Carrie Mathison, what are you doing?! Don’t seduce virgins! More on that later though.
“Iron on the Fire,” episode 404 of “Homeland,” opens up with Carrie in her office, trying to figure out who the guy was in the video that Quinn had alerted her to, who had apparently orchestrated the whole murder of Sandy.
Redmond comes in and gives her the lowdown on this guy named Farhad Ghazi, who it turns out is the same dude who threatened Aayan Ibrahim, and told him not to speak to anybody from the news or post any more videos.
“He’s not proper Pakistani intelligence,” Redmond shares about Ghazi. “He’s a local hood they’ve outsourced the strong-arm stuff to.”
As Redmond leaves and says a little bitterly, “don’t say I never did anything for you.”
Doesn't actor Michael O'Keefe remind you of actor David Costabile? You know, the guy who played Gale in “Breaking Bad!” Somebody should have these two play brothers in some new screenplay. Make it happen!
Aayan is riding on a bus again. He goes to see his girlfriend/friend who happens to be a girl, and he wants all the medicine back that she was holding onto for him. It turns out her father had found the bag and destroyed everything. Then the father comes home and calls Aayan a drug dealer. He tells Aayan he reported him to his school and he’ll likely be expelled. Aayan is obviously pissed.
Carrie meets up with Saul as he’s on his way to check out of the hotel. She needs a favor before he leaves the country. She tells him about Sandy’s death being premeditated by the ISI. She wants Saul to sit with somebody high up and say, “Dude, we know that this was totally a premeditated murder.” I’m paraphrasing here. But then Saul tells her she needs to log a formal protest with the White House.
And Carrie’s all “what then? Pakistan issues a formal denial, and then a whole bunch of diplomats get expelled? Bah. That’s a lousy idea!” I’m paraphrasing again, of course.
The conversation then leads to whether or not Carrie is OK. Saul’s all, “Dude, I talked to Quinn and he was concerned.” Carrie gets pissed, of course.
Meanwhile, Quinn arrives in Islamabad at the headquarters of Carrie’s operation, which is supposed to be some sort of makeshift office for the “journalists” that Fara and Carrie are posing as. Quinn chit-chats with Fara and asks about Carrie. Is this for romantic reasons that Mr. Peter Quinn is asking for Carrie Mathison?!! Ooooooh!
But before we can ponder this too much, Aayan has arrived! Shoot! Everybody pretend you’re a journalist!
In all of this, Quinn and Max seem to exchange an ugly look. What’s their beef? Is Max hot for Carrie too?
Aayan tells Fara he will only speak with Carrie. Dude just wants to get out of Pakistan.
“If you let me tell your story, I’ll get you to London,” Carrie promises him, when the two meet.
This is definitely a colder Carrie this season. She has no intention of getting Aayan to London. That’s not as surprising as the fact that she does have intentions of getting into Aayan’s pants. But more on that later. BTW, I couldn’t figure out how to make a smooth segue between “getting Aayan to London” and the whole “I see London, I see France, I see Aayan in his underpants” nursery rhyme. (Is that officially considered a nursery rhyme, or just a playground tease?)
Anyway, Aayan needs A LOT of money from Carrie. He won’t tell her what he needs it for, but it’s obviously for the medication destroyed by the aforementioned father of his girlfriend/friend who happens to be a girl. Then Carrie shows Aayan a photo of Farhad Ghazi and asks if he’s the dude who threatened him. Aayan begins to cry. Carrie hugs him, and Quinn watches. Is he like, “man, I wanna get a hug like that from Carrie” or is he like, “Damn, Carrie is totally gonna bone that kid at the end of the episode!”?
After Aayan leaves with the money that Carrie gave him, Quinn and Carrie have a little back-and-forth that’s filled with sexual tension.
Fara and Max trail Aayan to a teaching hospital. He’s taken the money to buy replacements for the drugs that were destroyed. Aayan approaches a nurse with the money and then he waits for her all night. Thus Max and Fara wait all night.
Then we see a professor giving a lecture. We learn that his name is Dennis Boyd, and he’s the husband of the US Ambassador. A girl who looks a little Marisa Tomei-ish approaches him and is like, “Dude, you used to give information to Sandy, and he used to give it to one of our people, but now that he’s dead we still need that information.” Again, I’m paraphrasing.
Her name is Nasneem, and we don’t even get to know a last name for her! She seems pretty badass. She smiles the whole time she speaks with him in every exchange, although everything she says to him threatens his very core!
Professor Boyd denies any connection to Sandy Bachman and leaves.
When we see him next he’s talking on the phone, saying “C’mon Bill, there’s gotta be something. I’ll teach Freshman Composition, adult night classes, Anything!”
So yeah, like Aayan, he’s trying to get the hell out of the country, but for a slightly different reason. When the professor goes to tell his wife that he’s thinking about going back to America, he frames it quite differently, saying that GW has offered him his old job back.
“He wants me back as soon as possible,” he says of this Bill guy who he had just spoken with.
“Do you think our marriage could survive another separation?” she asks.
“I think our marriage could put my career first, for once,” he says.
“We tried that,” she fires back. “You ended up plagiarizing an entire chapter of your book.”
Yowch! Ambassador Martha does NOT mess around!
But her husband does mess around. He steals documents from her and sells them to a CIA guy who just got murdered!
Oh, also, we learn that Redmond is trying to figure out where Carrie goes every day. When she approaches him about it and complains about how difficult it is to get in and out of the embassy, he tells her about a secret tunnel. She’s kind of pissed she didn’t know about it before.
So then Saul meets with a guy named General Latif whom he used to know ages ago. When Saul addresses him with a formality, the guy is like, “Please, call me Bunny.” The two shoot the shit for a bit, talk about 9/11 conspiracies etc. Then Saul asks for the favor that Bunny owes him. He needs an audience with somebody up high in the ISI.
Meanwhile, Carrie and her crew are trying to get a bug in the apartment of Farhad Ghazi. There’s a great action sequence with Quinn sneaking in and doing it. After he successfully does it, Carrie and Quinn have a little alone time. When he tells her that he had gone as far as doing his psych evaluation in getting out of the CIA, she says, “Now I’m even more grateful that you’re here.”
“Anything for you, Carrie,” he says, kind of snidely.
Seriously though, what is Quinn’s game? Why is he back there? Is it for his country? Is it for Carrie? Can he really be in love with her? He’s had several moments in these first few episodes where he’s realized Carrie is a horrible person. But then again, Quinn has had several moments where we’ve seen him “realize” he’s a horrible person. Maybe he thinks they deserve each other because their jobs require them both to be really immoral people.
“If you wanna believe you are such a bad guy,” she says about his pity party, “go ahead.”
We see Saul awaiting his audience with the ISI guy. The restaurant where he’s eating is cleared out before the guy arrives. His name is Aasar Khan, and when Saul tries to break the ice with a “Bunny sent me,” Aasar Khan corrects him, “General Latif.”
When Saul tells Aasar Khan the theory that Sandy’s death was orchestrated, he’s pissed. He poses a good question to Saul though.
“Who’s speaking here? Is it Saul Berenson, the private citizen? Is it Saul Berenson, ex-director of the CIA? Is it Carrie Mathison?”
“Why was Sandy Bachman murdered? You tell me that and I’ll tell you who’s speaking,” Saul fires back.
Aasar Khan’s initial volley was more powerful than Saul’s response, obviously.
“As a favor to the General, I agreed to a chat, Mr. Berenson, not an interrogation,” he closes.
The next day Carrie takes Quinn aside for a private conversation to try to make things good between them. Though it ends with her asking, “so are we good?” and him responding, “yeah, we’re good,” it’s quite obvious that they aren’t. They aren’t good because all of the sexual tension, people!
Fara and Max continue to trail Aayan and we see he is taking the drugs to … his uncle! Haissam Haqqani, the terrorist who was supposedly killed at the wedding is still very much alive! Well, not necessarily “very much alive,” because he might be the one who needs the medicine that Aayan is delivering.
Back at HQ, Ghazi receives a phone call that his laundry is ready. Carrie wants to intervene because she thinks it’s code for something. Quinn grabs her arm to tell her to chill out and she snaps at him, “Get your hands off me!”
But then before anyone can do anything with that outburst, they receive the call from Fara that Haqqani is still alive!
“And Fara,” Carrie says as she gets off the phone with her, “good work!”
Aww, Carrie may be a horrible person and feel the need to deceive most of the people she deals with on a daily basis, and leave her baby thousands of miles away, but as a manager, she uses positive reinforcement!
“What the f—, Carrie,” says Quinn, presumably not criticizing her positive reinforcement technique.
Why does he say that?
Carrie wants to know too.
“Tell me what you’re thinking right now,” she says.
“That Sandy’s death actually makes sense for the first time,” Quinn answers.
“He was killed in order to protect Haqqani, who either survived the airstrike or wasn’t there in the first place,” Carrie continues to deduce what’s going on.
“He wasn’t there,” says Quinn in a whisper.
“They played us from the very beginning,” Carrie says.
Yeah, just like you’re gonna play that kid Aayan and get some action, right Carrie?
Oops. Sorry. This is some really good expository dialogue I’m interrupting here.
“Why do any of it?” Quinn asks about the charade perpetuated by ISI.
“Because that’s when we stop tracking terrorists, when we think they’re dead,” she says.
“I get why the Taliban wants us to think that, but why the ISI?”
“That’s a great f—ing question,” she says.
Hooray, they’re working together again!
Then we see that traitor Professor Boyd, again. And we see that cunning smiley mononym known only as Nasneem. She tells him he won’t be going back to the States after all. The fact that she has two thugs with her helps her argument.
“You’ve had a change of heart,” Nasneem tells Boyd.
When he demands to make a phone call she says, “here’s what happens if you do: A package arrives at the FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., inside are the documents you stole from your wife’s computer, and a timeline implicating you in their theft, you’re arrested for treason and your wife’s career is destroyed by association.”
When he asks, “Who are you?” she says, “Call me this name. Beyond that it’s better that you don’t know.”
She places a key in his hand and says, “This is how we begin.”
I like this Nasneem character!
Back at the “journalists” HQ, Carrie tells Fara that it’s her intention to hide behind Aayan to work their way up to Haqqani, and this is the first time Fara realizes that Carrie is kind of a bad person. Aayan will never agree to this plan, Fara suggests.
“Let me worry about that,” says Carrie. “You just get him to the safe house…”
We put those ellipses points there to indicate that it’s implied that Carrie is saying, “you just get him to the safe house so I can bone him!”
And that’s exactly what she does in the next scene. Actually, there’s another scene before that. We’re forced to see Quinn in a dark room for a few seconds, throwing a ball against the wall. Is this the “Homeland” creators’ way of showing that Quinn is banging his balls against the wall while Carrie has sex with her asset?
The seduction is six minutes of very uncomfortable television. Carrie giggles as they “make up the couch,” she pretends to be a friend as he tells her that he was kicked out of medical school and she lies to him that being kicked out won’t affect his chances of getting into Kings College. And then she’s like, “you’ve never done this before?” in a totally fabricated tone of concern.
All-in-all, this was a B+-level episode, due to the few good Yowch moments and the fact that we didn’t see it coming that Haqqani would still be alive. However, let’s just get the Quinn and Carrie relationship started for realz because the whole sexual tension thing is more annoying than it is intriguing.