‘Homeland’ Review: “A Red Wheelbarrow”
On tonight’s all-new episode of ‘Homeland,’ Carrie and Quinn hatch a plan to catch the suspect responsible for placing the bomb in front of the Langley building, while Saul quietly moves onto phase 2 of his Javadi plan. Meanwhile, Fara struggles to cope with the stress of working with the CIA. Judging by the titles of last week’s and this week’s episodes, someone’s been doing their poetry homework.
The title of this week’s episode comes from “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams, which reads:
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
The poem is written in intentionally meditative format, forcing the reader to contemplate that that which seems so carelessly placed is perhaps as it should be, that is all has purpose; everything in its right place. And so it goes with Saul’s mysterious Phase 2, which involves shuffling Javadi up the Iranian military regime with a plan that involves him leaving the country, specifically without Carrie’s knowledge.
And this is where ‘Homeland’ proves it still has some intelligence in a show that’s about Central Intelligence. Where this season has largely been soapy and has been more concerned with larger plot and less with details and more with getting there than the path itself, the maneuvers made this week are downright impressive. I’ve been skeptical, and even was in the first 10 minutes or so, especially when Saul hands over his Phase 2 folder, refusing to elaborate on his grand plans. That little moment brought flashbacks to his and Carrie’s ploy to draw out and Javadi and the huge leap of faith that required all of us to take. But this week is a phenomenal reminder of what this show was in season 1, and what it was in its high moments during season 2.
Quinn and Carrie’s little plan to flush out the key suspect in the Langley bombing using Bennett and Franklin was pretty smart — not only are they finally using F. Murray Abraham more, but we’re also seeing Carrie’s pregnancy addressed. I’m not sure I’m fully on board with the idea that this show needs a Carrie-Brody baby running around (in fact, I’m not — at all), but given that tonight’s plotting renewed my confidence in ‘Homeland’ after a season that’s been all over the damn map, I’ll withhold my judgment.
But the greatest stuff tonight isn’t Saul heading off to Venezuela to recruit a red-eyed and doped-up Brody for his presumably insane Iranian mission (and I can’t even begin to understand how Brody fits into this — unless Saul is bringing Brody back as an early Christmas gift for Carrie?). The greatest stuff tonight is being reminded that Carrie Mathison is a loose cannon, and she doesn’t give a damn. When her hopes of nabbing the Langley bomber alive are compromised, she risks blowing months of her work with Saul and Javadi just to imprison a terrorist. She strolls right on up to that hotel building with swagger and couldn’t care less when Dar orders Quinn to shoot her; she cares even less when Quinn tells her he’s going to shoot her; and then Quinn shoots her. All of this while she’s 13 weeks pregnant. Maybe Carrie doesn’t need to be pregnant. Maybe you guys are starting to understand my thinking about this.
Regardless, it’s an incredibly intense sequence, crossing back and forth between Carrie being swooped up in the recon truck and wondering where in the hell Saul is because her intuition tells her something just isn’t right about this whole operation; Franklin in the bathroom of the hotel, pouring acid on the Langley terrorist, which I don’t think they teach you in any formal law school I’ve heard of; and Saul, showing up in Venezuela to see our old friend Nicholas Brody, who’s not looking so great, and probably not smelling so great if Saul’s retrieval of his handkerchief is any indication.
Welcome back, ‘Homeland.’ I know this is episode 8, but it feels like you’ve finally come home.