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?