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.