Homeland Review: “Halfway To A Donut” (Season 4, Episode 8)

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It is conceivable that some viewers may never forgive Carrie for giving Saul back up to Haqqani’s cronies. It is also conceivable that others may feel that Saul’s promise to Carrie, which spurs the life-or-death scenario, was out of character. However, both of their decisions seem pretty believable for a show where preposterous story turns have become the norm. Just days after watching Aayan getting blown away and her momentary encounter with Brody’s ghost 36 hours earlier, she is in no room to lose the next most important man in her life – and if that means breaking a promise, then she will do it. Meanwhile, Saul may have a better understanding of the consequences of the prisoner exchange. His time in Haqqani’s care did not seem overwhelmingly harsh and one expects that Saul can handle it emotionally, but he does acknowledge how he is merely there to make a deal.

As for Carrie, “Halfway to a Donut” shows a much-needed shift in character, from one who has lost her mind to someone who can stand up on their two feet and direct an operation with command (if not much chance for success). At the start of the episode, she cannot even keep her balance, as she grips the bedposts for support after waking up in Aasar’s home.

In the first scene, episode director Alex Graves hides much of the character in an over-the-shoulder shot, as Aasar’s back almost blocks our view of Carrie’s face. (At first, it seemed like poor camerawork, but considering how she was not up to terms with what had happened, it was fitting to not show Carrie entirely in view.) Compare that with the end of the episode, bookended with another chat between the CIA director and the ISI officer. Meeting under the cover of rain in an abandoned building, Aasar reveals that Dennis is the man who is working against Carrie, and not him.

With so much screen time devoted to Saul and Aasar this episode, it seems that Rupert Friend’s Peter Quinn gets the shaft again, despite his promotion to second billing this season. He is around for some mawkish discussion with Carrie after the plan with Saul goes awry, though. “There are only wrong choices,” the two of them agree upon as the cynical statement of the day, in one of the blandest ways one could close out a gripping, poignant climax like the one depicted in this hour. A response more in the show’s bewildering, impassioned tone is Lockhart, fuming after realizing the botched operation will only make his job with the Pakistani administration more difficult. “I was really looking forward to telling those people, ‘Go fuck yourselves,’” Lockhart tells Carrie, referring to the officials waiting to talk in the meeting room upstairs. Now, Homeland is just back to where it was at the start of episode eight, although Carrie is on firmer ground and with intel that may actually work in her favor.