As a journalist who sometimes grimaces in disbelief at the unconvincing portrayal of journalists on film and television, it makes me wonder how people in certain occupations react to their line of work’s depiction in popular culture. What does a cop think of COPS? What do D.C. insiders think of House of Cards or Veep? How does a female ex-convict react to Orange is the New Black? Well, of all of the shows out in the marketplace right now, I am most curious to find out what people in the intelligence community think of a show like Homeland.
One expects they probably find it to be too preposterous to take seriously. Perhaps in light of the David Petraeus scandal from a couple of years ago, there was a bit of life imitating reality, as that convoluted affair wasn’t too far removed from the love story between agent Carrie Mathison and soldier-turned-terrorist Nicholas Brody. However, with that story two years gone – peaking at the same time that Homeland fans would testify the show started to trudge downhill – is any of it realistic or convincing any more?
Carrie remains both the biggest strength and the biggest liability of the series. She is the best part because Claire Danes gives every morsel of intensity to the performance, but the worst part because it is getting increasingly harder to accept that she can be the head of a CIA unit in Islamabad. This is a woman who gets close to supposed terror suspects by seducing them, a move that somehow feels much more acceptable in the framework of a television show than in real life. And although some have expressed concern with some of Carrie’s actions this season, most notably the momentary decision to murder her baby, this is the week where the characterization is starting to feel contrived, in this reviewer’s opinion at least.
Once Carrie is back at CIA headquarters, she decides to nap through some of the developments with Aayan. Why would she want to sit this pivotal session out? Was she really that tired to begin with? The episode shows no indication of Carrie’s fatigue until she slumps down on that couch, in the middle of a major conflict. Meanwhile, when she wakes up to watch Aayan on the drone cameras – ones that have the ability to zoom in for a close-up without being detected, which is seriously creepy – and finds that Haqqani and his cronies have Saul in their custody, she does not react stunned about her friend and former director being in harm’s way. The tears are for Aayan, who his uncle shoots dead. Haqqani somehow knew that the camera would be watching overhead and so, it is good fortune that he happens to put on a good show for Carrie and the rest of her staff. Despite the fact that firing on Haqqani would only put Saul in more imminent danger, she also begs for one of her agents to shoot Haqqani.