Homeland 4.03: Shalwar Kameez

 Posted by on October 12, 2014 at 10:32 pm  Homeland
Oct 122014


I was shaky about Homeland Season 4 last week, but with episode 4.03, Shalwar Kameez, I am fully on board. Shalwar Kameez did exactly what I asked the show to do last week; it mixed the personal and the political; caring about the characters gave the machinations an emotional edge. And it did more: The espionage maneuvers were surprising and engrossing; we truly don’t know what will happen next.

Wow, Lesli Linka Glatter, you are a master. I was especially struck by the cat-and-mouse game with Carrie leaving the embassy. She did a lot of little things—most delightfully, using the crowd of children to cover her departure—but we never suffered through any exposition, and we were never confused by what she was doing. This sort of thing is a Carrie Mathison trademark, of course; she’s at her most Carrie when slipping through streets and alleys. Remember the Yoga Play? But it requires a really deft hand behind the camera to make it work. Glatter carried us along so that there was no confusion—the bad guys were lost, the audience was not.

Rupert Friend as Peter Quinn delivered for me this week in a big way. I apologize to him for saying he was a black hole last week. The look on his face that closed the episode: haunted, trapped, surrendered and utterly lost, well, I won’t soon forget it. That’s a haunt-your-dreams face, that is. Carrie says “I fucking love you” in that “thanks for the ice cream” way, never guessing that Quinn has real feelings for her and that hearing it twisted him up.

And Quinn is much more broken than even last week’s diner fight revealed. The final, disturbing scene doesn’t work unless it’s the payoff for what has gone before, and Quinn’s story this week worked to make sure the payoff was effective. It’s one thing to lose your temper for a moment: What Quinn did in the diner was awful but also understandable. He had just had a sweet experience with his landlady (still nameless, but now I know the actress is Emily Walker), who was giving him a chance to be away from his unbearable feelings, and these assholes got in the way. They were, frankly, the kind of guys that lots of us fantasize about hitting—we just don’t.

But now we see a much deeper kind of broken. The drinking is, if not worse, at least steadier—last week it seemed like it might have been just one drunk night, but now we know it’s on-going—and the violence isn’t going away any time soon. Attacking Dar Adal was really, really scary. Suddenly and nastily breaking it off with Landlady was a whole different kind of mean; it was more tempered and pointed, which we hadn’t seen before. And this broken, out-of-control, not so secretly in love man is going to Islamabad? Oh, goody.

I love Emily Walker in the role. I wish she wasn’t stuck in the self-effacing, I’ll put up with anything shtick so stereotypical for a fat woman, but I guess you need someone like that if they’re to be willing to be around Quinn at all.

By the way, Dar Adal is an idiot. What kind of CIA agent starts yammering about highly secure stuff without first making sure no one is listening? Not knowing that Quinn wasn’t alone was pure amateur hour.

Meanwhile, Carrie is setting up a shadow agency, which Saul figured out, which makes me love these people for being so damn smart. I’m glad Fara and Max are back as well, and I’m liking the personalities and tensions beginning to emerge in Carrie’s embassy staff. It’s an interesting role for Carrie to be in: station chief, in charge of a bunch of people. We’ve seen her as a protegé, as a golden child, and as out of her mind, but we’ve never seen her as management. There are new challenges here and they could be interesting as hell.

Title watch: A salwar kameez (with a number of different variant spellings), also known as a salwar suit, is a three-piece traditional outfit worn by Indian and Pakistani women. The kameez is the tunic top, the salwar (or shalwar), is the loose-fitting pants with tight ankles, and the duppata is the matching scarf. The odd thing about this title is we never saw anyone with a speaking role wear it. Does it just indicate something about Pakistani tradition? Or did they run out of clever titles?


  9 Responses to “Homeland 4.03: Shalwar Kameez”

  1. I’m glad Fara and Max are back as well,

    Me too. Still hoping for Virgil, although I suppose as long as Carrie is overseas she may not have use for his surveillance van.

    Great post!

  2. Is this a continuity issue on their part? Or a memory issue on mine?: I thought I remembered Fara wearing hijab in the U. S. and speaking with a British accent. Now she is in Pakistan with no hijab speaking with an American accent and faking a British accent.

  3. So, your trivia factoids for the day:
    The Spanish for shirt or blouse, camisa (or camiseta) is derived from the Arabic kameez.
    And I can still hear my Sephardic grandmother calling pants shalwares.

  4. Perhaps the “three-piece outfit” (the Shalwar Kameez) refers to the three-woman outfit at work here: Carrie, Fara, and of course, Ambassador Martha Boyd.

    • Late to the party here – but just to note re the three-piece outfit thing referencing the episode’s three fore-fronted women; and this articles’s definition of shalwar kameez as “traditional outfit worn by Indian and Pakistani WOMEN”: The shalwar kameez is worn by BOTH men and women, although styles differ by gender. (However, both are essentially loose trousers [= U.S “pants”] and tunic)

      Perhaps thinking it’s a female-only form of dress is why we “never saw anyone with a speaking role wear it” in the episode?

  5. To pick a nit (out of his beard) Saul speculated (and Carrie confirmed with a purposely non-concealed grin) that she’d already set up her shadow agency. Moving fast like that helps to assure that her operatives will live – at least long enough to do some good.

    Quinn is beyond fascinating – even when the writers ball it up. He’s going to keep a lot of viewers coming back.

    I pray that they will tie up the Carrie baby loose end. Something “permanent” like her sis adopting and Carrie being the Auntie Who Lives Overseas. But like the nonsense (coming from sis’ mouth) that her Ep 1/2 actions would somehow harm an infant – the Auntie story would not play for a few years, anyway.

    As for the Drone Missle Survivor – if he was innocent before – that’s all over. With a nice bit of spycraft (“women’s problems”) Carrie is drawing him in – a pincer with those jidhadi nastys forming another.

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