Homeland Review

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What I need to believe is you’re protecting Franny. I had such a good feeling, seeing the two of you together. It was the best feeling I’ve had in a very long time. – Carrie Mathison

This week’s Homeland was unquestionably the most intense and dramatic episode of the season, providing some harrowing moments to be sure. I had conflicting thoughts while watching it, however, and because I couldn’t entirely separate them from the tension on screen, I don’t know how I felt about the hour from a story perspective.

Peter Quinn is dealing with severe PTSD, and it affects how he moves, how he thinks, how he acts and reacts, how he eats, how he sleeps, how he breathes. I have never experienced anything like it, and have never personally known anyone who has it, so it’s difficult for me to comment with any degree of expertise. I’m a television critic, not a military analyst. I can only view Quinn through the prism of whether it works for Homeland as a work of fiction.

With that said, a few weeks ago I was contacted by a United States Army Retired Sergeant First Class officer, who had been in direct contact with Sarin gas and also continues to work through serious PTSD concerns. He’s spent a lot of time explaining certain things to me, and he’s said the depiction of Quinn has been quite accurate, despite my belief it hasn’t been entertaining.

My feelings remain largely the same, though what he’s told me has had an impact. Last night, he wrote to talk about this week’s episode, and though his letter was long, a few things he said should be mentioned. One point he made was that soldiers get used to following orders, and doing the job asked at any cost. Under PTSD symptoms, when Carrie Mathison tells him to watch over Franny until the nanny arrives, she’s telling him to keep her daughter safe. He alone is responsible for her well being during that time frame. Every action he takes afterward is to protect Franny Mathison, and by proxy her nanny, and Carrie gets included when she returns home amidst the near war-zone. He was trained to keep the innocent out of harm’s way, and whether his means were proper, they weren’t as outlandish as a naked viewing of the episode might otherwise indicate.

I still believe Homeland would be much better off had Quinn died via the Sarin, as Carrie’s actions would be in remembrance of him, as opposed to us watching very odd scenes that aren’t easy to process for ordinary people. Adding in the thoughts of this soldier, the question I have to ask is whether or not the general public actually understands any of this, or just watches the show and sees how utterly ridiculous so much of what happened during this episode was on the surface. From grabbing the female reporter by the throat and tossing her down a flight of steps in front of a crowd, to actually shooting a man in front of said crowd for throwing a rock through a window, to taking a tactical officer hostage, to making Latisha scared for her life. What he’s doing, he thinks he has to do, but the entire situation felt so heavy handed and overdone. Furthermore, to a layman, it comes across as really stupid.

Somewhere around 80 percent of the episode was Peter Quinn’s very bad day, with a few scenes of Elizabeth Keane, and one sequence with Dar Adal and Saul mixed with a few of Carrie trying to get to the root of the Sekou truth. However, as we hear Berenson mention that Mossad might have been engaged in a sham, designed to snow him over, let’s not forget one thing about this season of Homeland. The Americans are the evil ones here, as are their allies.

All you need to see is that the opposing side is being presented, and now has been in two of five episodes, through various audio or video snippets of an Alex Jones ripoff. Folks, that’s not how the vast majority of the country thinks, including the right. InfoWars is in no way representative of anything, other than a way to push that the anti-Hollywood side is largely comprised of lunatics. I don’t care about your politics, but as a constitutional conservative, it’s highly offensive to see the only defenses against Islam and Palestinian causes come from a loud mouthed, screaming conspiracy theorist that may well be completely insane. Or, perhaps from Dar Adal, who is positioned as the villain of the intelligence community, though this week it wasn’t quite as overt.

Saul explaining how the cigarette pack led him to the conclusion that Mossad may have been playing him was put forth well, and actually registered well. It’s somewhat hard to believe that intelligence officials wouldn’t have noticed and emptied a trash can before a CIA spook with a penchant for detail entered the room, but on the scale of unbelievable, this one was near the bottom. So, as he explained to Dar Adal why he believes he might have been part of a well-orchestrated scheme, I bought it. That, unlike so much of this season, worked. Usually the best stuff comes from Saul, and actually when he and Dar are together, the dialogue often ramps up. That’s what we saw again this week.

While Keane is sidelined and put in a safe house, restricted away from her staff, she’s the adult in the room who is being mistreated. When she walks upstairs and “Real Story” is on the television, I rolled my eyes. Again? Really? Whether intentional or not, Homeland is painting one infinitesimally thin side with the broad brush. Meanwhile, we know Sekou had nothing to do with the explosion that took his life, but the FBI immediately jumps to the opposite conclusion, and at no point do they even entertain the idea that he could have been a victim. Whether the writers know what they’re doing or not, this is the episode that broke me from an agenda standpoint. I’m no longer interested in Homeland’s politics. Actually, I’m not sure I’m all that interested in Homeland period. The best thing Nicholas Brody ever did may have been the day he decided to become Bobby Axelrod.

It wasn’t a bad episode, but it was tough to take, both for the reasons I’ve outlined above and because we’re still waiting for more to happen. The idea that Carrie’s source didn’t turn out to be the reason the audio landed on her desk is very intriguing, as it seems to implicate someone within the NSA. The end of the hour was strange also. You’re telling me that after taking Quinn into custody, no one stayed behind to investigate the scene and collect evidence? They just left, of all things, his smartphone on the ground in the wreckage of the broken glass? Come on now. That’s absolutely absurd. Yes, it’s done so that Carrie can see that he was right (something we learned last week), that he had made the connection between his surveillance tail, the Medina van, and the explosion, but can we not find a less artificial way to do it?

It’s also not credible that Carrie would have left Franny alone with Quinn in the first place, whether her heart was warmed during the stuffed animal introductions or not. As soon as she left, we knew it was about to get bad, but either she’s the worst mother ever, or we had another obvious television drama moment that couldn’t have occurred naturally. It still has to make sense to be good, and this was lunacy.

She had to have the, “Oh my god, he was right,” realization once she was alone, so that the episode could end with her in the know, but basically on an island with psycho (to everyone else) Quinn, the hostage-taking criminal who may or may not have put a small child and her nanny in danger. Once again, Carrie Mathison is going to start sounding like a crazy person, trying to get people to believe something we now know to be accurate. And, once again, it will end up being Saul Berenson who finally buys into her theory, and the question then becomes whether or not it’s too late to stop whatever the larger plan is down the home stretch. This is Homeland 101. Honestly, the show will be better once it starts playing the hits again.

Either way, it’s clear we’ve already seen the best of Homeland, and it seems we may also have seen the best of the latter stages of Homeland. That was Season 5. Season 6 has been a disjointed, lacking mess, and it’s in danger now of going completely off the rails. The big stuff this week rang false or cartoonish, and me spending time shaking my head at the lack of credulity of multiple moments in an episode isn’t a plus for any series. I imagine most people are enjoying these eps more than me. I certainly hope so. So many talented individuals are in front of and behind these cameras, but it’s all adding up to a sub-par portion of the larger story. Fingers crossed it’s going somewhere good. I’ll be the first to say so when it does. We haven’t reached that stage yet.

This was certainly the most compelling episode of the season, but once it was over, I was simply ready to get to something else.


I’m @JMartOutkick. Hop needs me.

Written by Jason Martin