Homeland, Season 2

No, Really, What Was Carrie Thinking?
Talking television.
Oct. 22 2012 11:32 AM

Homeland, Season 2

VIEW ALL ENTRIES

How Carrie Mathison is like 24’s Jack Bauer.

Claire Danes and Damian Lewis in Homeland
Claire Danes and Damian Lewis in Homeland

Photograph by Kent Smith/Showtime.

One thing is clear from the response to this week’s episode of Homeland: Critics love a game-changing plot twist. New York’s Matt Zoller Seitz began his Vulture recap, “Faith in Homeland: restored,” while Time’s James Poniewozik said the show has “played cards that I didn’t expect it to play until later in the season or the series. … Now, just as it set up a scenario that I might well have expected to take up the bulk of the season, the investigation and surveillance of Brody, it springs his exposure and arrest. Cautious, this season so far is not.”

Admittedly, there was some carping in the Slate comments about the motivations for those expectation-upending events. Swansburg (a familiar figure) asks: “Why would Carrie have thought that her breaking down when questioned about electro-shock gave her away? … It was bizarre that she’d assume that her slightly emotional reaction to that sensitive topic would mean that Brody would assume that she had evidence that he was a terrorist.”

I agree—I didn’t see any evidence that Brody really was onto the merry band of watchers—but Homeland repeatedly presents Carrie as a superspy, able to make connections that people with more balanced brain chemistry miss. And as BriefWit also points out in the comments, this is a commonality between Carrie Mathison and Jack Bauer, the lead in Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon’s earlier show, 24. In both, “viewers and other characters are implicitly or explicitly told by Carrie/Jack ‘Trust me, I'm right’ ... and they almost always are, despite there being no empirical evidence to anyone else suggesting such at the time.”

Or perhaps Carrie just wanted to get close to Brody again. Lots of critics raved about the relationship between the two leads. Salon’s Willa Paskin gushed that “[L]ove, the possibility that real love could still exist between Brody and Carrie, is the crazy, implausible miracle at Homeland’s heart. … Brody and Carrie are drawn to each other as strongly and surely as moths to the bug zapper.” And at ThinkProgress, Alyssa Rosenberg noted that, “The attraction between them has always been about a wanton destruction of boundaries, be they professionalism, operational protocols, the vows of marriage, the need for secrecy about Carrie’s mental illness and Brody’s conversion to Islam. Throwing up a wall between them … is an invitation to tear it down.” Or as Grantland’s Andy Greenwald, put it: “The only thing that’s blown up in that hotel room is every last shred of audience expectation.”

June Thomas is a Slate culture critic and editor of Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.