Homeland: Welcome To Islamabad

Photo:  Joe Alblas/SHOWTIME
Photo: Joe Alblas/SHOWTIME

Warning: Spoiler Alert

The Showtime Original Series “Homeland” started its fourth season, with two back-to-back episodes in which the action barely stopped, however in the third episode  “Shalwar Kameez,” the action while intriguing, slowed to a crawl. While the first two episodes setup the story-arc for the season, episode three set things into motion on many fronts, that should make for a more entertaining season than the final year of the “Brody Trilogy.”

The episode kicks off in Islamabad, as Carrie Mathison arrives to begin her assignment as the CIA Chief Of Station, expecting to address her staff at a meeting she scheduled with longtime Agency employee John Redmond, who expected the promotion to Chief Of Station. She meets with Redmond and United State Ambassador Martha Boyd and Redmond told her he decided not to schedule the meeting, that he could debrief her himself. Carrie’s unhappy with his actions and tells him to get everybody together in 15-minutes.

Mathison and Boyd, begin their relationship in antagonistic fashion, due to the Ambassador’s imposed a lockdown on the Embassy, including all CIA personnel. Carrie tries explaining that her people can’t do their jobs behind walls, they need the information they can only gather on the street. Martha counters with, relations with the Pakistani government and the people are in the worst shape since the American’s caught and killed Bin Laden. She refuses to risk lives, for intelligence information. Carrie leaves the office to attend her meeting.

Mathison starts talking to her staff and thanking them arriving at such short notice. She starts talking about her predecessor Sandy Bachman, beaten to death by an angry mob and asks if any of them believe Bachman had shared information with Pakistani operatives to receive the great tips he kept getting. Redmond thinking he can intimidate her, patronizingly calls her young lady and then tells her it’s time for to go have a private chat. Mathison glares at him and tells him to sit down.

She then asks the staff about their former co-worker Jordan Harris, who claims that Bachman shared information to acquire the targets he took down. One member of the staff insults Harris, but Carrie says that’s not the point, the question is, did Harris tell the truth? They go on to other subjects and one staff member says they’re basically useless with the lockdown in effect. She agrees with the man and tells him she hopes to have it lifted in 24-hours. She then tells Redmond they can conduct their conversation, as the meeting’s dismissed.

They head into her office and he asks her how she pulled off the appointment as Chief Of Station, as CIA Director Lockhart originally promoted him, only to call back a few days later to tell him Carrie was getting the gig. She told him that she asked very nicely for the position. Redmond starts becoming insulting and insubordinate and Mathison cuts him off at the knees, saying she’s got no qualms to have the Marines escort him from the Embassy and put him on the plane back to the states. Her phone rings and she gets a text saying We’ve landed, she ends her meeting with Redmond, telling him to sober up, she can smell the booze on him from the other side of her office.

Back at the Agency’s Headquarters, the third person in the car with Carrie and Sandy, when Bachman got pulled out of the vehicle, then got pummeled to death, Peter Quinn’s traumatized by the incident. In fact its effected him so badly he wants to resign from the CIA and sits down with the executive shrink. She reminds him he’s gone through this process before when he accidentally shot and killed a child, he tells her does but the two incidents are nothing alike. She asks what’s the difference and he said last time he got eaten up by the situation, now he just wants out.

They discuss the riot that led to Sandy’s death and the way he’s behaved since, alluding to his beat down of a jerk in a diner in the previous episode. Peter fractured the guys jaw and needed 63-stitches, Quinn nearly killed the dude, but says it’s one snap in a 12-year career. She says he blames himself for Bachman’s death, as he didn’t risk trying to help Sandy enough, because he’s got romantic feelings for Carrie and only worried about her safety.  Quinn glares at the psychiatrist, then at the camera that Dar Nadal’s watching the interview from and tells them to collectively shove it.

F. Murray Abraham captured the public’s interest, when he played the role of Antonio Salieri to Tom Hulce’s Mozart in the film “Amadeus.” Salieri’s a loathsome creature, starting out as a mentor to Mozart and when the prodigy surpassed his own talent, he became his adversary. Dar Nadal lacks the jealousy of Salieri, however they’re both opportunists and Nadal’s got a sixth sense that only a seasoned veteran can acquire, as to which direction the wind’s blowing, so he can be where opportunity knocks. He knows whom to align himself with and when to terminate a relationship, as we saw last season as he first supported former Director Saul Berenson, then read the writing on the wall and jumped to Andrew Lockhart’s side when he found out he was the President’s choice to direct the Agency.

After calling Quinn for days without a response, Nadal goes to his motel room, Peter tries to get rid of him but lets him in the room. He tells Peter that he’s only concerned with his well-being, but Quinn calls him on it, saying that Nadal just doesn’t want to lose an asset. Dar admits he’s correct, that they spent lots of time and money turning him into the strong operative he’s become. He then chastises Quinn for beating up the jerk at the diner, saying he didn’t deserve the beating he received. He then echoes what the psychiatrist stated, that his feelings for Carrie effected his judgment and he abandoned Bachman. Peter goes ballistic and chokes Nadal until he nearly passes out then releases him. Dar catches his breath and then tells Quinn he’s glad to see he hadn’t lost it.

Carrie’s got to break the lockdown rules, to meet the party that texted just landed and tries using a technicality to bend the rules. She gets her driver to drop her off at a hotel, which she goes into and then exits from the other side, climbing into a waiting taxi. The CIA operative who monitors all employee actions outside of the embassy, follows her on his motorcycle, then they get separated by traffic. She uses a distraction to exit the cab and waits in an alley to make sure the operative follows the taxi. She then moves on foot until reaching her destination, an office where two old allies from Langley, Fara and Max greet her. She’s brought them over to try to recruit college student Aayan Ibrahim, whose family got destroyed in the attack setup by Bachman’s info.

Fara’s going to take on the role of a London journalist and attempt to convince Ibrahim to share his story with her and her “paper.” Max took on the role of coaching the former analyst and will drive her to the meeting with the student. Carrie stresses that Fara should attempt to seduce him enough to build trust, to grab his hand or put her hand on his arm. She’s practiced her London accent and has it down pat. When she leaves the room to take a call from her father, Max tells Carrie he thinks she’ll nail it.

Things didn’t quite work out that way however, as Fara got introduced to Aayan from one of his professors. She thanks him for the meeting, but he explains he did it only because his professor insisted on it. She then tells him she’s a journalist from London and her paper wants to tell his story (Surprisingly, she never mentions the name of her paper and Ibrahim just lets it pass without questioning her. She could write for the London Times, or some unknown monthly, but apparently that doesn’t concern Aayan.) He tells her he can’t talk with her and breaks off the discussion as quickly as he can.

Carrie meets with Fara and Max and Fara’s distraught she didn’t accomplish their goals. Mathison asks if they’d have better luck in a second meeting, but the former analyst expresses doubt, saying Ibrahim seemed terrified and thinks he may have received threats. Carrie thanks them both and then heads back to the Embassy.

Entering the Embassy we hear a very familiar voice loudly telling old stories and as Carrie turns the corner we see our old friend Saul Berenson’s talking and laughing with Martha Boyd. Mathison shows her surprise when greeting her former boss and mentor and asks why he’s there, he explains he came along with the security team his company sent over. Carrie asks to talk with Saul, then apologizes to Boyd for interrupting their conversation, but the Ambassador says no worries and heads back to her office.

Visibly unnerved by his presence, Mathison tells Saul that this will look to others that she sent for him to receive aid, he responds as long as he’s there does she need any? She reflexively says no, then hems and haws and says yes, she asks if he could get Boyd to lift the lockdown and he say’s consider it done. She thanks him yet we can clearly see the relationship’s not as close as it was, there’s no hugs or the unspoken bond that existed for them for a long time.

Peter decides to check out all the video on YouTube emanating from the riot that claimed Sandy Bachman’s life, while he’s guzzling booze. We see the horror in his eyes as he watches the images and flashes back to being in the car and starts to wonder if he truly did sacrifice Sandy’s life for Carrie’s safety. The horror on his face increases as his belief that Nadal expressed the truth saying Quinn’s only concern was Carrie.

Carrie goes up on the Embassy roof to catch a smoke and seconds later, she’s joined by Martha Boyd also indulging her addiction. The Ambassador tells her Chief Of Station that they’re looking from the best vantage point in Islamabad. She then tells Mathison she’s aware that Carrie disobeyed the lockdown and Carrie asks who told but receives only silence. She then says that maybe they could start over and Martha says that’s exactly what Saul suggested.

Carrie tells her that he called Boyd one of the good ones, and Saul doesn’t speak highly of many people. Martha responds he should, they almost got married and Mathison’s jaw drops in shock. The Ambassador explains they were kids in Beirut and thankfully came to their senses, she then says that Berenson’s not the reason she’s rescinded the lockdown. When Carrie asks why, Martha tells her that Mathison made sense when she said her staff couldn’t do their jobs stuck in the Embassy. The relationship appears friendly at this point and that’s mutually beneficial.

After having a farewell breakfast with Saul before he heads back to New York, Mathison heads to a café on the other side of the city. We see Aayan Ibrahim, finishing his breakfast outside the café and his buddy, one of the waiters stops to talk with him. Suddenly a woman calls for a doctor and the waiter says Aayan’s a doctor, but Ibrahim corrects him saying almost. He asks what’s the problem and the woman says that a woman seems in agony in the restroom. The two men run to the ladies room and hear a woman moaning, after trying to get her to respond Aayan walks into the restroom.

In the least surprising moment of the episode, Carrie’s the woman on the floor moaning and quickly reveals her moans weren’t from pain. She then tells Aayan she’s Fara’s bureau chief and she wants the story. Ibrahim attempts to leave but Mathison keeps him trapped. She tells him she’ll keep him protected, get out of Pakistan if he wants. Get him into medical school in Britain or the United States, asks him if he’s interested in attending the Royal Medical Academy? He asks what he’d have to do in return and she replies share your story with us. She then says she’s going to put her business card in his pants pocket and it’s up to him if he wants to contact her.

Back at his motel, Peter’s been watching videos of the incident for days, when he notices something, a Pakistani Intelligence Operative orchestrated the riot and attack. He’s seen contacting agents via radio before and after the incident. Quinn sends the link and calls Carrie and she quickly realizes he’s correct. She tells him she truly needs him in Islamabad now and the first two times he refuses. On her third attempt he tells her she’s the toughest person on the planet to say no to, and Carrie realizes Peter’s on his way.

The Story Continues Next Sunday at 9:00 pm on Showtime. 

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