Homeland Review: “Shalwar Kameez” (Season 4, Episode 3)

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Episode 403

“Shalwar Kameez” comes from Homeland vet Lesli Linka Glatter, one of the great small screen directors, but is hardly a pivotal episode for the helmer to step in. This episode is mostly a study in contrasts, a showcase for the opposite spiraling of Carrie and Quinn. Each character seems to have adopted the traits of the other. Two seasons ago, it would have been Carrie making spur-of-the-moment discoveries in an intoxicated haze and Quinn calming her. Here, it is Quinn who falls into such a state of delirium that he even puts Dar in a chokehold. “I controlled myself for 12 fucking years,” he tells a woman who comes into the CIA to do a psychiatric evaluation. “I lost it once.” “Once it all it takes,” she replies, clearly unaccustomed to the number of times that a newly minted foreign station head lost it.

Both Carrie and Quinn are in states of limbo this week, but the former deals better in an arrested space than the latter. In a rare non-rogue move, Carrie decides to stay in the security vehicle that was assigned to her – a decision she is likely happy with, given the heavy glare she gives to the car she sees by the embassy door, cordoned off with tape, that she rode in with Sandy and Quinn. She decides to do something off the radar later on, ducking out of the embassy to meet with a journalistic, Farah, who wants to get access to Aayan. (The rogue that she is, Carrie even manages to sneak in a jog, the trumpets from the jazz she listens to drowning out the honking from the Islamabad streets just outside the compound.)

Quinn, meanwhile, throws his phone in the pool and decides to lay low, wallowing in his own misery with a liquid diet. Unable to explain to the hotel manager-turned-lover about his failed mission for the CIA, he is trapped even more. Quinn moves closer to the edge, while Carrie is moving toward a place of stability. The funny thing is, he is in a random hotel room, she is steps away from a volatile Islamabad. Homeland’s third season did not have a lot of scenes with these two characters, so let us hope the series manages to make better use of Rupert Friend, now that he has second billing.

The characters are spiraling in opposite directions, with his descent juxtaposing her rise and greater stability. In a subtle stylistic move, most of Quinn’s scenes position him at a distance from the other characters – save his aggression toward Dar – while Carrie is keeping her friends (and potential enemies) close by engaging them right to their face. The moment at the end when she confronts Aayan in the ladies room maintains a palpable sexual tension. Based on the deep breathing between them when she slips her card into his pocket, Danes’ expression hints that she felt an electric touch where her hand went.

“You know you’re the hardest person in the world to say ‘no’ to?” Quinn seethes at Carrie near the episode’s end. It used to be a lot easier to deny the bipolar intelligence agent. Now, she has found a position with drive and control, and is wearing that titular Pakistani dress more easily. Thousands of miles from her family, Carrie is home. Now, if Homeland could only reflect her ease and stability in a worthwhile title sequence.

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