Just how often are politicians frozen with indecision, pleading “Tell me what to do” to their Chief of Staff like the chilling moment on this week’s Homeland? Sleeping wide awake, while everyone else is forced to dream everything’s okay.
This article contains spoilers for Homeland Season 8 Episode 5 (“Chalk Two Down”).
Millions go to sleep at the end of a tedious commute to their wage slaving of ‘choice’ every night believing their votes will keep them safe. Their leaders sweet talking them into another lullaby, while the kitchen wallpaper peels away just a bit more. What if these silver tongued suits don’t have the faintest clue? Petrified of a real decision arriving on their desk with expectations of a signature. That’s the scenario presented on this week’s Homeland, an acting President Benjamin Hayes who tirelessly talked down his predecessor… Only to turn pale and mute after moving into his oval office. Trying to defer responsibility to the military’s discretion. Asking Chief of Staff David Wellington, a man he’d resented, “Tell me what to do” when out of proxies to delegate the blame to.
What about you? Could you live with yourself knowing your choice will have implications on future wars, lives, and history itself? Acting President Benjamin Hayes could barely face the optics of sitting in a private situation room to see his decision out. One that forever robs the populace of knowing if President Ralph Warner and President Daoud’s helicopter went down due to mechanical failure or as an enemy’s act of aggression. While at the same time, rescues President Ralph Warner’s remains and the United States’ dignity from being desecrated for the world to see. Escaping televised humiliation… While losing your one and only chance at ever knowing the truth.
It’s a tough call… But one the new acting President Hayes is expected to make without deferment to his subordinate and advisor. Yet, the Homeland scenario felt as grounded in reality as dirt itself. Something the public shoves aside to the back of their minds to function each day. These undercover bureaucracies must have been vetted throughly. After all, they own the official insignias and rubber stamps.
You might remember Depeche Mode’s famous lyric, “Everything counts in large amounts” as written by band member Martin Gore. It’s true, no detail comes without consequence. Good or bad. Homeland’s General Owens told President Hayes “I need you to be specific, sir,” after Hayes tried to be vague about his confirmation… Likely to shoulder less responsibility. That’s what it takes to lead, to be exact in no uncertain terms of what you’re asking for. To be thrown into the wild and accept 100% absolute blame for events that you had no direct prior involvement in.
The Walking Dead’s Negan once articulated a core tenant of life, “Not making a decision is a BIG decision!” There is no time to hesitate, just the illusion there ever was any.
Be sure to read The Natural Aristocrat’s Homeland Season 8 Episode 4 Review and a look at Carrie Mathison’s fragmented memory, Homeland Season 8 Premiere: What if your Memory lied to you? Need info on how to watch Homeland online? No problem! Here’s recent Homeland live stream info to guide you for next Sunday’s episode.
Elham Ehsas spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about Homeland’s notorious Jalal Haqqani going from exile to reclaiming the Haqqani lineage with pride.
Peace in the rearview mirror, a son lives vicariously through a childhood, idolized vision of his father. An RPG replacing the traditional bejeweled crown for his inheritance. Homeland star Elham Ehsas discussed the complicated dynamic between Jalal Haqqani and his father Haissam with The Natural Aristocrat. One inadvertently leading to the death of Max Piotrowski in the crossfire of black market, political chess. The potential for global war lingering with one triumphant speech leak via cell phone recording. What it means to carry on the Haqqani name in a world that already accepted the title’s curtain call.
Victory always peeking through the looking glass… Only to be an unremovable ship in a bottle. “Just strong enough to never lose, just weak enough to never win.”
Interview with Elham Ehsas on Homeland’s Jalal Haqqani:
The Natural Aristocrat [Nir Regev]: Jalal Haqqani capitalizes on his father’s death by lionizing Haissam’s youthful aggression. Thus, maintaining the Haqqani lineage and right to be his natural successor. Is it a product of active adaption (‘never letting a good crisis go to waste’) or was it always his dream to follow in the footsteps of the man he once admired?
Elham Ehsas: I think Haissam was both Jalal’s biggest idol and biggest heartbreak. He grew up with a father who was the lion of Afghanistan, the one who stood up to what Jalal saw as an injustice and an attack on his country. Growing up with a father like that must have reinforced that zeal that was already growing in his chest.
Having been brought up in Afghanistan myself, my parents would often tell me that the first generation of Taliban were just the orphans of the martyrs who had lost their lives to the soviet invasion and they joined the war to avenge their fathers and drive the Russians away. They became a problem when their children grew up to take their father’s place in the Taliban and that is what I think has happened here.
Jalal is almost Haissam but version 2.0 even though he lacks the natural charm and charisma of his father, but his zeal for the war is double. He truly believes his father is wrong and is letting his land and country down with what he saw as cowardice by negotiating with the only enemy he has ever known.Elham Ehsas as Jalal in HOMELAND, “False Friends”. Photo Credit: Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME.
In your opinion, did Balach choose to confront Jalal privately out of fear or respect for his father?
I think in my head, Balach and Jalal both grew up together, almost as brothers under Haissam’s roof and it can be argued that maybe Balach is the son that Jalal can never be. Supportive, understanding and always there for his father.
The confrontation was like a definite fork in the road, where Jalal gives him the choice to go with him or against him. But it’s different now. They aren’t the friends that I suspect they were growing up.Seear Kohi as Balach in HOMELAND, “False Friends”. Photo Credit: Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME.
Why do you feel Jalal decided to shoot Max instead of keeping him for extended leverage with the Americans? Was the statement worth more than any trade or was it genuine payback for his father?
I think genuinely Jalal loves his father. Regardless of what he thinks of him, he was an idol to him. Max served no purpose and Jalal isn’t clever enough to use him as a leverage, he’s more head strong and uses his emotions. But I suspect he may be developing a little bit of tact, especially when he watches how Tasneem so expertly weaves webs in everything she does. Maybe he might be learning?(L-R): Maury Sterling as Max and Elham Ehsas as Jalal in HOMELAND, “Fucker Shot Me”. Photo Credit: Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME.
Of the scenes worked with Numan Acar, Nimrat Kaur, and Seear Kohi on Showtime’s Homeland, what are some of your favorite behind-the-scenes memories?
I have watched Nimrat in a Bollywood film called Lunch Box, so I remember during lunch we would often talk about that film and what it was like shooting it (it’s an amazing film if you haven’t seen it). It was an absolute pleasure working with them all.Nimrat Kaur as Tasneem in HOMELAND, “Deception Indicated”. Photo Credit: Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME.
Do you feel Jalal shares any remorse over the way he and his father left their relationship barren? Or was the public humiliation enough to leave a permanent mark of resentment for Jalal?
Yes, I do think there is always remorse because he did truly love his father and trying to get him assassinated was a form of that love. He didn’t want to watch his hero turn into the pathetic man he was clearly becoming in his eyes. But the public humiliation would have definitely burnt that bridge forever. But as with real life, we may burn bridges but we often think about the flames even years later.(L-R): Numan Acar as Haissam Haqqani and Damon Zolfaghari as the second guard in HOMELAND, ÒThrenody(s)Ó. Photo Credit: Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME.
What was your daily routine to get into character as Jalal? Did you have any pre-filming military style training for handling the RPG?
Yes I did do some work with our great armourer, Thibault, who taught me different way to handle a gun and some basic military movements. I always prepared for the role a few month prior by hitting the gym because I knew Numan [Acar], my father, was very well built so I wanted Jalal to be able to hold his own with his father.(L-R): Numan Acar as Haissam Haqqani and Elham Ehsas as Jalal in HOMELAND, “False Friends”. Photo Credit: Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME.
Do you feel Jalal has fully considered the consequences, to himself, his country, and globally through the revelation of taking down President Warner’s helicopter? Whether a lie or truth, he becomes public enemy #1.
I think what’s happened so far is everything that Jalal would have wanted to happen, in terms of elevating his position, taking the reigns from his father, and leading the war himself. But whether he’s ready for it, is something we need to wait and see.
Be sure to read Homeland: Would you have made President Hayes’ decision? and Homeland Season 8 Episode 4 Review: Must See TV, Groundbreaking for more in-depth analysis of Showtime’s jaw-dropping final season of Homeland.
Check out more coverage of Homeland Season 8 in The Natural Aristocrat’s Homeland category section.
Perception to the masses being everything is the main takeaway from tonight’s Homeland. One person believing you is not enough, and it never will be. All it takes is “Two Minutes” to alter everything you ever worked for.
This article contains spoilers for Homeland Season 8 Episode 6 (“Two Minutes”).
If you say the truth and only one person is around to believe it, did it really happen? Reputation takes precedence and governs our every perception in daily life, from the people we trust to the brands we buy. It’s inescapable. Hassaim Haqqani’s collective reputation as the leader of the Taliban on Homeland makes him a believable public enemy number #1. Despite, having nothing to do with President Warner and President Daoud’s helicopter incident, his reputation precedes him. Haqqani’s words pleading innocence mean nothing if only Saul Berenson backs them up, just like Carrie Mathison’s. In Saul’s own words an episode prior, “Nobody’s listening to me.”
When Carrie Mathison is subtly accused of downing the helicopter by order of her ‘Russian Handler’ Yevgeny Gromov, she’s left without a voice. Her brand’s reputation has already taken a hit, Carrie’s internal detractors outnumber her supporters. Saul warned Carrie on tonight’s Homeland that, “If you don’t go back to Germany, an investigation will follow that will define the rest of your life.”
In essence, even if Carrie were found to not have carried out acts against President Warner’s helicopter, the public perception would always be that she did. Just as Hassaim Haqqani’s loyal follower believed Haqqani was indeed responsible, offering himself as ‘a weapon’ now that he was “no longer for peace.” The power of a believable story or even conspiracy to the masses will always outweigh the truth… If the truth is unconvincing. Which is something to be considered about the public’s faith in any system across the world to begin with.
President Benjamin Hayes is influenced by another new President…Mohammed Barki as G’ulom in HOMELAND, “Chalk Two Down”. Photo Credit: Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME.
President Benjamin Hayes was furious on last week’s Homeland for having to answer the fallout on his predecessor’s ‘missteps’. His request to David Wellington, “Tell me what to do,” when faced with a critical decision spoke volumes about his readiness to take the job. There’s not much doubt left that Hayes can be swayed easily after he was practically convinced by new Afghanistan President G’ulom about aggression toward the enemy. President G’ulom spoke about people in this region only understanding strength by a show of power and retribution, and Hayes lost his train of thought.
Instead of Hayes establishing a proposed red line for President G’ulom, who’s holding 300 Taliban members in a soccer stadium for potential execution… Hayes saw things objectively in G’ulom’s favor.
Carrie’s “Two Minutes”Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in HOMELAND, “Two Minutes”. Photo Credit: Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME.
Carrie turned to Yevgeny for help and was asked to turn off surveillance for two minutes in the former hot zone of President Warner’s helicopter site. It was the only way Yevgeny could reach out to his source without a “hell fire missile” dropping within minutes. Carrie would annoy the surveillance employee in charge by jamming his laser printer as a distraction. Thus, allowing a chance to disconnect the zone for the two minute window.
No going back now. Should Carrie’s trust in Yevgeny be found to be misplaced, it will inevitably lead to her own end. Carrie is singularly focused on locating Max and the helicopter’s black (orange) box, perhaps, clouding her judgement. She is correct however about Max being out there, as Piotrowski is still alive, though shot in the back this episode. His kidnapper was not aware in the slightest to the importance of Max’s bag, selling President Warner’s helicopter black box at a local electronic pawn shop. A black box that is the difference between war and peace is now in the possession of a random merchant.
Mike Dunne exposes uncensored Yevgeny Gromov Meeting(L-R): Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson and Cliff Chamberlain as Mike Dunne in HOMELAND, “Two Minutes”. Photo Credit: Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME.
On tonight’s Homeland, Jenna Bragg played the cleaned up audio of Yevgeny Gromov and Carrie Mathison’s meeting (previously distorted by a water fountain) to her boss Mike Dunne. The conversation startled Dunne, as it revealed Carrie’s entire debriefing of the encounter was a fake, both in writing and verbally. Dunne went to Saul Berenson with the recording, who was shocked to learn some of the intimate details shared with Gromov. Including a tale he had never heard before about Carrie Mathison considering to drown her own daughter… Saul gently confronted Carrie, who attempted to play him for a fool by again reiterating the recruitment angle. No sale this time around.(L-R): Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson and Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison HOMELAND, “Two Minutes”. Photo Credit: Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME.
Saul made it clear he’d heard the recording and was aware Carrie is lying to his face. Carrie had no choice but to partially confess and as such, received two choices with the same consequence. Her exit out of Afghanistan and return to Germany’s rehab facility either ‘freely’ or in hand cuffs. Carrie Mathison agreed to leave peacefully.
Hassaim Haqqani turns himself in to the AmericansNuman Acar as Hassaim Haqqani in HOMELAND, “Two Minutes”. Photo Credit: Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME.
Hassaim Haqqani believes the Americans will give him a chance to tell the world he had nothing to do with President Warner’s helicopter, while President G’ulom will simply execute him. Haqqani also feels running away will be seen as an ‘admittance’ that he did give orders to act during the ceasefire. The question is, will President Benjamin Hayes listen to Haqqani’s case or just turn him in? Hayes already wanted to give Haqqani earlier in the episode when they didn’t have him. Does anything change?
Carrie Mathison escorted by Jenna Bragg(L-R): Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison and Andrea Deck as Jenna Bragg in HOMELAND, “Two Minutes”. Photo Credit: Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME.
Jenna Bragg ‘escorted’ Carrie Mathison at the airport to make sure she got on her flight. Carrie would attempt to throw Jenna off-track by mentioning the 1000 pages printed by surveillance back on her desk. Jenna would watch as Carrie walked to her plane until she was almost out of sight.Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in HOMELAND, “Two Minutes”. Photo Credit: Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME.
It was then Carrie diverted her route, went outside via airstairs and was picked up by Yevegeny Gromov! Carrie Mathison and Hassaim Haqqani are now one and the same in the eyes of the state, both will stand accused of taking down and subverting President Ralph Warner, President Daoud, and the peace process. Will Carrie’s massive gamble pay off and usher clarity and closure? Or lead to multiple counts of treason?
Be sure to read Homeland Season 8 Episode 4 Review: Must See TV, Groundbreaking and more Season 8 coverage in the Homeland category section on The Natural Aristocrat.
Tonight’s Homeland episode “Chalk One Up” was groundbreaking TV. Rarely does a television series so perfectly capture and mirror reality that you’re left feeling like you just watched a live news broadcast.
This review contains spoilers for Homeland Season 8 Episode 4 (“Chalk One Up”).
Peace lost its wings on Homeland tonight when President Ralph Warner’s helicopter disappeared off radar in Afghanistan. It was soon discovered to have crashed in one of television’s most eerily surreal moments ever. There’s no two ways about it, anyone watching was instantly reminded of the recent Kobe Bryant tragedy that took the lives of nine. The fact “Chalk One Up” was written months in advance and features the U.S. announcing a historic peace agreement with the Taliban during the same week of airing was already out of this world. As if Nostradamus was on the writing staff himself.
Warner’s helicopter crash symbolizes how catastrophe can arrive without warning of any kind… And it can happen to anyone, the best and the worst of us, the elite ruling class, the poor and forgotten. Tragedy doesn’t discriminate based on your status. It can’t be lobbied or reasoned with. Netflix’s Ozark once touched upon this concept when Marty Byrde speaks about the inherent hypocrisy of the phrase, “Everything happens for a reason.” Horrific things happen to good people unjustifiably every day and vice versa.
For years, Presidents have been seen as larger than life, practically mythical figures on television. Superhuman-like defenses, wall to wall body guard protection, a walking, talking human fortress with cannons at his fingertips. Typically there’s some dramatic, gradual build up to their eventual elimination. As with 24’s President Palmer (sniper opening after five seasons) or a bombastic Hollywood-esque opener like on Designated Survivor. But on the latest Homeland, we have no marker getting us ready to process or grieve. Nothing hinting that Warner might be at physical risk. This time around, a show mirrors what would happen in real life.Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson in HOMELAND, “Chalk One Up”. Photo Credit: Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME
Saul Berenson is pulled aside and told the President’s helicopter cannot be found in private. The worst is thought immediately but as humans, even the most cynical of us need the certainty of a confirmation. A search helicopter soon locates the remains of President Warner’s helicopter and it appears there are no survivors. Just like that, President Warner is gone. Earlier on “Chalk One Up” he’d mentioned being told not to make the trip in-person but what is a President if not on the front line with his men.
Typically in cinema, this Patriotic-styled bravado is always rewarded. The worst fears are proven to be just that, and the character of the President rises above as a leader. The bald eagle. A testament to George Washington himself… Not this time. Homeland surprises viewers by proving the advisors right, it was too dangerous to make the trip after all.
Dissidents to the peace agreement are seen holding a rocket launcher close to the crash site of President Warner’s helicopter. All during a ceasefire no less. It appears they shot down the helicopter, burying years of negotiation into the next century. The scene leaves viewers feeling strange, like they’re watching the actual 11 o’clock news. Brutally realistic. It shows the ultimate vulnerability of every individual person in the face of chaos. Akin, to what happened to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Israel’s peace process in some ways.Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson in HOMELAND, “Chalk One Up”. Photo Credit: Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME
Everything agreed to, gone, just like that. Before the ink even dries. No rhyme or reason. A day of celebration turns to national mourning.
Carrie Mathison’s incredible rescue of Samira Noori(L-R): Sitara Attaie as Samira and Omar Farahamad as Bilal Khan in HOMELAND, “Chalk One Up”. Photo Credit: Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME
Showtime’s Homeland was multi-layered tonight, not a one-trick pony overly dependent on the gravitas of the episode’s conclusion. It featured an unforgettable plot line about Samira Noori’s brother-in-law arriving for a sudden unexpected visit at her door. At first, everything appeared innocent enough, Samira’s brother-in-law Bilal Khan was just checking up on the status of his deceased brother’s widow. Presenting Samira with his mother’s baked bread as part of the exchanged pleasantries.
The ambience soon changed dark when Bilal started being more forthcoming about why he was really there. Prior, Bilal hinted at how Samira had been away from their home village for long enough grieving, that she was family and missed.
Bilal attempted to grab Samira’s hand and proposed he would take care of her like his brother did back home. When Samira told Bilal “Thanks for the bread” explicitly indicating the end of the conversation through unspoken body language, Bilal accepted and left… Only to return and knock on the door, pleading forgiveness for offending her. That he’d made a mistake being so forward. The words got to Samira and she opened the door ajar slowly… Only to be greeted with Bilal and two other Taliban members demanding she pack her things and come with them. Literally, opening the door to her own capture.Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in HOMELAND, “Chalk One Up”. Photo Credit: Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME
Samira panicked and called Carrie in a final act of desperation under massive duress. In turn, Carrie convinced the driver of their fake motorcade to break protocol to save Samira’s life. In a 24, Jack Bauer styled moment, Carrie placed a gun to Bilal’s head as he tried to get his car running, “Don’t f****** move!” Carrie’s driver got out to provide backup as the Samira was moved over to Carrie’s government vehicle in a rescue for the ages. Every running minute of the plot line had a sense of immediacy, you can’t buy that kind of tension.
The visual alone of Carrie pointing the gun as Samira walks to freedom says everything. Thin line between tradition and oppression. Just look at that photo above, and the lead photo of this article. It tells a million stories in a one second capture.
President Ralph Warner thanks Carrie privately(L-R): Beau Bridges as President Warner and Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in HOMELAND, “Chalk One Up”. Photo Credit: Warrick Page/SHOWTIME
A pivotal plot point occurred early on during Homeland tonight, President Ralph Warner chose to meet Carrie Mathison in-person to thank her for everything… Privately. Warner went above and beyond, thanking Carrie not only for her help in making the peace process happen but his very Presidency. More importantly, Warner acknowledged the pain of Carrie being essentially a P.O.W product of espionage in Moscow for the last year. Carrie was finally treated like a valued agent instead of a potentially compromised traitor since her release. She was thanked for her service instead of spied on.
However, since Carrie is still an active agent out on the field and has vulnerable sources, Warner didn’t want to make the ‘salute’ public. Will this come to haunt Carrie should Warner indeed be deceased following tonight’s Homeland episode? One is only as strong as an asset as her allies, and there are those like the current Vice President who might not feel Saul Berenson’s ways appealing…Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in HOMELAND, “Chalk One Up”. Photo Credit: Warrick Page/SHOWTIME
It’s why the moments that genuinely make us smile should be savored by the millisecond. Falling into unexpected treasure is rare.
Be sure to check out how to watch Homeland’s live stream online every week.
The Natural Aristocrat recently interviewed Dar Adal himself, F. Murray Abraham, on his new series Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet!