After my recent review of the Homeland finale as part of my Anatomy Of A Finale series, a good friend pointed out that I’d failed to analyse the use of Canadian Tim Horton’s coffee in this episode. Hopefully the following will go some way to rectifying this.
Just a coffee? Just a croissant? I think not. Homeland has never been one for unnecessary detail and Carrie’s trip to Canada’s favourite caffeine purveyor in Sunday’s finale was no exception. Putting aside the obvious fore-shadowing of Brody’s trip North of the border, where he will no doubt become a barista at one of Timmy’s establishments, there is much to be taken from Carrie’s choice of beverage brand.
Only a woman as reckless as Carrie Mathison would put her love life in such danger by bringing her man a sub-standard but cut price caffeine selection on their first morning of freedom together, proving once again the ambiguity which both parties bring to their tryst. There is also the obvious symbolic element of the croissants, an off-beat choice considering the ubiquity of the donut-hole product “Timbits” — instead of acknowledging the “missing pieces” of their relationship straight on by going for the obvious selection, she instead chooses a croissant which may sound fancy but will be of the poor quality that Tim Horton’s prides itself on.
This is obviously intended to signify Carrie’s choice of something that seems exotic but is in actuality fatally flawed, much like her relationship with Brody. One can also draw a clear line from a box of Timbits through to Brody and Carrie’s lives, where each is forced to cobble a delicious, unhealthy treat from the cast-offs of other people’s more complete personas.
And it is also hard to think that the writers weren’t considering Tim Horton’s famous “Roll Up The Rim To Win” competition when writing this episode. The quest is predicated on the idea that while the coffee may be sour and watery, the packaging has hidden elements which may lead to something far more glamorous – but ends in inevitable disappointment. It’s a comment on Carrie’s view of Brody, the idea and reality of Carrie’s bi-polar disorder, and a wider critique of a culture that values the potential of perfection over being good in the present moment.
It’s a heady political game the writers of Homeland are playing, and the delicacy with which they’ve threaded the overall narrative into their coffee selection just shows the attention they’ve been paying to the season-long arc.
Beyond Carrie and Brody, the Tim Horton’s experience can be applied across the main cast. Dana is perpetually staring into Homeland’s existential donut counter, dazzled and fearful of a choice of different people who may look varied and delicious on the outside, but who she knows are all the same at their doughy core.
Jessica Brody is the Tim Horton’s panini – a glamorous and enticing creature that is forced into a domesticated setting that sells its charms short. Man-handled and under-appreciated, she stares longingly at a boulangerie across the street.
Saul, meanwhile, is the coffee itself – standard, sometimes forgotten, but the lynchpin through which the whole operation survives. Watered down by years of neglect and dis-service, but still capable of scalding those who are not careful with him, he is a watchful presence that flies under the radar of less observant folk.
Mike is a bagel.