Arts & Culture

Season Three ‘Homeland’ Recap: ‘A Red Wheelbarrow’

Another week, another English class lesson Read More

By / November 18, 2013

Homeland, you’ve done it again. But, just as it would be silly to defend an SAT score as a measurement of real intellect, simply using a literary reference in an episode’s name is not enough to qualify a show as highbrow. Sunday night’s episode, “A Red Wheelbarrow,” is named for a poem by William Carlos Williams, “The Red Wheelbarrow”:

“so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens”

The significance of this poem rests within its structure rather than the meaning of its words. Each piece of the simple sentence is necessary for the whole piece to work. The first phrase, “so much depends upon,” applies to the other three phrases, which relates to what’s happening in Homeland. It’s been frustrating that a lot of the developing storylines in the show have seemed implausible, futile, and illogical, but with every seemingly silly motivation that each character has, the circuslike CIA operation is compromised. With the delicate nature of Operation Javadi, so much depends on everyone involved.

While Majid Javadi (Shaun Toub) was smuggled out of the country last week to return to Iran as an American spy, Saul (Mandy Patinkin) has to explain to the chief of staff why he let this happen, rather than, predictably and appropriately, arresting Javadi.

Flabbergasted by the crazy, irresponsible extent of the mission, Senator Lockhart (Tracy Letts) tattles on Saul. The chief of staff isn’t impressed, but he doesn’t have many choices outside of allowing Saul to continue the plan. With the truly disconcerting magnitude to which Saul is pleased with himself, it’s a wonder that he hasn’t transformed into a God complexed, Don Draper-type. But, he’ll probably fall from grace soon enough.

Angered, Carrie (Claire Danes) confronts Saul about why he didn’t disclose everything he knew from Javadi about Brody’s [lack of] involvement in the bombing. Eventually, Saul admits that he should have been forthright with her, but that he doesn’t completely understand why Carrie cares SO much—we do though. Drumroll… Brody is Carrie’s baby daddy, and she’s 13 weeks pregnant, and she admitted to drinking heavily after knowing about the pregnancy, AND she’s not considering an abortion.

Before he left for Iran, Javadi told Carrie that Brody was not the Langley bomber and that she could find the real bomber through Javadi’s lawyer (the one who put her and Javadi in touch). She meets with the lawyer, taps his phone, and follows him to the bomber. When she sees that the lawyer has a gun, she is intent on stopping him from killing the bomber, because without the bomber alive, it becomes impossible to clear Brody’s name. When Carrie disobeys orders to stop following the lawyer and to let him kill the bomber if need be (it’s more important for the agency to keep the lawyer than the bomber alive, as the lawyer has more knowledge about the enemy), Quinn is ordered to shoot her, so he does. She’s that in love! She willingly gets shot to try and absolve her sperm donor—Romance!

Speaking of romance, Mira Berenson (Sarita Choudhury) breaks up with her lover to give life with Saul another go. The lover isn’t happy about it, and later breaks into the Berenson home to either swipe information from their computer or install some kind of camera. Whatever he did, it was weird, but we don’t know yet if he’s a spy. So, either this is turning into The Truman Show: Terrorist Edition, where everyone’s involved, or Mira’s a serious heartbreaker. Whatever the case, it’s strange that the lover escalated from his super-minor role in the show so jarringly quickly.

While the pacing in the show’s development feels weird, this week’s literary reference makes sense—it explains why we need to take Carrie’s bizarre pregnancy seriously rather than dismiss it as a low-hanging-fruit soap opera-esque plot addendum. The pregnancy (well, mainly Brody being the father) affects Carrie’s motivations and actions, and could compromise the state of the operation. The same goes for Saul’s new confident invincibility kick, which could blow up in his—and everyone else’s—face if he becomes too sure of himself. The far-fetched premise of the mission (let’s put Carrie in a mental institution, because obviously, it will draw the attention of a particular Iranian spy) invokes the order of the universe. In the operation, no task is too small, no motivation is too feeble, and no action is too trivial to disrupt the master plan—like the structure of “The Red Wheelbarrow.”

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