‘Homeland’ 4.03 or How Carrie Got Her Groove Back or Addagio for Quinn

IHomeland-Shalwar-Kameez-Quinnn lieu of a post on last week’s two-hour long Homeland premiere (sorry!), I’ll play just-the-tip with the premier as I discuss Sunday night’s third hour of the season.  Interestingly enough there are some important themes regarding motherhood, femininity, sexuality and manipulation  drawn between them, hinted of course by the episode title “Shalwar Kameez“.  Cutting straight to the chase, though: What do you all think of Carrie this season?  Do you see any differences?  Do you love this season so far or are you growing tired of the show after its lackluster season last year?  And do you like really really miss Brody?  Or is it okay because… Quinn?

The Season Arc (Pakistan):  In typical Carrie fashion she’s gone full throttle on her latest hunch: a leak within the Islamabad station, particularly as it pertained to Sandy and his unknown source in Islamabad.  She asks for Saul’s resources and Quinn’s help on the ground: Saul agrees; but post-breakdown Quinn does not.  In Islamabad Carrie learns that the American Ambassador to Pakistan has had the embassy on lockdown since “the incident” and that all are reluctant at her taking over as Station Chief. But she’s resourceful and uses it to her advantage.

Covertly, she sets up her own rogue team in Islamabad, recruiting back Fara Sherazi (HIMYM‘s lovely Nazanin Boniadi) to go undercover and persuade young Aayan into eventually telling them everything he knows. When that backfires, Carrie takes matters into her own hands, and gets the job done in a brutal yet seductive way that only Carrie could. Back at the embassy, Saul comes to visit and, at Carrie’s request, and convinces the Ambassador to remove the lockdown (“She was your fiancee?” — “For two minutes. One hundred years ago.”).  A little off screen seduction there, one assumes.  The episode ends at Quinn’s YouTube video discovery that Pakistani Intelligence seems to have staged Sandy’s public killing and Carrie’s emotional persuasion for Quinn to return to Islamabad.

The Protagonist Arc (Carrie):  Carrie’s transfer to Islamabad as Station Chief pissed a helluva lot of people off along the way: her sister, Director Lockhart, the ex-ex-Station Chief down in the Langley archives, the wannabe-Station Chief, the Ambassador to Pakistan, etc… But, hey, it’s Carrie!  She doesn’t care who she hurts so long as she’s keeping afloat because that’s really hard to do when you’re Carrie. She’s a colder and badder biatch than ever before. Praised and somewhat criticized for her melodramatic portrayal, Claire Danes seems less destined to end up screencapped in weeping distortion this season.  Now let’s be clear I never minded her emotionally-draining breakdowns, even after three seasons.  Danes is such a gifted actor that she has stayed true and connected to the mangled human that is Carrie Mathison throughout the extreme highs and lows of her bipolar disorder and Brodygate.  However, without Brody’s well-being and a very clear and present danger to national security looming over her, it appears that Carrie has decided to focus solely on her own survival via doing what she does best: keeping ‘Murica safe.  Say what you want but our homegirl has a purpose and it’s a pretty important one.  If sanitation at a public school was what Carrie did best, she would undoubtedly cling to that as well, but thankfully for the world (and fortunately for her) it’s about disbanding covert terrorist cells.

The premiere saw Carrie possibly rivaling Livia Soprano, Cercei Lannister, and Betty Draper for Worst Television Mother of All Time. Literally stalking, harassing, and blackmailing top government officials so as not to raise her own child and/or drown her in a bathtub.  But is it excusable?  It occurs to me that the way in which Carrie “abandoned” her child may disgust some viewers, those with and without families whom could never imagine doing such a thing, and those wholly unfamiliar with post-postpartum depression in particular.  I don’t think that Carrie is emotionally courageous, but I do think she believes she is doing what is best for the child because her disabilities make her incapable of raising Fiona to be a good and functional person (i.e. remember Carrie is a child of mental disorder, too). That may sound like a cop out but we all know at least one person whose ruining their kids in glorious with their issues.  Amiright?  How much exactly can we blame her?  Didn’t Brody kill himself, leaving behind two kids and one on the way, all for the sake of his country?

And then we have Sunday’s episode, which had the gun-totting, pant-suit wearing, pale-faced, top boss Carrie using her feminine ways to persuade two men — Aayan and Quinn — to do exactly as she needed them to. And the way she did it is a fabulous reminder of how truly special and complex the character of Carrie is for women on television.  Unlike Carrie, “strong” women on television are typically constructed to be iron-willed intelligent gals who use wear their sexuality on the surface with the excuse that (a) it is one of many tools in her back-up arsenal of weapons, or (b) it just always helps to just be a cute. Carrie does not fall into either category and she’s far from honey-voiced. But there she was bringing the boys to her yard, without the need for blackmail, just emotional appeal.  There was something so incredibly creepy about the way she manipulated Aayan into fearing someone was outside the bathroom door so as to establishing a sense of safety with her and then putting her hand into his pocket with her business card. Checkmate.  I was waiting for a cutaway of her hand in his pants but it worked so well leaving it to our imagination. And Quinn.  Poor, poor Quinn. He never had a chance.

The Supporting Arcs (Quinn, Saul): Saul is trying to hang on to civil life for the sake of his marriage, and although he’s struggling, helping Carrie on the side seems to be working… for now.  Mandy Patinkin is on point as ever with that perfect almost-going-to-call-after-you gaping mouth moment when Carrie leaves the room.  He envies her.  They are the same person, in the end, he’s just done it a lot longer than she has.

Unlike Saul and Carrie, Quinn wants to quit while he’s ahead and doesn’t yet hate himself.  Not sure why I’m surprised that the CIA is making it so difficult for him. Would they really kill him? And is he really in love with Carrie? Sure there was something brewing between the lines since last season, and I’m a shameful shipper of all bleeding hearts, but having both the CIA psychologist and Dar Adal feel so strongly about Quinn’s feelings for Carrie seemed slightly off to me.  Are they basing this solely on the fact that Sandy was killed and Carrie survived?  What Quinn did in that car did not seem romantic to me, even if it was protective or emotionally driven.  Thoughts?  And while I cringed and shed an inner tear at Quinn’s face when Carrie dropped the “I f*cking love you Quinn! You know that right?” bit, what was more disconcerting was the cheesy grin trailing on Carrie’s face!

Thoughts: So how do you feel about Carrie?  Was that smile more about Quinn or about how easily she got him to join her little project? Could Quinn replace the Brody gap? How do you feel about season 4 so far?

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