Homeland The Man in the Basement Review
Showtime‘s Homeland: Season 6, Episode 2: The Man in the Basement broaden what initially seemed to be a scant plotlines for the new season in two significant ways: 1.) Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes)’s role this season was enlarged considerably in scope and scale and 2.) Carrie’s role enhancement will directly effect the lives of three lead characters this season.
The CIA European Division Chief Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) / Carrie Mathison meeting was one of the pivotal moments of The Man in the Basement because of their long history together, including the mentor / mentee relationship they had before and during Season 1 of the Homeland. Their on-screen time during this episode contained two former colleagues who saw the same state and world topics in completely different ways.
Carrie had been trained in lying, holding a poker face, and obfuscation by CIA. She proved herself to be a master of all three arts when asked a direct question by Saul (Was she advising the president?) and she successfully fooled the person that had trained, mentored, and groomed her.
CIA Director Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham) is a completely different type of CIA professional than Saul and Carrie. He doesn’t seem to believe anyone when it comes to certain matters. Instead, CIA Director Adal digs and verifies quietly and consequently is absolutely the right person to be leading the Central Intelligence Agency. Adal kept his face completely passive as he listened to Saul speak after Saul met with Carrie, giving none of his gathered intelligence away. He didn’t tell Saul what he had found because he wasn’t sure yet if Saul was in collusion with Carrie or not. It was an interesting decision since Adal and Saul were friends and long-time colleagues. Adal is a man that puts his job and loyalty to the United States first, friendship, and personal feelings second.
It hasn’t been revealed yet if Carrie contacted the United States of America President-elect Elizabeth Keane (Elizabeth Marvel) or if her team reached out to her. Either way, Carrie was in the position that she had always wanted to be in: executing international foreign relations on behalf of the Unites States, via elected proxy, in the way she saw fit (not in the way her former handlers did). Her position, in many respects, was now above Adal and Saul.
Adal and Saul wanted to keep the status quo with regard to CIA. Carrie did not. Through President-elect Keane, Carrie was now in a position to curtail, re-position, and shut down CIA operations around the globe with accountability only to the president.
Since the season began, I wondered how Homeland would get Carrie back into the major issues affecting the world in which she lived (a reflection of real-world issues). This unofficial liaison role explained how.
Because of this position, Carrie will be a constant thorn in Adal and Saul’s side. Carrie has no agenda unlike Adal and Saul. President-elect Keane knew that. Keane will trust Carrie’s opinion and assessment far more than CIA’s. In this convoluted intelligence situation, Carrie is now the unbiased New York City international intelligence think tank American Policy Institute from AMC’s Rubicon.
Carrie meeting with the clandestine F.B.I. asset, on behalf of her client Sekou Bah (J. Mallory McCree), against direct instruction to do so, will have repercussions. Carrie has always been headstrong. That personality trait has been an asset. With this situation, that is up in the air. The FBI will never let their cultivated asset testify on Bah’s behalf. That means Carrie may have to force their hand and the situation through leverage or bring the FBI a bigger fish to fry.
Watching Ex-CIA Special Operations Group Operative Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) struggle in his personal life was reminiscent of Congressman and retired U.S. Marine Gunnery Sergeant Nicholas Brody’s personal struggles during the first three seasons of Homeland. Unlike Brody’s struggles, Quinn’s struggles were completely vapid and bone dry in The Man in the Basement. Quinn had no family besides a son with a female police officer that he never saw. He had no home life hence there was no external drama or conflict outside of himself. The viewer watched Quinn’s self-destructive machinations during The Man in the Basement, waiting for a plot explosion to happen that never occurred. Quinn’s storyline in The Man in the Basement and in this season thus far has been razor thin, in desperate need of vitality and substance. My guess is that all this is the calm before the storm. Quinn requires a mission, a purpose, a driving force, a reason to make a genuine effort to recover. Carrie is not it though she may be the conduit through which it materializes. My guess is that Quinn will be given that by mid-season, using his new condition and all its trappings to his advantage. After all, he did know that freelance surveillance expert Max (Maury Sterling) was following him. Some of the old Quinn, at least his former mental acuity, was still there.
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