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Homeland – A Red Wheelbarrow Review – Best Yet?

On a previous review I questioned all the time the show has spent showing us Saul’s marital struggles. Though Mira’s presence on the show has been sporadic throughout the series’ run, once in a while popping in to establish the nature of their relationship and inform Saul’s personal life, recently she has become a prevalent fixture in the series. We even get glimpses of her personal life, in which she conducts an illicit affair. While I thought that the recent focus was an attempt to immerse the audience in Saul’s experience, in order to help us understand his state of mind and rationalize some of his decision-making, turns out that this storyline is constructed in such a way just to disclose that Mira’s lover is a spy and add yet another clunky complication to the season’s narrative. The revelation is not so much shocking as it is eye-roll inducing. The cheap attempts to shock the viewers with twisty, unexpected plot developments have been plentiful this season and so far have not resulted in heightening the intrigue for the viewer; it has developed a sense of frustration instead. Homeland has become a show in which one just immediately suspects any character of being a double agent, or something they are not, despite whether or not it could develop into an interesting story. (It is what the series has taught us to expect) And while the inherent uncertainty surrounding the series was exciting and fun in its first season’s run (where character choices made sense and truly surprising moments were narratively justified) now it just feels like random plot twists thrown haphazardly into the narrative without much thought.  It is suspect enough for the show to be showing us so much of Mira’s story, there had to be a bigger reason for all this attention. Why are we spending so much time with her and her suave male friend? There must be something up with him, naturally. I’d be more surprised if the guy was actually just in love with her.

I don’t think I’d complain about this as much if it were handled in a better way. This man has been a part of Mira’s life for a long time and he/his superiors wait until now to bug their house, when Saul’s time in the CIA is likely coming to an end. Mira and Saul don’t discuss his work in much detail, so he couldn’t have gathered much viable information over the years/time he has been with Mira and Saul is too smart to conduct any important business in his home computer. Wouldn’t the head of the CIA protect his house with heavy surveillance? It sure was easy for lover-man to break into and out of the house unnoticed. Also, as the head of the CIA, wouldn’t Saul looked up the dude that is sleeping with his wife? Is he that preoccupied with Javadi? I hope at least some of these concerns are addressed in future episodes because if not then this is just ill conceived, sloppy storytelling, which has been a staple this season. First the frustrating reveal that Carrie and Saul were running a long con on all of America (and the entire viewing audience) and then the awful revelation of Carrie’s pregnancy, not to mention the Dana fiasco. It just feels like the writers are playing with the audience and our expectations in the most irritating ways. Like they don’t trust their own storytelling and characters and have to resort to cheap twists to keep the audience captive. Why can’t we know what Saul’s plan is and have the drama and tension derive from the fact that Carrie is in the dark about it?

However, despite some of the issues concerning the narrative, there are some aspects of the episode that are quite good. First of all, I have to admit that it is definitely fun to watch Carrie get shot, not even gonna lie about that. She becomes so incredibly myopic when it comes to Brody that she, once again, recklessly endangers an operation. Her weird obsession with the former marine is increasingly irritating to watch and a characteristic that makes us question her competency, get it together, woman! I guess the writes earn some points in keeping her motivation consistent, even though it is weak and annoying. It was about time that someone called her out on her shit and then didn’t back down on their warning, also appreciate that it is Quinn (her strongest ally at the moment) to pull the trigger. That entire sequence is well executed and provides sufficient tension, which is thankfully something the show is still able to pull off successfully. Tracy Letts continues to make most out of his one-dimensional role of Andrew Lockhart, consistently delivering an entertaining and engaging performance as the arrogant senator. He has become one of my favorite characters, at least when he is on screen (almost always playing against Mandy Patinkin’s Saul) there is some fun conflict and the drama comes from the characters’ differing points of view. And I am slightly intrigued by Fara’s story. She is still dealing with how the whole Javadi situation was handled and while it was difficult to really feel anything for her last week, the writers are expanding her story and enlightening us on her personal story.

“A Red Wheelbarrow” is probably the best episode of the season just because it wasn’t painstakingly boring, which many of the previous episodes have been, though it doesn’t bode well for the season as a whole that that is the qualifying factor. Despite the narrative issues, there were compelling scenes and sequences with decent moments of tension and action (Saul’s confrontation with Lockhart, the episode’s final sequences). The episode is servicable, at best.


Radom Thoughts:

  • With Saul retrieving Brody in that final scene, how long till Dana shows back up in the show? For those who were celebrating the character’s exit, I fear that it will be soon cut short.
  • Countdown to Lockhart’s takeover, 9 days.
  • More pregnancy talk in this episode. Still think that she will end up miscarrying. 


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