There was plenty of mystery and intrigue in this week's episode of Homeland, A Red Wheelbarrow, as Carrie (Claire Danes) found her attempts to locate and interrogate the Langley bomber obstructed, and Saul (Mandy Patinkin) went on a secret mission of his own. This was an episode full of promise, as attention switched from Saul's work with Javadi to Carrie's attempts to clear Brody's (Damien Lewis) name, but in the end was let down by some hammy scenes and a quite frankly farcical ending that saw Carrie gunned down by Quinn (Rupert Friend).
Carrie on Homeland
What have they done with Carrie? The sharp-thinking CIA operative had to endure the first half of this season locked away in a mental hospital, and as soon as she's out we learn of her pregnancy, which is confirmed to be Brody's after she admitted to her Doctor that her work is related to the father of the baby.
We already know that Carrie wants to clear Brody's name because she cares for him and wants to do her job properly, so why has this melodramatic contrivance been inserted in to the story? Her scene at the church with Franklin (Jason Butler Harner), feigning fear and anxiety to get him to reveal the bomber was still in the US, was Carrie using her skills to her best.
But the finale, where she rushes out of the car to try and save the bomber from Franklin, was Carrie at her worst. She's always been shown as a loose cannon, but only in the sense that she sticks to her guns when she knows she's right. Even if she disagreed with the decision to not intervene, and thus let Franklin eliminate their hope of evidence, the fact she would compromise Saul's plan so readily, just for the sake of helping the father of her baby, even with CIA snipers on her, seemed incredulous. The Carrie of old would never allow the mission to be jeopardised, but now this lovesick version we have to watch seems determined to rescue Brody over helping the CIA.
So Carrie took the bullet, whilst Saul was in Venezuela, checking in on the drugged-up Brody. Has the CIA chief known all this time then that Brody was locked away here, placing him out of the picture as a Scapegoat so that his plan for Javadi isn't compromised? Or will he instead bring him in, a prize fish to drop in to the President's lap just as he departs from his role. It's an intriguing concept, using Brody as a pawn in both his wider intelligence game and career aspirations, and one that will hopefully be explored in the final episodes.
Instead we got a further glimpse of the Berenson home life, with Mira (Sarita Choudhury) deciding to try and salvage their marriage by ending her affair with the roguishly handsome Alain (played by the fittingly surnamed William Abadie). This storyline served only to show Saul's blindness before, but now with Alain seen bugging his computer at the end, this will likely feed back to Javadi and Bennett (Martin Donovan). It does beggar the question as to why the head of the CIA isn't more careful in making sure his personal life is protected from leaks, but in the wake of last year's General Petraeus scandal, I guess it's not that far-fetched.
What felt more unrealistic was Fara's (Nazanin Boniadi) hackneyed exchange with her father (Parvis Sayyad), as he finds out she doesn't work at an investment bank when the CIA coming knocking to ask Fara about her disappearance from work. Yes, we know that Fara is a corrective from the writers to show not all Iranian Muslims are enemies of the state, but her whole, "I'm an American" declaration to her dad felt far too staged.
It feels unfair to knock Homeland for trying, but for every failing element that is removed (Brody's family, Abu Nazir the super villain), another seems to spring up. With Brody finally set to be reincorporated in to the story, and Saul becoming increasingly Machiavellian, hopefully that will change.