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Three hours into this season of Homeland, it’s fair to start wondering when (or if) things are actually going to happen. Virtually every occurrence thus far has been set-up for something, but precisely what that is remains a mystery. There’s been a lot of seated chats, some awkward glares, and exactly one interrogation, though it did give us a chance to witness Mandy Patinkin in “couldn’t give a shit less about you” mode, which is always entertaining.
Carrie Mathison is back to breaking every rule and regulation she can in order to satisfy her own hunches or her own means. She’s almost Alinsky-like in this way, where as long as the ends justify what she believes to be means of paramount import, she’s free to blackmail, extort, or even pull a gun on someone in her way. It’s a big reason for Homeland’s popularity, but in this instance, maybe because the show seems so much more politically driven in terms of an agenda, I don’t like her nearly as much.
That’s how ideology can work both ways. Bear with me here, because I want you to think about something. Your politics can (maybe they don’t, but they often do) inform upon your entertainment choices, but also your likes and dislikes within those entities. Your favorite characters are generally either bad asses who have no politics, no morals, and no restraint, or they’re people you agree with. If a role requires a stance, your opinion of said stance might affect your feelings going forward.
Carrie and I were generally simpatico, but now she’s wading in areas where I have mild to strong disagreement. Sekou may have done nothing wrong, but I watched him make those videos, so how can I root for the guy? I don’t believe his treatment is fair, but it’s not like he’s just an innocent kid. He’s free in America to think what he wants, but I can still call him an asshole for it.
He was entrapped. We heard it in the phone conversation between Conlin and Saad, and her immediate reaction is to threaten sending it to the Attorney General, despite obtaining and possessing the recording illegally, if Sekou isn’t freed by the next morning. It’s a big jump from losing the seven year plea deal because she harassed a federal informant to demanding immediate innocence. She feels guilty for costing Sekou an arrangement, so her response is to fix it by any means necessary.
She’s behaving as if this situation is the largest injustice in the history of the planet. There are degrees, and if he’s done nothing wrong, that’s a terrible thing and someone should fight for him. But those videos…are hard to ignore.
Sunday night, Saul Berenson visited his sister in the West Bank, and during that conversation revealed something that I found positively stunning. He says this to Tova. “Your very presence here makes peace less possible.” He’s referring of course to Israeli occupation, and then mocks the idea that God’s covenant to give that land to the Jewish people is a valid reason for them to cause problems. I was shocked, because now not only is Carrie seemingly anti-American relative to the Muslim community, Saul is making the PALESTINIAN CASE to his own sister. His concern is Israeli encroachment.
Keep in mind that when the opposite side of an issue isn’t presented, or worse, is misrepresented, many in the audience can’t help but buy into what they’re shown. It’s why watching or getting news from a slanted organization on either side is so dangerous. I don’t see the pushback coming from the pro-Israel or pro-United States characters.
Dar Adal wants what he wants, and he’s snowing the President Elect over to accomplish it, even if he’s screwing over other colleagues in the process. But, other than the slimy Dar Adal and the villainous Agent Conlin, who is answering the charges here? Saul’s sister couldn’t make her case, because he started interrupting her to reaffirm the first point.
Homeland has generally tried to offer varying angles to its stories, but I see precious little of that in Season 6. Perhaps I’m over-sensitive and seeing it as a bigger deal than it is, but the show has never been more political than it is right now. A friend of mine in media told me he likes it because “it’s current.” Anything can be current. Accuracy and balance should be the goals. But I digress.
Quinn is now afraid of the shower after a bad dream that took him back to his latest near-death-experience with the poison gas from last season. He’s also doing the Disturbia thing, looking across the way from Carrie’s home with his suspicion goggles on, wondering what some of the shady characters that seem to be entering and exiting in odd fashions are planning. He thinks they’re trying to break into her house, or perhaps bug it or set some other kind of nefarious activity into motion.
But, let’s not forget, this is a man amidst hallucinations and delusions, both from substance abuse, as well as torture and PTSD, and if there’s anyone whose sight we can’t trust, it’s Peter Quinn. Yet, with all that said, this is Homeland, and there simply must be fire behind that smoke, or this becomes the most boring espionage thriller of all time. He has to be right this time, and it has to lead to a situation where he uses the gun he stole off Douchebag McGee to save Carrie Mathison’s life. It’s absolutely going to happen, and he may die in the process. (We can only hope).
Dar Adal is lying in favor of his own dreams of military intervention in Iran, putting Saul Berenson under a bus for a completely fictitious reason. We saw what happened in that hotel room with Farhad Nafisi (Bernard White), and more importantly, we saw what didn’t happen. Nafisi made a strong case that he was simply using the First Emirates Bank to pay for S-400 anti-aircraft batteries. He did not admit or even hint at the idea that he was using the FEB to facilitate the development of a parallel nuclear program with North Korea.
Saul doesn’t buy it, but he can’t press much harder than he does without entering very murky territory. He used an absolute smokeshow to lure Nafisi into that room, and I just knew when I saw THAT much cleavage bouncing (almost intentionally) towards the hotel door, something was up. It wasn’t just a booty call for a possible terrorist.
When Carrie hears Dar’s report from Keane, she’s skeptical, because she knows Saul, down to the obvious reaction when she hears “conclusive evidence,” as if it’s something he would never have said. Plus, she’s never really seen eye to eye with Dar, outside of the briefest of moments. I’m still trying to understand exactly how Dar Adal had that room bugged and heard every word of the conversation, probably through a phone cloaking device or a piece of malware, but he did, so now he knows he’s on shaky ground.
That probably means his next move will be drastic, and it will likely be a gigantic overreach. My fingers are crossed for it, because thus far, despite as many words as I’ve written about this season, there’s just not much here to say about the story. These episodes don’t exactly fly by or stop time. I have a difficult time not looking away to any number of distractions while watching them. It’s just three episodes, but it’s time for something to go down. We need an explosion. We need a death. We need some real chicanery, and we need it fast.
Homeland has often been a slow burn, which worked like gangbusters at times, but right now just feels tired. When you get a look at 24: Legacy (which I’m reviewing later this week), you’ll see just how much of a crawl we’re witnessing. That show is on amphetamines, this one is now on barbiturates. Speed it up. Balance the mindset. That’s what needs to happen.
The ratings numbers have been solid, but it’s more a pot committed situation at this juncture for a lot of viewers. You want to see it through if you’ve stuck it out through the rough times. You want to see how it all ends. But, by no measure is this a strong season of this show, or any other award winning drama. It’s just meandering around, trying to score political points.
But, the writers are forgetting that we watch first for entertainment. I don’t tune into a drama to be educated. I watch to escape and just get wrapped up in a world outside my own, but one that often still feels like my own.
One thing that was great was Quinn trying to make a move on Carrie after misreading their embrace. That was tremendous. Maybe stop being afraid of the shower first before you try to go under the shirt. Not that Rupert Friend needs to take advice from me.
At least he now has a gun and is still completely unhinged. And he might also be sexually frustrated to boot. That’s a positive.
I’m @JMartOutkick. I’m not afraid of bathing. I embrace soap and all that accompanies it. In fact, it’s time to handle that business right now.