Oh, hey guys. How’s it going? I’m just sitting here at my computer, looking at the sparkly Christmas lights, feeling oddly cheery about life because THE ONLY THING THAT COULD HAVE SAVED SEASON FOUR OF HOMELAND JUST HAPPENED. Major spoilers ahead, obviously, so read no further if you don’t want to know that …
Brody is no more. Who’s surprised? He wasn’t really in season three much, so there was that, and in the past few episodes he seems to have had a definite not-looking-into-the-future-because-he-knows-he-doesn’t-have-one kind of an outlook. Not to be callous about the death of a major TV character we’ve known (and lusted after, in some cases) for three seasons now, but was there really any hope for the show with him in it? Wouldn’t things have been a trillion times better this season if Brody had died in the Langley bombing? Plus, I cringe every time he and Carrie are in a room together, for reasons I can only partly attribute to the animal noises they made in season two.
Also, Brody was looking even more like a goner after news came this week that Morena Baccarin and Morgan Saylor had been dropped as series regulars and might only return as guest stars. (No mention of poor Jackson Pace, who’s had less to do this season than Carrie’s fetus.) The lack of news about Damian Lewis’s status in the show felt distinctly ominous, and the minute Dar Adal started humming and hawing about an extraction plan for Brody, his chances felt Victoria's Secret-slender.
There are still a million questions left to be answered, tonight more than ever. Why was Brody in Caracas again? Who was El Niño working for, given that he mentioned being a friend of Carrie’s but then sold Brody to Saul for ten million in cash? What will Carrie do with her baby? What will Saul do in New York? Will he reinvent himself as a singer of show tunes and a noted Sondheim interpreter? Will the world ever discover that Brody wasn’t really the mastermind behind the Langley bombing? Will Dana? Will anyone ever care about Chris’s feelings? He lost a father too, you know. Will Dar Adal ever stop going to Walt’s Waffles? Will Lockhart ride Saul’s success right into the Oval Office?
Who killed Daniel Douglas Langston? Shrill Sally in the study with the letter opener, detective. Why does Daniel Douglas have two names? Who cares? In the immortal words of one Cyrus Beene, “There’s a dead closeted hillbilly on the floor and there I am.”
Scandalfans (I like the way that sounds), if you thought this episode might offer some holiday cheer and relief from the gore of the past few episodes, you were wrong. When Cyrus showed up at VP Sally’s house, Sally looked for all the world like Carrie at prom, with blood all over her face and a glassy-eyed expression (she was also muttering lots of good stuff about sin and sodomites and burning in hell). Later, Quinn dug around in her tooth (I can still feel my jaw wincing) to pull out the tracking chip Huck put there, spat out a bunch of blood, and then ran off to hook up with dead-eyed Charlie in a hotel WITHOUT BRUSHING. I can’t take this horror show, Shonda.
Cyrus getting Charlie and Quinn to clean up VP Sally’s crime scene had all kinds of ramifications for all kinds of people in this episode, the midseason finale (and hopefully the last time we’ll have to see Huck talk about skinning people in 2013). There was Mellie, now totally thrilled that she has an albatross to hang around Sally’s neck and use to blackmail her out of challenging Fitz for the presidency. There was Leo, totally pissed that Sally called Cyrus instead of him to fix it all. There was the doctor who’ll hopefully lose his medical license given that he diagnosed Daniel Douglas as being dead from a stopped heart without touching him or examining the body.
And there was David Rosen, about whom I had almost forgotten until some eager-eyed whippersnapper from the NSA showed up with a tape recording of VP Sally calling Cyrus and screaming stuff about having killed her husband. This is kind of a cliffhanger, I guess, but it’s hard to care about it given that David is so toothless. Also, way to creep everyone out by being so oddly clinical about your sex stuff with Abby, David. Although it did give Harrison his one line of the show, “I’m right here, y’all,” which is ironic given that we would have totally forgotten otherwise! Poor Harrison. Remember when Columbus Short used to dance with Britney?
The more important part of this episode was Papa Pope transforming from terrorizing torturer of innocents to one Big Badass, and stealing my heart in the process. Basically, Fitz kidnapped him and took him to the Pentagon to lock him in a room and ask him about Olivia’s mom, except the only thing PP would offer is that it was way above Fitz’s pay grade. Fitz tried to provoke PP by talking about having all the sex with Olivia, and PP sure did get riled up but not in the way Fitz wanted. Instead, he launched into the best tirade Fitz will ever get to hear in his pathetic life. I mean, it was poetic: At one point, Papa Pope even referenced Porgy and Bess. A highlight reel: “You’re a boy. You’ve been coddled and cared for, pampered and hugged. It’s always summertime . . . You cried yourself to sleep because Papa hurt your feelings . . . because it hurt to have so much money you spoiled, entitled, ungrateful little brat.”
Papa Pope for President.
Seriously, though. Plus, it transpired that Olivia’s mom, “Marie Wallace,” or whatever generic spy alias she’s using these days, is actually a gun for hire, who’s moved her way around the world stealing secrets for anyone who’ll pay her. She married PP to get access to B613 and then manipulated him into shooting down a plane with hundreds of people on it by telling him there was a bomb on board and if he didn’t do it, the bomb would go off over London and kill thousands more people.
Olivia deduced all this while interrogating her father after Huck and Jake (the new Dream Team) tracked him to the Pentagon. And Papa Pope cried, a very little bit, and Olivia figured out that he’d been protecting her from her horrible awful evil mother all along, but that he also couldn’t have her killed because he loves his family too much (I’m over-reading, I know, but oy was Papa Pope moving in this episode).
Anyway, this all culminated in Olivia learning that the plane Fitz sent her mom on was found in Mongolia and everyone had been shot except for Marie/Mia/Mama, who called Olivia at the very end of the episode and said she’d see her real soon. Also, Fitz, in a fit of petulance, removed Papa Pope from B613 and installed Jake as the new head of the snake, so I guess it wasn’t above his pay grade after all? And Jake, despite telling Olivia that he loved her, loved her, OK loves her, was mighty quick to jump ship and move into his new office.
I’m not really going to go into the Quinn stuff in too much detail, but basically she left Charlie and went back to Huck, wherein Huck told her he would peel off all her skin and she was no longer a gladiator, wherein she left and went back to Charlie but didn’t seem too thrilled about it. So, essentially nothing changed? Except Olivia’s mad at Huck for torturing Quinn, so maybe she’ll have a glass of wine or seven to numb the pain.
James blackmailed Cyrus into making him press secretary. So who’s going to take care of poor invisible baby Ella? And wouldn’t the press kind of resent the president’s chief of staff appointing his husband to such a high-profile position?
“I’m still the man you married. You just maybe never noticed the 666 on my forehead before.” Touche, Cyrus.
Anyway, thanks for letting me do this recap this week, and Tanya will be back in 2014! Happy holidays!
Homeland, which won Golden Globe Awards for best actress in a television drama, best actor in a television drama, and best drama less than a year ago, failed to pick up a single nomination at this morning’s announcement. Not even Mandy Patinkin (or his resplendent facial hair) made the cut.
It was bad news for one Washington-set TV drama, but House of Cards and Veep both scored big, with House of Cards gaining nominations for best TV drama, best actor in a drama (Kevin Spacey), and best actress (Robin Wright). Julia-Louis Dreyfus, who’s won two Emmys so far for her performance as Selina Meyer in Veep, got her second Golden Globe nomination for the role.
Ah, Homeland. There you are! Where have you been for the last 18 months? Or did I fall asleep and have some kind of crazy-assed dream where Brody was a congressman who killed the vice president by remotely accessing his pacemaker before a creepy pedophile doctor in a Caracas high-rise got him addicted to heroin? I’ve had dreams like that, but usually only after eating a whole wheel of Brie and accidentally swallowing too much mouthwash.
Tonight’s Homeland went right back to the season one playbook, and it was awesome. In fact, it was basically a microcosm of season one encapsulated in a single episode and inverted, with everyone assuming Brody had been turned against America and only Carrie having faith in him (even after he so rudely hung up on her and threw the phone she surrepitiously handed him in a bush). And yet it was pretty believable that Brody might have finally found happiness in Tehran, with his old friend Nassrin Nazir (now there’s a catchy name for you), an endless supply of clean collarless shirts, a surprisingly lax security guard, and people trying to grab his hand through car windows like they’re hormonal tweens and he’s a ginger Harry Styles.
But, no: It was all a long con. Lockhart, Saul, Dar Adal, and probably Quinn (where the hell was Quinn?) decided Brody had defected again, with Dar Adal stating succinctly that the one thing they really know about Brody is that “he changes his mind.” And the evidence did appear to be fairly damning, given that he smashed his cyanide needle (bonjour, 1960s) on the side of the car, went on all the TV shows to say rude things about America in Farsi, and then ran to Nassrin saying he needed to urgently talk to General Akbari about Javadi. But then he was alone in Akbari’s office with him, and if there’s a second thing we know about Brody, it’s that when he’s alone in a room with a powerful person whose security detail are nowhere to be found, they usually end up dead.
The thing about Scandal is, if these people were real they would at this point all be mentally and emotionally warped beyond belief. Even the characters are starting to recognize how monumentally effed up their world is—Abby last night told Harrison any normal person would be in the throes of a nervous breakdown were their thought-to-be-dead mother to suddenly reappear after 22 years of radio silence. But this is Scandal, and ain’t nobody got time for nervous breakdowns, because there are government conspiracies to uncover and illicit affairs to be had and millennial catchphrases to be used in incredibly disturbing ways. To the recap.
We open on Huck in full-on wide-eyed bananapants mode, monologuing to Quinn, who is naked and wrapped in duct tape on the floor. He’s going to torture her, and he apologizes because he likes her and she’s family (aww), but he’s going to enjoy it even though he doesn’t want to. Then he lies down next to her and licks her face. It’s weird. He decides he’s going to start by pulling out her teeth, and takes the duct tape off her mouth, allowing her to scream and beg him for mercy. But he tells her she didn’t just betray him, she betrayed Olivia, then sticks pliers in her mouth and is about to yank, when his phone rings. It’s Olivia. “My mother’s alive and in my apartment,” she says, peeking out from behind an almost-closed door at Maya. Huck tells her to hang up, take out her phone battery, and get herself and her mother to a safe house immediately. He hangs up and tells Quinn he has to go, but then decides they have time for just a little torture, because, what’s that thing the kids say? Oh yeah, “YOLO, Quinn.” He shoves the pliers back in her mouth, and she screams us to the credits.
Huck goes to the safe house, where Ballard, Harrison, and Abby are trying to catch up on the situation as Olivia sits in the corner silently, holding her face. Maya says she found out she was married to a monster, so she planned to blow the whistle on his whole operation, but Papa Pope found out and stuck her in a jail cell for 22 years, until she managed to escape. “Nobody escapes Command,” Huck says. He tells her she’s got a tracking chip in her somewhere, and he and Ballard muscle her down onto a table and cut out the chip as she screams. There’s a lot of screaming in this episode. Charlie and co. are already on their trail, but by the time they get there the Dream Team has peaced and are full-throttle on trying to get Maya out of the country. But Huck and Ballard know she can’t escape while Papa Pope is alive, so Ballard goes to El Prez and asks him for help. After absorbing that he might someday have to deal with not one but two crazy in-laws, El Prez says he can’t just kill Olivia’s father at the drop of a hat. Ballard brings up Remington and says El Prez thinks only he and Olivia matter; El Prez counters that Ballard just wants to be Olivia’s hero, and “word to the wise, she doesn’t need one.” So Ballard tries to blow up Papa Pope with another guy who used to be in B613, but of course it’s a trap and he ends up just killing four random dudes. Meanwhile Papa leans on Charlie to activate his “asset,” Quinn, to help him find the Dream Team, so Charlie finds Quinn and un-duct-tapes her. She showers, then starts to cry, as Charlie tells her to suck it up. “Huck was the only person I had,” she says, “and he hurt me. Now I don’t have anybody.” Charlie says, “You have me,” and she stares at him, re-imprinting on him like a baby bird. Then she drops her towel, and they make out, which seems like a great idea for someone who just had her teeth yanked from her skull.
It isn’t exactly the most romantic way to spend Valentine’s Day, but in 2014, if you wish, you’ll be able to spend the Hallmark Holiday catching up with a sociopathic congressman, his icily Machiavellian wife, a vicious and ruthless reporter, and some guy who sells ribs on South Capitol. Netflix announced today that season two of House of Cards will be released on February 14, ending the long wait for fans more accustomed to instant TV gratification (but at least Jodie Foster directed an episode, so there’s that).
Kevin Spacey will of course be back as Frank Underwood, as will Robin Wright as Claire Underwood and Kate Mara as Zoe Barnes. The last we saw of Zoe (spoilers ahead) she seemed to have cottoned on to Frank’s dastardly dealings, possibly leaving him and Claire on a downward trajectory. Is their fall inevitable? Is Zoe too compromised herself to hold Frank accountable? Will Kevin Spacey ever get his revenge for having been beaten to an Emmy by Jeff Daniels? We’ll find out in February. Until then, you can watch what is essentially a 30-second clip of Claire Underwood smoking a cigarette below. It’ll be a waste of 30 seconds, but don’t say we didn’t warn you.
So let me get this straight: For 11 episodes, Hostages has been selling me the idea that the whole scenario on which the show is based came about because a) the President is a very bad man, and b) Duncan Carlisle is a desperate man who loves his wife so much he’ll do anything to save her—including assassinate the leader of the free world. But in this episode he not only assists in the death of three people to save the President’s life, he also ohhh you know, MAKES OUT WITH ANOTHER WOMAN. I’m no expert on the human condition, but cheating on your terminally ill wife, no matter how mildly, doesn’t exactly scream “devoted ’til death do us part.” Also CBS spoiled that particular plot development in the promos from last week, which robbed the moment of any shock value it might have had. Anyway, let’s talk about what else happened this week!
Carlisle informs the Ski Mask Crew that they’re taking a trip to New York. “I want to see the Empire State Building!” Archer says. “I’m gonna eat seven hot dogs!” yells Kramer. But no, Carlisle explains, they actually have to go because some dudes are planning to do exactly what they themselves have been planning to do for nearly 11 hours of my life—kill the President—just not when and where they want it to happen. So they round up the Sanders family and lock them in a room so nobody pees on the floor while they’re gone, interrupting Brian/Jimmy Cooper’s earnest discussion with his kids about how they really shouldn’t be helping the people who have been holding them hostage. “When this is over I want you to be able to look at yourselves in the mirror,” he says, as Morgan delivers a pitch-perfect teenage eye roll.
Carlisle figures out there are three buildings the sniper could shoot from based on the President’s route, so he asks BJC to get him the blueprints for all three buildings from his firm. BJC, trying to make a point to his children, says he can’t help (“Can’t or won’t?” asks Carlisle in a possible Archer reference, but that’s probably giving this show too much credit). Anyway, ever-helpful Ellen offers to get the blueprints, and Carlisle gives her the key to the room her family is in and tells her if things go badly in New York she should run. For some reason Ellen doesn’t let them out immediately. Instead she goes to BJC’s long-unseen mistress, Samantha, and tells her BJC ran into a little money trouble and needs her help. Samantha gets Ellen the blueprints and then tells her she admires her for standing by BJC. “I only got together with Brian because of how things were between you,” she says. Apparently BJC told ol’ Sammy that their marriage was a lie.
Ellen isn’t thrilled with her husband, but she has other things to deal with, namely helping the people holding her family hostage kill some other people by going through the building plans while standing in a public park. Meanwhile Colonel Blair and Vanessa continue to plot how to get Blair into the Oval Office—their plan apparently involves getting Blair on the ticket with the VP, with whom Vanessa has some sway because she used to work on his staff. She meets with him and lays out all the qualities he needs in a running mate, but instead of suggesting her boyfriend, he’s like, “So do you want to run?” which is kind of great. Blair’s job is to make sure the President gets shot, which will be blamed on a “foreign terrorist cell” (seriously, the writers couldn’t even pick a specific country?), and also that the Ski Mask Crew and the entire Sanders family are taken care of too.
Ugh, Brody. Not even the gloriously orange follicles peeking through your shiny bald scalp can make up for your emulating Carrie and going insanely rogue this week—and getting one of the handsome beardy Seal Team members (Jared Ward) killed in the process. Ugh, Saul, for chewing your lucky gum in the hope that it would make up for this ridiculously stupid and improbable plan. Ugh, Carrie, for getting all quivery when you thought Brody was dead (again). And ugh, Javadi, for being such a colossal douchelord, as usual. Thank goodness Saul’s resting all his hopes for peace in the Middle East on you, given that you take out human beings more wantonly than a sociopathic 15-year-old playing Grand Theft Auto.
Much of tonight’s episode, “Good Night” was conducted under cover of darkness, which could be a metaphor for the act of surveillance and the murky world of the CIA but was more likely just a convenient way to make a soundstage/abandoned field in Charlotte look like Iraq. Brody, now fully recovered from the drug addiction and the diseases and whatever else he picked up in Caracas, flew to the Iran/Iraq border with the Seal Team, from where he'd attempt to cross over to Iran and seek asylum as an enemy of America. On the way there he taught Handsome Beardy #1 (Donnie Keshawarz) how to turn his socks inside out and wear the fresh side, which is pretty fastidious for a guy who was sleeping on a bed of used syringes and stewing in his own filth not two weeks ago.
When did Brian become the only sane character on the show? This week he quite reasonably points out to his wife and daughter that they have been drinking some serious Kool-Aid of Krazy, but to no avail. Also Carlisle’s mysterious motivation for killing the President is—spoiler alert—literally just that he’s trying to save his wife’s life. Not that that’s a small thing, but I have a really hard time believing that someone in law enforcement would embroil himself in a conspiracy that involves killing several people, including the President of the United States, just because he wants to keep his family intact. To the recap.
Previously on Hostages: A bunch of people died. Ellen found out Carlisle’s wife is the President’s secret illegitimate daughter. Carlisle forgot to shave. This week: Hostages gives us a lesson in how NOT to use rape as a plotline on TV. Where Scandal’s scene was horrifying and brutal to watch, it was also given emotional heft and importance and wasn’t thrown in as shorthand for “This character who lacks any previous development is a bad guy—really, we swear.” So basically POTUS raped Anne Carlisle’s mother back when he was a young senator and she was a young journalist, then tasked his adviser, Burton, to kill her to cover it up. Burton couldn’t go through with it, so he smuggled her out of the country where she “died in childbirth,” and he raised the child as his own. When Anne got sick, he told Carlisle the deal, and Carlisle paired with POTUS’s enemies to concoct the plan. But Ellen, deep in the throes of Stockholm Syndrome, is convinced she can help him find a way to save his wife and get out of the situation. She looks at Anne’s medical records and finds a partial match donor, then tracks down her address with Duncan’s help. Of course the woman is Anne’s long-assumed-dead mother. She had no other children so she can’t help with the whole bone marrow thing. Guess they’re still going to have to kill the President!
Not once, not twice, but three times this week I wrote in my notes (in all-caps, for extra emphasis), “SHUT UP CARRIE. YOU SUCK.” As criticism goes, it isn’t exactly Pauline Kael, but I like to think it gets the point across: Carrie is just godawful this season. Here's a woman who’s essentially unemployable, and whose mental illness and refusal to take her meds is combined with an unbelievably aggravating grandiosity in everything she says and does. For some miraculous reason nobody will ever understand, Saul appears to be keeping her in the CIA’s employ, although her wages are presumably coming from the same shady place El Niño’s gazillion dollar reward did. And as gratitude, she thwarts him at every turn, attempts to destroy missions that have been months in the making, and then tells the one person rooting for her that everything’s all thanks to her anyway, and that he should just shut up and have a little faith. “I really am at a f*cking loss with you, Carrie,” said Saul, and really, who doesn't know just how he feels?
Does anyone understand what’s going on anymore? Why was Brody in the Tower of David? Last week I assumed Saul had stashed him there until such time as he could bring him back, but according to this interview that’s not true. So El Niño was keeping Brody in order to collect the reward, even though he told Brody it was because they both knew Carrie Mathison? Where would El Niño get Carrie’s name from if that wasn’t true? Have the Homeland EPs just given up all together on explaining things? Who was paying for Brody’s heroin? Ugh.
Anyway, since this season has been “carefully plotted out since the beginning,” I’m sure everything will be resolved satisfactorily. Actually, I’m not sure at all, given this week’s subplot in which Brody kicked heroin with the help of Ibogaine, Seal Team 6, and the theme music from Rocky. I know we should be talking about how Carrie and Brody were reunited for the first time this season, but lord above is their stupid love story stupid and boring, so let’s not. Carrie isn't dead, and her baby (make a face here) is doing just fine, thanks to Peter Quinn’s sharpshooting skills. Brody isn’t doing quite so well—he’s anemic, probably has Hepatitis C, might have HIV, and went through a pretty Trainspotting-like period of withdrawal complete with shaking, retching, puking, even worse than puking, crying, and begging for his “stuff.”
Lockhart went to visit Carrie in the hospital and finally pointed out that the CIA isn’t authorized to conduct operations on US soil, which made him the first person in the history of the show to realize this uncomfortable fact. Lockhart mentioned Caracas and pointed out that Carrie didn't know the man who shot her/Quinn was recently there, and Carrie basically ignored him, because she has the social graces of the evil spirit from Mama. Speaking of people being in Caracas, I still haven't figured out why Brody was there (see above), but then I still don’t know who the mole is from season one, so I don’t imagine anyone’s going to clear this up anytime soon.