Homeland, Season 4, Episode 3, “Shalwar Kameez”
Written by Alexander Cary
Directed by Lesli Linka Glatter
Airs Sundays at 9pm on Showtime
Is Homeland a show about romance? Put another way, is romance central to what it is trying to say about war, intelligence, bureaucracy? After the end of the Carrie/Brody romance that was present through three seasons of the show, there were undoubtedly many that hoped the show would get back to basics with Brody’s departure. They looked forward to Carrie moving to Pakistan, letting her baby and its father fade into the past, taking control of her new station and hunting down bad guys. That stuff is happening, but we also seem as if we may be heading towards a Carrie/Quinn romance, and it’s unclear if that’s a good thing.
Not that we need to know right now, and not that it’s even clear that that’s what is happening. The episode is purposefully obtuse in telling us what these two are feeling, and why they are feeling it (especially Quinn). But the writers are definitely planting the seed, and it makes sense when one considers the state we saw Carrie in last week. Her emotional detachment following the death of Brody was apparent after the bombing, as well as with her daughter, and perhaps Quinn’s love will be the thing to snap her out of it?
It’s a pairing that makes sense, and it was definitely there when he was first introduced in season two, when he felt like a more appropriate partner than Brody. But though that thought cropped up at the time, the show never acted on it, or even gave any hints that it would. It coming up now is less out-of-left-field than it feels, but that feeling is still there all the same. It is entirely possible that all the show is trying to say is that Carrie and Quinn work better together as a team, in a professional sense, as two broken people devoted to the job. The last scene, though, as they talk on the phone and Quinn agrees to come to Pakistan, challenges this interpretation. “God, I fucking love you Quinn, you know that, don’t you?” The expression on Quinn’s face after Carrie says this suggests something more is going on, at least on his end. This could be an unrequited romance, and Carrie’s rejection of Quinn could be the thing to really send him over the edge, or perhaps it will be the thing to save both Carrie and Quinn. The problem with episodic reviews is that we just don’t know, and we can be worried about where the show is headed without knowing how much merit these concerns hold.
Which is why, if a Carrie/Quinn romance is coming, it will wholly depend on the execution. Homeland, in my eyes, does not require a central romance, especially after the last one, which suffocated the series for at least a season and a half, just ended. This may be too soon. But it’s a romance that would be complicated on numerous levels, and could certainly have something interesting to say about how people deal with trauma. Perhaps Carrie and Quinn will intimately embrace next episode because they can only connect with each other over what happened to them and Sandy in the premiere, realize it was a mistake, then never speak of it again. We’ll have to wait and see.
Some other things happened, most notably the development that Carrie may have moved to Pakistan, but she’s brought the team back together, albeit by setting up her own station, independent of the embassy. Carrie does this because she can’t trust anyone, especially with Brody gone (Carrie has a lot of similarities with season six-era Alicia Florrick of The Good Wife). So while the episode ends with Quinn agreeing to join her, Saul is also on hand to pull some strings for her, and her own mini-station is staffed by Fara(!!!) and Max (where the hell is Virgil?). We’re still gathering the pieces for the season to come, making for an episode that largely moves pretty slowly. Nonethless, it’s still exciting to have everyone here. As captivating as Carrie and some of the new embassy characters are (like ambassador Martha Boyd, who shares a nice, quiet scene smoking with Carrie on the embassy roof), they can’t carry the entire season on their shoulders, so it’s especially great to see Fara back, the best addition to the show last season.
There’s also some new advancements in the Sandy and Aayan situations, as Quinn discovers an earpiece-dude in a YouTube video that suggests the Sandy mishap was planned (by Pakistani Intelligence?), and Fara tries and fails to get Aayan in their grasp, with Carrie seemingly having more success. Using her genius ability to manipulate (it’s brilliantly amusing to watch her pretend there’s someone outside the door and have Aayan totally fall for it), she uses her carefully chosen words and some sexual tension to get into his head, before kissing-off with, “You won’t see me again if you don’t want to. But you should want to,” like star-crossed lovers. She also appears to genuinely apologize to him, even though it means nothing, since he has no idea she is the one responsible for his dead family and all this chaos. “I’m truly sorry for what happened to you,” she tells him, “and I wish you luck.” It’s brief, but it’s the only time she seems to be struggling to find the right words, and really, what words would be right? Her look into the mirror after he leaves the room tells more (Carrie’s expressiveness is telling more this season versus what she does and says like never before) as she pseudo-smiles and cracks a bit. Here, again, her emotional detachment breaks down for just a tiny moment. Will Quinn snap her out of it?