Dec 14, 2020
Homeland RECAP: Carrie Won't Take No for an Answer (S4:E2)
Remember how last season Saul was being a total dick but then it turned out it was all part of a crazy scheme? This season feels like that again, except this time they’ve made Carrie—a.k.a. the Drone Queen—the one who has misplaced anything resembling a moral compass. While there are twists ahead, it looks like Carrie’s ruthlessness is real. Will it lead to some awful consequence where she’ll be forced to find her humanity once more—probably with Quinn’s assistance, assuming he’s not the one who has to die in order for her to see the error of her ways?
The episode is called “Iron in the Fire,” and it looks like the iron is Aayan. He goes back to get the bag of drugs he left with his girlfriend only to find that his girlfriend’s father found it, dumped it and reported him as a drug dealer to his medical school. Some days it’s really not worth getting out of bed! Doesn’t look like he has much choice except maybe to run to Carrie and take her get-out-of-Pakistan-free card—even if she was totally creepy when she introduced herself in a bathroom and got a bit handsy.
Redmond, your least favorite drunk uncle, is still lurking around the compound, but at least now he’s grudgingly helpful. He identifies earpiece-man as Farad Ghazi—a hood who sometimes does dirty work for Pakistani security (ISI). This leads to a top secret operation to “clone” Ghazi’s phone and surveil him.
Aayan shows up at the faux-offices Carrie has set up with her shadow team. He asks if she can really get him into King’s College in England. She says sure thing. It’s something “journalists” do for their sources all the time! But what he really needs is 80,000 rupees stat. He can’t tell her why. He starts crying, and she winds up hugging him… and why does this make me think of that recent Dateline about the teachers grooming their middle school students? She gets him the cash, and Fara and Max go off to follow him. Quinn confronts her about the “medical school no problem” business, but she points out that Aayan’s dead if he stays in Pakistan and she can get him out.
Where’s Saul? He’s about to get on a plane, but Carrie snags him at the hotel checkout. She tells him about Ghazi and his connection to ISI, which means that ISI set up Sandy and that’s a really big deal. Saul says yes it is and Carrie needs to inform Langley. Carrie isn’t ready to do that and instead enlists Saul’s help against his better judgment because that’s what she does.
Saul meets the ISI man. ISI-man is played by Raza Jeffrey, who was Dev on Smash, and for this reason alone it was difficult to see him as threatening. Anyone who played anything on Smash will be television-cursed forever. Saul tells Dev everything Carrie suspects—Sandy was giving ISI information, ISI was setting up the targets for the drone attacks, ISI was directly responsible for Sandy’s death. Dev gives Saul nothing—but the whole point was to shake things up. Dev doesn’t know that Carrie’s shadow team are the only ones who know any of this.
Sure, that was worth Saul’s sticking around a few days and risking his marriage. What excuse will keep him there next week? And will all Mandy Patinkin’s scenes take place in the same hotel dining room?
Did they shoot his whole season in a day?
Let us now return to Aayan’s alma mater. Professor Boyd is finishing up a lecture. You can tell he’s a pompous blowhard who loves the sound of his own voice because he’s played by Mark Moses—a.k.a. Duck Philips of Mad Men. Some mystery woman comes up to him and mentions that Sandy Bachman was a mutual friend and now that Sandy is gone, they need his help. He is spooked but good, and calls an old contact to beg for a state-side job. He says it doesn’t have to be his old position—just any excuse he can give “Martha.” For a moment, I wondered if Martha was a spy-euphemism, but it turns out Martha is the Ambassatrix—his wife. Now it all makes sense. He was giving his wife’s top secret files to Sandy, who was trading them with ISI for intel on targets.
Carrie and Quinn have a moment. He tells her he didn’t follow her to Kabul because he didn’t want “to live in a bunker and kill people by remote control.” Ever since he accidentally assassinated that child in Caracas, he’s just lost his taste for it. Carrie is NOT a sympathetic listener—although she can play one for her assets. With Quinn she just seems annoyed by the whining. “What I need is your help and not your goddamn foot on the brake.”
Why is the show making us hate Carrie?
Fara and Max follow Aayan around. Can we get some banter or romantic tension here, please? Nope. It’s a mirror Carrie/Quinn, but she’s more Veronica Mars than Carrie Mathison and Max lacks Quinn’s air of tragic gravitas. They arrive at the medical school. We know this because Max tells us so. Aayan gives the money to a nurse, and many hours later she returns with a mystery bag. Where is Aayan taking it? Fara follows him on foot after a traffic jam. She finds him talking to—wait for it—OMIGOD—his “dead” uncle the terrorist everyone thought got blown up at the wedding!
This is so huge that when Carrie hears about it, she decides not to round up Ghazi—which Quinn thought was a really stupid, dangerous thing to do. Instead, the team must get things ready for the return of Aayan.
Meantime, Professor Boyd has been picked up by the mystery woman and her crew. The mystery woman is a tough ISI agent—or maybe she’s working for another faction. She wants Boyd as an asset, and she’s recruiting him with a combination of blackmail and the same touchy-feely, “only I can keep you safe” techniques that Carrie uses. She even has a similar smug “I am so getting off on this” smile.
Somewhere on the internet, someone is already writing fan fiction in which Carrie and her Pakistani doppelganger have torrid lesbian spy-sexytimes.
But what’s up with Aayan? Is he working with his uncle? Or was he, as Fara speculates, merely delivering medicine to a family member? All Carrie knows is that he’s useful. He can lead them to their target.
It’s night and Fara delivers Aayan to the “safe-house” they’ve set up, which Aayan is led to believe is Carrie’s apartment. That explains why Carrie answers the door wearing a negligee top with matching black pants. Carrie tells Aayan it will take a couple of days to arrange his passport and visa. She’ll get a hotel “in the morning,” but he can have the couch that night. She touches him again as they make up the bed and makes sure he gets a full-on view of her cleavage. He’s not giving her much. She kisses him, and he asks her what she’s doing. Turns out this is his first time, which gives her pause, but not much. He doesn’t actually tell her to get lost, so it’s not exactly rapey, but it is not good.
What if he just said no? But he wouldn’t, would he? He has nowhere to go, and he wants to be safe, and she promised him King’s College. Besides Carrie doesn’t ever take no for an answer.
Let’s think of this scene for a moment with the genders reversed. Not a pretty picture.
Of course, it might not work out exactly the way Carrie thinks it will. She could be the one getting played. World politics aside, it would serve her right.