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Homeland recap: "About a Boy"

Carrie’s singleminded focus on recruiting Aayan Ibrahim leaves the rest of the team vulnerable.

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David Bloomer/Showtime


TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Claire Danes, Damian Lewis, Morena Baccarin, Mandy Patinkin
Drama, Mystery, Thriller

The destructive power of Male Butthurt was an emerging theme on last week’s Homeland, but this week, it seems to be the seed from whence this season grew. Very little was resolved by the time the credits rolled on “About a Boy,” but one thing became abundantly clear: that this whole sordid mess, from the wedding bombing to the murder of Sandy Bachman to the yucky seduction of Aayan Ibrahim, never would have happened if one Professor Dennis Boyd had just learned to channel his marital insecurities into something other than high treason.

Alas, he didn’t. And now he’s a sad, scared traitor under the thumb of the ISI. Womp, womp.

Tasneem, the woman handling Boyd, is definitely both an official agent and a high-ranking one. At the start of the episode, we see her in conversation with the same Pakistani official who was so smug and shady in his meeting with Saul. Having worked out that Saul and Carrie might be working together, Tasneem is intent on finding out more about Carrie, including how she keeps getting in and out of the embassy without being observed.

As for the poor Professor, he seems to have a pattern: Every time he feels emasculated by his wife, he goes and sells out America to make himself feel better. It’s how we see him abortively attempting to break into Carrie’s apartment early on in the episode; it’s also how he ends up doing it for real, later, after getting belligerently drunk at a hotel bar and then overhearing his wife tearfully talking to John Redmond about what a loser he is. He takes photographs of everything, including Carrie’s baby and Carrie’s medicines (which means that I, for one, will not be able to watch her take a pill again this season without wondering if it’s been poisoned. Thanks a lot, Homeland!).

Meanwhile, Carrie isn’t home to see her medicine cabinet being rifled through, because she’s still in bed with her asset. Aayan is wildly conflicted about having done the sex with a lady — when he’s not peeping saucer-eyed at Carrie’s body, he’s feeling deeply ashamed of having betrayed his religious values — but ultimately, he succumbs to her wiles, as we knew he would, because Carrie Mathison’s wiles are just too damn wily. The scene in which she leverages her own painful past to gain Aayan’s trust, faking vulnerability by tapping into a very real, very deep well of sorrow and regret, is a stunning bit of manipulation. Carrie’s agenda may be hidden, but the emotion she shows to achieve it is 100% authentic.

NEXT: Saul misses a plane.