The Craziest Part of That Crazy Homeland Episode

The mayhem shocked, but not as much as the show's own self-sabotage did. 

The crazy things about that crazy Homeland episode, “Still Positive,” in order of increasing craziness:

5. Dana Brody changes her name. A pretty sensible development, actually, and it was nice to see Jessica back her up on it. Hopefully, every moment of harmony between daughter and mother brings us closer to the two of them not being in the show at all. But it's not clear what we were supposed to get from the clerk recognizing them—yes, it underlined idea that the Brodys will remain tainted even if they change their names, but what’s gained by having that news delivered by a condescending Christian stereotype?

4. Dar Adal joins Team Lockhart. We don’t really know who Dar Adal is, so there’s no real twist to the fact that he’d play yes-man for the incoming boss at the expense of the old one. But also: Anyone else feel like they’d also be on Senator Lockhart’s side were it not for his pompousness? He says the CIA seems to be poorly run, which, given the other events of this episode, remains incontrovertible. Adal gives the sensible response one would give to the new guy who’s hoping for no surprises on Day One—"God forbid"—and then slightly mischaracterizes the conversation to Saul. Viewers root for Saul, so it’s no fun to see Adal turn away from him. But the fact that Saul trusted him in the first place just adds to the growing perception that our sad master spy is a surprisingly poor judge of character.

3. Carrie is pregnant. First, yikes. Wasn’t she guzzling tequila just last episode? Second, unexpected pregnancies have been a TV-drama trope for time eternal; we should have known Carrie would end up with one as the writer try to raise the stakes in this season of inconsequential-yet-excruciating conflicts. Third, the dad has to be that random redhead she stole from, right? Or does the timeline work that this could be—shudder—Nicholas Brody’s kid?

2. Majid Javadi goes on a killing spree. So much for any hope that Homeland might offer up a non-cartoonish bad guy. It wasn’t enough to have Saul relate the backstory about his former friend slaughtering CIA assets. We had to witness the disturbing spectacle of the deputy head of Iranian intelligence entering a suburban American home, shooting his daughter-in-law in the face, and stabbing his ex-wife to death with, as Quinn terms it, "a fucking bottle." 

That’s some Game of Thrones savagery. But that show's bloodbaths resonate emotionally because the violence is usually perpetrated by or against a character viewers have come to know, and because of what that says about the show's universe. Javadi killing his old family out of spite says a lot about Javadi being a sicko, and little about the world at large. (Though it must be intentional that all the innocent people we’ve seen offed this season have been Muslim or Muslim-affiliated—a reminder for Americans of who gets else harmed in the War on Terror.)

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Spencer Kornhaber is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic, where he edits the Entertainment channel. More

Before coming to The Atlantic, he worked as an editor for AOL's and as a staff writer at Village Voice Media's OC Weekly. He has also written for Spin, The AV Club,, Field & Stream, and The Orange County Register.

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