The Enigma of Assets
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
The third episode of Homeland 2.0 is in many ways about seduction and the recruitment of assets. The title refers to the traditional Punjabi suit generally worn by women and is a popular attire across South Asia, including Pakistan. But more so it refers to how one can’t really work without the other. Just as you can’t really have a shalwar without a kameez, you cannot have a CIA agent without his or her asset(s). It’s inherently a seduction, but that one forms the crucial crux of the entire intelligence enterprise. Brody was a special case, considering his circumstances. But Aayan is from the background being recruited, with Fara standing in as a British journalist. Her first seduction, as Carrie puts it, is a bit of a disaster and she comes across as being desperate more than anything else. But it’s a logical piece of the storytelling, considering how ludicrous it would have been if financial analyst Fara was suddenly brilliant at seduction and recruiting assets for the CIA.
Carrie, having arrived in Islamabad last week, immediately meets Ambassador Boyd and John Redmond, the man who was supposed to get her job before she blackmailed Lockhart. Needless to say, he isn’t necessarily thrilled with the reality of him losing his job to a woman who seemingly came out of nowhere. The first team meeting doesn’t go over very well, but Carrie lays it on the ground. You do things my way or I put you on a plane back home. Ambassador Boyd sets up a lockdown on the embassy, which makes sense considering the mess that went down with Sandy Bachman is an understandable move. But that has an averse effect of not allowing her new case officers to actually go and do ground work themselves. But Carrie, heaving fully realized that it will take time for her new team to trust her even a bit, goes a step further and forms her own shadow unit with Fara and Max. Naturally, she can’t allow the embassy to know about that, a sequence that involves Carrie being nice to children and giving them money and an incredible shrewdness in spycraft. She dodges her embassy security detail, arriving at her second station without a scratch.
Even with Saul arriving in Islamabad, Carrie makes it clear that she’s the one running the show and doing a rather excellent job of it. At first, she isn’t impressed with him arriving in the capital, considering that she believes that his arrival will be as a sign of her weakness, which is probably true. But she grudgingly accepts that she needs Saul’s help in lifting the embassy blockade, which Saul basically does in his sleep. As it turns out, Ambassador Boyd and Saul were engaged at some point, which is repeated twice here so I’m assuming it’ll come up again. Carrie meets Saul the next morning, slightly peeved that he didn’t tell her about the engagement. But what follows is perhaps the best moment the two have shared since Season 2 where Saul proves to Carrie that she was right about Brody. He gives her advice on how to handle her situation, which is a bit tricky considering that he’s no longer in the CIA and Carrie likewise is completely forbidden from telling him anything related to well, anything that she’s really doing. And when Saul realized that Carrie had already done what he was suggesting, there’s a great little moment where Saul basically beams with pride at his protégée. It’s wonderful how great these two are together.
Quinn this episode was mostly good, if his material was just slightly over the top. I find it difficult to believe that everyone at the agency (not everyone, but you get my point) it seems would jump to the conclusion that Quinn tried to save Carrie over Sandy because he loves her. This cycle begins with Quinn facing an interview over his desire to yet again leave the CIA. His inquisitor makes a note of his less than desirable behavior recently, including his shooting of two Pakistani protestors in the streets. Dar Adal is a straight up arse to him, openly accusing him of saving Carrie over Sandy. Quinn nearly snaps his neck, laving him at the very last minute. I just have to say, that’s a grossly mischaracterized reading of the situation. In no way, shape, or form did I see any semblance of a situation that would give them the impetus to see that Quinn favored Carrie. He did all that he could do in the situation and if he had stuck around any longer, all three of them would end up dead. So **** off, Dar Adal & Co. He breaks up with his landowner temporary lover, who makes a note that she brought him some food to stave off “his liquid diet” and that no one should have to go through what he did. He constantly rewatches the YouTube video of Sandy’s death, which has been uploaded under about a million different names from various angles.
Carrie goes to a coffee shop where Aayan is trying to study for his exams, which is remarkable considering the circumstances and removes any excuses anyone else (myself included) can have about putting off their homework. She goes inside the restroom, faking crying over pain. A barista grabs Aayan as a medical student and when he opens the door, Carrie locks it behind her. There’s a persistence, persuasion, and seduction on full display as Carrie coaxes Aayan into at least meeting her one more time. It calls back to the very best of Carrie in Season 1, where she pulled out all the stops to get what she wants from a potential asset. As Carrie is going over her obligatory dinner of salad and white wine, she gets a phone call from Quinn. His constantly looping of the videos relating to Sandy’s death actually makes him note something – a man who apparently works for Pakistani Intelligence was in the crowd with a com, conducting the entire thing. “We never had a chance,” he says quietly. Carrie presses him to come to Islamabad, considering what he had just uncovered. His silence basically is a yes and Carrie understands it as much. “I ****ing love you, Quinn,” she says breathlessly, hanging up and going back to her dinner. There are two readings of this. One, she doesn’t mean it romantically or two, she knows Quinn is loving her and she’s just pushing his buttons, which would be the most manipulative thing she’s done in a while. Either way, I’m loving it.
Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+I ****ing love the new intro that’s been retooled to seem as if everything is being seen through the lens of a drone strike.
+Presidents George W. Bush and Bararck Obama replaced by Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry
+“The tyranny of secrets.”; “The tyranny of keeping them.”
+This is probably the best show of Carrie doing her job and excelling at it since the Season 2’s The Clearing
+That Islamabad apartment is a great upgrade over her room in Kabul, just saying
+I love Carrie/Max/Fara, but I want Virgil. Scratch that, I need Virgil
+Laila Robins is killing it as Ambassador Boyd. Her line “You mean two sensible women cutting through all of this bullshit? I wish it were that simple.” to Carrie was great.
Title: Shalwar Kameez
Written By: Alexander Cary
Directed By: Lesli Linka Glatter
Image Courtesy: Hypable