Recap: ‘Homeland’ S4E9 “There’s Something Else Going On”
The tense moments in Homeland Season 4 are finally starting to give the struggling story some body, depth, and amount of enjoyment. This week’s episode began a bit slowly, but as it came to an end the tension mounted, the uncertainty of survival became palpable, and it ends on a high impact note that though we knew some of what happened was coming was still shocking. Finally, it feels as if Homeland is going somewhere, and that the characters will be dealing with a crisis beyond their imagination as one piece of information delivers a crippling blow in favor of the bad guys.
The prisoner exchange is being set up as Carrie (Claire Danes) and the CIA rounding up Haqqani’s men while the Taliban leader moves Saul (Mandy Patinkin) back into Islamabad. As the preparations are made for the following day, Carrie and her team begin to question Dennis Boyd (Mark Moses) about his involvement with the Pakistani ISI. He denies all involvement, and just as Carrie threatens to bring the entire interrogative force of the CIA down on his head, Ambassador Boyd (Laila Robins) pulls him out and sends him home. She questions her husband as innocuously as she can, and as the exchange procedures begin, she reports back to Carrie and Director Lockhart (Tracy Letts) of his continued denial. However, Dennis gives himself up in all but a verbal admission of guilt when he attempts to leave the Embassy with a packed bag and passport. Martha stops him and locks her husband away for the moment without a single tear shed.
With Quinn (Rupert Friend) and Lockhart as their eyes in the sky, Carrie and John Redmond (Michael O’Keefe) move out to meet the Pakistani contingent at an approved location for the exchange. As Tasneem (Nimrat Kaur) begins going over the procedure, Carrie begins to feel like something is off. She surreptitiously calls Aasar Khan (Raza Jaffrey) and asks him to clarify the situation, but he cannot assuage her anxiety as Khan tells her that he was left out of the planning process. Carrie and Redmond have no choice but to proceed, and they set up for the exchange. Meanwhile, Saul is put into a van, and as he is waiting to be driven away he witnesses a young boy being strapped into a suicide vest and something within him snaps.
Haqqani’s men are brought to the exchange point, and once Tasneem confirms their identities to their leaders’ representatives, the van holding Saul pulls up, and though he struggles, Saul is pulled from the vehicle and presented for approval. In the next few tense minutes, Haqqani’s men are walked up to the exchange line once the van drives out of sight leaving the boy with the vest behind as insurance. However, rather than allow the exchange to happen, Saul sits down in front of the boy and refuses to move. The van drives up again and Saul is threatened with the bombs’ detonator, but he still calls for them to kill him. Carrie knows she is the only one that can reason with her former boss and confidently strides over to pick him up. After a tense conversation, Saul relents and allows the exchange to happen. The CIA leaves, and the Pakistani ambassador orders his men to release the newly freed Taliban prisoners.
The exchange complete, Martha visits her husband in detention, where he is still proclaiming his innocence, but a commotion pulls her from her seat beside him and an Embassy guard tells her that the convoy bringing Saul back has been attacked. Before she can leave, Dennis asks for specifics of what has happened, and finally comes clean about Tasneem’s involvement as he realizes the severity of the last piece of information he passed to her: how Carrie gets in and out of the Embassy. The episode ends with the entire CIA convoy in dusty ruins while Haqqani and his men storm the Embassy through the lower tunnels.
Though not without its faults (inherent predictability, Martha’s seeming lack of sadness or emotion over Dennis’ betrayal), “Something Else Going On” was a good episode for Homeland. It had a few really tense moments, we thought Saul very well could die, and the ending was a very powerful way to bring the episode to a close. One of the best pieces of characterization that happened in this episode was Saul’s exhaustion over the entire war on terror, mirroring all of our thoughts as more than a decade of war for him have seemingly done nothing. His exhaustion with every aspect is portrayed very powerfully by Mandy Patinkin as he refuses to be a part of an action he knows is an exercise in futility, and he does a brilliant job of realizing Saul’s pain.
The editing of the exchange as well as the ending few minutes were very well executed to heighten our awareness of Tasneem and ultimately Haqqani’s intentions. The questions that are raised from the ending finally give the story direction and something for us as the audience to look forward to as the season begins to wrap up, something this season of Homeland has been lacking. We are finally happy to seemingly have the bulk of Dennis’ storyline finished, but crucially we can begin to theorize about who Tasneem really is, how exactly she is connected to Haqqani, and who else at the Pakistani Embassy is working against the CIA.
This episode of Homeland has finally brought the series up to speed with the quality we were hoping for, but as we have seen before, the show could still give up on the excitement and set up “Something Else Going On” has given it.(4 / 5)
(Photos copyright: Showtime)