A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
The second episode of the season, Trylon and Perisphere is not as thrilling as its predecessor but is still an incredibly strong episode that focuses a bit more on the character side, harboring in its fifty minutes the most disturbing scene in the history of this series and that’s certainly saying something. The title of the refers to two structures that were unveiled at the 1936 World Fair, representing the ideals of a utopia. One was a tall, minaret-like structure while the other was much more like rounded a dome (a shot of Islamabad cements the reference). The Trylon and Perisphere buildings were meant to signify the ideas of a utopia. For most people, utopia represents a loving family and a stability in one’s existence. But when Carrie walks into that utopia, there’s nothing but absolute terror, a realization of how far she needs to run away from that Trylon and Perisphere not just for her sake but everyone else’s. And for her own utopia in the field, it’s wrought with so much peril it’s a wonder she hasn’t completely lost herself. That’s what they are, Trylon and Perisphere, palpable yet ideals.
The oddest parts of the episode are related to Quinn, who seems to be taking out his distress with his life with alcohol. He meets the hotel manager from where he’s staying, asking her out for breakfast. I’m not quite sure what to make of that specific relationship considering Alex Gansa has said that they will revisit it, but I hope it develops in a healthy, normal way if it does. Homeland doesn’t need anymore oddly constructed romances. Certainly television could use more relationships in which one of the couple isn’t generically attractive and Homeland has the capability to tackle that maturely. Quinn, however, openly displays that he is not, beating up two men who were mocking his date’s weight. They’re covered in blood by the end of the ordeal, one of them getting to the hospital. It’s a neat sequence of scenes and I’ll look back on it more fondly if it builds to something satisfactory. At least all of this gets Carrie her most amusing line, possibly ever. Quinn suggests she stay back and calm down. “Yeah, it’s working wonders for you,” she remarks dryly.
The mystery of Sandy’s informant and the leaking of his cover to the Pakistani press deepens, tying neatly into Director Lockhart. Carrie finds a man named Harris, who’s been demoted to basically just paperwork, a sharp drop from a position of running the CIA station in Islamabad. Turns out he had uncovered information Lockhart had found unfortunate and within a second Harris’s career was over. Carrie puts the clues together, arriving at the conclusion that Lockhart was selling state secrets in exchange for those highly lucrative targets that led to Sandy and thus Carrie’s near impeccable record of strikes. She quickly leverages that information into grabbing the Islamabad position, sitting next to her former mentor with as much of a smile as the situation would allow. It’s an intriguing threads, opening up a neat way for Saul to come back into the CIA at some point. And there’s this wonderful little exchange between the two about Lockhart:
Saul: “He doesn’t seem that happy about it.”
Carrie: “Is it that obvious?”
Saul: “It’s a funeral. People get upset.”
Carrie has even more of a rough going this hour, which is incredible considering she was dealing with a strike that killed forty civilians in the previous episode. To make something up to Maggie, she agrees to take care of her daughter Franny for the day. To make a note, that is some spot-on casting for the child, considering the child literally looks like a mini version of Damian Lewis. Carrie, as she says herself, is a terrible mother. I appreciate that the show did not immediately transform her into a wonderful mother. Television and other entertainment venues generally have had a problem with depicting women who are not maternal material without making them into an outright villain. Everything just points to how wrong this role is for Carrie, at least for the moment. Like putting her infant in the front seat when she takes her to see Brody’s house. “I tried to hold onto that and feel it, happy that you’re here, but with his being gone, I can’t remember why I had you. I loved him so much. When I close my eyes, I still see him there.” Ouch. Carrie’s never been one to shy away from bluntness and it’s one of the most honest looks into her psyche that we’ve ever seen. But to hear that from your mother, ooh. She loves the child, that much is obvious, but the circumstances that brought her to life still recall that horrible trauma of those past years and it’s easy to see why Carrie was terrified.
The scene that has a fair number of people up in arms is the scene where Carrie is giving Franny a bath. The show runners apparently spent five days editing the scene and leaving it up to the viewers. I personally perceived it as her trauma coming back and for a second she thinks of drowning her child. And then quickly she pulls her baby back up, in tears and terrified of what she came so, so close to doing. Some critics believe that the show in that scene lost track of who Carrie truly is but I completely disagree. It fits with Carrie’s condition and it’s not that she deliberately tried to kill the child and somehow the child miraculously survived. She descended into madness but she quickly stopped herself from going any further. But that moment provided all the impetus necessary for Carrie to know that she had to go far, far away from her child until she was mentally capable of handling her. Maggie is understandably furious when Carrie reports that she’s going back to Islamabad and she has a point. It’s unfair for Carrie to bring Franny into the world and then just leave, she has a responsibility. “There’s not even a diagnosis for what’s wrong with you,” Maggie says harshly, telling Carrie that she can at least say good-bye to the child before leaving. “I’m so sorry,” she whispers, once again on the verge of tears as she looks at the smiling child. She walks away to her flight to Islamabad, leaving her child behind in the cradle. On the plane she’s asked if she’s all right, to which she quietly replies “I’m fine.” As the camera closes around her, isolated in the darkness of a plane flying in the dark skies, we know and so does she that she’s anything but.
Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+The opening shots establishing that Corey Stoll, indeed, has been knocked off after one episode because stunt casting
+Quinn throwing his bottle into the pool was oddly hilarious
+The shots of Sandy’s funeral at the church were gorgeous
+Lockhart’s completely inappropriate comments on Pakistan: “It’s not even a real country. It’s a ****in’ acronym.”
+The nanny giving Carrie the extremely disapproving look as she walks away to get Quinn out of prison. She doesn’t know the half of it, or a tenth for that matter.
*The video above is the full episode, courtesy of Showtime. When the network decides to take it down, it will be replaced by a clip from the episode, once again courtesy of the show and network.
Title: Trylon and Perisphere
Written By: Chip Johannessen
Directed By: Keith Gordon
Image Courtesy: IGN