A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Homeland clicks firmly into place for the final stretch of its sixth season with “The Flag House,” a stunner of an episode that is crackling with tension throughout its run, even if the cliffhanger that ends it lacks panache and verve. In part “The Flag House” benefits from its two lackadaisical predecessors that were largely bereft of a palpable tension and the usual thoughtfulness a Homeland script can produce. A valid argument could be made that those two episodes showed particular weaknesses because this season had about eight or nine episode’s worth of material that was stretched out into twelve, a strain that showed in part because those subplots weren’t always centered around engaging, interesting characters. When the show touched upon them, such as Tova from Mossad, it would jump into another direction and one had to wonder if they forgot that those character existed. Knowing Homeland, they may very well show up at some point in the future, but their impact if they exist is unfortunately muted when the series especially needed their energy in abundance, especially as Carrie was a little too removed from the dominant geopolitical espionage narratives this season. “The Flag House” in part makes up for that sense of lackadaisical commitment by serving as the final catalyst if the season that sped up those lagging storyline threads and injected them with the fervent excitement they needed all along.
“The Flag House” feels the most like the Homeland of its early days and one could attribute that feeling to Alex Gansa’s scripting duties. The spinning plates, the shifting allegiances, and more importantly, Carrie and Saul being on the same side even when they might be opposed to one another all combine to give the episode a particularly relishing flavor. Carrie and Saul’s opposition is particularly clever from a character perspective, even if it a certain juncture it quickly becomes unnecessary. Saul being the sacrificial lamb to bring down Dar Adal over the latter’s attempts to destroy the Iranian nuclear deal has a certain dark poetry to it, but Saul running away from that circumstance is out of character. In one of the most welcome returns in Homeland history, Sarita Choudhary’s Mira comes back to smack some true hard sense into Saul’s head. She understands everything that is going on because she’s a sharp woman, but she is thoroughly bemused as to why he’s running away. Saul notes that his character would be destroyed, but Mira, who has no patience for his bullshit, asks him point blank about at what point Saul had ever given a damn about what people thought about him or his character. The pointedly personal tone from Mira is understandable, but her pointing out the oddity of Saul throwing his work under the bus for himself gets him back on track.
Carrie begins the episode by almost providing the testimony that would implicate Saul, but she couldn’t go through with it as Dar showed his hand in regards to his interference with Franny. President-elect Keane confronts Carrie in a terrific scene, but Carrie chooses her daughter over her geopolitical allegiances. It’s a major character moment for Carrie, a character who often placed her professional career over personal life (not that there’s anything necessarily wrong with that, mind you). The best scene in the episode, however, is the one between President-elect Keane and Dar Adal that has been brewing in its inevitability from the first episode of the season. The veneer of respectability broke and the quiet understanding between the two was quiet no longer. Their interactions, always simmering with a fervent desire to destroy the ideology of the other, came to a complete boil and it was a thrill to watch. The gauntlets were thrown down and the immediate casualty was the reputation of President-elect Keane’s son. Elizabeth Marvel puts in her best performance in a character that could have used more development and F. Murray Abraham has few equals when it comes to delivering understated threats that are not understated at all. She takes the hit piece about as well as one would expect and the upcoming fight for whatever is the soul of the intelligence community looks to be thrilling.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“I’m about to bring a roof down on his head.”
+“Who the hell voted for you?”
+“It’s a war you won’t win.”
+“When has that ever made the slightest bit of fucking difference to you?”
+O’Keefe mocking online trolls is a perfect encapsulation of what he actually thinks about folks who believe his material
+“Mira set me straight on a few things.” Damn straight, she did.
+CARRIE’S WALL COMES BACK. That was hands down my favorite moment of this entire season, period. That proud papa smile Saul had on his face sealed the deal for me.
+Great scoring by Sean Callery in this episode
+Max. Poor Max.
– They didn’t change the alarm in all those years?
Episode Title: The Flag House
Written by: Alex Gansa
Directed by: Michael Klick
Image Courtesy: Spoiler TV
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