Homeland 4.05: About a Boy

 Posted by on October 27, 2014 at 11:26 pm  Homeland
Oct 272014

Homeland: About a Boy - Carrie and Quinn argue

Homeland Season 4 is still struggling to find its ideal balance, and episode 4.05 About a Boy, slipped a little. The espionage and tension were all there in spades, the geo-political machinations were intense, but the personal stories just didn’t hold up.

The most important and most personal story is Saul’s, as far as I’m concerned. I mean, that seems a bold statement when there is so much personal going on. The title alludes to Carrie’s seduction of Aayan, and what could be more intimate or human than seduction? Yet we know it to be cold and unfeeling; not to mention a little disgusting. About a Boy tries hard to bring the audience along, first by a conversation between Carrie and Saul that lets us know why she feels she has no choice but to use this method of recruitment, and second by hanging a lantern on how awful the whole thing is, in the form of the argument between Carrie and Quinn. Unfortunately, it’s just not working. She’s still sexing up a boy, albeit a boy who supports and perhaps works for the Taliban. Worse, she’s using her real feelings for Brody and their baby to manipulate Aayan. Watching her force up tears by reminding herself of Brody is more disgusting than watching her be all kissy lovey.

The real problem with the argument between Quinn and Carrie is it’s predicated on the idea that we care about their eventual, and apparently inevitable, hooking up. While Carrie and Brody smouldered together, I think we’d all rather see Quinn end up with his landlady. So, if that bit of humanizing isn’t something the audience responds to, where do you go?

Another personal story is Fara’s, but we don’t know her well. She’s conflicted about taking so well to spying. Meanwhile, I’m obsessed with her strange accent, which arrived out of nowhere, was briefly discussed, and now circles each of her scenes like a mosquito, whining and buzzing its way under my skin. It’s like an additional character in the room.

The ambassador and her husband are deeply sympathetic, but they’re brand new to the show, and clearly not here for their long-term impact. They move plot forward. Given the two actors, they do so with grace and style, but that’s not what a personal investment means.

Which brings us back to Saul. He’s a safe bet for emotional connection—the audience loves him. His kidnapping was shocking and brazen. Seeing him in the trunk of the cleric’s Peugot made me gasp. I care about Saul; his on-screen presence is important to me. Unfortunately, the entire plotline is much weakened by its idiocy. The former head of the CIA wandering around Benazir Bhutto Airport blatantly following someone? I mean, standing and staring, making a scene by running? Calling Carrie, and then long minutes later calling Quinn, and no one else? It’s pure idiocy, and Saul has generally been better than that. In addition, there’s the nagging feeling that a kidnapping has been written in as an excuse to keep Mandy Patinkin around. There’s no organic reason to maintain his story arc, so a kidnapping got shoved in. If you spend enough time watching television, the difference between an event that arises from characters and situations, and one that arises from contract negotiations and audience response, is pretty plain. This just feels off.

So there you have it. The plotting is compelling but the people are not. How about you? Are you buying into the Carrie/Quinn ‘shipping?


  11 Responses to “Homeland 4.05: About a Boy”

  1. I totally do not buy the romance nonsense, not any of it. Not Brody-Carrie. Not Quinn-Carrie. Nope. Nope. Nope.

    Who’s fucking whom *is* the question, but this is not one of those tales of broken people redeemed through love and romance. That Carrie is pantomiming some repetition compulsion trauma Brody etc trip and calling it “recruiting” … just, man.

    Remember in the first season when it was revealed that Carrie had busted up David Estes’s marriage? Remember when she made a move on Saul?

    While Quinn by the end of Season 2 moved into the position of defending Carrie to the point of choosing to shoot neither Brody nor, by the end of Season 3 Carrie herself, he may be starting to recognize the pattern, especially now that his own case has been pointed out to him so pointedly. Even before all that, Quinn smiled, but did not directly answer Carrie when she asked why she did not come with him to Kabul.

    Where has indulging Carrie finally gotten Saul? Bound in an automobile trunk in the hands of the ISI.

    I’m starting to read Carrie as nothing less than an stand-in for Patriot Act-era Columbia herself. She destabilizes and freaks out and blows protocols on a regular basis, yet everybody just lets her run on and on and on and on.

    Also, I am seeing parallels between the Aayan kid and Fara. I don’t buy the “innocence” of either character. Fara did lead them *straight* to Hassani and the cleric who now has Saul. Quinn’s observation that Fara is “good at it” [spying] is interesting in this context. I think he may be onto her, or at least watching her. She did come in though a literal operational hole. So how did Fara go from being “headscarf” (remember that?) to being whatever she is now within the context of a *second* Carrie-Saul side operation?

    The John Redmond character certainly became more interesting in this episode. “I’m a spy. I know shit.” Ha!

    As for Carrie, what happens now with Saul missing if she also gets news of her father’s death and if the ISI gets the disgraced professor dude to switch out her meds or something? That there’s Cassandra Columbia territory! All indications are that the ISI is lining up to play Carrie’s well-documented weaknesses against her (in tandem with playing the Ambassador’s against her), and that’s going to get messy.

    It really seems like Quinn’s trajectory is to be the guy who finally stops Carrie.

    Thinking back to Season 2 and the Aileen thing, it is not incomprehensible to me that Saul could be the mole. Remember what Javadi said last season about Saul’s ways? Saul has been running Carrie the same as Adal has been running Quinn. Also, how did Saul just “find” Brody? I do not buy that the Saul character is stupid/incautious enough to get taken out of that airport like he did. Something is up with that storyline. Or maybe I am being driven to distraction by plot holes!

    [ Aaaagh! Stupid slow-release tee-vee show! Why you no let me binge watch your season? ]

    • “I’m starting to read Carrie as nothing less than an stand-in for Patriot Act-era Columbia herself. She destabilizes and freaks out and blows protocols on a regular basis, yet everybody just lets her run on and on and on and on. ”


      • It’s a smart observation. If Carrie is a metaphor for, say, the PATRIOT Act, then her irrationality makes sense.

  2. Homeland has jumped the tracks before – sometimes for nearly an entire season. The Brody/Carrie thing kept it interesting one season, then the Saul play – using Javadi as our mole in Iran.

    This season it beggars credibility to imagine that Carrie could “recruit” Aayan in three days?!!? Saul’s face is (without doubt) too well known to effectively tail anyone in “the trade”. He should have called someone – but couldn’t because that would blow Carrie’s covert-to-our-side team (to “our side”).

    Weiner would have thrown this one away (the whole season arc) and worked feverishly to come up with something actually credible.

    Saul could be involved, as a contractor, if Carrie had a big pot of “black ops” money to hire him and his team on the same high-value target with a different way to get to him – all this still covert-to-our-side.

    • Did Saul set himself up to be kidnapped like that on purpose? That is going to take some explaining/they can’t make that kind of move two seasons in a row!

      Also, I forgot that Carrie ALREADY leaned in and played Fara hard by getting her uncle and his family in Tehran involved in the Brody deathtrip. Fara might have reason to be motivated to engage in counterespionage.

  3. I have no interest in a love affair between Quinn and Carrie. Incidentally, despite the very real Carrie/Brody chemistry, they should have stuck to the original idea and had Brody blow everyone up at the end of the first season. Then the long decline of the show into a camp joke like 24 could have been averted.

  4. Can I ask a question about Homeland, season 3? I really liked seasons 1 and 2. I don’t own a TV so I eagerly waited for the season 3 DVD to come out. Was I disappointed by it (like most people seem to be)? Well, there were things I liked about it and things I didn’t like about it but one thing was not clear to me (perhaps I was not watching carefully enough but it’s unlikely I will go back and re-watch):

    Was Brody the Langley bomber?

    Thanks for any clarification.

    • Brody was not the Langley bomber.

      • Thank you, Ms.Lipp!

      • Brody wasn’t the bomber. The operation that opens Season 3 (simultaneous kill of 6 targets) is CIA retaliation for the bombing, and the implication is that it was an “international terrorist conspiracy” with ties to Iran, through Venezuela, Tel Aviv… where else do they hit? Javadi rolls on his DC law firm after he it turned, and one of the law firm functionaries visits the ostensible bomber’s motel room ( the American guy Javadi has identified as the bomber), shoots him point-blank and dissolves his body in the tub. Quinn shoots Carrie in the motel parking lot when she blows the CIA stakeout of the motel after she sees that the law firm functionary has a gun, and sets out on her determined way to the ostensible bomber’s motel room. Saul had promised Carrie that she could get in a room with the ostensible bomber guy.

        Remember also that it was Dar Adal who rattled the cage of Javadi’s DC lawyer on the basis of their mutual affiliation with something called the North States Fund… or Northern States Foundation… something like that. AND that Lockhart is a confirmed traitor at this point. Maybe this season is about Adal and Saul rolling up Lockhart for good.

        I am going to be disappointed if there is not some meta plot thread that pulls together everything from Seasons 1 – end.

        (I’m still confused about how Brody ended up in Caracas and how Saul knew how to find him. Saul did show up with a suitcase full of money, so are we just to think that putting a price out on Brody worked? Season 3 opened in Caracas, remember. That’s where Quinn accidentally killed the boy.)

        • They never tied Quinn being in Caracas to Brody.

          Carrie put Brody out into a network of people able to hide him. All we ever learned was that at some point, Saul found out what Carrie was doing and tracked down Brody since he knows who Carrie’s contacts are. He then moved Brody and took charge of keeping him hidden.

          Of course, it’s also possible that Carrie turned responsibility for Brody over to Saul as part of their long con which involved institutionalizing Carrie; she was too risky a person to know about Brody’s whereabouts during that.

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