Homeland Review: “A Red Wheelbarrow” (Season 3, Episode 8)

Episode 308
For a moment, just one moment on this week’s episode of Homeland, I thought they’d lost it. I thought they’d cracked and decided to go all 24 on us. It was when Fara returned home from sitting in the CIA parking lot for over thirty minutes, and we got to see inside her house for the first time. It was homely, sure, but the typically Middle Eastern (for want of a better term) music playing suddenly made my stomach lurch. I thought maybe the writers had decided to make Fara a terrorist. I thought the only heroic Muslim female on American television was about to be outed as a double agent all along, and I was just about ready to email the editor of this site and let him know that I didn’t want to review the show anymore. My finger was hovering over the mouse and everything; no mean feat given the short amount of time it took for that impression to dissipate, when it became clear that Fara – at least for the moment – is no terrorist.

It’s been a long time coming. For the longest time, the be-all and end-all of Fara has been her headscarf. It’s defined her entire character, which was perhaps necessary given the reveal that she’s actually caring for her elderly, sick father, who has his own deeply personal reasons for not wanting her to work for the agency. You could argue that he might have terrorist, or at least Iranian leanings – but then again, as an Iranian, he’s bound to really – but making his reasons for not wanting Fara to work for the CIA as primarily personal reasons was a very delicate piece of plotting.

It would have been too easy to make him some ranting mullah-type, even though that wouldn’t be that conducive to creating a daughter like Fara, but all credit to the Homeland team, they resisted that urge. He’s just a dad who wants his daughter to stay safe, much like any parent whose child announced he or she was joining the Marines, for instance. Them not wanting their son or daughter to join not for reasons of patriotism or political leanings, but because they might get hurt. Add in the threat of the Iranian secret police possibly getting wind of Fara’s activities and potentially threatening her relatives who still live in the country, and you have a pretty potent reason to not go to work that day.

Yet still she does, because (as she says herself) she is first and foremost an American. They needed Farsi speakers with intimate knowledge of international finance, a field so narrow that one would feel duty-bound to step in, like a doctor on an airplane. She can do no wrong at this point, and I really hope she doesn’t. She might be the only one that will escape this show with a clear conscience at this rate, what with all the double-and triple-dealings going on. Fara’s little white lie to her father seems like child’s play compared to what everyone else is doing.