CIA Pakistan Station Chief Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) “recruiting” an asset through coitus was nothing new. Mathison taking in the fact that Aayan Ibrahim (Suraj Sharma) was a virgin and that she was about to take something special away from him solely as a means of manipulation was something new (an unforeseen variable) and its importance was not lost on her. The viewer could see that variable playing across Mathison’s face immediately after its disclosure.
Aayan’s response to Mathison’s overtures was to be expected but Carrie’s brief hesitation showed that she was not devoid of feelings and a conscience, though the pursuit of her job overrides both e.g. engaging in sex with United States Marine Corps Scout Sniper Nicholas Brody over a open CIA communication line to reel him back into the fold.
Chief Mathison does what it takes to achieve her ultimate goals and having coitus with a virgin to control his mind and his actions through the feelings and lust that it will generate was no different (though her momentary moral dilemma brought that into question).
Quaid-I-Azam University Political Science Teacher Denis Boyd (Mark Moses) betraying his US Ambassador wife (Laila Robins), his country, and being re-recruited by agent Tasleem Qureshi (Nimrat Kaur) – most-likely a member of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) – was a another piece of the Sandy Bachman intelligence puzzle revealed and the beginning of a new, covert relationship. After the first approach by Qureshi, begging to be taken back by his old company, and informing his wife, why didn’t Boyd immediately leave the country? Is it realistic to believe that a man in his position could be that naive and stupid? Did he really believe the recruiter wouldn’t be vigilant? It’s always irritating when someone skips the obvious, smart move in lieu of something asinine (reference Dexter and The Strain for multiple, glaring examples of this). Boyd should have asked his wife to put him on a military plane that afternoon and been escorted to it by a security team like Mathison drives around with in Pakistan. He could have sold the security measures to his wife as paranoia over Sandy Bachman being killed in the streets of the city a few weeks ago. Instead, he takes time to begin packing up his office (instead of having those materials shipped to him) as if he was never approached, these were normal circumstances, and just expected things to work out. It was hilarious to watch him walk into his office with moving boxes to find recruiter Qureshi waiting for him with her retainers in tow. The resulting moments weren’t tense, surprising, or suspenseful. The moment he walked into that room, to the knowledgeable viewer, what he found waiting for him was predictable. Boyd’s recruiter was a mirror image of Carrie Mathison and Mathison watches her targets 24/7.
CIA Deputy Station Chief John Redmond (Michael O’Keefe) angling to find out what Carrie was doing in the hopes of scooping her on her operation (to ultimately to be renamed Station Chief in Pakistan) added a new layer of complexity to the show. Now Carrie has someone “helping” her but working on their own separate agenda coterminous. I hope this tread continues within the season and that this and other plots expand and deepen.
The terrorist surprise in Iron in the Fire was well-orchestrated and nothing beforehand gave it away. It cast a new light on many of the events of the first few episodes of the fourth season of Homeland and on Aayan Ibrahim as well. The chess board shifted under everyone’s feet during these moments.
Another shift was Aayan’s medical career. Kiran (Shavani Seth)’s father reported Aayan to his medical school, saying that he had stolen drugs from the school. Here is the problem with that: the father destroyed the vials so he had no proof of the theft (there were no serial numbers or barcodes left to match with official records). The procurement departments of medical schools keep meticulous records of the materials they purchase and the departments that receive them. If vials of medicine were missing, the records would show it (there would be missing inventory in the inventory rooms). If Aayan was telling the truth about not stealing from his university, and he seemed indignant about it, how could the school kick him out without physical or digital evidence of the theft and without a formal hearing where he got to state his case?
This was one of those plot details that was supposed to go unnoticed or at the very least, quickly noted and dismissed (oh, all of that stuff was off-screen. It would have slowed down the plot to explain it all, etc.). This was an important moment in an increasing important character’s life. It should not have been casually glanced over and then discarded (the last vestige of his life pre-bombing) but Homeland only had an hour to work with within Iron in the Fire.
Here is a lingering question that has persisted since Trylon and Perisphere: why doesn’t Carrie bring back or request the reinstatement of CIA Case Officer Jordan Harris (Adam Godley)? Why doesn’t she install him on her clandestine team she has constructed? She told him that she would help him. Like her with Brody, Harris was the only one that “got it right” about Sandy Bachman and his “spot on” terrorist intelligence. Why leave a thinker like that filing papers in the basement of CIA?
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