Previously on Homeland: Quinn told Carrie he wasn’t getting any better; Sekou was offered a plea bargain for material support of terrorism, but Carrie thought he was just an angry kid; Quinn moved into Carrie’s basement; Sekou’s friend Saad turned out to be working for Agent Conlin to get evidence against Sekou; a prostitute Quinn was seeing staged a robbery to get his VA money; Saul thought Carrie was advising President-Elect Keane; Dar Adal told Keane’s advisor Rob that he thought Iran had a parallel nuclear program with North Korea; Carrie suggested Saul go on the operation; and Quinn asked Carrie to show him the video of his gassing.
Whew. That’s a lot of previouslies, for a season with—so far—no kidnappings, car chases, or explosions. Not that I’m complaining. OK, I’m complaining a little.
Quinn stares out the window of his private basement entrance, looking blue. No, like literally blue, like they’re using the Chino filter or something. Then he stumbles into his bathroom to take a shower, awkwardly struggling to get his sweatpants off over his cast. But as soon as he steps under the stream of water he has a horrible flashback to being gassed—and then it turns out he’s not even in the shower; he’s in bed, having a nightmare, and he’s screaming in terror. Carrie rushes in to put her arms around him and tell him he’s safe. He slowly calms, and then seems to notice that he’s holding Carrie. She tells him to just breathe, as if she’s merely performing some sort of medical calming procedure; with typical Carrie-ness, there is no acknowledgement in her conscious mind that her choices here are influenced by her feelings for him, or that this might be, you know, a little confusing for him. When he starts coming onto her by putting his hand under the back of her shirt, she jumps off and acts totally scandalized. “I thought you were—“ he stammers. She says she wasn’t, and he says, “Oh, shit,” looking utterly humiliated.
Franny, who heard the screaming and came downstairs, interrupts, and Carrie sends her back up with a promise to be right there. Then she goes back into Quinn’s room and, despite the fact that he CLEARLY feels horrible and embarrassed already, lectures him: “You’re coming down from a lot of medication, I get that. But if you’re gonna be living in my home with me and my daughter…” This seemed SUPER mean to me on first watching, to hold someone close who you know was abjectly in love with you for years and then scold them repeatedly when they misinterpreted. But now I’m wondering if maybe she’s doing this as a way of denying to herself and to him that she took him in like this because they have sexual tension. That would be a very typically Carrie strategy for denial.
Quinn won’t look at her, and she gets a call and switches gears, telling him she’s going to be out all day and offering to call Max for him, wihch he refuses.
The call turns out to be Reda, who has heard from Conlin about Carrie harassing his informant. He’s mad, and tells her to get in as fast as she can.
Saul’s in the back of a car with a driver who is trying to help him escape a tail. Well, here’s that car chase I wanted—but it’s utterly anticlimactic, just a few mildly dangerous maneuvers accompanied by some tense music, and then Saul’s hopped out of the car into a marketplace. He is soon accosted by a woman on a motorcycle, who puts a helmet on him and has him hop on behind her, holding her waist.
Carrie arrives at work to find out from Reda that the plea deal’s been withdrawn. She says, “They can’t do that, can they?” Reda duhs that they can if the defense disobeys a court order on an issue of national security. Carrie can’t believe it, and pleads that Saad told them Sekou wasn’t a terrorist. Reda points out that the judge won’t take kindly to Carrie having disobeyed the order, and that Carrie and Simone are not going to be believable witnesses. He reprimands her for taking matters into her own hands and not living up to her original role of being a fundraiser and advisor. She apologizes sincerely (quite a feat for Carrie) and then offers to go tell Sekou what she’s done. Reda gives her a disappointed look and agrees. Not a good morning for Carrie. But at least her jacket is totally fetch.
Over in Abu Dhabi, a pretty woman in a lacy camisole waits for the sound of the door. She answers to find a man in GIANT shades, presumably Farhad Nefisi, the bagman who is suspected of being involved in Iran’s alleged shadow nuclear program. He walks in like he owns the place and gives her some money, and they take a couple hits off a joint before starting to get down to business. Unfortunately for him, she’s got slightly different business in mind. When she opens the door to the bedroom, the bedroom turns out to be an interrogation room, with Saul waiting behind the table. The man tries to leave, only to get dragged back by some burly dudes.
As he tries to catch his breath Saul advises him that they can skip the formalities where he demands a lawyer, and accuses him of being here to negotiate an illegal arms deal. The Israeli agents watch on closed circuit as Saul lays out some photos of Farhad in compromising positions. Apparently this would end Farhad’s career, and possibly lead to torture or worse. Looking resigned, Farhad asks Saul what he wants. Saul leaves him alone for five minutes to think.
In the observation room, the Israeli agent explains that all the Iranian delegation moves in groups, except for Farhad. Then she goes over the evidence that he went to North Korea—which is highly circumstantial. Basically, he took a private plane to southern Russia, where he may have stopped to refuel and may have boarded a different plane that left from the same airport and went to Samjiyon. Saul says he’s here for objective evidence, and the agent tells him that he can’t be objective because he supported the nuclear deal originally.
Carrie arrives at the jail to see Sekou and tells him seriously that she disobeyed the judge’s order to stay away from Saad. She got information that could help them, but they can’t use it, and she got reported and the plea deal is gone. Sekou looks mildly disappointed but says he wasn’t interested in the offer anyway. Carrie realizes he doesn’t get it: with the plea deal gone, he has to go to trial. Sekou’s voice shakes as he realizes that he’s fucked, and says, “Tell them I’ll take the plea.” Carrie has to tell him that the option is off the table because of her actions. “You’re sorry?! I could be forty years old before I get out of here,” he says. She says she’ll find a way to fix this, but he rightly knows that she has no idea what she’s talking about. Just before he leaves, he stares at her and says, “How could you do this to me?” Carrie—rightfully—almost bursts into tears.
Saul reenters the interrogation room to talk to Farhad. When Farhad turns out to be recalcitrant, the burly backup dudes knock him to the table and force his eye open so they can unlock his phone and check out his bank history. Aaaaand this is why I don’t use my fingerprint to unlock my phone. Anyway, Saul asks Farhad what his money is being used for. Farhad points out that Saul’s American and says, “I thought we were friends now.” Saul’s hilarious deadpan response is: “Friends don’t sponsor terrorism, what’s the money for?” I love it! Anyway, Farhad says it’s a downpayment for Russian anti-aircraft batteries. They paid more than usual so they could get the batteries earlier.
Saul doesn’t believe him, because the bank he used—First Emirates Bank—is used for nuclear deals, and because Farhad recently went to North Korea. Farhad acts like this is the first he’s heard of nuclear anything, and denies going to North Korea. Saul quizzes him on the specs of the weapons he’s supposedly buying, and Farhad answers with facility. Presumably he aced this little quiz, because Saul lets him go, after reminding him that they still have the blackmail photos and his contact list.
Before leaving, Farhad tells Saul that Iran doesn’t want a nuclear weapon, but they pretended to so that everyone would lift the sanctions to reward them for giving up “a program we never wanted in the first place.” It’s an interesting proposition.
The Israeli agent is not thrilled with this, but Saul says Iran has the right to buy it. Both agree, though, that his using the First Emirates bank is suspicious. Saul promises to tell Dar Adal this, and when she seems suspicious, says that just because he believed in the deal doesn’t mean he doesn’t care if Iran cheats on it.
In his basement, Quinn stares at the cracked ceiling and uneven lights. When he hears footsteps overhead, he looks nervous and grabs a knife. Then he hobbles upstairs and, after a moment of listening at the door, carefully bolts it shut. The knob turns. He rushes downstairs and peers out the window, only to see what looks like a youngish, blondish guy in a cap go into the next building and enter a second-floor apartment. I have no idea what’s happening. This scene is pretty much where I fell fast asleep on first viewing. Now granted, I fall asleep kinda easily, but still. Totally opaque.
Dar is in a large meeting on the phone with Saul, scolding Saul for not putting the Israeli agent on the interrogation. Saul says it was her call, and warns Dar that the last time they were wrong on WMDs, “It turned into a national nightmare.”
A young man interrupts Saul to ask for the folder to shred. Saul says he can do it because he loves to shred. Obviously as soon as he starts shredding the incriminating material on Farhad he sees something suspicious, since otherwise that scene would have been pointless: a cigarette box of the same brand Farhad uses. Saul pockets it, looking disturbed.
At a quiet suburban brick home, a family of four arrives home in a minivan. Carrie, parked sketchily across the street, flashes her lights at him. “Old habits,” she says to him with a smile. “This is my home,” he says. Carrie is silent, like, “home”? What is this word you speak of? She asks him for records of the calls between Saad and Conlin. He tells her they don’t record calls (Carrie essentially snorts at this) and that even if they did, this could ruin his career. Carrie begs him, referring to mysterious limbs upon which they went out for each other in some nameless past, and telling him she ruined this kid’s life. He refuses, but Carrie shouts after him that she’ll send him the numbers.
Saul gets a call from Dar Adal just as he’s about to cross into the West Bank. He says it’s because he feels guilty not visiting his sister. Dar says he’s going in to meet Keane and that he’ll just tell her they’re still gathering intel. Saul waits in stopped traffic as army types inspect people’s cars.
Dar enters the meeting with Keane to brief her on Abu Dhabi. He confirms the President has already been briefed, and Keane tells him that Rob’s staying for the briefing, and asks to talk to Saul when he gets back. “I hate to be the bearer of bad news,” Dar says, looking uncharacteristically nervous because the president-elect is treating him with such curtness. Then he says there is “more than credible” evidence that Iran’s cheating on the deal, and that Saul called it “conclusive.” (He did not say this, FYI.) She asks how soon it will be before they have a weapon. Dar gives a jargony answer that means, basically, it’s unclear. She asks him what the President will do, and what he would do. Dar is like “THANK YOU FOR ASKING, I WOULD DO SO MANY THINGS.” Then he demurs that it’s not his job to recommend policy. She says she doesn’t like his advice. They have a moment of tension, which ends with Dar saying she should feel free to ask the Director for someone else if she wants. She says she’ll stick with him. “As you wish,” he says. “I wish,” she says.
Carrie arrives back at her office. Reda’s not there, but she has flowers in her office. Carrie asks if they’re from During, because I guess she didn’t get the memo that he gave up, but they’re not. They’re from Mr. Minivan, who has included a portable drive in the envelope. It has a recording of Conlin urging Saad to delete a recording of Sekou refusing to meet with a terrorist.
Carrie plays it for Conlin, who calls her “a dog with a fucking bone.” He insists that Sekou was on the brink, and Carrie accuses him of arresting people for crimes they might commit. He says the tape won’t hold up, but she says if Sekou’s not released by tomorrow morning, the tapes go to the Attorney General.
Saul arrives at a house with a middle-aged woman who hugs him in greeting. I’m mildly surprised; I assumed he was on some kind of secret mission. She invites him in for a meal, and he remarks on the settlement having grown. She says her husband Moshe chose the spot “so the Arabs could see us every day and know we’re never leaving.” Inside, they look over a family photo album while gunfire crackles in the distance. She asks about Mira; he says they each made promises and didn’t keep them, and lies that there’s been no one since. If I had dated Allison Carr I probably wouldn’t be super proud of it either. She reminisces that he used to protect her when they were a minority in Indiana, and rebukes him for disappearing. Saul says that’s because Moshe (who is apparently dead) was a fanatic. She argues that Moshe made her proud to be Jewish, which she never had, and he responds that Moshe brought her to a place that isn’t hers. It’s obviously a fight they’ve had before. Saul presses on, telling her that her settlement has made people homeless and seized their property, and that living based on a covenant with Abraham from thousands of years ago is insanity. She says she loves her life, and he says that her life makes peace less possible. “I have … a life filled with faith and purpose. Saul, what do you have?” she says and leaves.
Well! Always nice to hang with the fam!
Quinn’s hooker has stopped by to pick him up, asking him if he wants to party. He says he wants to see her boyfriend. “Oh, well, he’s not gonna give your money back,” she chuckles, obviously completely unashamed of what she did. This lady has NO SHAME. “Just give me the keys,” he says, and she does. Somehow, magically, he gets the car parked at their destination (a block in what seems to be Queens) within a few feet of the curb. “Don’t do this,” she begs, promising him a good time and saying that Tommy will fuck him up. But he pushes back, and she reluctantly tells him Tommy’s address.
Quinn climbs up to the apartment and knocks on the door. Someone clearly addled on drugs answers and lets him in. He recognizes Quinn from his Youtube video. “I haven’t seen it,” Quinn lies. The guy says that if he’d known who Quinn was he wouldn’t have knocked him out. Aww. There is honor among thieves! Quinn shrugs this off and then asks to buy the gun. Tommy says it’s not for sale, but then offers it up for two thousand. Quinn agrees to this, then knocks the guy to the ground and hits him on the head with some kind of weight inside a black sack. Then he picks up the gun. “That’s two thousand I owe you, less the two thousand you stole from me leaves what? How much do I owe you now?” Quinn says calmly, experiencing no aphasia. Tommy, his face bloody, whines that it’s zero. “You’re fuckin’ right,” says Quinn, all tough-guy for just a short moment before he returns to his solitary life in the basement.
Carrie arrives in the back room of a restaurant through the kitchen, where she’s checked with a metal detector and makes friendly conversation with the detector-wielding guard. She meets Keane, who reminisces about her ex-husband and then offers Carrie some wine. But Carrie’s sober, and declines. Keane tells her about the Iran issue. She has taken Dar Adal’s statement that Saul called the evidence “conclusive” at face value, but Carrie is quite surprised to hear that. She advises Keane to get the actual report, and explains to her that intelligence agents make an art form of hedging their bets in reports. Both women are wearing slightly funner shades of lipstick than usual, which is cute, like they dressed up for each other. Carrie then—with unusual deference (a nice touch, showing how even fearless assholes like Carrie and Dar are a little nervous around this woman)—advises her to let the President know she’s unconvinced.
As Keane agrees to this, we see Dar Adal in a limo outside, eavesdropping on every word.
Saul sits alone in his sister’s living room, staring at the cigarette case. Then his phone buzzes—and he puts on his jacket and leaves. It’s nighttime, and from the silence, he seems to be the only one out. He stares up at the settlement, then walks away, across the street, and out of what seems to be some sort of gate into a desert—presumably, he’s now left the settlement. A police car stops and he gets in. “Get down,” the driver instructs him, and he lies down across the backseat.
Carrie arrives home, and Quinn is standing just outside his own entrance, watching. He has his gun in his hands and he stands outside, watching the room across the street where the man went, like a guard.
So the question is: is he losing his mind? Or is someone watching Carrie? (Or both, I suppose.)
This was a slow episode, but it certainly looks like it’ll pick up soon. Meanwhile, the show’s critique of Islamophobia and oppression against Arabs in the Middle East is, if anything, picking up steam. I like it, though I still find it odd that Saul is the mouthpiece for it.
Really, though, I must admit I’m hungering for action. And not Quinn getting fucked up due to his own bad choices, but like, you know, something SUSPENSEFUL. A kidnapping. A car chase. And yes, I realize this makes me a Lowest Common Denominator type audience member, but I somewhat miss the Homeland that used to not only keep me awake but keep my heart in my throat.
On the other hand, adding a terrorism plot to this season would utterly ruin the point they’re making: that it’s the paranoia, not the actual terrorism, that may be the true threat. However, that doesn’t mean Dar (for example) can’t break bad and cause a little excitement. So I’m hoping for that.