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‘Homeland’ 4.08 or #Saulute or There Are Only Wrong Choices

Carrie and Khan sitting in a tree?Last night’s episode of Homeland was brought to you by the letter H. H stands for Helplessness. The kind of helplessness you can only feel when the skies open up to reveal that “there are only wrong choices“. The kind of helplessness where the better alternative would have been allowing your mentor to blow his head off because, hey, there are fates worse than death. Namely, death wrapped in betrayal, torture, and guilt.

And speaking of being wrapped in… watching all those tiny red triangles swarm over the warm blue dot that was Saul Berenson, and drag him away like roaches on a cookie crumb whilst screaming for Carrie, was some new form of television torture. Particularly cruel and unusual punishment. Did anyone else go back to Sandy screaming for his life in the season opener? For a split second I even thought they would beat him to death right then and there, before realizing that was not at all their mission.

Before the breakdown, I just want to take a moment and give major props to the episode’s director, Alex Graves. From the moment that Carrie begins to smell something fishy in that briefing room to the moment Saul is recaptured, Graves pulled off twelve uninterrupted minutes of as high stakes and high anxiety television as I have felt since the last six minutes of that episode of True Detective or the Blackwater finale in Game of Thrones. If I had an award to give for the Best Placed Shot of that sequence, it would be the very silent cut from (A) Saul with a gun under his chin at the fountain to (B) the overhead drone footage of him from the ops room as Carrie and Co watch and wait along with the audience. Hopelessness. Helplessness. It was held for three seconds of sheer terror where one could just hear the gun shot and picture his tiny spec of a body collapsing. It’s pretty genius actually, using the assumption that showing someone’s brains being blown out in a tight shot is not likely, and faking the audience out with that “larger picture” shot almost in anticipation… and of a moment that never came. (Oh hai, HBO! It’s Showtime!)

This was an intense and very plot-centric week, and despite fabulous performances, the character development was minimal and/or pretty straightforward here, and that’s okay. Accordingly, I’ll be skipping the specific character discussion this week and taking a deeper look at what may be going on behind the story, instead.

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