Homeland has long painted in broad strokes, but the brush used this episode was particularly big. Its title might as well have been “The Ends Justify The Means,” so keen was it on taking a leaf from 24‘s Big Book of Underhand Tactics. Unless there’s an ongoing metaphor concerning US foreign policy in how the characters interact with each other, it’s difficult to imagine how anybody could consistently act as unpleasantly as Saul is right now. Although he assures Quinn that it’ll all be worth it, there’s simply no need for him to relish his treatment of everybody around him as much as he seems to.
The end of last week’s episode featured Saul giving testimony to the congressional committee concerning Carrie’s mental state. That appeared to give him a nice run-up into this week, running roughshod over everybody he came across. His berating of new analyst and observant Muslim Fara Sherazi was nothing short of completely appalling, which in reality would (and should) have resulted in hauling his ass to a religious discrimination tribunal, while kindly telling him where he can stick his job.
But she just keeps quiet, and does her job, putting up with askant stares and getting the stink eye from various staff members, Quinn notwithstanding. They’re setting Fara up to be an idealised example of a “good Muslim” in a fairly cartoonish way, and I’d say that it shows the relative contempt that the creative team holds for their audience that they feel the need to show that “not all Muslims are bad” in such a hamfisted way.
We don’t need a reminder that “not all Muslims are terrorists” – we already know this. Everybody knows this. Give us some credit. Seeing her stand-up to the world’s most evil banker (Islamic terrorists, bankers – see what I mean about Homeland‘s broad strokes?) was pretty bad-ass, however, and it’s nice to see someone in a headscarf getting some recognition in a non-evil role on mainstream American television for once. It’d be a real shame if it turned out she’s actually an Iranian mole or something, really it would. Quite what Saul was expecting when he requested an Iranian-speaking analyst, with good knowledge of Iran, and an observant Muslim showed up, we’ll never know. Didn’t ring true for me though, being the acting director of the CIA – it looks like they credit the CIA with as much intelligence as their audience.
Saul might lack intelligence, but he doesn’t lack Intelligence. As in, spying and stuff. His treatment of Carrie continues to be completely appalling, effectively having her sectioned and drugged to a stupor. He told her family she was off her meds and speaking to the media (both true), but at this stage we’re not sure what is pure Carrie delusion and what is the machinations of Saul, who is, keep in mind, the heart and soul of the show at this point. Could he really have Carrie’s CIA records expunged? Could he really spike a news story? Does he wield that kind of power? Is it driving him insane?