Homeland Season 4 Episode 8 Review: “Halfway to a Donut”

Homeland Season 4 Episode 8 Review: “Halfway to a Donut”

Homeland 4.08

Whether fans or (even the show’s writers) admit it or not, the best relationship on Homeland was never Carrie and Brody. It has always been Carrie and Saul, the student and mentor, daughter/father connection that has kept the series together even when it looked like it might completely unravel, and provided most of the show’s best moments through its three-plus seasons. And since we got so many good, tense, and memorable scenes between Carrie and Saul during last night’s episode of Homeland, it should be no surprise that “Halfway to a Donut” replaces last week’s “Redux” as my choice for being the best episode of Season 4. Because, man, this was a very good episode of television.

Even if you think that Haqqani’s capturing of Saul was too easy or too quick, you can’t deny the sense of urgency it’s giving and the emotional payoff that it’s providing Homeland‘s fourth season. While the overall conspiracy/mystery of Season 4 has been intriguing and everything that happened with Aayan was definitely interesting, it lacked connection with our characters–it was all just another terrorist plot. However, as I’ve said before, Saul now being put in the middle of the CIA’s hunt for Haqqani, not to mention the ISI protecting him, makes this spy story more personal, especially for Carrie.

For the rest of the CIA, including Lockhart and to an extent Quinn, the mission to retrieve Saul is about saving a colleague, or a friend. For Carrie, it’s about rescuing her family, as Saul has been a surrogate father to her throughout Homeland‘s entire run, the figure that she not only could look up to and go to for advice about her work, but a person that was patient with her and did his best to understand her. And that’s what makes Carrie’s decision to betray him in last night’s episode so heartbreaking; she decides to be selfish, not for her job or because it’s the “right thing” to do, but because she wants Saul to remain alive, to still be a part of her life, even if he will never forgive her for what she did.

And really, that’s what this episode comes down to: that fantastic scene where Carrie talks Saul out of contemplating suicide and breaks her promise. Both Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin have had numerous moments to shine on Homeland, and both of them have been consistently impressive throughout all four seasons of the show. And maybe it’s because we haven’t gotten a really good Carrie/Saul scene in a while, or maybe it’s because I really thought Saul was going to shoot himself there, but I don’t think either of them have ever been better (at least not since Season 2) than they were in that phone call, as Saul sits near the fountain, gun in hand, and Carrie, nearing hysterics, convinces him to keep going.

Honestly, that scene alone would have made me praise “Halfway to a Donut,” as it was, by far, the best sequence that Homeland has given us not just this season but probably since its second season finale. Thankfully, though, Saul’s escape and re-capture, which were the thrilling highlight of the episode, were followed up by another big move from Homeland, as Colonel Khan (KHAAAAAAAANNN!), who appears to be the only member of the ISI with a conscience, confesses to Carrie at the end of the episode that it was Dennis Boyd, the ambassador’s husband, that switched her medication, causing her to spiral out of control in last week’s episode. Dennis’s slimy, secretive actions have played out mostly in the background of Season 4 so far, with perhaps too much attention given to them at certain points, so now that Carrie knows what he’s done, this plot development will hopefully, like Saul’s capture, inject more energy into the story.

Will Carrie be able to find out enough information from Dennis to prevent the prisoner exchange for Saul? Most likely not, and I’m okay with that. As Homeland proved again in last night’s episode, most of its best moments come when its characters are stuck in their darkest places. Whether it’s Carrie hallucinating Brody or Saul pointing a gun at his head, wanting to end it all to protect others, these scenes have been very compelling. I can only hope that what Homeland has in store for its final four episodes matches the strong material of its past two.

Other thoughts:

Homeland deserves credit for really stressing me out during this episode. I thought Saul was a dead man. I really, really did.

– How sad was it to not only watch Saul get recaptured but hear him scream at and curse out Carrie for what she had done? I’ll say it again: Patinkin and Danes were so, so good in this episode.

– Loved Quinn and Carrie’s conversation about how sometimes there really is no “right thing” you can do and that life can just give you really bad choices to pick from. I also really appreciated that they didn’t try to turn that scene into a Carrie/Quinn romantic moment–it was and should have been all about her relationship with Saul.

– One thing this episode needed: Fara, because she’s the best. Give us more Fara, Homeland writers!

What did everyone else think of last night’s episode of Homeland?

Photo via Showtime

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