The season opener of Homeland served up the usual satisfying amounts of plot and character development. But the way last night’s episode, “Uh… Oh… Ah…,” unfolded, it appears that the series may be taking a creative turn. Not much happened tangibly— we learned very little except for that everyone is crazy. Or that no one is crazy despite societal labels.
Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) makes a good case for the former. After a bomb killed several hundred people at the CIA headquarters, the Senate launched a committee investigation of the agency. During a televised questioning, newly named CIA Director Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) dropped a bomb of his own: he revealed that agent Carrie is both bipolar and sexually involved with the lead bomber suspect, Nick Brody (Damian Lewis). Carrie becomes tragically aware of what her former mentor’s admission means for her career/life and she promptly takes a stark turn into crazy town.
After Saul pretty much maims her public image, Carrie spirals further down her self-perpetuating rabbit hole. Flailing, she visits a newsroom to corner the journalist who wrote an article about an unnamed CIA agent who was sexually involved with Brody. Though the article didn’t identify Carrie, she felt it necessary to try and sway the journalist’s opinion on the matter, defend Brody’s presently non-existent honor, and shed CIA secrets. While the journalist retains a cartoonish amount of composure, Carrie loses her marbles. She’s frail enough for us to see her Adam’s apple quivering like a vertical pendulum. She looks colorless and crazed, but she always remembers her pantsuit—what a professional.
Police come to the newsroom and take Carrie to a hospital, where she’s chained to a gurney, croaking to the physician, who’s questioning her medication defiance, that she is “fucking zen.” Soon after, at a hearing, Carrie’s father and sister—who recently met with a seemingly worried Saul— try to convince her to take her meds before proceedings move forward. Carrie is very upset when she learns that Saul, who betrayed her, had gone to see her father and sister with concerns about her health. Carrie lasts seconds in the hearing before she has an emotional outburst that lands her in the hospital in shackles, taking a strong antipsychotic against her will. When Saul visits her at the hospital and apologizes for sacrificing her, Carrie replies with a “Fuck you, Saul.” Her contorted expression and strong speech impediment were probably meant to show the slurring side effects of the medication, but looked more like facial paralysis. We’ll see next week!
In the meantime, Brody’s daughter, Dana (Morgan Saylor), who attempted suicide after her father vanished in the wake of the bombing, feels completely misunderstood by her mother, Jessica (Morena Baccarin). Jessica is understandably worried about Dana’s mental health, but Dana runs away in the rain (dramatic!) to go visit her boyfriend in the loony bin. The two wake up naked in an ethereal sea of white sheets in the center’s laundry room amidst industrial washing machines (romantic!). As they start to go at it for a morning session, security finds them (obviously!), but they snap a selfie first. Not to break the fourth wall, but even if little Dana is having the loveliest iteration of psych ward sex, the combination of her overflowing angst and wildly lustrous eyebrows adds up to a picture of someone who is entirely too young to be subjecting viewers to watch her in the act. Jessica picks up Dana from the facility, clearly nervous about her daughter becoming emotionally involved at such a delicate emotional juncture in her recovery. Dana tells her mother that she wants to live her life now because she’s not actually crazy and neither is Jessica— it’s her father that’s crazy; he’s the sole reason their lives are in shambles. And she’s right.
Next week, the show may continue to explore whether truth and mental sanity are mutually exclusive. With Carrie heavily medicated and under care, it’s easy to dismiss what she’s saying in favor of what Saul is selling (he advised a new Muslim CIA employee not to wear a headscarf because of how it looks and is generally being an uncharacteristically insensitive weasel because he’s scared and confused). Based on the previews, we can expect screen time from Brody. He’s looking a little bald—maybe he shed some evil.