Homeland Recap: 6×02 “The Man in the Basement”

Previously on Homeland: Carrie and a recovering Quinn fought; Quinn got high with a hooker who then robbed him; Carrie took him back to the VA; Madam President-Elect, Keane, questioned Dar and Saul about their practices, and Dar thought that she blamed them for her son’s death; young Muslim Sekou was arrested after being openly supportive of America’s enemies online; Carrie took Quinn home with her to save him from being put in a locked ward on the VA.

The new credits start with the end of the Star-Spangled Banner and include a few Gil Scott-Heron quotes, and a quote from Keane saying “We need a new strategy.” Very different.

In his dim basement, Quinn listens to the growling voice of some sort of radio talk show host who’s angry at the big drug companies and sounds like a cross between, well, Sanders and Trump TBH. I’m sure the guy’s based on a real person but, thank God, I’m not familiar with unhinged radio hosts, so I have no idea who.

Meanwhile Franny’s got her ear pressed up against the wall, so we know Quinn’s already having a bad influence. Claire tells her it’s not nice to snoop, in a cute little ironic touch from literally the nosiest human alive. Franny’s carpool arrives to pick her up, apparently filling in at the last minute, and laughs a little uncomfortably when Franny announces there’s a man in their basement.

Left alone, Carrie dumps a hilariously huge bag of meds out on the counter from a paper bag and tries to get downstairs, but it’s locked. So it can be locked from both sides, apparently. I guess that is necessary if you airbnb a place.

homeland-602-pillsCarrie goes down to the separate basement entrance and yells through the window about Quinn needing to take his primidone. At which he promptly turns and throws a mug at the window, smashing it. Carrie reaches in to unlock the door and, as always unable to resist lapsing into her notion that she’s being unfairly maligned, says sarcastically, “Fine, good, I’m the enemy.” She pleads with him to take it so he won’t convulse, and then, when he doesn’t answer, yells that she doesn’t like this either but that the alternative was worse. Quinn just flops back on the bed and ignores her.

Later, Carrie, back upstairs, opens the door. She’s summoned Max! Looking a little more grizzled but still as sweet as ever. He enters while she rants about her crazy day and interrupts her with, “It’ll be fine.” She shows him the giant medicine cabinet she’s amassed for Quinn and then explains that all he really needs to take is the primidone. Max asks why he threw the coffee mug at her. Carrie says, “I’m telling myself it’s the drugs talking.” It definitely wasn’t because she came down to pester him at his private entrance or anything. She leaves for work, telling Max, “I owe you.” Luckily it’s Max, so he’ll never have any expectation of actually being paid back in any sense. Side note, wouldn’t it be kind of awesome if Max did get some kind of crazy dramatic storyline this season?

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YAY MAX!

As soon as Carrie’s gone, Quinn emerges. Max stares at him, unable for a moment to hide his alarm at how Quinn looks. Quinn asks what Carrie said, and Max says, “That you’re being kind of an asshole. Also that there’s some kind of pills you need to take.” Quinn merely responds, “I need food. In cans.”

Yeah, Carrie really owes Max.

In jail, Carrie and her colleague Reda arrive to meet with Sekou. He tells Sekou, “Everything we say in here is privileged. No one can use it against you.” I’m SO confused. Is Carrie actually a lawyer? I’m no expert, but I have watched a lot of The Good Wife, and I’m pretty sure privilege doesn’t apply to non-lawyers. Anyway, they ask him about the five thousand dollars, and whether he’s taking it to the Islamic State in Nigeria. Indignantly, Sekou says it’s just a loan to help pay for his trip with his mother and his sister. He hesitates before telling them it was Saad, but Carrie assures him they’ll only talk to him. “He’s a friend,” Sekou says emphatically. But when Carrie pushes him, he also thinks harder and extracts a promise of confidentiality before admitting that Saad wanted him to meet with someone. He also says he still gave him the money even when Sekou refused, “and that is the God’s honest truth.”

Max brings Quinn some fairly gross-looking canned food and offers to heat up some of the soup, then tries again with the Primidone, which Quinn ignores. Then he says, adorably, “Something down here doesn’t smell very good. I think it might be you.” Quinn, always clever, retorts, “I think it might be you.” Then Max asks him to take a shower and he says he’ll just get dirty again. Oh man. At some point Carrie’s whole house is gonna start smelling like a subway station.

Max kneels to pick up the smashed mug and Quinn explains, “Someone was trying to break in.” Hee! Max points out that Carrie can’t really break in, because it’s her house. Uh, I don’t think that’s how being a landlord works, but OK. Max lectures Quinn gently that he said he wanted to be here, but Quinn just turns his horrible radio program back on.

Carrie and Reda are at Sekou’s house, asking his sister Simone and his mother Abi about Saad. They say they don’t know where he is, and the mother says she’s never even met him. She’s completely incredulous when she’s told that Saad gave Sekou five thousand dollars. She begs them to get Sekou home and pleads that he didn’t do anything. Reda has to explain that they’re charging him with attempts. Finally, Abi gets one more shock when she’s told—and Simone confirms—that Sekou’s been online praising suicide bombers.

As Carrie and Reda leave, Simone chases them out and asks about Saad. She says she knows him. Cut to Carrie’s office, where she sends a photo of Simone and Saad to Max while explaining that the two dated. He crops Simone out of the picture and sends it to the NCC database. Carrie asks how it’s going with Quinn, and Max says, “On the positive side, he hasn’t broken any more windows.” Heh.

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Saul enters the lobby of the bare-bones, start-uppy office where Carrie works, and Carrie hangs up to go greet him. He remarks that it looks like a real law office. I’m SO CONFUSED. Did she get her JD since last season? It seems fast, but then again, Carrie’s kind of an overachiever. Saul asks to talk, and they settle on a couch in the middle of the lobby instead of going to Carrie’s office, for some reason. Saul says, looking seriously at Carrie, that he feels like he heard her voice when he was talking to the president. Since they’re both friends with Otto During, is Carrie possibly advising her? “I think her entire national security program came right out of that head of hers.” Carrie laughs at him intensely, forehead wrinkles and all, and assures him she’s not advising Keane, she just does “this”—nodding to the office. Saul says he’s glad, since it would be a “huge embarrassment” if it turned out she was advising Keane. Carrie shifts back into Unearned Victim Mode and says, close to tears, that she left their world because of all the “bullshit,” and tells him to leave. He doesn’t apologize, but he does leave.

Dar Adal arrives at a fancy restaurant where he’s obviously known, as he’s greeted with a hug from the maitre d’. He meets a guy who I will just say now is named Rob and is some sort of advisor to Keane. Rob jokes that he’s impressed with how well-connected Dar is, and Dar says, actually, this is where he was on September 11th, pulling people off the street. Then he says he’s afraid Keane has forgotten about that day. Dar says her only claim to the presidency is that she lost a son at war, and that’s not a qualification. “She’s not even president yet. Why don’t you give her a chance?” says Rob, which I suppose is a less offensive suggestion when it’s about someone who isn’t already a guaranteed human rights catastrophe (ahh, those were the days). Dar says that he has intel that the Iranians are cheating on the nuclear deal. Rob basically laughs in his face when Dar says the source is the Israelis, and says that Iran is heavily surveilled and unable to cheat. Dar says that it’s a parallel program in North Korea, and an Iranian bagman named Farhad has been over there with some nuclear scientists. The Israelis are going to pick him up and question him when he comes to Abu Dhabi for a conference. Rob accuses him of trying to create an international crisis that Keane will inherit on election day. Dar says that the president will defer to the president-elect on this action. Rob looks alarmed.

Max calls Carrie about the photo of Saad and says that he found him in Pittsburgh. His name there was Tyrone Banks, Jr. Max found a picture of him with a gang, of which everyone else went to jail except for the confidential informant who put them away. Carrie calls Reda over and has Max on speaker phone repeat that Saad is working for the FBI. Max has to hang up when he realizes Quinn has just made a run for it out the door. Carrie rants to Reda that Saad is setting Sekou up by making the videos with him and giving him five thousand dollars. Reda says he’ll ask the judge for a hearing.

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Quinn walks unevenly down the sidewalk towards a bodega, followed by Max. He goes straight for the back, where there are some tallboys of Tecate and Bud, and gathers a healthy amount of them despite his vision blurring ominously. Somehow the whole collection is only twelve bucks, like what part of Brooklyn is this? I want to live there! Anyway, Quinn says coolly, “Speak to my business manager.” Then smoothly adds to Max, who’s behind him, “Hey, Max.” Heh. He wanders off, and starts trying to say something, though it’s taking increasing effort and he can barely see. After some effort Max figures out what he’s looking for: wipes. The bodega owner tries to guide Quinn to the wipes, which are right in front of him, but Quinn can barely hear him and, finally, falls to the ground in a seizure as Max holds his head and calls for help.

In court, Reda argues with the opposing lawyer that there’s a human source not mentioned in the original complaint. Carrie’s watching from the back rows, so I guess she’s not a lawyer after all. The prosecution lawyer says that the confidential informant needs to stay secret to keep helping the government. Meanwhile, Conlin, the sinister-looking white guy who led Sekou’s arrest, pulls Carrie out of the courtroom. She accuses him of entrapping Sekou, but Conlin says they found him online supporting jihad, they didn’t just pick him out to be entrapped. Carrie points out that it’s free speech. “Not when you add in the money,” he says, with massive irony since he gave Sekou the money. Carrie points this out, but Conlin says the tickets were bought way before the five thousand dollars were given. He essentially gloats to Carrie that she can’t exactly put Sekou on the witness stand, since the jury isn’t going to feel confident he won’t commit an attack. (Yay, racism! It makes prosecuting crimes without evidence so much easier!) Conlin reminds her that if she goes near Saad Mahsud he’ll have her arrested.

Just then the hearing gets out—and Reda’s lost. “So how do we talk to him?” says Carrie, hilariously unable to process defeat. Reda says they’ll get written statements only, and that if they try anything else they’ll be in contempt. But there’s good news—the prosecution’s offered a deal of seven years since they were reprimanded for not including the informant in the original complaint.

When Quinn wakes up he’s in the bodega, getting examined by an EMT. She wants him to go to the hospital to get an EKG. He insists Max will take care of him, and she says, with amusing dubiousness (apparently the bodega owner passed this along), “I understand he’s your business manager.” Quinn corrects her that he’s his babysitter, and eventually she gives up and just lets him leave AMA, helpfully explaining for the four people on this planet who’ve never seen a single medical procedural that this means “against medical advice.” Left with Max, Quinn asks him not to tell Carrie.

In the cell, Carrie and Reda have passed the bad news about Saad to Sekou, who’s looking stricken. “And I’m sitting here not wanting his ass to get in trouble,” Sekou muses. He insists the money is for the tickets, and Saad is a liar. Sekou says he’ll get on the stand, since they can’t get Saad on the stand, but Reda counsels him not to do this, because he’ll have to answer for everything they’ve said. He suggests a plea bargain the government has offered. “But I’m not guilty,” says poor Sekou, who still hasn’t grasped what situation he’s in. “All that matters is if they can convince a jury you are,” says Reda. When Sekou learns how long the plea bargain is—seven years—he’s totally shocked. Reda says that in his experience, if Sekou insists on a trial, he’ll go to jail for twice that. Carrie jumps in, unwisely, to say everyone knows this is unfair. It’s understandable—if you haven’t seen a lot of people in this situation, it’s got to pull at all kinds of heartstrings—but it is so clearly a bad idea to say it, and even Sekou is like, OH, YOU THINK?! He gets so angry he has to be pulled out of the room, yelling “Fuck you” to everyone.

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As they leave, Reda tells Carrie she shouldn’t have said it. Carrie incredulously says, “Wait, you’re saying I caused that back there?” Catches on quick, this one. Next, she says proudly that she can get information out of Saad. Reda makes her promise she won’t do anything, and mentions that it’s a court order. Carrie’s gotten some kind of text that makes her rush off, but she promises she heard him.

What do you think, guys? You think she heard him?

Yeah, me neither. Never in the history of television has a character said “I heard you” and meant it.

But her next stop isn’t to Saad. It’s to a hotel room where, yup, Keane and her advisor Rob happily greet Carrie. Oh, Saul’s gonna be SO mad. Carrie takes a seat, and Rob tells her about his lunch with Dar. Carrie in turn mentions her lunch with Saul. They want to know if they should make the Israeli operation a joint one with the CIA. Carrie talks them through the decision: it means abandoning Keane’s new policy before she’s even started, yet leaving the operation to the Israelis is not an option because they aren’t objective enough. So they should get someone “absolutely trustworthy”: Saul. She says he wasn’t too polite to her about her allegedly advising Keane, but that he wants the nuclear arrangement to work, since he was instrumental in starting it.

Dar is sitting in the same restaurant, thumbing through photos of Carrie visiting Keane, when Saul arrives and teases him about the “bullshit story” he tells about 9-11. Man, Dar is the actual worst. Dar tells Saul he’s going to Abu Dhabi to represent them on the ground, a request from Keane. Barely holding in his glee, Dar reminds Saul that they don’t know who’s advising Keane. Saul cuts him off, saying he knows what Dar’s thinking and Carrie already told him she wasn’t advising Keane. He says simply that he believes her. Poor Saul. He never learns. Dar calls Carrie a menace, but Saul still doesn’t catch on. The blind spot he has where Carrie is concerned is HUGE.

On a darkened basketball court, Saad and Simone meet up—but Saad’s happy greeting is cut short by Simone, who scolds him for being unreachable and for not caring how Sekou is. He starts calling her “Baby” and moving in on her, but she pushes him off, and Carrie emerges from the shadows. Simone says she knows about Saad’s history in Pittsburgh and what he’s been doing with Sekou. Carrie assures him that they know he’s not the villain. Saad still tries to deny it, but Carrie pushes him, insisting that he tell them if Sekou took the money for meeting a jihadist or not. Saad tries to walk away, but Carrie puts the emotional screws on him, reminding him that Saad’s alone in a cell, and finally, when she asks him how long a sentence he was facing, Saad starts to cry and admits it was only five years (to Sekou’s fifteen). It’s really sad. He tells them how Conlin said he could take away his penalty if Saad helped him. Saad even admits that Conlin was pressing him to get Sekou to take the money.

Carrie asks him to tell Conlin the truth about Sekou, and Saad says he already told Conlin multiple times that Sekou wasn’t a terrorist and didn’t want the money. Simone stares from behind Carrie, enraged, and finally breaks in and starts shoving Saad. Saad gets angry and tells Carrie, “You fucked up by coming here. Fuck you.” I mean, YEAH. Has Carrie literally never watched a lawyer procedural? I mean, I know she was busy, like, hunting down terrorists and perfecting her cry face and stuff, but come ON. Everyone knows you don’t defy a court order and expect to use the evidence in court later.

Carrie arrives home to a dark, quiet house and turns on the light to find a little childish picture of what maybe appears to be a little girl and a man with a stubbly beard? So I guess it’s Franny and Quinn? Unclear. Anyway, she smiles and goes and murmurs to a sleeping Franny for awhile.

Claire Danes plays Carrie-as-mom really well. She’s loving, and goes through all the motions that you expect a regular TV mother to do—but it’s all infused with a very Carrie Mathison level of intensity simmering just under the surface. Nothing soft or even particularly “maternal” (in some icky stereotypical way, I mean) about it.

Max emerges from the basement and tells Carrie Quinn’s sleeping. Then he immediately spills the beans about a seizure. Carrie’s pissed he didn’t call, but Max says the paramedics had it covered, and that Quinn doesn’t want her to know. “It is a big deal,” she says. “Not really. Not if you think about everything he’s been through,” Max says. “He’s not happy… And he’s got this strange thing about you, which is not helping.” Carrie almost breaks down at this, and then says, “I’m trying.” Because it is always, always about Carrie! He promises her she can call him if she needs anything, and leaves.

She hesitates outside the basement door, and then descends to find Quinn lying down. He mumbles a greeting, and asks how her day was. When she asks how his was, he sighs and says, “What happened to me?” She says he had a seizure. Before that, he says. She tells him about deciding to come live here. She is purposely misunderstanding him, I think—maybe not consciously—but she certainly doesn’t want to talk to him about before.

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But he pushes her, and asks about before. “You don’t know?” she says. She tells him he almost died, and wonders how he could not know, when the video of it is all over the internet. He says he didn’t want to see it, but he does now. Carrie thinks about this for a pained second, then—respecting his wishes, for once—sits on the edge of the bed, with Quinn lying on his side behind her. She gives him a little bit of background, and then pulls up the video on her phone. “Just play it,” he says, touching her elbow. She does, and we are treated to a horrifyingly long excerpt of the thing, complete with foaming, shaking, vomiting. Quinn stares at the video; Carrie stares at him. He looks—not horrified—mostly just sad. “I must’ve watched it a hundred times,” says Carrie just when it gets most intense, possibly hoping to distract him. He puts a hand over his mouth. Growing teary, she explains the clue that led her to him—the tiles on the floor outside the glass box he was in. She also tells him he flatlined in the ambulance after they found him. “You saved me,” he says.

Now, I feel like this would’ve been the time for Carrie to say, Yes, I saved you, but then I woke you up to get information out of you even though the doctors said it was dangerous, causing you to spew black stuff out of your mouth like you were in a horror movie, and probably contributing to whatever brain damage you have now.

But does she? NO. She just agrees that she saved him. He asks why, and Carrie starts to cry and repeats, “Why?” a few times. She apologizes and then lays her hand on his chest for a moment, and then leaves. Quinn opens his eyes wide for a moment, like he’s fighting off tears. When Carrie gets back upstairs, she leans against the door and tries to collect herself, wiping her tears away. Then she turns off the lights.

Conclusion

I literally cannot believe that Carrie didn’t tell Quinn about waking him up in the hospital. Is that crazy to anyone else? It is a big deal, right? I mean, this was a really nice moment for them if the story had really been just that she saved him. But since she hasn’t mentioned that little fact—even if she thinks he would’ve agreed with the decision—when he finds out, I would have to think he’s going to be pissed. It just made me so anxious watching that scene, and watching her hide such important information from him.

And when it comes to Carrie talking to Saad, and disobeying that court order: come ON. I thought fake-mercy-killing Quinn or almost marrying Otto was going to be the dumbest decision she ever made, but no. This one is definitely the dumbest.

That said, I’ve sounded harsh on Carrie in this recap—the fact that she makes everything about her, the fact that she is not particularly natural in her role as a mother, the fact that she’s outright tricking Quinn into thinking she’s his hero—but I should clarify that, the unrealistic misstep with Saad aside, I love what is being done with Carrie. She has always been a not-particularly likable, highly intense and morally gray character, and she still is, even while she’s exhibiting more sympathy for terror suspects and Muslims than she ever has before. She’s lying to Saul (and playing victim just because he guessed the truth), sneaking around, going way too far in her hunt for the truth, and breaking poor little Quinn’s heart—in short, she remains true to the steely core of her character. And Carrie is a great character, thanks to both the writing and Claire Danes’s always-superb acting, just not a fuzzy-wuzzy one. I am enjoying watching her very much.

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