TV Review: “Homeland” Episode Eight- “A Red Wheelbarrow”

Written by Spencer Sterritt November 20, 2013

Homeland, A Red Wheelbarrow, Saul, Mira

“A Red Wheelbarrow,” which sets up the last act of this season, builds on the previous episode “Gerontion” in many ways. Firstly, both titles are references to poetry. Secondly, they both have lazy plotting and don’t hold together under close scrutiny. Thirdly, they both try to bring this season into focus and fail. “A Red Wheelbarrow” does have a leg up over “Gerontion” though due to the effective cliffhanger ending, which is unfortunately the only cliffhanger that has worked for me this season.

With Javadi back in Iran the focus now shifts to the bomb maker who blew up the CIA, and Saul’s relationship with Mira. The Saul and Mira scenes last week worked well, and it was a personal story that I was invested in. In this episode though it’s revealed that Mira’s former lover is actually a spy, and has planted a microphone in Saul’s house. I thought Saul was the master of the long con, but Mira’s lover has him beat handily, since this play with in place long before Saul became the Director of the CIA. Like I said, lazy plotting.

“So much depends/upon/a red wheel/barrow/glazed with rain/water/beside the white/chicken”

The title “A Red Wheelbarrow” comes from the poem of the same name by William Carlos Williams. It’s a lovely short poem, though I fail to see any references within this episode beyond the first two lines. This whole season is built on increasingly shaky twists that cannot withstand close scrutiny. Saul’s plan to turn Javadi depends upon everything working out. Carrie’s apprehension of the Langley bomber depends entirely upon him making it out alive, even though anyone could see that he was to be eliminated somehow. And the twist at the end, of Saul arriving in Caracas to see Brody, depends entirely upon us not calling bullshit and never watching “Homeland” again.Homeland, A Red Wheelbarrow, Saul, Brody

Part of me wished that Brody never showed up on “Homeland” again. Wouldn’t that be the sickest and most unexpected twist on a show known for it’s twists, to show us it’s former main character living in squalor and addicted on heroin, just to leave it at that? It would have shocked everyone, a reaction that this season has desperately been needing. Unfortunately the end of “A Red Wheelbarrow” left me more resigned that shocked. I knew Brody was coming back into the fold in some way, and now that he’s back I don’t really care. The moment itself, where Saul sees Brody living in a tiny hellish room, is a good scene, and it is a good way to end the episode, but my opinion of this scene changed the moment I started to think about it.

Homeland, A Red Wheelbarrow, Carrie, shot

Did Saul know Brody was there the whole time? Did no one wonder why the CIA director was going to Caracas? Couldn’t he have thought up a more legitimate reason for Mira? Much like the twist at the end of “Game On,” this seemed like a desperate Hail Mary of a twist. There was no build up, no reason for us to think that the writers didn’t think this up five minutes before they started writing.

“I’m sorry, I can’t”

Things are coming together at this point in the season, but unfortunately they are not meshing. The last ten minutes of “A Red Wheelbarrow,” which involves the bomb maker being shot, Carrie being shot, and Saul meeting Brody, should be riveting but they aren’t. All this episode does is throw more harsh light upon the underpinnings of “Homeland,” revealing just how precarious this season has been. There may be things in this episode that work, but they are completely overshadowed by the inanity of the final moments.

My Rating: 5.5/10

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About Spencer Sterritt

Spencer Sterritt

Spencer Sterritt: former Editor-In-Chief for We Eat Films, future President of the Men With Beards Club, and hopefully candidate for ruler of the world.

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