Welcome to Beirut
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
The traditions of hospitality are varied in countless methods, but the common thematic structure between these various traditions is the concept of trust, of taking care of those who are underneath one’s roof. Much like the bread and salt tradition of Game of Thrones, in general cultural understanding, it is believed that once an individual(s) is under your roof, it is your responsibility to treat them as if they were on of your own. You show them the same amount of respect, kindness, generosity, and loyalty that you would expect from a family member. Yet the traditions of hospitality never seem to apply as they ought to and that’s never been truer in Homeland than now. The Traditions of Hospitality is more of a quiet episode that nevertheless delivers its key thematic construct in a truly impressive number of storylines right before the final wallop smacks the audience across the proverbial face. Carrie’s sort of escape from the CIA was always too good to be true and we really didn’t need all of the promotional posters and trailers to make that even more obvious than it already was. In her first break from the CIA after Estes fired her upon the discovery of the famed Wall of Crazy, Carrie had settled into the pacing of teaching and making lasagna from the vegetables in her garden before a trip to Beirut set her entrapment of sorts back into motion. Here we are again, once again in Beirut, witnessing Carrie’s breakdown as she realizes just how much of an addiction she is giving into. It just happens that this time there is much more at stake back home.
The episode opens up on the Lebanese refugee camp, bright yet derelict in every way possible. Over twenty thousand civilians fleeing war-torn areas are residing in the camp, with over a thousand arriving each day. There is immense desperation ringing throughout the air, the dust clouds willowing about that very air, surrounding decrepit towers and broken windows. The UN General in charge of the camp couldn’t be less concerned about Düring, remembering that he had met him the year before in the company of Angelina Jolie. His disdain for the press Düring brought with him is evident and obvious as he simply points them in the direction of what is the safe area and leaves it at that. Nor can he really be faulted for the jaded exhaustiveness that emanates so strongly from his voice. The number of refugees arriving on a daily basis alone is a difficult circumstance enough to begin with and that difficulty is only expounded when Hezbollah is so heavily present. Carrie’s meeting with the local Hezbollah commander was fascinating, her giving him $40,000 in exchange for a safe passage of a single hour through the camp. Düring’s speech goes over quite well, with the ten million dollars he handed over in aid no doubt being a significant measure of that reception of goodwill. Düring gets flashy and wants extra time, but Carrie’s scoping, keen eyes are against it. She’s right, with her, Düring, and several dozen innocent bystanders saved from a bomber by a sharp shot in the head.
As Düring is shocked by the fairly obvious, the CIA is completely in over their heads. Laura is much less grating this week as she makes a real note of defending the liberties of civilians whose rights are being snatched from them in the name of national security. Astrid notes that they were tracking jihadist activity, to which Laura counters that there were legal ways to track them. Astrid bemoans the lack of proper resources to do so, a flimsy excuse shuttered immediately by Laura, who rightfully notes that the BND had enough resources to drag her off the street but somehow they didn’t have resources to track the terrorists they’re so worried about. Pictures of her meeting Carrie surface towards Saul and Allison, who are themselves monitoring the situation as the publication news spreads like proverbial wildfire. Unsurprisingly, the German chancellorship is on the warpath, trying to defect as much political hellfire away from that office and. For that to be buoyed, the German top brass of the BND is demanding that a serious CIA head roll and understandably so. Saul, without a hint of emotion, informs Allison that it was her head that was demanded and that the director has explicitly refused to step in and help her out in any fashion. Allison is infuriated at this breach of trust and she reaches out to Dar Adal, making a case that it ought to be Saul who is transferred out of Berlin and not her.
Carrie, having successfully defended the life of someone who clearly is too preoccupied with himself over his security chief’s warnings of him dying, delivers Düring to his aircraft but stays behind. “I need to get a sense of what happened here,” she says quietly and without a hint of irony. Her old life got to her once more but a part of that is simply her desire to understand what is actually going on. At various moments, Carrie has displayed a recklessness to the point of self-destruction, but her wanting to understand the circumstances around her have also led to some of her most brilliant moments. As she enters her room, however, she finds a Hezbollah agent in her room. Quickly, she pulls out a gun, but he wasn’t there to harm her. “We gave our word,” he says solemnly, even returning the money Carrie had paid to the Hezbollah commander for safe passage. Notably and understnadbaly, Carrie is still on edge, but he shows her a video of the man who had betrayed her confidence, telling under duress “It wasn’t him. It was the CIA woman. She was the target.” Carrie’s eyes widen in shock. Meanwhile Quinn receives his next target not by photograph but by code. “MATHISON.” Earlier, Carrie was in the bathroom, crying like a junkie who realized that there was no escape from the addiction that came running back to surface at the most horrifying of moments. Through her tears, she asks for help, for God perhaps to come in and rescue her from moment. But that presence of hope, much like the safe passage through the camp, is perhaps nothing more than the cruelest of mirages.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+The Hezbollah commander noting the al-Nusra, al-Qaeda, and Daesh fighters trying to take advantage of the refugee camps
+“Did you see a cat?”
+“I don’t want to leave home.”
+Quinn following Fatima and her saying “Bitte” as her final word was perfectly chilling.
+Hank from the opening of Season 4 believing that Carrie was a Trojan horse, a neat callback to her and Saul’s plan in season three
+The contrast between the hallowed out refugee camp and the gilded hotel could not be more harsh. There is a lack of food and water in the camps where in the hotel there’s a flowing, golden open bar.
+Carrie’s conversation with Otto was fantastic, interrupted by gunshots in the distance. It’s a startling, subtle reminder of the vast differences so close to each other. Carrie’s reply of “It’s probably a wedding.” ends up that sequence perfectly.
+“I was different then.”
+“You’re in the shit because you broke your own laws.”
+“You’re not allowed to spy on your own citizens.”
+“If I were Carrie Mathison, what would you be doing right now?
+“We need schools just as much as we need food, please.” Putting faces to the refugees was vital and bringing forth a child whose never spent a day in school because of warfare was a poignant, sharp moment.
Episode Title: The Tradition of Hospitality
Written by: Patrick Harbinson
Directed by: Lesli Linka Glatter
Image Courtesy: Edite Daily