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Review: ‘Homeland’ Season 4 Episode 4 ‘Iron in the Fire’ Sparks But Can’t Light

Review: 'Homeland' Season 4 Episode 4 'Iron in the Fire' Sparks But Can't Light

Immediate Reaction: 

See last week’s, but with a notable caveat. While Episode 3 only strongly hinted at the idea of Carrie starting another ill-advised romance (albeit under Quinn’s direction), Episode 4 put the redundancy right in our collective face. While it was nice to get a human moment from Carrie when she looked in the mirror and acknowledged the morally objectionable ruse she was about to start, using her sexuality to secure a source yet again keeps “Homeland” spinning in formulaic circles through its first four episodes. 

Still, the connections are starting to pile up in a rather satisfying fashion. Choosing to expose Sandy’s contact as the U.S. Ambassador’s husband helped tie things together tightly, and meeting him through the enemy’s perspective could make it explode. Saul’s tense meeting, especially his surprise and mild outrage at being frisked, also added tinder to the fire. While it hasn’t yet sparked, “Homeland” seems primed to at any moment — even if Carrie keeps spinning her wheels.

Best Classic “Homeland” Twist:

Remember the bombing that started this whole mess? You know, the one to assassinate a top target on the kill list? The dude so bad he’s worth taking out dozens of innocents? Yeah, he’s still alive!

I’m honestly curious if anyone saw that coming (please tell me in the comments) because I certainly didn’t. If the “Homeland” writers’ strategy was to lull me into a sense of gullibility, consider it done. While I stand by my accusations of Episodes 1-3 being a bit dull, they seem to have at least used that time to build up to a rather robust “gotcha!” moment. The sensation of having the rug pulled out from under my feet felt so good after three weeks without it, and now I think we all need to prepare for more. What’s next? Who’s not who they say they are? Who’s the cat and who’s the mouse?

The fact that Aayan was around and seems to be at least somewhat complicit in his uncle’s improbable survival leads me to believe he’s in on it. He’s 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. Wouldn’t it be something if he turned out to be conning Carrie instead of the other way around? Now that would be a classic “Homeland” twist.

Crazy Carrie Level: 2/10

Just to reiterate, this category is with the utmost respect and love for when Carrie completely loses her mind. It’s an important part of the “Homeland” dynamic. After all, when the lead of your show is a usually-unmedicated bipolar CIA agent, shit is bound to get wild. Yet there’s still no trace of those characteristics in Season 4. Carrie’s demeanor has shifted strongly, but only to one side. She’s cold, occasionally passionate, but always in control. It’s a bit troublesome, but not catastrophic. People suffering from bipolar disorder go through long periods of static behavior — now we’re just left wondering what will jolt her out of it.

We got a brief glimpse of one possibility at the end of “Iron in the Fire” when Carrie forced herself to seduce her new contact. I can’t shake that moment she had with herself in the mirror, knowing the path this would lead down and committing to it without letting herself have an opinion. She couldn’t look herself in the eye, as she did after Sandy’s death — perhaps now shaken by Quinn’s concern for her mental state (or remembering what happened the last time she got that close to a source).

MVP (Most Valuable Performer): 

Duck! Okay, I know it’s not Duck Phillips from “Mad Men,” the alcoholic account man and Peggy’s lover & low point, but Mark Moses was ideal casting for Dennis Boyd, a professor who stole government documents from his wife because…why? We may not know his motivations just yet, but I’m guessing they stem from a fractured marriage and his proclivity for taking the easy way out. (Plagiarism? Such a Duck move.) Again, the “Homeland” writers proved they know how to bring in relevant new players to the spy world. Aayan continues to be a keeper, and now they’ve introduced someone with compelling ties to the preexisting plot. Even though Duck, er, Dennis doesn’t seem long for this world, he’ll be an intriguing character for Carrie to break down.

Quote of the Night:

“What are you doing?”

I can only imagine Aayan asked the above question because Carrie’s seduction technique was the worst I’ve ever seen. Understanding her hesitancy to go through with it, the two characters could not have been less sexy while making the couch into a temporary bed/love-making space. Aayan likely had no idea what was going on as a true innocent or a clever manipulator, but Carrie is lucky she’s attractive. Otherwise there’s no way Aayan is going through with it. Needless to say, the final scene of Episode 4 will carry major consequences for both characters going forward. Who’s most affected will come down to who’s really being seduced.

Grade: B

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

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

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