Oct 182015
Homeland, The Tradition of Hospitality, Carrie and During running for cover

Courtesy of Showtime

Homeland is doing all the Homeland things it does so very well. While I recognize, reluctantly, that it could all fall apart, the past two weeks have been outstanding television. There are twists and turns, the suggestions that more twists are coming, there’s tension, mystery, and, of course, great acting, all against the gray-tinged palette and carefully constructed visuals that are this show’s signature style. Forgive me for skipping a week; we’re going to cover two weeks in this post, first The Tradition of Hospitality, then Super Powers. Both were excellent episodes.

The Tradition of Hospitality shakes Carrie up and sends her to the Middle East, where, naturally, all hell breaks loose. Here is a new Carrie Mathison, a Carrie who gets scared, who needs hope, who faces the reality of suicide bombers jumping out at her and weeps in the bathroom. This is non-manic Carrie, and I find I can totally get behind her.

Laurie Journalist goes on TV and gets all, I can reveal German Intelligence secrets because FREEDOM, so that we’re all kind of checking into our internal Snowden monitors and seeing how we feel about all this, and then is promptly arrested. Homeland is great when it’s doing that thing of looking at the costs of national security (even when that nation is Germany) and refusing to have clear good guys and bad guys. The day before publishing her story, she has a conversation with Carrie in which Carrie refuses to tell her anything, but she’s photographed doing so. Now Station Chief Eowyn thinks Carrie is feeding her information.

Eowyn has been kicked out of her job and is refusing to go down without a fight. With the dismantling of the CIA’s spying operation in Germany, she’s concerned about her now-burned assets, the Valerie Plames who must be brought home safely. Saul is not worried so much about that as about the terrorists the spy operation was tracking, and he’s got just the plan to clean up: Peter’s Assassination Post Office Box! Peter’s first assignment is a woman who has been recruiting young women as suicide bombers. Just before he shoots her point blank in the head she says his name. Now we know he is willing to kill someone he knows, and perhaps likes, and knowing Peter, probably slept with. This will be important in a few short minutes when the episode ends with the big reveal: The next person on his kill list is “Mathison”.


Except, upon reflection, it doesn’t make sense. If Saul is cleaning up terrorists, then taking out Carrie, even if he thinks she leaked the secret documents, is a lower priority. She shouldn’t be number two on the kill list.

Super Powers opens with Saul questioning During about Carrie’s whereabouts. That clinches it. If Saul had sent Peter to kill her, he certainly wouldn’t be making noise about looking for her. The logical conclusion, then, is that somebody has somehow stolen Saul’s P.O. box key, and planted information. That somebody has to be a CIA insider, since the instruction to kill Carrie was delivered in a code known to Peter. My first thought was Dar Adal, but then the episode ended with another TWIST! If Saul is sleeping with Station Chief Eowyn, she certainly could be going through his pockets, find the box key, and figure out the rest. Right now, my money is on her as the one who fingered Carrie to die.

Carrie’s behavior is fascinating. At the end of last week’s episode, I was sure she would stay in the Middle East to find out who was trying to kill her, and even though I was sure, I thought it was completely stupid. So this week, when I found out she’d run straight home to Berlin, I was pleased. This really is a new Carrie Mathison, one who isn’t a ticking time bomb. Even her controlled experiment in setting off a mini Carrie Bomb was interesting. And creepy. And has probably killed her relationship with Mr. Nice Guy. She called him Clark Kent, you don’t come back from that.

This season’s episode titles, by the way, are far more interesting than last season. Super Powers refers to Carrie’s sense that her bipolar disorder gives her super powers, and also refers obliquely to the CIA plot to replace Assad in Syria–America acting as a superpower. Blond hacker is also talking to a Russian–another superpower. Hacker Newman gave away the secrets, except he didn’t. The fuck-you animation must have been put on the thumb drive that Laurie looked at by Blondie.

Professor Spouse thinks we’ve heard too many times, from too many people, about Carrie being former CIA, and in the end we’ll find out she’s been working with Saul all along. I don’t know if she’s right. I do know that Saul shouldn’t be so quick to believe Carrie is a traitor based on one photo of her talking to Laurie. So I’m guessing Saul, at least, has not yet begun to TWIST!

We have no idea who is really trying to kill Carrie. I don’t mean Peter and whoever left him the coded message, because the CIA certainly didn’t send a suicide bomber or blow up an American base just to try to take her out. Remember way back in Season 1 of Homeland, there was a mole in the CIA, and we never found out who it was? Yeah, I hope that doesn’t happen here.

None of the stuff about Peter hunting Carrie played out the way I thought it would. She waited and she shot him. Did she swallow her pills or not? Could she have stayed alert in the woods all that time if she’d taken the sedative? If she didn’t, that’s CRAZY CARRIE that Peter has just shot up with something and carried away.

This is TWIST!y excitement. I love it.

What do you think, Basketcases? Who is after Carrie? Who planted the kill order? What secrets will be revealed next?


  12 Responses to “Homeland 5.02 & 5.03: The Tradition of Hospitality & Super Powers”

  1. According to the CC, the ISIS recruiter Quinn assassinates does not say “Peter!” She says “Bitte!”

    I hope that Saul is playing Berlin Station Director Allison, perhaps in concert with Dar Adal. Then again, there’s no fool like an old fool.

    • I think he is playing her, but I’m not sure. I’ll have to rewatch that assassination scene; CC is not always reliable.

    • I heard “bitte” (please) – one of the words I remember from 7th grade Deutsche class.

      Not so sure that was colloquial in the sense of “please, you don’t have to do this” – Weiner’s not riding herd on the Homeland writers.

  2. I don’t know enough backstory to understand why Saul would be concerned about the steel baron who hired Carrie – his disapproval of her new job (passing her in the hallway) struck me as a straw man of sorts. That would seem to serve as a way let us inside to see that he’s not playing Carrie into yet another long-form intrigue.

    (else, it wouldn’t be playing fair with the audience)

    That During’s grandfather was “a Nazi” rang false as well – except as shorthand for the historically uninformed (even more than I). Much more likely was that grandpa was a collaborator, which is not the same – as he undoubtedly had no better choice than to get along with The Huns. Even if the senior During was a founder, none of that has relevance now.

    And now we have two enemies trying to kill her? That’s a double boiler if I ever saw one. Is it likely that her middle-eastern enem(ies) are merely misdirecting her – planting the notion that the attack was for her? Is that too subtle?

    The fearful Carrie struck me as a false note as well – an unneeded device to step up the drama. I’d think that she was battle hardened by her career – something possibly enhanced by her mania but not liable to recede when mediated by lithium.

    I suppose that there are many scenarios by which Carrie could become privy to the Germany-CIA-conspiracy and that she could somehow gain access to the smoking-gun documents that prove the CIA’s moral-yet-extra-legal surveillance – but all of them would be completely out of character.

    • Is she afraid for her life? Or afraid of being drawn back in to a battle-hardened and cold life?

    • I see nothing at all implausible about the idea that During’s grandfather, like most Germans, revered the Leader or even became prominent in the Party and profited from it. This would have nothing to do with the current generation, I agree.

  3. Deborah;
    Dis you get a Bondian vibe from the way Cary waited outside with that sniper rifle?

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