Thank God Saul didn’t pull the trigger. I saw my life as it relates to watching “Homeland” flash before my eyes when he nestled the barrel of the pistol to his thicker-than-ever beard, and I couldn’t imagine a future without him. His decision, heavily influenced by Carrie’s misdirection, means a lot for the future of the show, whether he survives or not.
First, the good news: After Episode 8’s close call, it certainly seems likely Saul will survive the season (knocks on wood). But that leads us to the bad news. His heated screaming at Carrie as he was hauled back to his prison indicates the destruction of their already-tumultuous relationship. If he comes back after any sort of trade, he’ll be livid with Carrie for failing to carry out his wishes. The trust between them is gone. So we may get Saul back, but it won’t be like it was before he left.
Best Classic “Homeland” Twist:
Disregarding the “twist” that Saul didn’t kill himself, Episode 8 was awash with relatively-minor moments of tension building to one much-needed switcheroo at the end. “Halfway to a Donut” was very much about Aasar Khan (whose first name not-so-coincidentally has as many A’s in it as Carrie’s last double agent, Aayan). It started, technically, at the end of last week’s episode, when we discovered it was he who pulled her out of the cops’ grasp, but it wasn’t keep her from gathering any more information for terrorists. No, he saved her because he thought it was the right thing to do.
When Carrie discovered she’d been poisoned (more on that in the next section), he was adamant about telling her the truth. He didn’t do it, and he seemed rather disgusted that someone has (there are rules when it comes to intergovernmental espionage—who knew?). Outside of Saul’s escape, the most important moment of the episode came when Khan told Carrie who it was that drugged her. Buttoning up that leak will do wonders for the overall investigation, and hopefully they’ll be able to track Boyd (the ambassador’s husband) to Nasneem (terrorist Carrie).
Crazy Carrie Level: 0/10
After peaking last week, Carrie brought herself back to zero in “Halfway to a Donut.” (seriously, that title? I can’t get over it). It certainly helped that she realized someone had been messing with her meds, but that realization came about a little too conveniently for my taste. Yes, any CIA agent worth their salt should know when their erratic behavior results in hallucinations of long-dead lovers, they’ve probably been drugged. But shouldn’t she have thought of this earlier, perhaps the first time she had to leave the room and take a nap in the last episode? The “hold-on-a-second” instantaneous moment of clarity didn’t read as naturally as it should have, but it sure did work out well structurally.
Carrie not only remembered how to effectively do her job again—way to figure out the reasoning behind those smug smirks, Carrie!—but she also found her heart, and in doing so, her head. It may have gone against Saul’s wishes to lead him to the only safe alternative (enemy arms), but it certainly didn’t go against our desires as viewers. A headstone with Saul’s name on it is the last thing anyone wants to see, a blanket statement that finally includes the only previous outlier: Carrie.
In discovering her compassion again, Carrie also finally repeated back to Quinn what he’d been asserting all along. “How could saving someone’s life be the wrong choice?” Carrie said. “Because there are only wrong choices. I finally see it now. Nothing good can happen in this fucked up world we’ve made for ourselves.” You may be right Carrie, but holding that knowledge is the only thing that opens up the door for positive opportunities. Here’s hoping one includes Saul coming home.
MVP (Most Valuable Performer): Tracy Letts
Much-maligned after an ugly start in Season 3 (going along with an uneven season in general), Tracy Lett’s CIA Director Andrew Lockhart has had somewhat of an enjoyable rebound in Season 4. He still represents a rather simplistic approach to covert operations management, but that bluntness has been directed to a more useful purpose in Season 4: a viewer surrogate.
Lockhart’s outburst last week may have set relations with Pakistan back a decade or so, but it was exactly what we wanted to hear. Same goes for his gems this week, including when he was talking about what he’d promised Ambassador Boyd. “Transparency, teamwork… There was another ‘t.’ I forgot what the fuck it was.” Or how about when he told her, “They hate us. Good luck finding common interest in that.” Or even his general sentiment toward the Pakistani delegation, wanting to tell them to fuck off if they had saved Saul?
His antics may be inappropriate, bullish, and downright damaging 90 percent of the time, but when we’re staring across the table every week at the enemy and he’s the only one getting riled up, it’s hard not to enjoy a little blunt talk.
Quote of the Night:
“Escape or die.”
I know I said earlier it seems likely Saul will live now that’s avoided suicide—from a writer’s standpoint, it doesn’t make sense to dangle that carrot so dramatically only to hand it over again later—but there’s still the chance he’ll take his own life or otherwise be lost to us if a transfer is attempted. If Saul does still die—eep!—Carrie will be awash with grief, regret and even more confusion than she’s already facing, having subjected her moral compass to more torture, emotional turmoil, and the betrayal of his most-trusted protege and daughter figure.
Her promise will come back to bite her, one way or another.