‘Homeland’ Review: A Surprise Around Every Corner

By  · Published on November 18th, 2013

‘Homeland’ Review: A Surprise Around Every Corner

After last week’s episode focused on an intellectual debate between swift justice and the twisted road of espionage, Homeland ditched all of that entirely in “A Red Wheelbarrow” to opt for a well-plotted if characteristically ridiculous installment that found Carrie getting shot and Saul tracking down Brody in Venezuela.

Like the William Carlos Williams poem it alludes to, “A Red Wheelbarrow,” is all about suspense: the “set piece,” I suppose, of Carrie butting heads with Dar and Quinn and getting a bullet in the shoulder for it and the longer one of Saul’s mystery trip. Both have in common Brody, who has been on the lam or drugged into glass-eyed docility since the Langley bombing. He’s maintained a presence back in Washington through Carrie, his sole advocate back home. She’s explosive in nature, attached enough to him and righteous enough about the truth that we don’t really need the excuse of a baby for us to understand why she’d champion him and his innocence within the CIA. I’m really hating this pregnancy for slathering an extra level of drama on a show that’s already 100% cheese. The show has written itself into a cowardly corner by making her fetus at 13 weeks, and therefore un-abortable. Of course, the best outcome might be for the massive blood loss from the shoulder wound to cause her to miscarry, or for Carrie to pull a Peggy Olson and put the baby up for adoption before telling the father about it.

The show nicely set itself up for Brody’s return by reminding us why he’s important (Carrie + Brody 4evs) and what Saul wants his last few days at the CIA to be about (catching the agency’s most wanted fugitive). After locking his future boss in a darkened conference room, Saul might need to use Brody to demonstrate to Lockhart his value to the spy org. Otherwise, it seems Saul and Carrie would be goners under a Lockhart administration, no? Alternately, Saul might think Brody would be a useful source of intel to find out the identity of the actual bomber, though it’s not at all clear how much help this junkie version of America’s Most Hated Marine can really provide.

While Saul’s away, Mira’s jilted loverboy returns to bug their house. Which means, I suppose, that he’s a spy who lay a honey trap for Mira. The actress who plays her, Saria Choudhury, is absolutely gorgeous, but I’d noticed that her new lover was conspicuously younger and stubbly hot in sort of an “aging male model with an accent” way. Now, I guess it seems like we should have been suspicious all along, because what would an attractive man like him want with a middle-aged woman unless it was in the remote hope that she’d reunite with her powerful but neglectful husband out of a sense of duty after 200 of his co-workers had been killed in a terrorist attack?

Across town, the white-shoe lawyers who had helped Javadi launder embezzled money were revealed to be also handy with a tub. Carrie’s one sure thing at clearing Brody’s name literally dissolves away when Bennett’s Breaking Bad-loving goon kills the low-level operative who drove the bomb-car to CIA headquarters and liquefies his body in a motel tub.

In the biggest surprise of the episode, though, we learn that Fara has been (ineffectually) keeping her employment at the CIA a secret from her invalid father. We learn of her patriotism from her lie that she works for an investment bank – she could be earning a lot more money at such an institution, but she wanted to help when the CIA needed people like her after its staff was decimated. When her father discovers the truth, he gets (justifiably) angry. If her employment at the CIA gets out – and remember, Javadi already saw and talked to her – her relatives in Iran would be tortured in retaliation. The Iran connection this season has felt a bit tenuous politically; since Ahmadinejad has been out of office, U.S.-Iranian relations have been better than they have in several decades. But Fara’s story gains poignancy because she’s partly battling against a kind of personal terrorism – the kind Javadi would bring to her doorsteps if he discovered her name – by fighting a global war.