“You people are monsters.”
If part one illustrates a Carrie Mathison who is intelligent, capable, and determined, part two illustrates a Carrie Mathison who is adrift, out of place, and drowning. Her home is in the field, outside of the United States and far away from her baby–and therefore her past–and she’ll do anything to stay there because without the work, she has no idea who she is.
The problem here is that her personal life just isn’t very interesting, even though it’s clear how much it informs her actions and her mindset. The second part stumbles in this regard; it’s an episode that’s styled accordingly with Carrie’s feelings of uncertainty and emphasizes the fact that she’s repressing the events we’ve seen in previous seasons, but without a driving force behind the hour, the episode is a bit meandering. There are also a few questionable writing decisions, the first of which consists of her almost drowning her baby in the bathtub. It’s certainly in character, considering we’ve seen similar rash behavior before, but I’m not sure if we need a big scene about it. I don’t hate it like many seem to do, though.
The scene is well filmed, nevertheless, and there’s a sense of claustrophobia surrounding Carrie from that bathroom scene to her car to her own house. She’s fragile, walking around in a daze, and the only moments of clarity, of drive, that we see from her are during her scenes with Jordan Harris or Senator Lockhart. There, she has a purpose and is able to do what she does best, and fittingly, her baby simply gets left in her car; after all, she seems to be more afraid of the baby than she is of anyone she’s fighting in the Middle East. The relative safety of Istanbul is dangerous to her, and the danger of Islamabad is what makes her feel safe.
She throws herself into her work, and she does it so fully that she winds up appearing nonchalant as she strolls around the city or sleeps or orders the strike in part one. We can tell that part of her is uncomfortable with the juxtaposition of a birthday party and a drone strike, but we also know that part of her can only feel alive if she’s doing this. Quinn, on the other hand, picks up on this, and a rift quickly develops between the two after Corey Stoll’s Sandy gets beaten to death by a mob. She has blood on her hands but is quick to chalk it up to “the job”–she cleans up in a scene reminiscent of her constantly dressing up in season one–while Quinn is eaten alive in his own way. He’s unraveling in a way that will undoubtedly affect his job, and interestingly enough, he takes on his own personal element when he has sex and eats breakfast with the hotel manager. If this storyline is handled with nuance, it’ll be great, but if not, it could blow up in the show’s face.
Aside from Quinn and Carrie, we’re also introduced to Aayan Ibrahim, a medical student who becomes embroiled in a conflict that he wants no part of. There are elements in here about social media, about the repercussions of certain actions–something we saw with Brody and Issa, actually–about grief, and about culpability. Not only does Aayan have to constantly remember what happened, but people like Carrie also have to answer to what happened. We see it with the man who approaches Carrie at the bar, and we see it when both Maggie and Lockhart accuse her of not taking responsibility. No matter where she goes, she’ll be faced with the consequences of her actions.
And, no matter what lofty ideals the United States may preach with regards to the Middle East, just like with the Trylon and Perisphere standing as proud symbols at the World’s Fair, those ideals will only stand symbolically. The future does not look bright.
GRADES: “The Drone Queen” (B+), “Trylon and Perisphere” (B-)
– “You still got the beard.” Of course he does. It’s the main reason we’re all still watching.
-‘Dissatisfied’ is the word of the day with Saul. His relationship with Mira is clearly now about her career, but we can see just how bitter he is during the contract meeting at the beginning of the episode. He’s not happy, and Carrie pulling him back into things might change that (Patinkin and Danes still have great chemistry, so I want to see more of that).
-I was not expecting Corey Stoll to be killed off this early.
– “Carrie, here’s the thing. It’s not about you.” That should’ve been the first line of the series.
-Chris, by the way, is off somewhere whining and being a dick…in case you were wondering, which I’m sure you weren’t.
-Babies can ride in the front seat now. Good to know.
-47 minute episodes? Seriously? I hope that’s not the case for the remainder of the season.
-RIP, James Rebhorn, who played Carrie’s father.
-This will be getting regular coverage. The next few weeks will be hectic, though, with Boardwalk Empire finishing up and The Affair starting.
Photo credit: Showtime, Homeland