Redemption (Homeland Rewatch S5.09-S5.12)

If I could sum up the last episodes of Homeland season 5, I would have to argue that the overarching theme is that of “redemption.” This theme manifests in ways that are relevant not only to the narrative but also to the show in general.

First, let’s get some of the character specific redemptions out of the way. At the beginning of the season, there was clearly a lot of animosity between Saul and Carrie. Saul feels betrayed because Carrie ruined his chance at the director position and seems to also be generally unaccepting of her choice to leave the agency to work in the private sector. Carrie and saulBy virtue of Carrie being sucked back into the world of the company and its dealings, she is able to figure out that Allison, Saul’s lover, is a Russian spy. Carrie’s assistance in finding this information seems to have redeemed her in Saul’s eyes. Perhaps it is the fact that she still puts country above all else or perhaps the fact that Saul was able to play a role in taking down a Russian spy (let’s be honest, his hand in this will probably be a pretty big career win), but Saul and Carrie seem to have mended fences.

Another character who seems to have redeemed himself by the end of the season is Qasim. From the beginning of the season, he was presented as a hesitant jihadist. Although he believed in the work of ISIS in securing legitimacy, it was clear that he was not a fan of the violent tactics that his cousin and his group were willing to employ to get it. Quinn seemed to recognize Qasim’s hesitancy and pushed him to see the detriment that would be caused if his cousin’s plan were to play out. In these final episodes, Qasim attempts to save Quinn (or at least mitigate the damage his cousin and cronies can inflict upon him) and even assists in stopping the terrorist attack from taking place at the train station. Even before Carrie gets to him, it is clear that he is not comfortable with what is about to take place. He fails to secure the gate which would have trapped people within the station. qasim and quinnQasim let’s through a Muslim woman and a child and then seems to understand the equivalent value of life when a white German man approaches with his daughter. As a result, he leaves the Gate open, allowing for the chance for several people to escape the potential fate that exposure to sarin would inflict upon them. Even Carrie, by the end of the episode, confirms with Saul that Qasim ended up being instrumental in stopping the attack from being realized.

This is a great place to move to the redemption of the show itself. There has been a lot of criticism over the years related to the way in which Muslims have been portrayed on the show. In class, my peers and I have discussed the way in which this depiction has evolved over the course of the years that the show has been on the air. I think that season five certainly should be a part of that discussion.

When Fara was introduced in season three, this narrative/casting choice seemed to be the beginning of the show being redeemed for its portrayal of Muslims. From that time, there has certainly been a concerted effort to make Muslim characters more multi-dimensional and give voice to their positions. Homeland has been working to show that the concerns of Muslims (or people from Muslim majority countries)  and their issues with the West are both complex and not necessarily unwarranted. Saul’s conversations with Haqqani in season four are a good example of this.

Season five takes this even further by introducing the professor and his back story into episode eleven. qasim and professorThe professor who has been assisting Qasim’s group is NOT a practicing Muslim. In fact, he tells Qasim that he is an atheist and that the reason he has become involved in this plot it has to do with Germany’s unwavering support of Israel, rather than any religious concern. This is an important addition to the plot as it further complicates the reasons why one might become entangled within terror plots, showing that there are more reasons beyond the religious and some of the motivations are purely political in nature. This point is made even more pertinent by way of the Russians insisting that Allison help to ensure that the impending plot actually takes place, rather than help to stop it.

Clearly Homeland has come quite far for a show that was once criticized as being the “most bigoted show on television.” I will be excited to explore this topic in more depth when I write about season six, which I think complicates some of these issues even further.

5 thoughts on “Redemption (Homeland Rewatch S5.09-S5.12)

  1. I have to agree with your points about the redemption of the show via a softer stance towards Muslims–and of course that introduces us to the first episode of Season Six. As far as Carrie’s redemption with Saul, I don’t know, seems like they do that every season. On some weird unconscious level it feels like when Carrie exposes Allison it’s like the daughter who doesn’t want her father to date a new woman–an undercurrent of jealousy, particularly as Allison was sort of a peer in Iraq. I hope Saul has achieved some hubris after realizing that he was totally duped by a pretty red head, maybe he wasn’t ready to be the head of the CIA. What exactly Carrie did to his candidacy still seems a little vague to me.

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  2. Marilyn. I agree with your word choice of “redemption” to address season 5. I found your analysis of Saul to be very accurate. I think there is still something unresolved about his whole CIA interview. I wonder if that is addressed in season 6? I also wonder how Dar wound up in such a strong position.

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  3. I like your theme for your blog this week. While I am growing tired of Carrie and Saul’s spats (seems like they have one going on every season), I would think saving Saul from becoming further involved with Allison would be a good reason to resolve their latest conflict. I mentioned this on Kevin’s blog, but I feel Homeland made some strides in the these last episodes of the season in removing the stigma of it being “the most bigoted show on television” by introducing a member of a terror group who values human life instead of trying to make a statement with violent acts. I also thought it was interesting how professor Aziz was an atheist and was involved with this group of jihadists for political reasons.

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  4. I agree Homeland has definitely used this season as redemption. For the characters it was strong and excellently played especially for Saul, Carrie, and Qasim. Yet for the show itself it was outstanding. It is slowly but surely working its way to show more than one kind of Muslim and I have been waiting on that ever since Fara appears in the show. I’m more curious than ever to see what happens now in season 6.

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  5. I like the redemption angle, especially in light of the “light” at the end of the season. Is Carrie about to really try and redeem herself in season six? How will that look? And can she fully redeem Quinn from the horrific plight he’s been a part of? And what about the CIA? Hasn’t the agency been on a redemption kick ever since they “missed” Brody and let headquarters get bombed to pieces? I guess season six will answer some of these questions, and ask if America itself can be redeemed from its past, and current, failings. Really, we need to ask how gone is too far gone to be beyond the reach of the “Carrie and Saul can save us” routine?

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