Homeland: “Iron in the Fire” Season 4 Episode 4 Review

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Homeland gains a new sense of urgency as the mystery surrounding Sandy’s death deepens, and Carrie makes some bold moves.

The first three episodes of season 4 have done a great job at introducing us to the new world of Homeland. Brody is gone, and now Carrie is moving forward with her work in Pakistan. She’s leaving everything—including her child—behind to concentrate on her missions. Familiar faces have returned, and new characters, such as Ambassador Boyd, Aayan, and John Redmond, have cropped up as well. Quinn is dangerously in love with Carrie, and of course she’s too laser-focused on her job to even notice. These initial episodes set us down an interesting path, but they were all pretty much set up. That’s why it was so great to see “Iron in the Fire” take these ideas and push them forward. Now that we know the basics, the real fun can begin.

One thing Homeland has always excelled at is making its narratives deliciously twisty. This week’s episode progressed the season’s central plot in a direction is sure to spiral very soon. As it turns out, Sandy’s death was indeed orchestrated. What’s more, it was done so by the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI. Saul doesn’t get much to do in this episode—and yet somehow Mandy Patinkin is still fantastic—but his conversations with two different Pakistani officials confirmed just as much.

We also have a good guess as to why Sandy was disposed of so quickly. The US is now viewed unfavorably in Pakistan, and this hatred is able to detract from the jaw-dropping truth we learn after Fara follows Aayan through a crowded marketplace. His uncle Haqqani—aka the terrorist who was supposedly hit by a drone strike in the premiere—is still very much alive. It’s still unclear who the medicine that Aayan handed off is for, but the fact that this man is still in the picture gives this season an exciting new villain. Why the ISI is involved in terrorist matters is still a mystery, but it’s one I can’t wait to solve.

There are a few subplots in this episode that are walking on shaky ground, but if the show can pull them off successfully, then I think they’ll be very engrossing. Dennis Boyd (Mad Men‘s Mark Moses…say that five times fast), the husband of the Ambassador, is the one who’s been leaking classified documents in exchange for target information. He’s now indebted to a new Pakistani agent nicknamed “The Snake,” who’ll rat him out to the FBI unless he does what she says. I hope this thread is able to weave together with the central storyline, in which case I think it would further add to the intrigue. If not, then it’s just a distraction.

Similarly, Peter’s guilt over the child he killed in Caracas seems to bleed into his newfound love for Carrie, which makes things a little confusing. You’re not really sure if he’s doing what he’s doing because of his feelings for her, or because he knows the road she’s going down is a bad one. I guess it could be a bit of both, but, as I said last week, I’ll appreciate this story a lot more if it can find a way to seamlessly blend into the espionage instead of taking center stage.

For now, though, Quinn, as well as Fara, seem to be acting as the show’s moral compasses. Carrie’s journey this season appears to be about immersing herself as much as possible into her work, and ignoring the personal troubles that are right in front of her. At this point, it’s very clear that she’ll stop at nothing to meet her objectives. In the show’s captivating ending scene, she successfully comes onto Aayan in order to gain his trust. There are brief moments, however, where she takes a pause to consider her actions. After Aayan admits he’s a virgin, Carrie stops, and then steels herself for what she’s already committed to do. Down the rabbit hole we go.

Overall, this was the most exhilarating episode yet in Homeland‘s fourth season. We got some truly tense spy sequences, which is something that feels like it’s been missing from the show for a long time. There’s still room for grave error, of course, but it looks like this series is heading nowhere but up. For now, I’m enjoying the ride. Grade: A-

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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