Pull up a chair, Homeland. I’ve got a bone to pick with you.
Now I like you, Homeland. I’m in your corner, I am. Most of the time you get it right. Yes, you are a dramatization. We know that. But for the most part, even though you exaggerate, your plotline is pretty plausible.
In real life: soldiers are sometimes captured in Afghanistan, prisoners of war sometimes become senators, drones sometimes kill civilians, terrorists sometimes kill Americans, Americans sometimes become terrorists, spies sometimes fall in love with spies, and the CIA sometimes does really shady shit. I can get behind those, even in their most sensational forms, because they have happened, to a certain degree, in real life. Bowe Bergdahl was abducted on the Af-Pak border in 2009, John McCain assumed office in 1987, more than 400 civilians have been killed in Pakistan since the advent of the drone era, the Boston Marathon bombings happened, “Jihad Jane” is a real person, Sharon Scranage and Michael Soussoudis were two spies in love, and the Wikileaks cables, the Edward Snowden docs, and that Zero Dark Thirty film all seem to confirm that we have no idea who is really doing what out there.
But Homeland, there is one thing that never happens in real life, ever, that you seem to think does happens. That thing is that Iran does not support Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda does not support Iran. This, among other things, has to do with their differing denominations of Islam.
Iran is almost exclusively made up of a Shia majority. It is the most populated and concentrated Shia nation in the world. Other Shia groups include Hezbollah (the ruling party in Lebanon) and Bashar Al Assad’s supporters (Alawites) in Syria. Now Al Qaeda is composed of strictly Sunni Muslims. But hey, Sunnis are the majority Muslim denomination in the world so you shouldn’t associate them with Al Qaeda, OK? Sunnis are found in every country where there are Muslims but Saudi Arabia has the densest population.
With that in mind, so far you’ve given us two bad guys. The first is Abu Nazir, an Al Qaeda Sunni Muslim, and the second is Majid Javadi, a Shia Iranian intelligence officer. In some weak way you seem to tell us that they are linked, but it’s puzzling. Abu Nazir is the one that tortured and brainwashed Brody in Afghanistan and then he’s the one that got Brody to turn on his country. He is also the one that Brody sends the SOS text message to before Nazir is about to be assassinated in Beirut (season 2 episode 2).
See here inlies the first problem. We know from Carrie and Saul that Abu Nazir is “deep in Hezbollah territory,” when Brody sends the SOS text. So deep in fact that the CIA doesn’t even have a fleshed-out map of the landscape. But remember, Hezbollah is a Shia group and Abu Nazir is a Al Qaeda Sunni. Why, of all places, would he be there? He has any number of enclaves in the world to use as a hideout, from the Islamic Maghreb deserts in North Africa to the Caspian Sea-side towns of the Caucasus. In fact, he wouldn’t be welcome in the Hezbollah neighborhoods of Lebanon. They fight, you know. Shias and Sunnis have a history of conflict. It was the sectarian clashes that brought Iraq to its worst points in 2006 and 2007. And now the civil war in Syria (right next door to Lebanon) is waged along sectarian lines. Assad’s Shia Alawites vs. (mostly) Al Qaeda Sunni rebels. There is no justification, Homeland, for Abu Nazir to be forcefully rolling so deep with his Al Qaeda team in Beirut.
Which leads us to your second confusion. At the end of season 2, a massive Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) goes off in front of the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Afterward, Al Qaeda takes responsibility for the attack and publicly releases Brody’s suicide tape to the media. Yet in the beginning of season 3, you tell us that it was Majid Javadi, the Iranian Shia, who masterminded the bombing. So, we are left to assume that there is some grandiose scheme uniting Iran and Al Qaeda or something. It doesn’t hold water, Homeland. It just doesn’t. Al Qaeda and Iran aren’t in cahoots. You can’t just flippantly lump them into the same category, guy. Later you try to tell us, oh-so-quickly, that the Langley bombing was in response to Israel hitting Iran’s nuclear facility. But wait, I thought it was punishment for Brody turning on Nazir? You never addressed that part and while the nuclear facility strike is plausible, this hybrid global terror unit you have constructed is not.
Hopefully you’re keyed in now. Iran and Al Qaeda are two separate entities. They don’t work together. You wouldn’t mistake Mormons for Catholics, would you? Get it together, man. I mean there’s that tired Sun Tzu quote that starts like, “all warfare is based on deception…” But stop deceiving yourself, Homeland. Because, in the end, you’re deceiving all of us. Just not in that sexy spy way you are so good at.