Homeland remains a shadow of the intriguing, thought-provoking television series it used to be. However, its nimble plot turns, crackling suspense and engaging performances are of a caliber so high that any series on television would pant to keep up with all of its twisty maneuvers. Let’s face it: the 24 comparisons this fourth season has received should no longer be a put-down.
It was bizarre to see Aayan’s face appear in the “Previously On” segment this week. It has only been a month since Haqqani executed him in front of hovering U.S. drones, yet the series has delivered so much numbing excitement and bravura plot developments since that one could believe Aayan was a relic from a previous season. However, his face becomes quite pertinent to “Krieg Nicht Lieb,” an episode whose title translates literally to “War, not love.”
The ‘war’ of the title seems to be the mindset of Peter Quinn, now a rogue agent that Carrie has to rein in. This shifting of their personalities – she wants to get him home safe, he is motivated to commit vengeance on a lethal scale – served to underline just how suddenly harsh violence can interact on one’s psyche. Since the coup on the embassy last week, which included a high body count and symbolized the undermined American effort in Pakistan, each of them has reacted differently. He is scarred by the events and yearns for retribution. She understands the failure and tries to act accordingly by ensuring that all of the agents get safely home.
In all of his bluster, though, Quinn gets away with some rather ballsy moves, such as severely injuring one of the embassy’s personnel, shooting him in the leg in a public garage in daylight. He should know to operate more quietly, especially since a kill order is out for him. Despite these threats, he walks by Haqqani’s compound in two instances during the daytime, yet nobody notices. He also does not tack on much of a disguise when scoping the terrorist’s compound from a nearby rooftop. He manages to infiltrate a hospital and get an envelope to Aayan’s friend without getting into trouble, too. Quinn’s nifty expertise in the field sometimes feels a bit too easy.
Carrie, meanwhile, is not too surprised with the level of ease that Quinn operates within. She knows how to sniff him out and quickly contacts one of his ex-girlfriend’s who works at the German embassy in town. (That character is played by the exceptional German actor Nina Hoss of Barbara, who hopefully has much more to do in future episodes.) However, despite a calmer outlook on the geopolitical reality in Islamabad last week, Carrie starts to drift into some gutsy moves of her own by the episode’s end.
Could these fleeting emotions have to do with the loss of her father and her worry for the lives of her family back in the homeland? It is surprising that it took Homeland almost the entirety of the fourth season to acknowledge the passing of the great character actor James Rebhorn, who portrayed Frank Mathison. The development, tossed in with surprising depth given the intensity of the surrounding events by episode scribes Alexander Cary and Chip Johannessen, gave Carrie the time to re-examine her priorities. She tries her best not to unravel in front of her sister and daughter, but from Danes’ flinching and shattered expression, we could tell how much the distance between her and the lives of the people she loves is starting to creep into her attitude on the ground.