Homeland 4.08: Halfway to a Donut

 Posted by on November 16, 2014 at 10:39 pm  Homeland
Nov 162014

Homeland_408_Ambassador_and_husbandIn Homeland episode 4.08: Halfway to a Donut, Carrie finally realizes what Quinn knew all along: Their work has no right answers, no good choices, no moral high ground.

And despite the pleasures of the episode, my overarching reaction is, so what? I mean, really, Carrie? The rest of us knew that all along.

I like what she said at the end, that maybe it’s fair, what was done to her, but it didn’t feel fair. That little bit of dialogue had a great deal of integrity. And I very much like how smart Carrie was in this episode, how she figured things out. I was afraid the whole drugged-Carrie scenario was going to play out over multiple episodes, but she looked at herself taking the pills, thought about what happened, and figured it out.

The hostage situation, on the other hand, is going to go on forever.

The thing is, I support Saul’s choice. Carrie knew he wouldn’t want to be a prisoner, she wanted to take the drone shot. No one has seriously addressed her order being countermanded, except Lockhart saying “thank God” that it was. How “thank God”? How is the head of the CIA, the blustering, angry, unable to contain himself Dick Cheney dickhead, unable to see that sacrificing a human life is something that the CIA does all the time? The soft-heartedness at the core of this storyline just isn’t the CIA, and it just isn’t Homeland.

Mandy Patinkin is probably not the world’s greatest actor, but he knows how to give a scene presence and weight. Saul is always a real guy. To see a scene with Saul in it is to know his past; he brings his whole life to the moment. And in Halfway to a Donut we get Saul the former spy: Older, out of shape, but very much aware of the way things work. Not some old cuddly Grandpa, but a hardcore guy who has been all over the world in some very dangerous situations. He knows when he’s in over his head and he knows why. There was a grave stupidity to a lot of what we saw tonight, but Mandy’s presence gives it intelligence.

Title watch: Homeland titles are starting to feel like the opening lines of Sepinwall columns: A review of tonight’s Homeland as soon as I’m halfway to a donut. I mean, they really don’t mean anything, do they?

Damn, I hate Lockhart. What a dick. How long was he in the meeting in which he’d promised to keep his mouth shut before he opened the fucking thing?

Sexism watch: Tonight’s Homeland felt very heteronormative, for lack of a better word (although I happen to think heteronormative is a great word). When the Ambassador leaned in and told Duck Philips there was a breach, Professor Spouse cried “Misogyny!” I’m not sure. I think, rather, it’s a trope about marriage, and is a part of the soft-hearted and soft-headed nature of the episode. Would a real U.S. ambassador to Pakistan have done something so stupid? Especially with a husband she already admitted she doesn’t trust? I think not. We’re meant to swallow it because it’s warm and fuzzy. The real misogyny is in the contrast between Tasneem Qureshi (the woman from the ISI who is “handling” Duck) and Colonel Khan. The beautiful dark-skinned woman is an evil Dragon Lady, while the handsome dark-skinned man is a romantic hero. Sure. I totally buy that. These are sexist and racist tropes that do none of us any good, and certainly don’t elevate the show. Colonel Khan as a good guy is interesting, but why does it have to be the handsomest man on the show, and someone who has now held Carrie in his arms? I mean, really.

Despite all of this, the episode was a placeholder, a chess-piece moving episode, putting Saul and Carrie back where they started from and shifting the balance of things ever so slightly back towards the Americans.

I guess Fara and Max got the day off.


  4 Responses to “Homeland 4.08: Halfway to a Donut”

  1. Colonel Khan as a good guy is interesting, but why does it have to be the handsomest man on the show

    It’s funny you mention this–I had the same thought (and I really like Kahn as a character–this has nothing to do with him, per se!). I actually mused aloud to my own spouse that if this were a British show, there might be the odd good-looking person here and there, but he or she would be the exception, not the rule, as they are on Homeland (Carrie, Quinn, Qureshi, Aayan, Fara, Kahn–I’m sure there are more if I stop to think on it–I mean, come on, they could have all stepped out of a Bruce Weber photo shoot for Calvin Klein).

    If this were a British-produced series, you would see Fara, when she heads out into the street but needs to blend in and not be seen by her quarry, thoroughly wrap her headscarf around her head and face, the way the majority of conservative Muslim women do in Islamabad–problem solved. But because it’s an American show–and because the actor who plays Fara has a beautiful face that must always be seen, logic be damned–she wears the scarf wound loosely around her hair only, and risks being made. Ridiculous.

    Overall, if Homeland were British, everyone would look a whole lot more like normal people instead of shiny, buff, beautifully-lit actors with bright white smiles.

    • Is that similar to my yelling at the TV for five minutes while Saul is wandering thru that town–“For crap’s sake COVER YOUR HEAD!!!!” Nothing says “I don’t belong” as being the only bare-headed man in a MUSLIM town!

  2. Also, re: Donut, I believe the title is a double-entendre, with the first “meaning” referring to Duck’s remark to the Ambassador when presenting her with what looked like a little box of pastries: that they were “halfway to a donut”. Which when you live abroad–especially somewhere far-flung–is one of the things on a long list of comfort-food goodies that you miss about America: good donuts (and bagels, and peanut butter, and oh dear, how long have you got…) It was his way of trying to get in her good graces, I think.

    The other meaning, I think, refers to Duck himself. A donut, where I come from, is a dumb, idiotic person. Someone who does something stupid. As Duck did. As, come to think of it, Qureshi did in thinking she could mess with Carrie’s meds, have her discredited, and nothing would go awry and no-one would find out. Kahn watched her closely–you don’t get to be that highly-placed by being obtuse–and he put two-and-two together on the spot, as did Carrie when she was about to take her Nortriptyline capsule, then figured out what had happened and spat it out. Carrie and Kahn: Not-Donuts.

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