While last season of Homeland seemed to try and push all mention of home life and children to the side so Carrie could live her exciting life as a station chief in the middle of a war zone, season five is pushing the exact opposite agenda. Now that Carrie has flipped her switch from an emotionally turned off, hesitant mother to a figure of devout maternity, every fiber of the Homeland narrative in the first episodes of season five seems to be driving home just how much Carrie’s role as a mother is raising the stakes.
From the first scene of the fifth season, children are prominently featured. Three young boys stand at the forefront of a church alter, singing in rough unison with their priest as he prepares the day’s communion, a ritual in which Carrie partakes. The next time we see Carrie, a few scenes later, she is spotted in a very idyllic scene, riding her toddler to school on the back of her bicycle, safety precautions aptly observed and all. These first two scenes with Carrie act to solidify her new life in which she is no longer the absolute center. She is no longer the self centered Carrie of the previous seasons. After all, she has a child to care for now.
These first two scenes with Carrie are all the more important when we consider the scenes that fall between them. First we see our new favorite hacktivist traveling through a chaotic train depot and through the back rooms of a sleazy bar where a pornographic web site is being operated. But lest we think too low of anyone who would operate such an establishment, at least our tech dudes redeem themselves just a bit by using their tech skill to troll terrorists while the women flash the cameras for money. We also get a back and forth between these hackers activity and the CIA, from whom the hackers eventually make off with a large number of classified documents. These two places, one being a not-so-child-friendly porn den and the other a CIA control room, both of which might be places that Carrie might be in the line of duty in her old life, are places that she is glaringly absent from now. We’ve learned that she has traded in the spook life for something a bit more low key and arguably safe for both her and her daughter. Of course, the security of this life for both Carrie and Frannie is short-lived when her boss asks her to return to a war zone and she ends up on a kill list. Carrie’s past is officially no longer a danger just to herself, but also her young daughter.
Threats to children continue to permeate in these beginning episodes. Quinn, who has reverted to his hit-man ways receives a kill request to take out a woman who has been recruiting kids to blow themselves up in martyrdom operations in Syria. However, the threat to children is not always so violent. Children are often used as pawns in these spy-games in the beginning episodes as well and the U.S. is certainly not entirely innocent. Quinn kidnap’s Jonas’s son as a way to initiate contact between Jonas and his ex-wife so he can find where Carrie has been staying. He does not hurt the boy, but this act clearly puts Jonas’s son in the middle of a dangerous game. Carrie instantly recognizes the play when Jonas finds that the “arrest” story that Quinn initiated does not hold up. Clearly this is a tactic that is not new.
Additionally, Saul and Allison use a somewhat similar tactic to initiate their plans for a regime change in Syria. After helping to facilitate a surgical procedure for the daughter of one of Assad’s highest ranking generals, the pair leverage his violation of sanctions (in traveling for his daughter’s operation), which would allow them to send him to stand trial for his war crimes, in effort to give him the opportunity to agree to participate in the coup the CIA is hoping to initiate within Syria. It seems probable, considering the scope of the operation, that the CIA was integral in initiating the promise of a procedure for Youssef’s daughter to get him to travel where any kind of political asylum would not be granted. Youssef’s willingness to do whatever it takes to save his daughter (even though it put him in a knowingly precarious position) demonstrates the “humanness” of trying to do whatever one can to protect their children. This is precisely the reason that children are so vulnerable when they are caught up in the middle of political games.
Although flaunting the the threat to innocents – children in particular – is not new to Homeland, Carrie’s newly found protective instincts toward her child seem to have created a narrative necessity to continually remind the audience just how much the game has changed for Carrie now that Frannie is a permanent fixture in her life. Although I do not wish to produce any spoilers in this post, this tension created by these narrative arcs that demonstrate the vulnerability of children will only become more intense as Carrie continues to embrace her motherhood.
8 thoughts on “All the Little Children (Homeland Rewatch S5.01-S5.04)”
Definitely a contrapuntal look at Carrie as the responsible birthday-party-throwing type of engaged parent. I found it interesting how the plot slowly pulled her back into her old habits of meeting in back rooms with terrorist commanders and jaunting around Berlin looking for tidbits of information. And lord knows Carrie won’t be able to ignore finding out who she called at the end of episode 4…The video her and Quinn made seemed heartfelt, but will she be able to help herself when it comes to the thrill of spying?!
One of the things I’ve brought up a few times on different comment sections has been the fact that Carrie cannot really function as Carrie if she has to be a full-time mother as well. And the show also realizes this, so they figure out ways to get the kid out of the picture for a while. Season four, they sent Carrie to a place where she couldn’t bring dependants and made Carrie out to be the bad mom for a while. This season, we see Carrie as a more caring mother, but one who must send her child to America for a while in order to figure out who is trying to kill her. So, with Franny aboard a plane to the States, Carrie is able to get back to what Carrie does best – stop taking medicine and start fighting the bad guys.
I find it interesting how Carrie has embraced motherhood. I wonder what clicked in her to decide to take motherhood by the reigns. Maybe it was seeing a good portion of her staff get blown away in the embassy attack that caused her to shift her priorities. I agree with Bryan though in that Carrie simply cannot be the bad-ass Carrie we all know if she is a full time, hands on parent. I wonder if Homeland will ever revisit Quinn’s son?
You bring up an interesting point in looking at Carrie’s mother’s role preventing her from being “tough” Carrie. I think this change comes in part in that short discussion she had with her father’s friend in the park and her “pledge” that she was going to be there for Franny. I also think there could be an interesting analysis in her decision to send Franny back to America. I wonder if Quinn’s job also prevented him from being a father.
The use of children in this political game disturbs me greatly. To put such innocent lives in danger should bother anyone and yet most of these people act like it is nothing as long as they get what they want. I guess that’s the name of the game though. I just already believed that it was unfair that innocent adult lives are being lost. No need for children as well.
I completely agree with Brian here. Carrie as a mother doesn’t seem to fit well with the way Carrie and the show have functioned before– so there seems to be this attempt to force her character into extremes in order to make the plot work. So- even though I hated Carrie at the start of season 4, it did seem at least a little more realistic that Carrie would emotionally shut down in response to the added stress. Whereas now, we see that Carrie has not only decided to make a real attempt at motherhood- but that she’s instantly a “natural,” at it (while getting her life together in so many other areas as well.) It feels a little over the top- but it’s definitely more comfortable to watch this Carrie than it was to see the completely cold, shut-down one.
I agree with Caprice here. The story with Carrie this season (the assassination attempt and sending Frannie back to the states) did not bother me much, because Frannie’s involvement in the story was mainly about protecting her. The one that really got me was Quinn’s use of Jonas’s son. Kidnapping a child, even without any intention of causing him harm, majorly crossed the line. Additionally, the plot with the general’s daughter was a little iffy (I guess I would probably call it another major line crossing considering the plane explosion). I gathered that she actually did receive the surgery she needed, but nonetheless using someone’s child to lure them into a plot made me uneasy.
Nicely focused post, and you really set up the tensions in Season Six well. I find Brian’s argument that the writers want to put Frannie some place else to focus the action to be attractive, but at the same time, wouldn’t it be nice if world leaders did actually think about their children before sending aircraft carries into someone’s space to threaten and endanger all of us? Sorry. Losing focus. I agree with you and Claire that Quinn’s kidnap of Jonas’s son was over the top, even if the fate of the Western world hangs in the balance. This show creates rationalizations for that kind of behavior to the point that I very much value Carrie’s decision to leave the CIA and try to work with an NGO. Problem is, the NGO probably hired her because of her background with the CIA. It’s kind of hard to leave your past in the Homeland universe.