“Like Bad at Things” | Directed by Alex Graves
We open on a shot of Wellington’s book shelf in his home. Our eye is immediately drawn to the bright red cover in the center and the book called DISSENT, an ominous foreshadowing of the episode’s bloody ending.
Last week we talked about the tendency for Keane to stand inches away from whomever she’s speaking to. In the episode’s opening scene, however, she’s standing relatively far apart from Wellington. In this case, his betrayal of her when he “hijacked” her presidency is literally driving them apart. Interesting to note that Wellington is dressed in white, Keane in black, an intentional choice made to show just how opposite their views are.
Graves interrupts the argument between Keane and Wellington to show that our favorite resident spy is watching in. Most of these shots of Carrie–both this episode and in recent weeks–are in extreme close-up. It’s an ironic choice: as Carrie listens in and watches these private, intimate moments, her face and expression are magnified for us, so close we can see every wrinkle and pore on her skin. For as often as Carrie lies to people this season, the close-up angles seem to be used to show Carrie’s true emotions. In this scene, she is deeply concerned and knows she is onto something big.
So. Many. Damn. Guns. There were a lot of guns at the compound. Homeland has never had much commentary on the proliferation of guns in American society, but as they center their terrorist threat this year on the domestic militias hungry for a civil war, it’s impossible not to. It was guns that amplified, exacerbated, and escalated the situation. And guns that ended it.
The blurred perimeter here, as Carrie exits her car in Hazelton, implies an obstruction of some kind and an implication that she’s being watched. Again, the show flips the surveillance back on her. Leather jacket Carrie is in full spy mode.
Nothing more to say except that is an exceptional mustache. #Carl4Eva
The wide shot here of JJ stopping dead in his tracks, center frame, reminds us of something from a horror movie. We know he’s not alone though, and hovering just out of frame are the FBI and SWAT teams and his own militia back-up.
The shot here of Keane in the Oval Office is gorgeous and symbolically revealing. At this point in her presidency, Keane is not letting anyone in and she’ll allow access of only a sliver of herself.
We don’t often comment on wardrobe choices, but the fact that O’Keefe and Franny were wearing a similar style of vest here jumped right out at Sara. Franny’s vest is a dark, rusted orange on the outside with a dark lining, while O’Keefe’s is navy with the dark, rusted orange accents. This can’t be accidental, can it? If it is, it’s a huge coincidence since vests like that are pretty unusual. If it’s not, what we can expect of Franny’s fate?
Interesting that in both shots, neither of the women are having it. Neither Maggie or Mary Elkins (wife of the militia leader) believe the lies that are being told to them.
We also talked last week about the lack of American flag outside the compound but in turns up again here. We’re guessing this is O’Keefe’s own flag but the imagery itself is clear. O’Keefe rants on about “Free America,” but we know better. He is not a martyr and his belief system runs as far as his own ego and bank account. He understands optics, acutely (recall later when he tells JJ’s mother what the media will expect and how she should act or what she should say). And here the American flag is just a prop (much like his phony patriotism).
Carrie and Maggie have faced off, toe to toe, several times this season. Their standoff here, however, is a sharp visual contrast to how characters were portrayed last week. There are no wide shots with both characters in frame and the entire scene is shown in shot/reverse shot. Carrie is no slouch of an opponent, of course, narrowing her eyes here, but Maggie wins this round (again). How much drama will this show extract from Carrie refusing to swallow her pills?!
Shout out to the Homeland prop team for the cheeky “Now you see it, now you don’t” poster behind Russia McNeckBeardy.
For real though, we love this shot of Russia McNeckBeardy stealthily taking pics for his fake news photoshoot. We especially love that our view is partially obstructed by a curtain… filled with holes… which is quite representative on its own of how RMNB managed to slip into that hospital unnoticed.
This was an eerie, disturbing shot, and perhaps the true climax of the episode. The optics themselves remind us of Haqqani shooting Aayan in the head in “From A to B and Back Again.” Both in this episode, “Like Bad at Things”, and like in “From A to B…” what follows is a real clusterfuck.
O’Keefe running from a hail of gunshots really just says it all, doesn’t it? When the cameras are off, and he’s all alone, this is who he is.
Earlier in the episode, we see O’Keefe use the American flag as a prop in his broadcast. Here, it’s a makeshift mask against a cloud of tear gas. In the words of Brian Tallerico, “not exactly subtle, but nice symbolism for a man who hides behind a bullshit concept of patriotism.”