“So you want to go off your meds? Is that what you’re saying? To try to figure this out?”
“I’ve already gone off them.”
If only Carrie had stuck with her first answer. From the second the above words were spoken, everyone watching “Homeland” knew things were about to get absolutely wild, and Carrie did not disappoint. Starting off by emotionally crippling her far-too-nice boyfriend and ending with a rifle battle in the woods, “Super Powers” brought back the Carrie most “Homeland” fans remember, for better or worse. Those standing behind the episode — as I find myself leaning — will undoubtedly champion another off-the-rails performance from Claire Danes and rightfully so. The Emmy-winner marked her territory with an hour of slow-developing character deconstruction. As Carrie dug deeper and deeper into the hole of her own making, sifting through past sins in order to protect herself in the future, she very clearly lost herself — or at least the self she’s been building over the past two years.
Jonas’ accusatory bewilderment climaxing with, “I don’t know how you live with yourself,” clearly reminded Carrie of all her worst fears. She’s been making it her sole endeavor in life to find a way to do just that, and now her closest adult connection is flabbergasted she’s been able to pull it off. It’s not something you want to hear from your live-in boyfriend, especially when you’re in an emotionally fragile state. At 167 names, it’s hard to blame him for being shocked by the “Drone Queen,” but part of me still blames him for not keeping it together for Carrie. This could be a sign she needs someone stronger, or it could just be the fallout from an experiment gone horribly awry.
Yet even with such dense development at its core, “Super Powers” still left audiences with questions in need of an immediate answer: What is Quinn planning to do with Carrie? He didn’t kill her outright, so why is he there? To protect her from whoever hired him? To question her before finishing the job? And who sent him in the first place? Saul was looking for Carrie, not calling for her head. The first two episodes of the new season established a fresh premise with a changed Carrie, but Season 5 just took a riveting turn toward vintage “Homeland.”
Best ‘Homeland’ Twist
Even with everything going on between Quinn and Carrie, I was most taken aback by Saul and Allison Carr being in a relationship. After multiple heated back-and-forths, done largely in private, it’s head-scratchingly perplexing why the two would be going through such drastic motions — firing her; Allison going to Dar Adal; Saul saying he’ll fire her again; Allison keeping her job — just to hide their romantic connection. Saul may be working an angle, but so far the only person he’s played is Dar Adal — and the two appear closer than ever before! We’ll certainly be tracking this relationship, as it doesn’t exactly seem built to last.
Crazy Carrie Level: 10/10
Twitching? Check. Shouting? Check. Hallucinations? Check. Paranoia? Check. Fight with her boyfriend? Check. Snorting caffeine up her nose to “get me there faster”? Check. Vodka pulls? Check. Talking to photos on the wall? Check. Going full Rambo into the woods with only a rifle for survival? Check. Outsmarted by a dude (supposedly) trying to kill her? Check.
Jazz music…wait, where was the jazz music? Aw, man. We were so close to cranking it all the way up to 11.
MVP (Most Valuable Performer)
I mean, it’s got to be Claire Danes, right? For all the reasons listed above, summing up to the inarguable fact Danes keeps Carrie grounded. She’s believable not only as an authentic human being, but also as a broken killing machine trying to put the parts back together for a better purpose. Some have said “Homeland” is taking on something akin to anthology structuring post-Brody; Carrie was assigned a mission last year, a new mission this year and will keep getting fresh challenges in coming seasons. That’s too dismissive for me to buy into, given the character-building going on not only for Carrie, but for Saul and Quinn, as well.
Saul has become the mature, seasoned version of what Carrie was heading toward last year. Otto — Carrie’s boss at the foundation — said, “He seems like a man used to getting his way.” While the statement itself was a little on the nose, it’s nonetheless true. Framing Saul as someone who’s been given (or has taken) too much power for too long is as intriguing as it is distasteful, especially when pairing such a position with someone still seeping with righteous anger over his brush with death last season. Saul — the most likable man in the world for two seasons — is suddenly becoming an enemy to our main protagonist. Firing innocent men. Plotting an assassination with Dar Adal. Tracking Carrie like a terrorist. It’s dangerous territory, but also a bold and exciting development.
How Carrie responds to Quinn next week will be telling for both of them. Carrie will come face to face with the one remaining part of her past left unblemished. Quinn always looked out for her. He kept her from killing Saul. He kept her from adding more names to the list of 167. He tried to get her out of the service in general. But given where she’s at now — after four days off her meds and spitting fire at those closest to her — there’s no telling what she might do. Thankfully, we can always count on Danes to keep her on solid ground.
Quote of the Night
Carrie’s above admission was frightening for two reasons: First, she’s still dealing with a massive amount of guilt, despite finding religion and properly caring for her daughter. Those good deeds have not assuaged her past mistakes. But it’s also a sign she hit a dead end. Even after her grand experiment, Carrie couldn’t crack the case of who, exactly, is after her. She’ll need Quinn’s help next week. Here’s hoping she knows how to ask.
On a related note: Aayan’s (Suraj Sharma) return via hallucination was such a welcome sight. Yes, it’s always good to see the talented Sharma working, but it created a pattern for Carrie that helps not only this season, but last year, too. When Damian Lewis made his surprise cameo via hallucination in Season 4, many thought it a cheap ploy for shock and awe. Now, though, it appears hallucinations are part of Carrie’s mental breakdown when she goes long enough without her meds. I’m not saying they should bring Brody back again, but at least if they did, now there’s proper precedent.