Series Homeland Discussion

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05:39:07 AM Dec 21st 2015
I'm suprised season 5 hadn't made an appearance ever yet. Did we have to wait til the season was over, or is it just that no one is watching? :
07:06:21 PM Dec 21st 2015
I added some examples because it did seem like none had been yet.
11:39:10 PM Jan 8th 2014
I've put poor Chris Brody down as a Living Prop as of Season 3, where he barely even had a line of dialogue and generally hung around in the background doing nothing of note while Dana and Jessica got virtually all of the family attention outside of Nicholas himself. After Dana leaves the house, he is neither seen nor mentioned, even by his father when he's talking about his regrets.

Captain Crawdad removed it, so it must be contentious. Perhaps its just an extremely severe case of Demoted to Extra. I can see a good argument for him not qualifying for this, if only because there's at least one scene where he shares a small 'moment' with Dana before she leaves. Anyone else have a view?
05:45:03 PM Dec 29th 2013
I want to ask about this before I delete it, but someone posted that Brody is a Villain Protagonist.

I think I'm fairly harsh on Brody. He did some awful things and only had a Heel–Face Turn when he was forced to. But he wasn't a protagonist before his Heel–Face Turn.

Sometime after that he became a secondary protagonist, and was morally gray even after that, either an Anti-Hero or Anti-Villain...but on balance he did more good than harm after that point. Is Villain Protagonist called for?
04:24:40 AM Jan 3rd 2014
I say a Villain Protagonist is uncalled for, as while Brody is working for a 99% monster the target of his attempted murder is a man who bombed a school knowing full well how many children were inside without so much as batting an eye on top of many other unsavoury acts. Even in the first season it's made clear he's only in it to get revenge against a Villain with Good Publicity and doesn't share his boss' ruthlessness.
07:13:10 PM Oct 9th 2013
edited by
Tried to spoiler tag this, but the usual method did not work:

Isn't it clear that Saul, as of episode 3.02, has made a Face–Heel Turn?

(It turned out he didn't, and everyone can agree on that now: We were intentionally misled by the writing for most of 4 episodes. I don't think the discussion can be deleted, and there's no reason to anyway. I just thought it should be noted that this argument was before the "reveal" that many consider an Ass Pull at the end of Season 3, Episode 4).

I actually wasn't really for it being on the page between 3.01 and 3.02, although what I did then after someone else added it was attempt to qualify it and added that we couldn't know for sure at that point. I had no problem then with it being removed. After 3.02 I added it, and a troper removed it, twice. I have it on the YMMV page for now. If it's removed from there, that's just an abuse. But rather than Edit War over the main page, I thought I'd open up discussion (and future events leave everything open to review by all).

In 3.02, he uses false pretenses to get Carrie locked up so she can't go to reporters. This is Saul, who threatened to go to reporters himself twice over Estes' abuses (and who Estes had locked up near the end of Season 2, using the fact that Saul couldn't pass lie detector tests against him to do so).

The killing of Estes and tons of other CIA agents leaves Saul in Estes' post, and then Saul uses Carrie's being off her medication to stop her from fighting back after he makes her a scapegoat (when she was the reason they had been able to kill Nazir)? And all she wanted to do was to go to the press, which is what Saul had wanted to do before? Both of them are committed enough to opposing terrorism that neither would have revealed anything that would have helped terrorists.

Saul's deceptively locking up the heroic protagonist. Under the circumstances and given that Saul still has plenty of virtues it is NOT my view that he's become a flat-out Villain. He's become an Anti-Villain who is being, in his view, Necessarily Evil because in his view this Dirty Business is necessary to save himself and the agency.

It would be different if he knew Carrie had helped Brody escape, because in his shoes I think I'd believe that Brody was responsible for the bombing at Walden's funeral. But that's not why he's locking her up: It's just to keep her from talking to the press. That doesn't make Saul a monster, but Anti-Villain, having had a Face–Heel Turn, obviously. Any antagonist is at least an anti-villain, unless the protagonist has become a Villain Protagonist, and Carrie has not.

From the Anti-Villain trope: "The Anti-Villain is a villain with heroic goals, personality traits, and/or virtues. Their desired ends are mostly good, but their means of getting there are evil." Anti-Villain Type 3 (where I think Saul now fits): "They may believe in a good goal, but use whatever means there are to achieve it. The sympathy the audience can garner for this character comes from the fact that they basically share the same goal as the hero, but are pragmatically, expediently, or pessimistically, ruthless about it. They can very much be conscious about their morally questionable actions, but feel that there is no other way."

But suppose you don't even think Saul's means are so bad. Then, he's still Anti-Villain Type IV: "These characters either lack any villainous traits whatsoever or have so much concern over others that any signs of villainy are nearly completely drowned out. Frequently, these characters are called villains only because they fight against the hero." Can anyone dispute that Saul is fighting against the hero?
01:25:03 AM Oct 11th 2013
Err no. She's not being locked up under false pretenses; she is off her medication and she is acting crazy. She sees one anonymous leak about her as being proof that Saul has sold her out and is trying to discredit her, she was in the process of leaking classified information to a reporter out of revenge, and is becoming more and more unhinged by actions that are for the most part entirely unrelated to him.

In the meantime Saul's kept supporting her even after he found out she was insane (which was an automatic killing of her security clearance, which he covered up for her until she blew it), he went to her first with classified material that proved her right when that was illegal for him to do so and went and brought her back into the CIA, and only approved her getting locked up (again, under the completely reasonable fact that she is going insane from refusing to take her medication) when she went to a reporter specifically to try and sink the CIA (who at that point was fighting for it's very survival to try and stop terrorists).

So no, there is no Face–Heel Turn here; Saul's being more than reasonable with putting up with Carrie's monumental faults (such as the numerous laws she's broken, her constant refusal to follow orders, that she is suffering from a serious mental illness that she only barely has under control at the best of times, as well as her snapping at him and accusing him of being the villian the second he points out the leaps in her logic), and he only has her committed when she is seconds away from breaking the law and just making things worse for herself. And hell, he's completely right to have her locked up since she is only getting worse as she spends longer of her meds (even her own father says to her face that her being off her meds is an absolutely terrible idea, having gone through the exact same thing himself).
02:51:27 PM Oct 11th 2013
First of all, I've realized that I judged too hastily, and so I'm going to wait a while before considering posting about the issue again. Future events will show whether Saul really tries to treat Carrie fairly in the next few episodes.

I agree that it's always a bad decision for someone who is bipolar to be off her meds. If she felt that lithium dulled her in Season 2 (and Word of God is that that was intended), she should have switched from lithium back to the antipsychotic she was taking in Season 1 (antipsychotics are often used to stabilize bipolar people, with some dulling effect but considerably less than lithium).

However, Saul did use lies to get Carrie committed: One must be a physical danger to herself or others to be committed (essentially a suicide, homicide, or assault risk). Despite the fact it is a bad idea for people who are bipolar to be off their medications, it is not a legal justification to commit someone (and isn't all that uncommon), and Carrie had been doing okay despite it.

She only started going crazy and becoming paranoid when she was committed. Saul had just used her as a scapegoat before Congress, a very damaging story was leaked (probably by the F. Murray Abraham character) about her, and she wanted to get her side of the story out. And yes, that couldn't be done without spilling some classified material.

However, Carrie's #1 obsession is her hatred for terrorists: She was NOT going to spill classified information that would help terrorists. What she spilled was just going to undermine Saul and maybe others in the Saul committed someone to prevent info from coming out that would make him look bad. Her being off her medication was a tool he used to get her committed. But do you think if she were on her meds but spilling info that would make him look bad he would have behaved differently? And if Saul was supposed to be clearly right, why did the writers have Quinn very strongly object?

All that said, I'm willing to wait to see how the next few episodes treat it before making a judgment.

One last thing: None of this questions Saul's benevolence in Seasons 1 and 2 (and in fact for a Face–Heel Turn one must first be a "face"). I see him as the most admirable character in the first two seasons, more so even than Carrie (though Carrie accomplished more). One reason for that is that Saul was close to going to the press twice. The second time Estes locked Saul up by using Saul's weakness with lie detector tests...not too different from Saul's actions in 3.02 toward Carrie.
04:54:12 PM Oct 11th 2013
edited by
At that point she was behaving increasingly erratically and becoming liable to doing something stupid (like revealing that the tape had been in the CIA's possession before the attack and getting the entire agency disbanded and put on trial), so assault risk is plausable. And he didn't want her committed, he wanted her to stop drawing attention to herself (because again, criminal charges for everyone, her included, if the truth gets out).

Also Saul only throws her under the bus when it's clear he has been caught in a trap at congress (since the senator by that point knows or has a source who knows the truth and may very well be able to prove Saul knew). And Carrie was acting paranoid before being committed; she went to a crowded restaurant and openly accused Saul of bring responsible for all the leaks to discredit her and came within a breath of revealing the tape fiasco in front of an entire room. And despite all this Saul's keeping her on the payroll.

Also Saul was going to go to the press to reveal a truth he was morally outraged about, The first thing Carrie says to the reporter is an outright lie (that she didn't fuck Brody) to protect herself and get revenge against the CIA conspiracy against her.

Finally, I don't think you get the difference between villain and antagonist. At the end of the day Saul's fighting mass-murderers and is being forced into taking action against Carrie because she's becoming a danger to herself and the CIA (who are one of two agencies that handle international espionage, with the NSA being more an electronic agency compared to the CIA's focus on human resources). Her acting out only helps Nasir's old network by taking down half the people who are legally allowed to track him down all over this massive conspiracy the show even showed was false (such as thinking that Saul was behind it all). You're saying that she would never reveal anything to help them but again, her judgement is completely impaired at this point, so her intentions are meaningless. The idea that he'd do the same thing if she was on her meds is irrelevant since if she was on her meds she would be more focused on figuring out who is actually leaking documents to the press instead of her "Oh my god it's a conspiracy against me!"

By the same criteria you've used against Saul Carrie herself is an Anti Villian (back in season one she threatened the Saudi consulant with having his favourite daughter bared from every Western country in the world so she would have no choice but to give up her hopes and dreams and get married off just to survive, which is by no means an evil action to even consider). Saul is not fighting against the hero; he's trying to stop Carrie from doing something incredibly stupid while she is nowhere near a good mental state. Her being off her meds has always been portrayed in the series as being a bad thing, her attempts at alternate treatment are failing and she's too much in denial and caught up with thinking the entire world is out to get her that she is failing both the CIA (by not being able to help them catch terrorists) or Brody (by being his only supporter and putting herself in a position where that just hurts his case).
02:36:56 AM Oct 12th 2013
I'm not sure how much effort I really should put into a response, just because a bunch of stuff will happen Sunday that will change everything in the equation in unpredictable ways. But I can't help myself, so here goes.

I do want to say, foremost, that I really appreciate the civil disagreement. Things would never have gotten ugly had the person who was just deleting my posts had engaged me in rational debate the way you are instead of refusing to even talk.

I do want to address a few things, though:

1) As for confusing "villain" and "antagonist," I'm not confusing them. Except in rare cases of works with a Villain Protagonist, an antagonist is a villain— maybe he's not nearly as bad as some other entities (On his worst day, even in Season 3, Saul is far better than a terrorist; that was even true of Estes), but re-quoting from the text of Anti-Villain Type 4: "These characters either lack any villainous traits whatsoever or have so much concern over others that any signs of villainy are nearly completely drowned out. Frequently, these characters are called villains only because they fight against the hero."

The key is, fighting against the hero is enough to be an Anti-Villain.

2) Carrie was never an Anti-Villain from my perspective or any other. Your example can be covered by an Anti-Hero trope such as Pay Evil unto Evil.

3) A value judgment: Some CIA secrets should not be kept, paritcularly in Homeland where they're lying to (what would have to be) the Congressional Intelligence Committee, and it's not even known if the Invisible President knows the whole truth.

I won't get into the debate over real life politics and leaks like Snowden's, but I will say that however one feels about Snowden's leaks, Barack Obama 's justifications for being harsh on Snowden only apply if the CIA is honest with the President and the Congressional Intelligence Committees (all of which have full security clearances).

What Obama said was that not only was he elected to be entrusted with the secrets, but that those Congressional committees, also elected, had access to them (and in the case of the phone #'s, there was FISA judicial review). Paraphrasing, he said, "I don't ask you to trust me alone, but all the information was shared with the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, and cleared through the FISA court. If you don't trust me, AND you don't trust Congress, AND you don't trust the court, I don't know what can convince you."

None of this applies in Homeland. Congress is being kept in the dark, and the President may instead of a democracy or republic, it's a shadow government. If Saul is as good a person as in Seasons 1-2, if there had to be a shadow government, he'd be a great choice to head it...but we shouldn't have shadow government in a democracy.

I anticipate your response, "But then Congress might eliminate the CIA and we couldn't fight terror." In Real Life, that would never occur, no matter how badly the CIA screwed up. Tons of people might be fired (though most of those are dead in the show). The President might get blamed and be impeached; but no sane person would support abolition of the CIA.

But it has been stated as a worry of Saul's and hinted at in the hearings in Homeland, so in probably the most unrealistic plot point of the series, it is a risk. But again, the USA is supposed to be a democracy. If the people were horrendously stupid enough to want to get rid of the CIA, in a democracy it should happen. And if the people can't have all the facts to make those decisions, at least the President and the oversight committees should, so they are at least made by representatives of the people.

If it somehow happened beyond logic, I'd have to guess that the Department of Homeland Security would get a mandate to take over the anti-terrorism functions, including overseas operations. I don't know who would take over the functions not directly related to terrorism, but the FBI might be allowed to operate overseas for such purposes or something. No sane person (and hardly any insane people) would say we don't need the CIA's functions carried out.
04:07:18 AM Oct 12th 2013
To go through the three main points;

1) You can oppose the protagonist without being any kind of villian. We have dozen of tropes for that (Obstructive Bureaucrat, Internal Affairs, Hauled Before A Senate Subcommittee, etc.). And look up the definition of The Antagonist;

"The Antagonist is completely and totally dependent on The Protagonist for its existence. This is because he or she exists for the purpose of opposing the efforts of the Protagonist. They don't have to be a Big Bad, an Anti-Villain, or even morally objectionable in any sense (though they often are); they merely have to oppose The Protagonist. The Antagonist usually provides the conflict and thus the story. Because of this, The Antagonist is about as Omnipresent as The Protagonist, though there are stories that have No Antagonist. "

So by this wiki's definition, Saul can be an antagonist to Carrie (oppossing her efforts) without being any kind of Villian. And Saul is not fighting against the hero, he's stopping the hero from doing more harm than good (she single-handedly proved the case that she was not mentally well, and her actions are making it harder for anyone to help Brody out). Furthermore by the definition of Anti Villian;

"Anti-Villain is an attempt to humanize, to lighten up, a villain as opposed to Anti-Hero, which has a tendency to darken the hero. Side by side, it can become hard to tell them apart. The only reason some would even be considered evil at all is because they're the Designated Villain. Despite this humanizing characterization, they are rarely less dangerous; heroes won't know what to expect when their enemy offers cookies and then attacks their reputation, without giving them an excuse to rationalize killing them. "

The bolded is the key part; ultimately what Saul is doing is better for Carrie than what she was doing (which as I keep stating, is failing to do anything meaningful to help clear Brody's name) and as far as the first two episodes show Carrie is still on the payroll with the CIA despite being sent to the nuthouse. Hell what he wants isn't even unreasonable; "stop running to the press every time you get upset" is probably in every government worker's contract, and lying low when Congress is out for your blood is just common sense.

2) The problem with that is that she's not Paying Evil Onto Evil. She can't touch the diplomat, so she's threatening his children who are completely innocent of any wrongdoing. The point is that this show is Black and Gray Morality, and Saul pretty much has to be forced through the entire process into doing something less henious than what Carrie did of her own free will and imagination.

3) Again, Black and Gray Morality. Yeah the CIA keeping secrets from it's own government is not something that should be happening in an ideal world, but Homeland isn't an ideal world by any stretch; the US worships men like Walden who are unrependent child murderers out for their own glory, politicions can cover up any crime that happens to them, etc.

For the CIA getting disbanded, the head of the Senate subcommitted pretty much said right in the first episode that he wants to strike up all of the CIA on charges over what happened. It's not smart to disband the agency, but depending on how they take it the Senator in question might just want to be known as the one who took down the corrupt, inefficent CIA (and presumably replace it with something else). Plus the whole Second 9/11 angle is showing off the worst of America after the first 9/11 (discrimination and hate directed towards Musliums, as well as Brody's family, anyone with a discenting opinion being treated with scorn, and all around kneejerk reactions that do more harm than good such as Saul noting the CIA was going from a spy agency to government assassins). The CIA being on the chopping block fits with the narrative presented.
06:37:07 PM Oct 12th 2013
I'm going to leave most substantive comments until after the next episode airs. Heck, the next episode might change my opinion (and maybe yours) in any number of ways.

I will say I personally see the Homeland universe as like ours, with only the exceptions of different people in political office and the existence (until he was killed) of Nazir and maybe more and more clever other well-organized terrorists than in our universe.

I do agree that the CIA (in either universe) has to deal in Black and Grey Morality. I just think it's never justified in a democracy for them to keep anything from elected officials with clearances, and the only things that it's even okay to keep from the public is info that's too dangerous if the bad guys knew it— never for PR purposes.

You have helped me see how opposition to my use of the trope was reasonable, though. I don't agree outside of that it probably takes more episodes before one can be sure, but I see the other side far better due to the conversation so far.
07:32:08 PM Oct 12th 2013
Wanted to weigh in. I tend to agree with Niria's analysis:

At least from watching the first two episodes of the season, I'd definitely say that Saul Took a Level in Jerkass. Besides the never-before-seen anti-Muslim prejudice, I got a feeling that he (or possibly Dar Adal with his approval) actually was subtly manipulating Carrie to send her totally over the edge.

Like I think you can read Saul going to Carrie's father and sister as a nice gesture, but it can also be interpreted (especially since that's what happened) as something done to make Carrie totally lose it at her hearing.

I'd also note that while Quinn actually was just trying to look out for Carrie, it isn't that paranoid from Carrie to think he's threatening her, since the guy is a black ops assassin- a fact emphasized by the fact that we see him killing and making death threats.

Not to mention, although his intentions were good, it did seem to me that Quinn was basically telling her that she should stop make a spectacle of herself or else the CIA would do something bad to her (which presumably could include killing her and making it look like an accident).
03:52:07 AM Oct 13th 2013
The anti-Muslim thing strikes me as odd considering that through both seasons he shows no sign of it, sympathises with suspects, has way too much of an understanding of Islam to be a bigot, it seemed more that he was being frustrated by her not getting results and using everyone else's lingering dislike/hatred of Muslims to point out "Hey you need to pick up your game if you're going to do that." Still it's a very troubling scene.

Also there is no way that he was behind Dar Adal leaking it since when the two of them alone he's like "Was it you?" "No it wasn't." *Glare* "It wasn't me." And sending her over the edge makes no sense from his perspective since he is having a hard enough time keeping the CIA one step ahead of the hounds, throwing away Carrie means sacrificing a brilliant analyst who has consistently been right and making a public spectacle out of it while Congress is looking for a reason to drop the axe on their heads. It would just be such a change from the first two seasons (where he was consistently supporting Carrie even as she was making things worse for herself unconditionally) that it would just come across as an Ass Pull considering that the start of three takes place two months after the end of the last season.

It should also be put out that Carrie has no clue that Quinn actually is an assassin instead of an analyst; what he really was doing in Season 2 was never revealed to her, and she was uninvolved with the CIA's plans this season so she doesn't know that hey he's just killed a bunch of people. As far as she knows he's just another analyst like her with some scary moments under his belt.
04:09:13 AM Oct 13th 2013
As far as Carrie with Quinn and feeling threatened, I don't dispute that Carrie became paranoid after being committed. If the CIA got me committed when it was trumped up to shut me up, I'd probably get paranoid too, knowing what they can do.

Also, Carrie doesn't know Quinn is an assassin, but also doesn't know that he refused to follow orders to kill Brody out of conscience (and partially out of respect for Carrie), which would make him more trustworthy.

I'd been meaning to mention Saul's Kick the Dog anti-Islamic scene, as a signal from the writers that Saul at the very least Took a Level in Jerkass.

I'm not going to post on it for a couple weeks, and if I weren't waiting a couple of weeks I'd certainly wait 18 hours until we've seen another episode, but if I were to post now I'd post Took a Level in Jerkass and maybe Obstructive Bureaucrat.

That doesn't mean that I don't still think he had a Face–Heel Turn, but we are supposed to work toward compromise and consensus, and that would be in that spirit.
10:50:34 PM Oct 15th 2013
You seem to miss the fact that Carrie was paranoid before she got committed, not after. As soon as her involvement with Brody got leaked she immediately went to Saul, the one person in the CIA who has backed her 99% of the time through shit that should have gotten her fired (with the one time he ignored her being when she was in the middle of a massive mental breakdown), and accused him of being the mastermind behind the leak to discredit her with zero evidence (and from his reaction it's unlikely that he was responsible as he questions the other guy if he did it. Then again the twist could be that the other guy is innocent and Saul's the mastermind). The first episode alone showed that she was off her meds and barely keeping it together (and her father even comments that she only thinks she's doing okay when off her meds. Considering that he has lived with the same condition for as long as he has he has probably done the same thing as her once or twice), and she's drinking excessively (again her father points out all the empty bottles she's been trying to hide and when she's at the liquor store she's buying in bulk.

And you still mix up antagonist (which is stated by this wiki as not being the same as "villain") with villain (because even an Anti Villian is presented by the story as a villain per that page's defition, even for the version you're suggesting). As it stands the show is showing that neither Carrie nor Saul are in the right here; Carrie is off her meds and engaging in the same behaviour they used in the first season to demonstrate when she was losing it, and Saul's being crushed by a position he never asked for and being forced into bad situations (sitting before Congress, having to move the CIA away from spying and into assassinations).
04:40:52 AM Oct 17th 2013
No, Carrie was not paranoid beyond what someone dealing in intelligence should be before her commitment. What I mean by "should be" is that everyone is somewhat paranoid in that business, for good reason: It's how Saul came to realize that Quinn was there in large part to eventually kill Brody.

Where I think you go wrong is you use Saul's unquestionably commendable behavior in Seasons 1 and 2 to defend him against my belief of a Face–Heel Turn, when the trope specifically refers to someone who begins as a good guy. If Estes were alive and did the same thing, it wouldn't be such a turn because he was never good enough to begin with for it to be a marked departure from previous behavior. He'd still now be an Anti-Villain, and probably of a harsher type than Saul now is because he lacks the redeeming qualities that Saul has.

Another thing about Carrie's pre-commitment paranoia: She's almost always right, even if not in this case. She was able to regain standing in the CIA despite being bipolar only because she is so brilliant. And Word of God from an interview is that her mania is part of the source of her genius, and that her lithium did, in fact, dull her. Viewers know her genius, to the point that we believe Brody is (at least most likely) innocent of the funeral bombing pretty much because Carrie does. Note that even when she went crazy-manic in Season 1 that was she discovered the gap in Nazir's activity that, of course, was about his loss of his son.

I don't think Carrie has done anything wrong this season, except maybe lying to Congress in a closed session (everyone in the room had security clearance). When she was paranoid after her commitment but before her re-medication, she did some stupid things, but not bad ones.

Now, one mistake they seem to be making this season is the dichotomy that Carrie either takes lithium or nothing. There is the middle ground of going back on the antipsychotic that served her very well in Season 1 (when she went crazy was when she was off the antipsychotic because she was in the hospital and couldn't admit that she needed it for her bipolar disorder, so she could keep her security clearance).

I really liked Saul from the first two seasons, and you did, and I think everyone did. I think you're blinded by that into thinking he can't be even an Anti-Villain now.

You point out that if he were now an Anti-Villain he'd be presented in a bad light. Well, what was the Muslim prejudice Kick the Dog scene about then? It really fits them doing that: Extraneous to the plot, they show Saul being mean for no reason. Maybe they're showing that not only his position but the "second 9/11" got to him and took away some of his niceness.

Of course, 3.03 was mostly about Brody and we didn't see Saul, Quinn, or Adal at all. What we did see with Carrie, though, reinforces that she was never a threat to spill actual dangerous (as in "would help the terrorists if they learned them") secrets to the press, as a lawyer was talking to her about getting her out of the institution. She (with a healthy level of spy-paranoia) figured that he was working for a foreign government that wanted to flip her against the USA.

It makes sense, in that the lawyer wouldn't say for whom he was working. If he were with the ACLU or working for a journalist or something, he'd have easily said so. The key is that she said she'd rather spend the rest of her life institutionalized than flip.

Saul went along with Adal's plan to institutionalize her and work (as Hudor said) to drive her crazy, just to stop her from talking to the press. I call that an Anti-Villain being Necessarily Evil as he sees it. Or, toned down, a former Reasonable Authority Figure (actually more than reasonable) who Took a Level in Jerkass to become an Obstructive Bureaucrat and a Broken Pedestal to Carrie.
11:33:05 PM Oct 17th 2013
She was excessively paranoid; her first reaction to the newspapers referring to her affair with Brody (which was not a big secret; Brody's family knew it, Mike knew it, Estes and at the very least the two agents who came with him to her house knew it, and everyone listening in as she fucked Brody in season 2, it was not a secret to anyone who tried to do it) was to immediately go straight to Saul (who again, at this point had only ever been against her twice; the first when she outright broke the law and lied about it to his face, the second when she was in the middle of an absolute mental breakdown and the last time he saw her couldn't even convey her thoughts clearly) and accuse him of trying to frame her. Accusing Adal would make sense, Saul himself clearly doesn't believe Adal had nothing to do with it, but going right up and accusing the man who is literally the only reason you have a job and has always had your back and stuck his neck out on the line for you several times, of trying to destroy you. There is being Properly Paranoid and then there is Carrie's "It's all a giant conspiracy against me!" Which she was demonstrating before she was committed.

And while her being brilliant is part of her being brought back, by in large she was brought back because she was a subject matter expert on Brody and because Saul was backing her, which is why she is clearly losing it at the start of the season (not just with her breakdown after meeting Congress for the first time but jumping straight to her closest ally in the agency and accusing him of selling her out despite literally no evidence to support it). Despite the Protagonist-Centered Morality you're employing here, the narrative is showing that when she's off any kind of meds she's unstable and the whole scene with her father in episode one was him (a life-long sufferer from the same kind of mental illness) calling her out for going off her meds and that she is nowhere near as healthy as she thinks she is.

I should also point out that while Carrie is usually always right, that's not an attitude that the characters can really hedge everything on; at the end of the day the CIA is still (largely) beholden to the law and has to at least pay lip service to following the processes, not trusting the gut of a woman whose condition by all accounts should kill her security clearance permanently. Not to mention that her logic wouldn't hold up in any court of law; let alone an intelligence agency.

Also my point about Saul was not that he has to be presented in a bad light to be an Anti Villian; heroes can be presented in a bad light and still be heroes. It's that by definition even an Anti Villian has to be explicitly cast as the villain by the work, and Saul is essentially the third protagonist of the series (alongside Carrie and Brody) considering how much focus he got in the first two episodes. He has that Jerkass moment (not Kick the Dog) over what he sees as insensitivity over the second 9/11 (and his main beef is not "You're a dirty Muslim," it's "if you're coming in here dressed in a way you know is going to rub people the wrong way at least do your damn job," just expressed absolutely terribly), but he does treat her much better in the same episode and brings her into his trust so there's a chance for a Pet the Dog moment somewhere. But for the heroes and villains count we have;

  • Carrie, who is bouncing between extremes of "take my meds and maybe miss something" or "stop taking my meds and miss everything"
  • Saul, whose been forced to step up to keep the CIA together, stop Nasir's old network, keep the agency one step ahead of the hounds, and juggling Carrie's instability with Adal's vague assholeness.
  • Brody, whose just trying to survive in a bad situation whilst keeping onto what he thinks is right (and getting fucked over by it every time)

And on the Villians side we have:
  • The Magician, who has yet to appear but has a massive reputation to live upto

Even off screen The Magician is presented as being the villain of the work, whilst one of our three protagonists are trying to stop him (note that Carrie has not actually done any CIA work this season, she's been defending herself before Congress and then trying to clean up her reputation and convince people of Brody's innocence without actually having any proof that would do that without destroying the CIA in the process). And you've never addressed the fact that you're wrong about how Antagonist's have to be Villains (since the former page explicitly says you can be the former without being the latter).

And as a further nitpick; Saul isn't an Obstructive Bureaucrat because Carrie isn't being sidelined by the CIA, she's being sidelined by the DC legal system which is more her own fault.

And I'm sorry, but I still don't see how what she was doing in episode two was going to have any other impact but either her getting further discredited or the CIA getting dismantled (which is being held over this season as the biggest threat to the CIA), both of which helps the terrorists by taking out at least one person fighting against them.

Also, as far as we're aware Carrie hasn't been fired by the CIA. That was made explicit when it happened in season one, yet as far as we can piece together Saul is still sending her a paycheck in the mail and keeping her secret clearance intact despite having the ace of "hey she's bipolar, instant security clearance death" ready if he really wanted her out of the way. Hell he still is a Reasonable Authority Figure; every time Carrie gets upset this season she either accuses her own allies of betrayal or runs off to the press instead of trying to A) prove who the leak is (since there is still that unresolved subplot of "who in the CIA is working for Nasir"), B) ignore it and continue to try and prove Brody's innocence (which she can't really do if she goes to the press with the explcit intention of putting it to the CIA in 'retaliation', or C) goes to the one guy who always has her back and ask for help instead of going to said person and accusing him of acting massively out of character.

Bottom line, taking the loose canon out and to the sidelines when he acts out does not a Villain make (not even an Anti Vilain).
07:36:51 AM Oct 19th 2013
Wow, more to respond to there than I think I want to write right now, and of course we're getting close to another episode anyway, but to address some points:

"but going right up and accusing the man who is literally the only reason you have a job and has always had your back and stuck his neck out on the line for you several times, of trying to destroy you."

...Right after he had stabbed her in the back in testimony to Congress. I won't say she was completely right; she should have recognized there were others who could have done it (my bet is on Adal, assuming we find out)...but she was already rightly very angry at him for his testimony.

"The narrative is showing that when she's off any kind of meds she's unstable" Not that badly. When Season 3 picks up it's been a while since the bombing and she's been off meds for most/all of that time because she thought the meds made her miss something...and she was functioning okay. As stable as when on her meds? No, although really she had gotten along for a while without people even realizing she was off her meds, so not nearly as badly as you were implying.

"It's that by definition even an Anti Villian has to be explicitly cast as the villain by the work, and Saul is essentially the third protagonist of the series (alongside Carrie and Brody)."

Really? I have to say no. In the first two seasons he was the most admirable character on the series, the closest to an Ideal Hero the series had. Carrie, while The Hero for virtue of being both on the side of good and the protagonist, was certainly a Good Is Not Nice Anti-Hero, where Saul was not only good but also a Nice Guy. But, that doesn't make him a protagonist. He was an ally of the protagonist who was very likeable for that reason as well as the reasons above, but was never a protagonist himself.

This season, maybe late last season, Brody has probably become a second protagonist. Given what Brody would have done if his suicide bomb had worked, that his Heel–Face Turn was only when the CIA gave him no other option, and that he did more to assassinate Walden than he had to to free Carrie and even to honor his end of the agreement to free Carrie, it's hard for me to see him as that noble.

Walden was a bad guy and in fact a Villain or Anti-Villain, probably of the Knight Templar variety (though he was never presented as the main villain or main antagonist, which I point out because you're saying that it's a requirement of villainy), but assassination of a US vice-president is not okay; and Brody's agreement was to give Nazir the pacemaker number, which he did. When Walden's heart started to fail, Brody could have called 911 as Walden was asking (and of course he then even prevented Walden from doing so). He never agreed to do anything beyond giving Nazir the pacemaker number.

So, while Brody is probably accurately seen as a protagonist now, he's hard for me to root for.

The Islamic prejudice scene was indeed a Kick the Dog moment. Jerk Ass is a character type, not a moment. It was extraneous to the plot and shown for a reason, and it seems clear that the reason is to show that Saul is no longer such a good guy.

And Carrie is being sidelined by the CIA, not by the DC legal system. I mean it was Saul who got her institutionalized; but more importantly, do you think for one moment that if Saul wanted to get her out he couldn't?

At bottom, you're applying a different set of rules to the Homeland universe than I hope you would apply to the real one. In both universes the CIA is important and the nation needs its functions to be performed. But unless everyone in the Homeland universe is much crazier than Carrie became at her worst moment, no one would stop its functions from being performed. There is a danger posed in the Homeland universe of its abolition (which was ridiculous as it would never happen); but you even admitted it would be replaced by something else performing its functions.
08:44:53 PM Oct 19th 2013
"had stabbed her in the back in testimony to Congress. I won't say she was completely right; she should have recognized there were others who could have done it (my bet is on Adal, assuming we find out)...but she was already rightly very angry "

Err no, that scene happened before he testified to Congress. Hence why she slams the newspaper down on the table in front of him and is pissed off about that being leaked, instead of being pissed off about him going on about it in front of Congress. Their only direct interaction in the second episode is when he goes to sees her in the institution, after all, and him being forced into selling her out (because he really has no choice there; they have him by the balls, they have someone who can prove it if he lies, and he does attempt to deflect the question twice and spends a long time before actually admitting that the story is true).

" Not that badly. When Season 3 picks up it's been a while since the bombing and she's been off meds for most/all of that time because she thought the meds made her miss something...and she was functioning okay. As stable as when on her meds? No, although really she had gotten along for a while without people even realizing she was off her meds, so not nearly as badly as you were implying. "

It's been two months, she can barely hold it together through one interview with Congress to the point where they have to call a recess just to get her out of there and have her keep her mouth shut the next time. Saul figures out she's off her meds without any evidence, she's drinking excessively, and as far as we've seen she hasn't been doing any CIA work beyond writing up a notepad on what Nasir's plan is. And I would call some whose job involves a lot od discretion and secrecy flying off the handle in public areas twice raving about a conspiracy as being a sign that being off her meds was not doing anything to help her see the whole picture.

"Walden was a bad guy and in fact a Villain or Anti-Villain, probably of the Knight Templar variety (though he was never presented as the main villain or main antagonist, which I point out because you're saying that it's a requirement of villainy),"

No, I'm saying one can be an antagonist without being a villain. You're making a converse error (that because x leads to y then y must lead to x). Estes is a good example of an antagonist who isn't a villain; he hinders Carrie both intentionally an unintentionally, but he isn't a villain because he's not doing it out of maliciousness, just because he doesn't have access to the same information she does. Hence why when he does get proof that she was right he reverses his previous decisions and backs her.

"but assassination of a US vice-president is not okay; and Brody's agreement was to give Nazir the pacemaker number, which he did. When Walden's heart started to fail, Brody could have called 911 as Walden was asking (and of course he then even prevented Walden from doing so). He never agreed to do anything beyond giving Nazir the pacemaker number. "

I think "give me a gun so I can kill someone" sort of implies "don't stop me from killing someone." It's not breaking the words of the agreement but I think everyone would agree that's going against the spirit of it. Plus Walden is a child-killing asshole who is going to go down as a war hero whose crimes are going to remained buried and hidden from public view. Him dying is the closest form of justice he'd ever get. I see it as a Kick the Son of a Bitch moment and evil taking out evil.

"The Islamic prejudice scene was indeed a Kick the Dog moment. Jerk Ass is a character type, not a moment. It was extraneous to the plot and shown for a reason, and it seems clear that the reason is to show that Saul is no longer such a good guy."

Then what is the point of the scene where he says she did a good job and brought her into his confidence? To show that even with his Taking A Level In Jerkass he is still a good guy underneath, just saddled with all of the ugly details of running the agency/his section of the agency and snapping.

"And Carrie is being sidelined by the CIA, not by the DC legal system."

The CIA through her to the lions (the DC legal system), but they have no control over them. An Obstructive Burecract is like the prison warden from season two; they use the bureaucracy of their position to hamper another's efforts just to be a dick. All Saul (through Adal) did was put her in front of them and said "this woman is crazy." Carrie went and proved it (albeit with Saul's inadvertent help).

"I mean it was Saul who got her institutionalized; but more importantly, do you think for one moment that if Saul wanted to get her out he couldn't? "

He could and he probably will pull some strings once she starts to show reason, but as it stands she is mentally unwell and that is not someone you want to throw into high-pressure situations. Hell the best thing Saul ever did for Carrie last season was try and stop Estes from bringing her back just to throw her into the fire right away. He's still blaming himself for not putting her mental health first like he did after her major breakdown in season one.

"At bottom, you're applying a different set of rules to the Homeland universe than I hope you would apply to the real one. In both universes the CIA is important and the nation needs its functions to be performed. But unless everyone in the Homeland universe is much crazier than Carrie became at her worst moment, no one would stop its functions from being performed. There is a danger posed in the Homeland universe of its abolition (which was ridiculous as it would never happen); but you even admitted it would be replaced by something else performing its functions. "

Yeah I'm applying a different set of rules, one's a fictional universe with clearer rules, the other is a much more complicated beast. Yes in the real world the CIA would never get disbanded baring some truly epic circumstances, but in the real world a pacemaker couldn't be disabled remotely, Carrie would have been fired for the numerous times she's flat-out disobeyed orders, the CIA wouldn't just take one look at a POW held prisoner by the Napoleon of international terrorism and say "you know, let's not act with even the tiniest bit of suspicion that this guy could have been compromised in eight years and just give him the benefit of the doubt." The show also has painted a very bad picture of politicians as being corrupt, inefficient, or out for their own glory, so the threat is real and fuck, the real 9/11 showed a lot of actions and legislations passed faster than people could sit down and think about the consequences and what do you know? The consequences were bad. It wouldn't be unprecedented for the show to have the CIA disbanded and bad stuff to happen in-between that and getting someone else up to speed.
09:06:48 PM Oct 19th 2013
Well, I'm at least glad you'll admit Saul Took a Level in Jerkass this season. That's a step toward consensus, anyway.

A big difference between how we view things is that I'm applying Real Life morality to the Homeland universe and you aren't. I'm not claiming your looking at it that way is wrong, just that it's a key source of our differences.

Also, it's possible I might have had a stronger reaction to Carrie's having gone off her meds if I hadn't listened to the interview with the executive producer that made it Word of God that Carrie's meds did, in fact, dull her. Otherwise I might well have seen Carrie's going off her meds as unacceptably stupid.

One last thing before I let this go and see what we see tomorrow night, regarding the Walden assassination and Brody's actions. I can fully understand Brody's keeping the letter of his agreement (mostly to be sure to save Carrie's life but maybe out of honor as well), but when dealing with an awful terrorist who's the Big Bad, I absolutely would feel no compulsion to honor the spirit and think Brody shouldn't have either.
06:59:34 PM Oct 20th 2013
Quick reaction to 3.04: This was why I was willing to wait for more episodes before posting anything. Early in the episode, I was thinking the Face–Heel Turn was even more apparent, pulling strings to keep Carrie locked up even when the system was going to release her.

Than it looked like Carrie was going to agree to work for the Iranians to remain free and I was thinking it was turning into Black And Black Morality.

But the end showed that at some point, probably after Carrie's contact with the Iranians' lawyer, Carrie and Saul started cooperating, and Saul, though he did Take a Level in Jerkass to have Carrie committed at all, is still pretty good, probably still a Reasonable Authority Figure.
01:44:10 PM Oct 21st 2013
After a re-watch, given Carrie's genuine disgust over Adal's intervention and her family having been told there was no hearing, I was too quick to forgive Saul. He and Carrie likely only began to cooperate after she got out, and it probably had to do with her father's having told Saul what Carrie asked him to tell Saul.

So...he was still acting like an extremely Obstructive Bureaucrat (or worse) for much of the episode, although by the end of the episode he is no longer an antagonist and may well from here on out be someone we can root for.
08:39:14 PM Oct 21st 2013
edited by
Wow, Word of God (link fixed I hope) is that Carrie and Saul were in it together the whole time.

So you're right Shaoken that there was no Face–Heel Turn, as implausible as that is because of how Carrie behaved when no one but the audience was watching her.

I am glad that I decided to let the season play out before any further posting, although feeling less good about the series itself, thinking Seasonal Rot.
08:45:31 PM Oct 21st 2013
edited by
Going to read that article now because that doesn't make a huge amount of sense (I could believe him letting her in on it after she was sedated at the end of the previous episode, but the whole time?)

I do kind of feel the show may be engaging in Black and Gray Morality in that what the Evil Law Firm told Carrie that the CIA was doing/would do to her was pretty on point (note that Dar Adal isn't in on the plan and did a good job screwing up Carrie's life), although the CIA is still better than the Iranians.

Edit- That link isn't working for me.
10:25:42 PM Oct 21st 2013
edited by
Here's another attempt to make the link work. I think the other one may have failed because it was including my closed parentheses:
03:41:59 AM Oct 22nd 2013
Well Saul clearly wasn't keeping Adal in the loop, so here's my theory;

  • Saul's desperate to catch The Magician (because I can't get his name right or even remember it), but of course there is no way he can find one of his links and turn them to his side without the other guy knowing. So he needs to create a situation to draw him out.
  • Of course to do that he needs someone whose going to tempt him, so that means someone who is valuable, that he can trust but he can create a story that TM would believe. Carrie fits all those criteria.
  • He makes the call with Carrie, who goes along with it. He leaks the initial story, she reacts appropriately, Adal acts predictably and brings out his contingency plan.
  • As for Carrie's actions when no one was watching, being in the centre was bad for her (hence with her telling Saul he should have gotten her out of there. Even though she was on board with the plan, it still got to her.

So Saul was playing the long con all along. He's taken a level in being The Chessmaster and Carrie was the star performer.
08:19:46 PM Oct 22nd 2013
Upon thinking about it, the plot we saw is plausible, even including Carrie's genuine moments of frustration (i.e. when no one was looking).

Saul and Carrie, as Word of God has said, hatched the plot in the days after the 12/12 bombing. A few things happened that Saul may have planned but not told Carrie about, and other things happened because Adal was not in on the plot. Also, Carrie didn't realize how horribly hard it would be for her to cope with living in an institution.

So, Carrie thought that Saul was only going to out her as bipolar. He felt it necessary to also spill her affair with Brody, so there would be some real anger to better fool the Iranians. So she was truly angry about that.

Then, she kept wanting to get a message to Saul from the institution to tell him she couldn't take it anymore— because she felt like she couldn't. Given what was going on that we didn't know about, it was reasonable for Saul to ignore anything like that that he heard. He should have tried to think of another way, but he may have tried, and just concluded that there was no other way.

In one of the interviews I read, the producer said that a major theme this year is how much one gives up to be a spy.

Then her anger about her car being stolen, her funds being frozen, and her credit cards cancelled: I have to figure Adal did that. It wasn't part of the original plan, but Saul likely figured he had to let Adal do it: He apparently doesn't trust Adal enough to tell him of the plan, and him telling Adal not to do it otherwise wouldn't make sense, given that Saul is pretending to be a vengeful Jerk Ass with respect to Carrie.

So, as Homeland goes (and most of TV), it was plausible enough, and I even believe that somewhat similar operations have been conducted by the real CIA.

My only problem, then, is the way they showed it. One thing I've loved about Homeland has been its plot twists and surprises— but we always knew whatever Carrie knew (plus some other stuff, as it showed scenes Carrie wasn't present for)...but if Carrie knew it, we knew it.

Instead of that, we were as conned as the Iranians. As one critic (paraphrased) wrote, "It would be okay if it at least had been fun getting there." But really, it wasn't. It's painful to see the two characters one had liked the most— and yes, I really did like Saul, and do again now that I know that what happened was (almost) all agreed to— working in serious ways against each other (not just disagreeing about what plan to use or how to treat Brody or something, but with one locking the other up in what we thought was involuntary).

And the arguments may have let off some steam, but I'd rather they'd have been unnecessary, that there wasn't so much steam to blow off.

A critic wrote: "We could have been told about this plan in the premiere, and it would have diminished nothing for us at all. As a matter of fact, it would have been almost even more engaging since the tension would have been raised. Carrie would have had more to fight for and we would be cringing in fear of it blowing up in everyone's faces."

I agree with the critic.

Homeland does still have 8 more episodes this season to return to being a show I love watching. I'm optimistic it will, and certainly hope it will. But the first four, not so much.
06:59:09 PM Oct 27th 2013
So, as an update, from tonight's episode (10/27/13), I would definitely say that Saul has taken a level in jerkass, and it seems like his niceness to Carrie at the end of the last episode was a put-on.
02:28:42 AM Oct 28th 2013
edited by
I don't think his niceness was a put-on. The one thing that does make me question that a bit was his response when Quinn says Carrie was "on her own now" after they lost her and he quipped, "she always was."

I'm undecided at this point (after 10/27/13's episode 3.05) as to whether Saul Took a Level in Jerkass. On one hand, he certainly does not have Carrie's back to the same extent that he did in the first two seasons, and is clearly more interested in the mission succeeding than Carrie's safety (e.g. having Quinn stay back to avoid a risk of being made, which put Carrie in greater danger; but then again, Quinn was only on the scene because Saul got him involved). On the other hand, now that they've actually posed a more realistic threat than abolishing the CIA (which I kind of discounted because it was so unrealistic I just had to ignore it), Saul may see the mission's success as the only way he has a chance to keep human intel as a large part of the CIA's operations by proving it can work.

Is Saul deciding "The Needs of the Many must come before the needs of the few or the one (which is generally a reasonable position)," or is it him being Necessarily Evil (which isn't as harsh a trope as the word "evil" implies if you actually read it, but would still imply he Took a Level in Jerkass)? I think both sides can be argued.

I'm obviously not the only one who can post, and if you want to post he Took a Level in Jerkass I won't delete it or oppose it, but I'm not sure enough within myself to post it myself right now.

Falsely committing someone hits a Berserk Button in me in a way that putting a mission's success ahead of an operative's safety doesn't, even though the latter can be morally wrong depending on the specifics. Right now, for me, the specifics are ambiguous.
03:48:09 AM Oct 29th 2013
I think he's getting grinded down by the political bs that's part of the job, and jerkass Politician getting the Directorship is a nightmare for him (since said politician is well, a politician, not a spy). Plus Carrie has a history of getting out of tight spots, he could just be that confident in her abilities. So the niceness wasn't a put on more than him acknowledging that she's always worked best on her own and putting his faith in her.

Him ordering Quinn to stay back wasn't solely because he's interested in the mission succeeding; if Quinn got made (and he was going up against the guy whose been running Iran's intelligence service for decades over two vastly different regimes, so getting made was a serious risk) then he dies and Carrie vanishes forever. Quinn stays back, Carrie still gets taken, but if she's confident she wasn't made then she's safe (as she can be).

Plus like Niria pointed out, if the mission fails then Carrie is well and truly fucked considering whose about to become head of the agency.
06:38:04 AM Oct 29th 2013
edited by
No question the political pressures (as well as the recent attack not to mention his homelife) is getting to him. And I think you are right there is a degree of trust in Carrie's abilities in his comments.

However, as it plays out, Quinn is really horrified (and why wouldn't he be?- Carrie was just "bagged" in the way people are before being taken to blacksites), but Saul is enthused and doesn't exhibit a single shred of personal worry or sympathy for Carrie.

Like I'm not sure how to put it, but if Saul meant "Carrie always works best on her own and I have faith in her", he would have said that that way. Instead, the way he expresses it is in a way that's cruel and inhumane.

I got the implication that essentially Saul is fed up with Carrie's Cowboy Cop tendencies (I don't really blame him and the stuff with finding Dana was probably the last straw), and so at this point, he'll be happy if they allow for success in the mission, but I really don't know if at this point he would care if she ended up killed/never seen again. Which is why I suspect as of now that when Saul showed his old friendliness (when the plan was revealed to the audience), he was just manipulating her like he would manipulate any asset.

That is a good point though about the new agency head- I think there is a definite implication that if the mission works, Saul thinks he can parlay that into keeping his job/getting his job back.

On another note, checkout this hilarious Sesame Street parody of Homeland.
04:35:48 PM Oct 29th 2013
Funny parody! Thanks for sharing that!
02:20:35 AM Dec 17th 2013
Well the series is over, so we can put this to rest.
07:26:59 PM Dec 25th 2013
You mean the season is over. Thankfully the series is not, and there will be a Season 4.
01:41:03 AM Dec 12th 2011
Why does Nicholas Brody's wife Jessica always call him by his last name? I wonder if the show's writers wanted to emphasize the psychological gap that had opened up over eight years of his being away, but it kind of rankles that they haven't addressed this in-'verse yet.
06:18:52 AM Oct 19th 2012
edited by johnnye
I think it's just that everyone does. It's his name now. I wouldn't be surprised if one of these days he seriously pisses her off, and she stuns him by calling him "Nicholas"...
08:34:12 AM Oct 21st 2011
Get cross-wicking people.
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