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Homeland: Season 8, Episode 4 (Chalk One Up) - Review

Homeland: Season 8, Episode 4

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

FROM the moment President Ralph Warner (Beau Bridges) thanked Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) for Russia and for helping him secure his Presidency, you knew that things weren’t going to end well for him in this fourth episode of Homeland‘s final season.

And that’s not just because that most men who have taken a shine to Carrie end up dead. Rather, it was because of his decision to fly to Afghanistan to announce, in person, the signing of a peace treaty between Afghanistan and The Taliban that would enable the US withdrawal from that war-torn country.

Warner’s moment of warmth, coupled with numerous tracking shots of the US President taking off and flying, felt like an obvious precursor to something. And, once more, Homeland proved a little too keen to tip its hand, rather than offering any bolt out of the blue surprises.

But… and here’s the but that could yet salvage this final run of episodes, the climactic events of Chalk One Up pose wider, broader questions that are not immediately apparent. Who, for instance, orchestrated the shooting down of President Warner’s helicopter, which also contained the Afghanistan President?

Could it be the most obvious candidate, Tasneem Qureishi (Nimrat Kaur), the head of the Pakistani intelligence agency? Or her co-conspirator Abdul Qadir G’ulom (Mohammad Bakri), the Vice President of Afghanistan? Is there a Russian involvement, perhaps, given that GRU officer Yevgeny Gromov (Costa Ronin) has mysteriously crept up in Kabul?

Alternatively, is the enemy more home-grown? If so, then US Vice President Benjamin Hayes (Sam Trammell) would likely be seen as a contender given he’s from the opposing party, and already seemed to be making moves to challenge Warner’s position?

Or, is there another enemy that has yet to be unveiled?

Certainly, the climax of Chalk One Up left our heads spinning with possibilities. And that, in turn, raises the excitement levels as the eighth season finally hits its stride.

I mean, we’re not even sure that the two presidents are actually dead. Certainly, the presence of a possible Taliban fighter unit scouring the woods near the crash site would seem to suggest they’re after someone.

And then there’s the wider questions. If this final season of Homeland now becomes about the search for the people who attempted (and maybe succeeded) in killing a US President and potentially undermining the newly signed peace process, where does Carrie fit in to all of this?

At present, Carrie’s proximity to these events feels like a major suspension of disbelief, no matter how convincingly portrayed the character remains by Danes. She’s a liability, unable to remember her own immediate past. And yet, she’s frequently in close proximity to the President. Is she being positioned as a potential traitor herself?

And what role will Samira Noori (Sitara Attaie) now have to play, following her rescue by Carrie, when faced with the prospect of being made to marry her late husband’s Taliban brother? Is there now more to Noori than meets the eye?

Chalk One Up, as an episode, may have been treading water right up until those final, question-baiting moments. But while obvious in many ways for where it was heading, it has also successfully lit the touch paper on a season that badly needed igniting.

As episode five approaches, there is a sense of genuine excitement surrounding future instalments, as we try to figure out where this final season is heading and what it means for the fate of so many of our favourite characters.

Read our review of the previous episode, False Friends