The seventh season of Showtime’s Homeland may be dealing with an out-of-control president, but the second episode just introduced a new potential threat on the horizon. Make no mistake, they may just take a story about a female Democrat president's abuse of power against innocent citizens and still manage to demonize the right.
The February 18 episode “Rebel Rebel” continues with the story of President Keane’s (Elizabeth Marvel) unlawful imprisonment of 200 government officials which is starting to become untenable. To try and save some face, she offers the reinstatement of former CIA official Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin), one of the imprisoned, as a national security advisor with the promise to release the other 200 officials. Saul's first job is to track down and arrest the conspiracy theorist Brett O’Keefe (Jake Weber), based on Alex Jones and Info Wars, who is currently hiding out in a sympathetic, right-wing, gun-advocating town in Arizona.
While the townsfolk are sympathetic to O’Keefe’s politics, the same sentiment is not shared by the show. As right-wing voters, they display all the stereotypical traits of living in a backward rural town, firing bullets into Democrat politicians' posters in their spare time, and believing conspiracy talking heads to the point where one has a tattoo of O’Keefe on his arm. Once the FBI arrives to take O’Keefe into custody, the locals quickly get riled up about the massive presence of the Feds near their homes. Take a look at how they're portrayed in this rather vulgar encounter:
Man in pickup truck: Fuck you, Feds!
Even when most of the characters on this show agree with the right-wing voters' views of the president, right-wingers still have to be portrayed as backwards somehow. Never mind the fact that former CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) herself is working against the president whom she previously called a “fascist.” Or the fact that Saul himself has also denounced the president’s actions. Trying to bring down the presidency through hidden and illegal activity can be noble, but voting differently apparently just makes you akin to a screaming hillbilly.
O’Keefe himself is hardly considerate of these people he purports to represent. In private, he refers to the people who defend him as the “lunatic fringe” to his co-worker girlfriend and also reveals himself to be a hypocrite when it comes to the Second Amendment. Following a slapstick attempt to bond with the natives, O'Keefe injures himself in an attempt at firing a gun and being knocked by the recoil in the face.
O'Keefe: Ouch, careful.
Sharon: You're so full of shit. The great defender of the Second Amendment never fired a gun in his life.
O'Keefe: I have.
Sharon: You're such a liar.
O'Keefe: I did. Summer camp, 40 years ago.
Sharon: Hold this. I'm gonna ask one of the guys to drive me to town today. There's a bus station there, and I'll show you how to log on for the broadcast. It's not that complicated.
O'Keefe: Wait, wait, wait, wait. What's going on? You said you wanted a bed, which you got, and clean clothes and a shower, which you also got. You look great, actually.
Sharon: Stop. I told you, I'm done. I need to go home.
O'Keefe: To what?
Sharon: My life.
O'Keefe: You'd trade all this for a studio apartment in Brooklyn?
Sharon: Yeah. I don't like being surrounded by gun-toting crazies.
O'Keefe: That's why you gotta stay, protect me from the lunatic fringe.
J.J. [Knock on door] Uh, Dad says food's ready.
Sharon: Thanks, J.J. We'll be right there.
So far, little more has developed beyond expletives and hurt feelings, but Homeland makes its priorities clear. The enemy now may be a Democratic president, but conservatives are still armed and at large. That’s apparently just as terrifying as fascism.