A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Homeland’s greatest asset is without a doubt Claire Danes and her performance as Carrie Mathison. Danes’s ability to find new emotional complexities in Carrie even during similar emotional turmoils to her past is exemplary and a primary reason why she keeps on returning to the Best Actress races every year. Each season provides her the opportunity to do so to be fair, but even where the writing falters, Danes and Mathison nevertheless shine. “Imminent Risk” is a prime example of the latter, where the performances are fantastic but more than ever before in this season, the complaints about the languid pacing unfortunately seemed to hold the most water. Homeland has never really been a series that’s in a hurry to get somewhere and the one time it jumped on that narrative paradigm in season two, it ran out of steam and collapsed at the end. It never did so again, even though season three had significant problems of its own. Season six has been largely quiet outside of some intriguing developments, but it wasn’t until “Imminent Risk” where the pacing seemed to lack a methodology and instead just became languid. Pieces fell together for the final five episodes of the season, but those pieces fell in such a disparate and contrived fashion that it zapped the energy that the series has often been able to wrangle even if nothing conventionally exciting was occurring on screen. Homeland often makes people glued to computer screens riveting and the most innocuous conversations two spies intriguing, but this episode lacked verve and intrigue in significant measure.
A good chunk of that is due to the writing, which is wrapped in what is easily the weakest script for Homeland in quite a while. The primary tour de force of the episode is the drama behind Carrie losing custody of Franny, which comes about through Dar Adal’s machinations. The set-up is reasonable and even if it becomes evident that it’s a way for the show to create a galvanizing moment for Carrie, it just fails in execution. It’s so clearly over the top that it simply doesn’t land in a realistic emotional context. It aims for the same type of emotional response the series garnered when Carrie confronted the loss of her father, but that was handled in a fashion that seemed germane. Here it simply doesn’t and it grates from the first time Carrie meets the social worker responsible for the case in her school. The hearing, however, is the first part, where the series aims to bring the audience to the forefront of how Carrie sees the world and how that often doesn’t gel with how others look at her reasoning and find pockets of insanity. It’s information that isn’t new and the only moment that really hits home is where Carrie realizes that she may lose Franny because of her manic bipolar disorder. The look on Danes’s face is heartbreaking and it brings her story home in a way the rest of it simply doesn’t. Carrie has become far too detached from the proceedings around her and while that looks to be corrected next week, for now Carrie is far too removed from the geopolitical espionage even though it’s become clear that she is integral to it in some capacity. That dichotomy makes sense in some respect, but storytelling real estate is prime real estate for lack of a better phrase and this episode’s treatment of Carrie’s lack of involvement in the espionage around her makes it feel like the show’s stretching for time and not out of narrative necessity.
While Carrie is dealing with her troubles, Dar Adal continues on his traditional path of being by an unsavory character but somehow becoming significantly more so. Him removing Quinn from the hospital was expected, but the depth to which he is seemingly sinking to sabotage the Iran deal and simultaneously Carrie’s existence is a bit surprising. His absolute hawkishness and commitment to a militaristic foreign policy notwithstanding, I expected a more complex picture out of this storyline at this juncture. His little tete-a-tete with Saul was great, but then the episode takes an odd turn when he arrives at the house where Astrid is trying her best to keep Quinn safe. While Nina and Quinn have a history that goes before Pakistan, this is an odd assignment for a German intelligence official and frankly Nina Hoss is too excellent of an actress to be stuck within the role of Quinn’s caregiver. Quinn himself is worse for the wear, a casualty of the second season in a row that just has no idea of how to give him a proper character arc outside of “Rupert Friend can act the hell out of traumatization.” When Dar comes to meet him at the safe house where Quinn is stashed away, Quinn has a naturally averse reaction before the audience is hit with a whopper. Quinn calls Dar a dirty old man, a charge Dar Adal doesn’t refute but makes it known that he at least didn’t force himself on anyone, which shouldn’t be a cause for celebratory concern because it meets the basic boundaries for human decency. He layers in doubts about Carrie into Quinn’s mind, but the episode simply has a difficult job going past the reveal that Dar had sexual relations with Quinn that frankly don’t sound consensual. It’s a reveal that is sickening but for now it isn’t clear as to why that narrative decision was made, what it brings to the proverbial table. If it was just used for shock value, that would be the capper on an installment that seemed bewildered, rushed, and muddled with a few bright spots in between.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“A debrief or an interrogation?”
+“Greetings from Sgt. Brody.”
+So Saul’s doubt about the Mossad interrogation was correct?
Episode Title: Imminent Risk
Written by: Ron Nyswaner
Directed by: Tucker Gates
Image Courtesy: The Comeback
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