Homeland: “Shalwar Kameez” Season 4 Episode 3 Review

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A lot of people will probably roll their eyes at this episode and complain that Homeland is regressing into its unfortunate old habits. I am not one of those people.

Homeland‘s first season wasn’t incredible because it had an exhilarating terrorist plot, or a tainted love story. It was incredible because it was able to fuse both of these elements together so seamlessly. In later seasons, the show faltered; unsure of which concept was of greater importance. Now that the show has finished off it’s Brody plotline, the focus is almost entirely on Carrie’s espionage work in Pakistan. This is why this episode was the perfect time to bring the romance back.

Before everyone raises their torches and pitchforks, let me say that I do think Quinn’s feelings for Carrie could have been introduced with far more subtlety. Perhaps this had more to do with F. Murray Abraham’s rather theatrical performance, but watching Dar Adal barge into Quinn’s home to confront him about Carrie felt wholly unrealistic. What is this, a high school cafeteria? Still, it makes sense that the CIA would be investigating this after the events of the premiere. The fact of the matter is that Quinn and Carrie lived and Sandy didn’t. Whether or not this was the result of a conscious decision is hard to say, but it’s understandable that they’d want to go through all their options.

This potential new romance might seem out of the blue, but I really think it’s been quietly developing ever since Quinn’s introduction into the series. How many times in the past have we seen him do something for Carrie with no questions asked? How many times have we seen him become irksome when she chose Brody over the mission objective? Perhaps he hasn’t realized it until it was blatantly pointed out to him—and certainly, Rupert Friend’s widening eyes at the various video clips of the attack seemed to indicate a surprising realization—but Quinn has always been willing to do just about anything for Carrie. His ending line, “Shit, Carrie, you know you’re the hardest person in the world to say no to,” is very telling. She gets under his skin. It’s not love at first sight, but the seeds have been planted.

It might be easy to heave a deep sigh and assume that Homeland is going to majorly botch this one up, but I have faith that a Quinn-Carrie romance could flow quite nicely within a larger plot about foreign relations. Sure, they don’t have the same high-stakes chemistry that Carrie and Brody initially did, but maybe that’s a good thing.

Part of the reason that relationship went so awry is that the writers practically had to move mountains to get them to be together. Carrie and Quinn have the opportunity to be much more low-key, but within the confines of a dangerous work environment, there’s a lot of room for excitement. This episode featured several unlikely instances of attraction. Max clearly has a thing for Fara, Fara tries and fails to seduce Aayan, Carrie succeeds in doing so (more on that in a minute), and Saul reconnects with an old flame. I hate to sound trite by paraphrasing a Rihanna song, but the idea of finding love in a hopeless place is an interesting theme to set up for the rest of the season.

One thing is definitely certain. This romance isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. There are still nine episodes to go in the season, and even though Quinn may be starting to realize his feelings for Carrie, she certainly hasn’t realized hers back. The operative is far too concerned with taking over Sandy’s old post to think about her feelings. It’s good to see her professional determinism again, especially when she left things at home in such a wrecked state.

Her bathroom scene with Aayan is both a genius bit of manipulation and a terrible betrayal. Carrie isn’t always a likeable character, but she’s more than willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. In a way, this scene offered a new side of her, the operative side of her that existed before she even met Brody. It’s thrilling and twisted all at the same time, and I can’t wait to see more.

I do have one minor complaint, and it has to do with baby Franny. What exactly are they going to do with her? She’s far too important of a plotline to just let go, and yet this episode functioned just fine without even acknowledging her existence. I’m still interested in the ramifications of Carrie’s less-than-motherly behavior, but with the introduction of Quinn’s romance and a new murder mystery plot—just who exactly is behind Sandy’s death?—I’m worried there won’t be adequate time for it. Of all the things Homeland could potentially butcher this season, this one feels like the most obvious.

Quick Aside: Is Franny’s last name Brody, as in Franny Brody? Because that’s child abuse right there. End of Aside.

So yes, I know a lot of other critics felt this episode was a bit forced, but I for one am eager to see how Quinn and Carrie’s relationship develops. Maybe it’s the optimist in me, but I feel like Homeland is slowly, but surely returning to its season 1 roots. At the end of Carrie’s scene with Aayan, she stands in front of the bathroom mirror and gives herself a look that says, “yup, I still got it.” I think so too. Not just about her, but the show in general. Grade: A-

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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