“What the fuck. What the fucking fuck!”
Andrew Lockhart is becoming the go-to diegetic fan stand-in with his blunt reactions to the insane events happening in “Homeland.” The above quote summed up my own reaction to “There’s Something Else Going On,” and I had even been provided the foreshadowing so obvious in the episode title. What seemed like an emotionally deep, but twist-light ninth episode turned into a eleventh-hour shock fest with RPGs taking out two of the three black SUVs and Haissam Haqqani breaking into an American Embassy devoid of Marine protection.
Though the editing was quick and hard to get an immediate read from, it did appear the front and rear vehicles took the brunt of the damage, leaving the SUV carrying Saul and Carrie caught in between. Whether or not they’re about to get hit, hijacked, or left to fend for themselves is almost irrelevant given what’s going on in the embassy, but we’ll be waiting with eager anticipation for Carrie’s first status report next week.
Best Classic “Homeland” Twist:
Two things are necessary for a plot twist to really land: First, it has to be a surprise. If you see the twist coming, it negates its purpose and is more of a development than a twist. Just as importantly, though, the twist must be justified by what precedes it. This is the difficult part. Anyone can make something unexpected happen, but preparing the audience to absorb it without giving it away is where things get tricky. What makes “Homeland” one of the best show’s on television—and after tonight, it would be hard to argue against that claim—is how it can pull twist after twist, time after time, and still make each one genuinely shocking and grounded.
Every once in a while they stray from the path, such as when Brody “came back” a few episodes back. For the most part, though, “Homeland” continues to surprise us, and it certainly did with Haqqani’s invasion of the American Embassy in Episode 9. The only tip I can think of is the one Dennis Boyd tells Martha right before the raid: Nasneem asked how Carrie was getting in and out of the embassy, not just to track and drug the dangerous CIA agent, but so Haqqani could exploit that same path for his own access. Using Saul, Carrie and the arranged swap as a distraction, the terrorists have entered the compound. How—or if—they leave will no doubt be “Homeland’s” next great twist.
Crazy Carrie Level: -1/10
Last week I said Carrie had come back down to zero on the crazy scale in part because she finally saw the world she’d helped create as one with only wrong choices. After an agonizing seven episodes—and arguably, three-plus years—Carrie had come to terms with what she did in a healthy, responsible manner. At last, she understood.
This week, though, she made someone else understand. In saving Saul’s life, Carrie pointed out things even I as a mere spectator struggled to parse out, despite my distance from the tumultuous situation at hand. When Saul was ready to give himself up in order to halt the prisoner exchange, Carrie made him take responsibility for the life of a boy even the morally-sound ex-CIA director had already written off. “Fourteen years and this is what’s it’s come to: asking a child to blow you up for fucking what? This is not who you are. This is not who we are,” Carrie said. “No more dying. I want to go home.”
With those words she saved the boy, Saul, and herself, but it was the words more than the actions that truly touched this viewer. It may have taken some drastic mistakes—some nearly catastrophic—but our heroine is finally thinking clearly. She truly heard Mira, and not as the desperate wife she may have sounded like. “Before the CIA, I’m asking you to remember normal life,” Mira told a visibly stricken Carrie. “I love him, Saul, my husband, and I believe you do, too.” These words resonated with Carrie as much as her speech later did with Saul. Now let’s just hope they’re both alive to do something about it.
MVP (Most Valuable Performer): Laila Robins
Frankly, I’ve been waiting to give Laila Robins her due since Day 1, when she shot straight shit with Quinn about the state of Homeland Security. It may have taken too long to pay proper heed to her work in Season 4, but it couldn’t come at a better time. In this episode, Robins completely sold me as the defensive wife out to protect her husband from the injustices of a crazy CIA agent. She fits the part, frankly, even if she’s been suspicious of her heavy-drinking hubby for weeks now. So when she busted into the room, I didn’t give her intentions a second thought.
It’s a minor twist and one most of you probably saw a mile away, but the scene’s predictability doesn’t take away from Robins’ performance. She’s found strength in the strangest places as Martha, the focused American ambassador with a peaceful mission and a threatening presence. She’s been especially effective even while handicapped, serving as the buzzkill for Lockhart, who just wants to kill the entire Pakistani delegation, and being the clueless wife to a drunkard. Here’s hoping she’s a lasting character for “Homeland” (meaning we hope Haqqani doesn’t kill her next week).
Quote of the Night:
After all the impressive dialogue listed above—”No more dying. I want to go home” stands out—as well as a few meaningful outbursts (see the top graph), it may seem like a cheat to pick Carrie’s basic command to Saul as the quote of the night. Yet the words resonate for more than just this episode: They’re going to be needed come Episode 10, as well.
Right before the RPGs hit, Carrie convinced Saul to talk to his wife and generally man the hell up. He’s gone through an impossible physical and mental strain, but if anyone can come back from it, it’s Saul. He reassured us as much when he confidently slipped his glasses back across his face. It was a quiet, connective moment for the mentor and protege, as a baton of sorts had passed just moments earlier.
Now both will need to stay on their feet if they want to “go home” alive.