When we last left Homeland, Carrie was pregnant with Nick Brody’s love child, while said congressman/terrorist was being
punished hanged in the middle of a public square? Or was he still drying out from heroin addiciton? I don’t even know, because my Showtime subscription ran out in the middle of the season and I had given up on this show after 2 seasons of pulpy romance smattered with occasionally thrilling CIA exploits. Not that any of that matters, because Homeland’s showrunners have taken Brody’s exit as an opportunity to refocus the show back on the CIA.
We pick up around a year later and Carrie is directing drone strikes in some CIA outpost in Pakistan, going about her day supervising drone strikes based on intel from Washington and being known around the office as ‘The Drone Queen’ as a her birthday cake tells us. She’s drinking away the pain of Brody’s death and her job with her nightly glass of wine and trips to the bar. In other words, Season 1 Carrie Mathison is back!
Meanwhile, Saul has been working for a private contractor and living with his wife in NYC, which seems to be his own version of hell. His wife imploring him to stick it out like he promised. Saul is the only bureaucrat that aches to return to a life of public service. The plot is set in motion when a drone strike takes out a wedding. Much governmental handwringing ensues over culpability. Tensions are ratcheted up when the lone survivor of the drone strike, a college kid, uploads footage of the strike to Youtube and a full-scale investigation is called for.
Corey Stoll, the tall, bald patsy from Season 1 of House of Cards, plays the CIA informant who provided the drone strike target. His identity gets released in the Pakistani media and before you know it, Carrie and company are in a full-scale street riot, with Stoll’s character meeting swift street justice and Carrie and Quinn barely escaping to the safety of the US embassy.
Part II and Carrie is stateside, brought home by the CIA to take the heat for this public relations nightmare. Carrie also gets to take the heat from her sister, who’s been saddled with raising Brody’s lovechild while Carrie is overseas. Carrie reuniting with her child is awkward to say the least. Her sister calls her out on using her job to hide from her responsibilities and that she’ll regret it in a few years when baby Brody needs his mom. Carrie promises to be there for her since she’s been called back stateside and to prove it takes the next day off to reaquaint mom with daughter. Just the usual feeding, bathing… and holy shit, near infanticide!
In this interview with EW, showrunner Alex Gansa makes it seem as if the scene was ambiguous, but it seemed to me she saw an awfully convenient way to solve the inconvenience of having a child, and came thisclose to solving it. It’s a genuinely scary scene because she seemed to be tempting herself with how far she could go.
Quinn, meanwhile is back stateside as well and is trying to forget what happened in Pakistan with massive amounts of alcohol, hookup sex with his heavyset landlady, and brawling with diner customers (ok, those guys were jerks, but geez). Talk about PTSD. Carrie finally decides she’s had enough of the domestic scene and works every angle she can to get back to the action in Pakistan. Ultimately, this means blackmailing the head of the CIA with knowledge of incriminating information that would have him hanging for treason for selling out his country.
I’m excited that Season 1 Carrie seems to be poking through the haze that was Seasons 2 and 3’s lovelorn caricature. I’m crossing my fingers that we’re in for a full return of the sex positive, bipolar, resourceful Carrie Mathison that drew me into this series. There has been speculation that Carrie and Quinn will hookup at some point, which I don’t know if I could handle. Certainly not if it means derailing the dramatic exploration of US foreign policy, CIA policy and its’ role in creating terrorists from the ashes of a wrongly-targeted bombing. As John Oliver points out, its become such a regular part of everyday life in the region.
Critiques of policy like this, even those wrapped in dramatic packaging, are still pretty rare. It’s definitely more richly dramatic than whatever S2 & 3 were trying to illustrate? Hopefully Gansa and his writers can keep focused on that and keep Carrie single for awhile.