Homeland – Season 4 Premier Review: “The Drone Queen”/” “Trylon and Perisphere” (A Two Part-traveganza)

To say that I thought the way Season Three ended with Nick Brody being hung and a pregnant Carrie Mathison trying to honor his sacrifice by using a Sharpie to draw a star for him on the CIA wall of the fallen because they didn’t want to acknowledge him was perfect.  Brody, for all of his demons, his lies and disbeliefs, he was still a patriot.  A patriot, not in the twisted FOX News sort of way, but in the way someone who feels that his own government is betraying and no longer representing the people that elected it, but for its own selfish and callous ambitions – thus, a domestic enemy against America.  This season starts off many months later with Carrie as the CIA Station Chief in Afghanistan – not exactly a place you bring a kid.

After a successful bombing attack on the location of a terrorist leader, Haqqani, Carrie is pulled into the political/public relations shredder as the attack was [unbeknownst] on a wedding celebration where many innocent members of his family [adults and children] are caught in the crossfire.  Carrie and Peter Quinn are thrust into a counterintelligence mystery as they try to figure out how their intel was so right, yet so wrong from their partner CIA Station Chief, Sandy Bachman in Pakistan.  They’re also confronted with how broken they are – from their line of work and their lack of ability to cope with normal life.

Aayan, the lone survivor and nephew of Haqqani, tries to live with the cost of his survival and how his survival is used politically by friend and foe alike.  Most stories of this sort are fairly one-sided, in Homeland we’re getting to see both sides of the story – from the aggressor to the aggressee.  Aayan’s story reminds us of the unintended costs of war, especially in this day and age where wars can be fought on many occasions from the safety of a facility hundreds of miles away.  The human toll is diminished and the consequences are easier to ignore because the blood isn’t literally on your hands, but consequences are devastating.  Aayan is the face of the 21st century engagement for this season, but there is more to this character then we’re lead to believe.  I’m not sure what the angle is, but there were a couple of scenes in episode two that tell me this may be an important story to pay close attention to.

Carrie isn’t right in the head.  We all know this.  However, Carrie is so savant in her analytical and calculating abilities that it’s easy to want to overlook her mental disorder and inability to connect to another human being in any healthy manner.  In this respect, we see just how messed up she is when finally confronted with the notion that she may actual have to be a mother to her infant daughter, Franny.  Franny, the love child of Carrie and Brody, is probably the most tragic character in this whole story.  Born from a relationship of deceit, espionage, murder and even a weird sort of impossible love, she is unwillingly thrust into a world where you can’t help but be in awe at how they cast a baby that actually looks like a mini-Brody and mourn that that baby was born into a jacked up situation.  If not for the grace of Auntie Maggie and their father, God knows where this baby would have ended up.  Maggie said it best in a conversation with Carrie, “There is not even a diagnosis for what’s wrong with you.”  That made me laugh and nod my head rapidly in agreement.  There’s one scene in the second episode that truly made me terrified of Carrie and her affliction.  All I will say is, for the sake of my heart, the less time with Carrie and Franny alone together – the better.

Peter Quinn is one of the more soft-hearted wetworks operatives in TV history.  This isn’t completely a bad thing and drives the conflict within the character and some of his motivations in the series.  However, Peter’s soft-heartedness probably has also allowed the course of some significant events the last three seasons to continue.  If you remember, it’s because Peter didn’t kill Brody at that lake house that 200+ people at the Vice President’s funeral were murdered.  If he had killed Brody, Estes (the bastard that his was) and a lot of other innocent people would probably still be alive.  Actions have consequences, but so does inaction.  Quinn spared Brody’s life to save Carrie heartache, but I think he’s realized like everyone else – there’s nothing in this universe that will spare Carrie heartache.  She’s the quintessential tragic character; she’ll live a tragic life and die more than likely by tragic means.  Peter is trying to come to terms with all of this, the events that happened in the first episode in Afghanistan and ultimately his brief exposure to state side civilian life.  To say he’s the poster child of post-traumatic stress disorder is not so much an understatement as it doesn’t really cover his internal/environmental conflict accurately.  He is traumatized, but if nothing else – he’s the essence of what seems to be a good man doing incredible terribly things in horrible places and it’s eating him up.  The closest character that I can think of that other people would relate to would be Wolverine from the X-Men; One of the most dangerous killers in the world with a heart of tarnished gold.

Season four is Carrie’s season.  I said from season one that this show could live just on the exploits of Carrie Mathison alone.  The Nick Brody, star-crossed lover story line was definitely a last minute decision that could have easily not been told.  Brody could have blown up the Vice President and his entourage the end of season one, she could have tracked down Abu Nazir season two and three, and we could be dealing with the events of season four as it stands.  However, the human drama and tragedy would have been diminished, so I’ve stopped second guessing the writers on this issue.  I questioned them pretty much all of season three and over the summer waiting for season four.  They’ve put together a pretty awesome series of events that have created this dark and brooding world of cause and effect, actions and consequences, trauma and strife.  This was a compelling two hours that set the stage for what appears to be another thrilling arc in the Carrie Mathison Chronicles.

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