moment of Season 4. 

Crazy Carrie Level: 4/10

Carrie’s crazy levels were at moderate level in Episode 4, but her inactivity spoke volumes. We still haven’t seen the scene we’ve been craving — bug-eyed, hair-a-fluster, spit-dangling Carrie screaming at someone to LISTEN TO HER — but she’s clearly losing it. How else do you explain bedding a college student after the catastrophe that occurred the last time she implemented the tactic? (yes, I’m referring to her baby as a catastrophe). She’s gone in so deep with Aayan, she’s no longer watching out for her team.

Moreover, Carrie is losing her sense of self. Her tears during an ill-advised second sexual encounter proved how she was really feeling about the seduction, and it’s not that she’s “so happy” to be with him. She’s miserable, lost, and frustrated. Carrie may not be letting herself show it, but those feelings are going to come out sooner or later. The kettle is getting ready to boil, and I’m betting the whistle will go off when she finds out Saul is gone and/or Duck took photos of her kid/pills. Shit will hit the FAN.

MVP (Most Valuable Performer): 

I’m just going to lay it out there: I think Aayan is a spy for his uncle. Here’s why:

1) As I said last week, “[Aayan is] too smart, too careful, and too damn innocent not to be hiding something more. No one grows up in that household with that family and maintains that much big-eyed purity.” 

2) He told Carrie he didn’t want to fool around with her again, and then immediately turned against his principles and slept with her. Maybe I just can’t get over how terrible her original seduction tactics were, but this whole “seduction” seemed far too easy. He may be young. He may not know better. He may be confused, but he’s also got more important things to worry about than a new romance. Bedding her a second time seems more like a move by Aayan to keep Carrie thinking she’s in control than the other way around.

3) Aayan let it slip far too quickly his uncle is still alive. Even if he is blind to the trouble he’d be in for talking to anyone about his uncle or his family business, he gave up that golden goose pretty quickly — and just because Carrie has a kid? Her confessional felt authentic because it was while Aayan’s felt forced because it was, too. Also, it would be easy to see Saul’s words of caution to Carrie as just that — a mentor telling his protege how hard a task she has in front of her. Yet you could also argue he was telling her to be wary of a kid coming clean too quickly, perhaps prodding her to ask, “Why?”

4) The ISI is so on top of everything they were able to kidnap an ex-CIA chief without missing a beat. They track the ambassador’s husband to a bar and interfere with his ramblings at the exact moment he was about to cross the line. There is simply no way with their intricate network that they’d let this kid wander around unnoticed. They know he’s with Carrie. They know who Carrie is and what she does for a living. They’re using Aayan to get information out of her.

5) This is “Homeland.” Trust no one.

Quote of the Night:

“I’m recruiting someone.”
“Really? Because to me it looks like you’re fucking a child.”

Quinn brought up the contentious issue of Carrie’s new love toy in such a direct manner it made one thing perfectly clear: the writers know exactly what line they’re skirting. Many fans were upset last week that Carrie did what she did not because we’ve seen it before, but because Aayan is too young for such treatment. Some went as far as to call is “sexual assault,” and Aayan’s undefined age (which I don’t remember being explicitly given) makes a statutory rape charge possible (though highly unlikely).

Yet now they’re drawing attention to exactly that issue, and from the show’s embodied conscience, no less. As much as I wasn’t a fan of watching a retread of the Carrie/Brody dynamic, including the above exchange in the follow-up episode sounded like a direct message to fans: we know what we’re doing. Trust us.

I will, especially after a week like this one.

Grade: A-

EPISODE 4 REVIEW: ‘Homeland’ Season 4 Episode 4 ‘Iron in the Fire’

EPISODE 3 REVIEW: ‘Homeland’ Season 4 Episode 3 ‘Shalwar Khameez’

EPISODE 1 & 2 REVIEW: ‘Homeland’ Season 4 Episode 1 (‘The Drone Queen’) and 2 (‘Trylon and Perisphere’)

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