Homeland, Channel 4 - TV review: Saul shows off his kung fu skills but Carrie the Callous still turns the tables

 

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The Independent Culture

This report in from our agent deep undercover in Televisistan: Homeland (Sun Channel 4) is getting good again.

After Carrie’s age-inappropriate bonking, Aayan’s surprise execution and Brody’s brief return from the dead, “Halfway to a Donut” was all set up to be a humdinger of an episode, and it didn’t disappoint.

I’d say three-quarters of a donut, at least.

The action revolved around Saul, his attempts to escape the Taliban, the CIA’s attempts to rescue him and the attempts of Pakistani intelligence agency ISI to ensure he stayed put. First things first though: would Carrie even make it into work after her wild night out on hallucinogens? Last episode, the ambassador’s nefarious husband, Dennis, switched Carrie’s meds for an unnamed narcotic, leading to several embarrassing scrapes and a not a few breaches of national security.

Luckily, action-man Saul (Mandy Patinkin) was more than capable of arranging his own escape. He may dress like a scatterbrained liberal arts professor, but Saul has the kung fu prowess of a young Jackie Chan.

 

Once freed and wandering in the mountains, he placed a call to the one person he trusts – Carrie Mathison. Big mistake – as anyone with even a passing knowledge of this series could tell you. “Escape or die,” instructed Saul. “I will not be allowed to fall back into the hands of the Taliban, or, I swear to God, I’m jumping off a cliff right now.”

Carrie readily agreed and why shouldn’t she? It was only two episodes ago that Carrie the Callous gave the order (later countermanded) to blow her mentor to smithereens. With typical timing, however, she chose this moment to develop a sentimental side.

Carrie and Saul’s relationship has always been central to Homeland, so the table-turning scene in which Saul held a gun to his own head and Carrie talked him down was exquisitely tense. As was the moment when she treacherously led him back into the Taliban’s clutches.

“How can saving someone’s life be the wrong choice?” an anguished Carrie later asked Quinn. “It’s like I’m finally seeing it now. Nothing good can happen in this fucked-up world we’ve made for ourselves.”

Keep up, Carrie. Most viewers came to that realisation about midway through season two, but while Homeland offers no happy endings, there’s plenty of high-octane drama to be found amid the betrayal.

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