Take the Shot!
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Well, that happened. Homeland completely dropped the lead of where it was going and is now veering off into a seemingly completely direction. And it works. The inherent problematic schematic with Aayan being a victim of an American bombing and being sefduced by Carrie was that it screamed “BRODY” at the top of its voice despite the show doing its absolute best to convince you otherwise. At the end of From A to B and Back Again, which frankly is too literal of a title for my taste, that underlying sense of familiarity is thrown loudly from the proverbial window. Carrie had never intended for Aayan to safely make it back to London before anything else, that much was quite clear. What is revealed this hour makes Carrie look all the more cold, calculating, and ruthless. It also makes her possibly the most competent at her job after the premiere. She was always going to use Aayan to get to Haqqani and that was that. If the two of them had to die in a fiery repose, she would do it without any hesitation. The mission comes first.
Quinn and Fara both get at Carrie this hour for her sleeping mission with Aayan. Yes it’s creepy and not going to end well for Aayan and it’s legitimately nice to see some semblance of morality within Homeland. But at the same time, Carrie is their boss. For Quinn to constantly whine about her sleeping with Aayan has gone from being a morality check to being petulantly winning. The sassy teenage comments coming from a professional murderer are not only hypocritical, they’re moronic. I love Quinn as a character and Rupert Friend is great at his job, but this is frankly ridiculous. At least Fara has a better method of talking to Carrie that doesn’t involve snarky expressions from a sixteen-year-old who didn’t get the latest model of the iPhone. But Carrie, clearly guilty over what she’s doing and annoyed at her underlings constantly sniping at her, snaps. But Fara isn’t taking it, either. “There wouldn’t be a case if it wasn’t for me,” she notes truthfully. She understands that Carrie is in charge, but she doesn’t want to be treated like crap, either. In underling news, it looks like Redmond is warming up to Carrie and that’s a neat development, although I still have quite a difficult time trusting him.
Speaking of trusting difficulties, I still find it to be difficult to take Dennis seriously. He’s obviously good at stealing supplies, like pictures of Aayan from the CIA safehouse. But he’s so utterly pathetic that I just can’t wait for him to die. No matter what the scene is around him and this hour was certainly quite good in that regard, I find it very difficult to proactively give a damn about him. Tasneem, on the other hand, is infinitely more interesting and not just because she’s one of the most intellectually charged characters in this entire series and Nimrat Kaur’s great performance. She has legitimate agency but she’s shrouded enough in secrecy that you don’t know exactly what she wants. She takes a good luck at the pictures he snapped, her eyes sharpening as he reveals the CIA safe house. Within moments she’s taken off, putting a plethora of clues together without a second to lose.
Carrie’s magnificent trick that she pulled off was amazing. She’s consistently been giving Aayan the impression that he needs to be terrified of the ISI, which seems like a logical thing to buy into anyhow and he does so without another moment to lose. The neat trick is that at the beginning, you do seem to believe that the ISI is chasing Aayan through that sweet campus ubiquitous with skateboarders. Then it looks like Aayan has escaped. And then nope, the spy;’s still there. “I hope I don’t let my guard down,” she notes in a moment oozing with irony. Right then and there the doors burst open and it looks like ISI agents have burst through the safehouse. Carrie kicks some ass but she’s smacked across the nose. Aayan manages to escape as Carrie is taken into a van. For a moment I’m groaning. Another abduction, seriously? Right after last week with Saul in the airport? And then suddenly Carrie awakes with her team, the plan having worked. It was all a ruse, with one domino twisting around before the next. It’s thrilling storytelling and one of the best espionage sequences the show has managed to pull off.
Aayan. Oh, poor Aayan. He calls Carrie at the first opportunity he gets after being trapped in a nightmare where his fake passport was being checked (he gets out of it by the old-fashioned art of bribery). It’s such a sweet conversation where he just wants to know if she’s truly all right. “I love you,” he says, an awkward chill spreading out in the CIA room. “I love you too,” she lies. It’s simultaneously one of the most uncomfortable and heart wrenching scenes this show’s ever done. Aayan quietly goes to the place where his uncle and him used to go during his childhood. It’s a serene, quiet sequence where he prays and then lies calmly in the river. Out of that beautiful reverie he’s awoken by four Taliban men, who themselves are wanted. They traipse out to a plateau where Haqqani arrives, Saul in tow. There’s a collective gasp (not literal, thankfully) within the CIA room as they see their former director in the Pakistani mountainside. Haqqani notes to Aayan how his journalist girlfriend was playing him, a protegee of the man standing in their midst. Aayan heartbreakingly stares upwards at the drone Haqqani notes is looking down on them as if looking at Carrie in an eerily mirroring shot from the premiere. Carrie displayed a subtle reservation about killing off Aayan just to kill the other Taliban leaders and that quandary was evident on her expression. Then suddenly Haqqani shoots Aayan in the head, his head bursting open on that serene, mountainous ground. Carrie nearly screams, her entire being jolted with shock. But she doesn’t have time to grieve. She has a choice to make and that choice involves killing off Saul. “Take the shot,” she whispers quietly. Everyone around her is shocked. “Take the f***ing shot, god**** it!” she yells but Quinn grabs her, whispering urgently that they couldn’t of that. Outside of the purview that Quinn is simply not allowed to do so, the result is that Haqqani and Co. escape, with only a single drone left at their immediate disposal. Did they lose the exact car that Saul was in? The episode leaves it sort of open-handed but I assume they have, in which case that’s vapid. Someone had to have noticed and they can at the very least deduce even with following the wrong car where the other two are headed, right? And it’s at Quinn’s disposal which car is going to be followed. Nevertheless, that was a gripping episode with Carrie once again at an absolute crux. She almost killed her mentor and Haqqani had escaped. Rest in peace, Aayan.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+Aayan’s excitement at meeting one of his medical inspirations is so endearing his end at the hands of his hero uncle is that much more heartbreaking.
+Kiran’s questions were ones that Aayan truly should have asked himself long, long ago.
+The comparison of Quinn and Redmond being alike
+Fara’s expressions when she glances over Aayan’s happy photographs
+Carrie’s expression of pride at Aayan being resourceful
+Lesli Linka Glatter was on fine form today. Her shots of the Pakistani countryside with the mountains were simply stunning.
+“You saved me, not once but many times.” Oh Aayan.
+Redmond to Carrie: “I think you don’t care what anyone thinks.”
+“You made that happen.”
-Quinn not taking care of Saul not being on the plane immediately was irritating, but he had enough on his mind that it didn’t seem to be that big of a deal perhaps. At least Carrie’s doing her job.
Title: From A to B and Back Again
Written By: Chip Johannessen
Directed By: Lesli Linka Glatter
Image Courtesy: Spoilers Guide