Homeland: From A to B and Back Again
November 4, 2014 7:21 AM - Season 4, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Carrie puts her operation in motion.

Aayan prepares to move to London, with some complications. Quinn gets very pouty and then figures out Saul is missing. The plagiarist in the embassy causes some serious problems. And Carrie gets punched in the nose.
posted by Nelson (5 comments total)
The bit where Aayan calls Carrie and the whole station hears it was amazing. I liked a lot about the episode but that moment really hit home. The abstraction of drone footage to the actual person, the silly technical goof with the feedback. I particularly like how Carrie refuses to be slut shamed. I was worried they were playing her like previous seasons, falling in love with the inappropriate bad boy who is the subject of investigation, but it appears in this case she really was just using Aayan the whole time. Awfully intense at the end, too.
posted by Nelson at 7:32 AM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think equating the criticism with Carrie's actions with "slut shaming" is off base. She's using sex purely as a way to manipulate a naive, grieving, and vulnerable 20 year old into doing something she knows is almost certain to get him killed. Maybe you can argue (as she does) that this is what has to be done to get at the bad guys but it's still a shitty and questionable thing to do.

Her complete loss of control when Aayan was killed does imply she wasn't completely keeping her feelings out of play. Yeah, she was mostly using Aayan. But she felt at least enough that she couldn't keep her head after witnessing him get shot and ordered a drone strike right on Saul's head. I really don't think that was a reasoned "it's our only chance" reaction, it was an emotional one.
posted by Justinian at 10:38 AM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

I just liked that her whole station heard direct tawdry evidence of her seduction of Aayan and she refused to look embarrassed or apologetic. She's not the least ashamed that she's had sex with him, I think a lesser show would have tried to put that emotion on her somehow. That leaves the writer free to focus on her more questionable move, manipulating Aayan. I liked her strong response to Quinn and Fara on that, pointing out he's not a boy and that he's aiding jihadists. Aayan is the enemy and she is ready to call down literal Hellfire on him in order to wipe out the bad guys. At least, that's just her moral reading of the situation. I love that Quinn of all people, the assassination robot, is the one who provides moral counterbalance. It's pretty complex and subtle writing and I'm impressed the show is pulling it off.

I'm not sure how I felt about her willingness to sacrifice Saul. First, the whole setup felt contrived and silly to me, although they did lay the clues on how ISI and the evil jihadis would have been in a position to arrange the whole thing. But then she just loses her shit and gives the kill order. And her subordinates refuse to follow the order, deferring to Quinn. I can't help but think that's completely compromised her authority and she's done at the station. Maybe she'll wander off alone in the next episode with nothing but a head scarf and a knife gripped in her jaw.
posted by Nelson at 11:36 AM on November 4, 2014

I think the fact that the character (Carrie) is female complicates the whole thing about her using Aayan. It's easy to read some of the implicit criticism to be gender-specific, about the double-standard. But, on the other hand, Quinn made it pretty clear that he's objecting to the matter of Aayan being so young and naive. Unfortunately, he includes some other stuff into his criticism ("should we be naked?") that confuses the matter. And given the double-standard and all, as a narrative for an audience, it's not clear at all that what they're leveraging isn't sexist disapproval of Carrie's actions.

As I've watched the whole thing play out, I've constantly asked myself what the show would be like and how the audience would likely react were the genders reversed. I do think that, overall, the core of the message would be the same -- that there's something not right about Carrie's zealous willingness to use this boy and even kill him in the process. I think that would have been the same with reversed genders. In fact, it would have leveraged cultural sexism the other direction and audience sympathy would have been even more with Aayan, more inclined to see the seduction of a young girl as shameful. But, this way, there is implicit shaming of Carrie for being willing to use her sex appeal in a way that, for example, no one ever criticizes James Bond.

The mixing of issues does make for a more interesting narrative, I suppose and, from a character psychology standpoint, I do think that Carrie herself is rationalizing her guilt away in the terms that Nelson describes -- what she's really feeling is some guilt at being a monstrously exploitative and dishonest person, but I think part of how she's internally defending herself has been that's she's imagining that any criticism must necessarily be sexist and so she's proud to be unashamed to sleep with this kid for the sake of patriotism. That's what she's told herself, I think.

"I'm not sure how I felt about her willingness to sacrifice Saul."

It bothered me, too, because it's like one of those unanswerable paradox questions about God and boulders. I mean, the biggest problem is that the former director of the CIA -- and not just any former director, but someone who wasn't a political appointee but who had a lifetime of experience in both ops and analysis -- would ever, ever be allowed to travel anywhere that he could be abducted or killed and, if he even were, that he'd never have less than extreme security. I mean, don't people actually know other people with very high-level security clearances? I've had relatives and friends who worked at the national weapons laboratories with very high clearances and there's lists of countries they're not allowed to travel to, period.

So the security risk that Saul represents wandering around Pakistan alone is so great that it would never actually happen.

But let's suppose that it did -- then, in the situation that was depicted in the show, I can't help but think that bombing the whole group would be the best possible thing to do. On a pure utilitarian level, I think it would be the right decision and it would have been my decision. Get a bunch of high-priority terrorists and eliminate the extreme threat to national security that Saul's capture by these terrorists actually is.

However, if this ever happened in reality, such a politically high-profile as the ex-CIA director being killed in a drone strike, on purpose, would absolutely, positively be leaked sooner rather than later and Washington would explode and who knows how bad the fallout would be. I don't think that anyone in Carrie's position would order such a thing. I'm not sure, because maybe some people would be willing to be the fall-guy for the sake of doing something necessary.

But the one thing that wouldn't happen is that they'd order a strike because they're really upset that the terrorist killed Aayan. I mean, seriously, Carrie really is the most absurd intelligence agent, ever.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:29 AM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

What was the point of Haqqani killing Ayaan? And why would the ISI help the Taliban kidnap Saul?
posted by feets at 11:12 PM on November 13, 2014

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