Homeland Recap: 6×08 “Alt.Truth”

Previously on Homeland: A social worker took Franny away to a state-registered youth home after being tipped off by a Secretly Evil Dar Adal; Quinn was trapped in a safe house in the country with Astrid, after Dar Adal made a deal; Dar finally told Quinn about how Carrie woke him up to get information out of him; Javadi showed up to New York and got Saul to agree to set up a meeting between himself and the President-Elect; Keane was criticized by a vicious far-right talk show host named Brett O’Keefe.

When we open, Brett has three people on his show, one talking about his military service. Brett points out that Andrew Keane, the President-Elect’s dead son, lost a high number of men. One of his guests says that’s because Andrew Keane only cared about his own career. A man, Rudy, who’s apparently supposed to be on the show but was late, arrives offstage but tries to back out of going onstage at all.

Somehow they manage to interrupt Brett’s filming so he can come talk to Rudy. Rudy tries to give Brett back some money that he was apparently paid, but Brett says he earned it by giving them footage. He tries to convince Rudy that he’s like a hero for helping Brett shit on Andrew’s memory. He says they can’t stand back while Keane cuts back on the military and dishonors Rudy’s service. This convinces Rudy, though he still looks upset and unsure.

Meanwhile, Keane gets dressed in a sterile hotel room, looking at the picture of (presumably) Andrew in her locket.

Back at the set of Brett’s show, Brett is still on Andrew. He says Andrew usually sent his men ahead of him into enemy fire, and then brings up the date of his death, May 14th, 2007. Rudy, now among the panelists, bows his head. Brett pushes him to say what happened, since he was with Andrew that day. Rudy says they’d gone to investigate an alleged bomb factory and been pinned down by fire, and Andrew “ran past me.” “He was running away,” Brett argues. He was shot in the back, so that’s the only possible explanation. “He was definitely running,” Rudy agrees awkwardly. They both agree on one thing, though: Andrew was the opposite of the hero.

Quietly, Keane puts her locket on, tucking it under her shirt. She emerges to a briefing from Rob, and joins a conference room rull of military types to get an update on the status of forces.

Saul walks by a line of bundled-up people waiting outside a church, and walks in to a soup kitchen. Down in the basement, he greets a woman serving food as an old acquaintance, and joins Javadi at a table. Javadi’s upset that Saul doesn’t have a meeting set up yet, but says it’s just because Keane is busy. Javadi complains that his hand is in agony and he has flea bites. Saul says he doesn’t have a choice but to stay here. Javadi presses Saul, asking if there is anything he should know (after a tiresomely metaphorical opening line about how they’ve spent their whole lives “seeing around corners,” like, get over yourself, you weird murderer man). Saul simply says Javadi doesn’t have many friends here, and Javadi, who’s figured some things out, says acidly: “Neither, it seems, do you.”

Saul arrives at Carrie’s house to find Max putting in a security system. He DOESN’T REMEMBER MAX’S NAME. Uhh, way harsh, Tai. Saul asks Max if he can see Carrie, but Max says it’s not a good idea because of the “black dog”: depression. What a great metaphor.

Carrie is sitting in Franny’s bed, headphones in her ears, tears on her cheeks. Saul tells her he’s sorry about Franny and pretends to be interested in her situation for long enough to find out that she can’t appeal the decision so has to comply with the court-ordered therapy and try to convince the judge she’s changed. Carrie looks totally broken. Saul sits with her and awkwardly brings up the fact that he needs help. Luckily, Carrie has a habit of asking people for help at the worst time, so I feel like she really can’t judge. But she does say tearfully that she swore to herself that she would be different, and it didn’t work. She screams, “Unfit mother, unfit mother, it’s all I can hear in my head.” She sobs that she needs to see her, to know she’s all right. Saul, admirably calm through all of this, nods quietly.

Peter and Astrid walk through a trail in the woods, Peter struggling to climb over a log because of what he calls his “fucking dropfoot.” She comments that at least he looks a hell of a lot better than when she saw him in the hospital. He doesn’t remember. She says with a smile, “That’s fine, don’t worry about it.” He says haltingly, trying with his broken speech to express a thought that seems to have come from his earlier, undamaged, sharply intelligent brain: “My dreams have a realness. My… reality has a dreaminess. And my thoughts keep disappearing.” It’s actually very sad to watch. Astrid suddenly points out that he talks more now, and says simply that she likes it. Poor Astrid. She loves Quinn—and Quinn loves Carrie. After a moment, he apologizes for yesterday, which Astrid accepts graciously. He asks her how long she can stay, and she answers, two weeks.

Back at home after their walk, Astrid laces up for a run, and Peter, his eye still blackened, says it’s fine. She makes a remark about shopping in town after. “And if you’re planning another jailbreak, take a warm coat this time. Or the rental car. Keys are in the kitchen.” He promises to give it some serious thought, with a half-smile. Astrid is such the Cool Girl right now. Not that I don’t like her but jeez, she needs to stand up for herself (which to be fair she does, to excellent effect, later in this episode).

As soon as he’s alone, Quinn springs into action, accompanied by the Dissonant Chords of A Character With a Dangerous Plan. He starts rummaging in the kitchen, presumably looking for those keys, but instead finds a fat pile of hundred-dollar bills and his assortment of meds. And a passport—one that has a picture of him, named David Ekley.

He emerges from the house into a wintry scene and starts rummaging in the rental car, too. He finds what looks like a sat phone, and then a blatantly Chekhovian gun. He takes out the bullets from the gun, leaves the car, and heaves the bullets out into the river.

Up in Harlem, Carrie and Saul pull into a parking spot across the street from a multi-story house. Saul gives Carrie the scoop on the house, which is where Franny’s staying: there’s a woman there who’s been fostering for twenty years, with nary a complaint. Of course he immediately has to physically restrain Carrie from doing the stupidest thing possible, which is climbing out of the car to see Franny. This woman is always her own downfall, isn’t she?

Still staring at Franny, Carrie asks Saul to tell her what he needs to tell her. He tells her the story of his mission with Nefisi, and she reveals that she was the one to recommend him, so I guess she’s not trying to pretend she doesn’t work with Keane anymore. Anyway, Saul reveals that Nefisi had help from inside their own government. Carrie exposits for our benefit, “The deal with Iran has been formally adopted. It’s settled policy. Any attempt to undermine it—” “Treason,” Saul completes for her. He says he has proof from Javadi, and Javadi is here. Carrie’s shocked, and when Saul asks her to set up a meeting with Javadi and Keane, she looks concerned. She asks which elements were helping Nefisi, and says that Dar Adal visited her to warn her the day before Sekou’s van blew up. Saul picks up on her language and asks if that means that Sekou wasn’t behind it. Carrie says it’s “extremely fucking doubtful,” and tells him about Conlin’s death. Saul asks why she didn’t come to him. “I didn’t know whose side you were on,” Carrie admits. There is a sad moment of silence.

In a grocery store, Quinn is helping himself to meats-on-a-stick at the sample table. “Five’s the limit, pal,” says a store employee. Hee! Quinn suddenly catches sight of Black Cap Dude (now in a black baseball cap instead of the more wintry one he seems to have been wearing before) walking by Astrid. She says “Sorry” as her cart almost collides with him. Quinn ducks behind a display and watches in alarm as Black Cap Dude checks out and leaves. This is complete with Tense Music and also some Unnecessary Flashbacks to Quinn’s last encounter with the guy, like thanks show, I think we get it, actually. When Astrid calls out to him, a bright innocent look on her face, he helps her bag the groceries, in silence.

As they’re driving home, Quinn darts suspicious looks at Astrid. They drive right by a motel where he can see Black Cap Dude and his truck in the parking lot. he tells Astrid it’s nothing.

Back home, they bring the groceries in—Astrid, in a nice touch, is carrying twice as many bags as the still-recovering Quinn. It’s still quiet, and Quinn is still staring at her like she might at any moment start glowing red like a Cylon. Then he suddenly grabs her, holding so hard that he hurts her, and demands to know whose house they’re staying at. She holds her arm in pain and says, “Friends of Dar Adal.” He asks if he’s going to be allowed to stay here forever, and Astrid says she doesn’t know. He starts yelling more questions at her, and she says she didn’t come here to be yelled at. Then Quinn—still yelling, for the record—asks why she did come here then. Astrid simply says that Dar called her and said he needed help. Quinn doesn’t get it. Astrid says it’s the same reason she risked her life for him in Islamabad: “Because I’m your friend, goddammit! More than that!” Quinn enunciates meanly, “We fucked each other because we were lonely. That doesn’t make us friends.” Oh my God. Ouch.

Astrid says he doesn’t mean that, but Peter says he does. He starts to follow her as she heads for the door, demanding to know who else has been sent here, and what she was saying to the guy in the supermarket. She, of course, has no memory of saying “Sorry” to a random dude she passed in the market, and says he’s not making sense. When she won’t move aside, he screams at her to move and legit punches her in the stomach, leaving her winded on the floor as he takes the car keys and drives off.

Wow. Not a proud day for Peter Quinn.

He pulls into the parking lot of the motel and settles in for a good old-fashioned surveillance, slouching in his seat.

At the shelter, Javadi’s playing chess and getting beaten, badly. Just then he gets a text of some sort and leaves, remarking that “Duty calls.” He emerges from the building, then enters a car with its hazard lights flashing. “You,” he says when he recognizes Carrie. “Yeah, me. Get in,” she says curtly.

Small talk is tough when one of you is an ex-CIA agent and one of you is an Iranian operative. There’s an awkward silence until Javadi asks why there isn’t anyone still at the agency who Saul trusts. Carrie explains that the fewer people who know about this, the safer Javadi will be. Javadi does the thing that he likes to do, where he waxes poetic in entirely unnecessary ways to get his point across. Something about he and Saul having lived for their careers, and how painful it is to learn that “we no longer make the weather.” Anyway, Carrie points out that Saul shouldn’t be underestimated, and that people died for the nuclear deal. Apparently this refers to Brody, which… I have to admit I found season 3 embarrassing and rarely think about it, so I don’t remember what this means at all. Javadi reveals that he’s had Brody buried in some cemetery for martyrs, and will tell Carrie where it is.

Over the river, Keane waits in what appears to be a hangar or some other industrial space. “I don’t like this,” she remarks, pointing out that Javadi organized militias against US troops in Iraq. She wonders if he’s keeping them in the dark—or being kept in the dark himself. Saul says it’s because his cover’s blown, so there’s no reason for him to lie to them, and he’s asking for political asylum. Just then, Carrie and Javadi arrive, and Javadi takes the opportunity to drily repeat the words “Madam President-Elect” like they’re hilarious. Wimmenz as presidents! What will those crazy Americans think of next?

Oh wait, we will NEVER DO THAT.

Javadi stands before Keane, who politely thanks him for the risk he is taking to be here. He, in turn, thanks her for the political risk she’s taking. Then he suddenly denies everything Saul has told her. He says he doesn’t work for the CIA, just talks to Saul sometimes. Then he says there is a concerted effort to get her to withdraw the deal, efforts by Israel and people inside the government, as Saul said—but that the concerns are valid. Saul, remaining calm but obviously perturbed, explains that Javadi told him the exact opposite. Javadi says it’s only because he wouldn’t get a hearing if he did. He condescendingly says that Saul’s optimism is one of his good qualities. Saul insists that he’s seen the evidence on Javadi’s phone, but Keane’s stony face reveals that this is not going to end well. Javadi insists that Iraq is not their friend. Saul asks her not to listen to him, but Keane hisses, “You brought me here to listen to him.”

Carrie chases Keane out to the parking lot and begs to talk to her. She insists that the only explanation is that Javadi is lying. Keane wins Line of the Week handily with her comeback: “No it’s not. I can think of others. Including one where you were wrong, and I was wrong to have ever listened to you. Good-bye, Carrie.” Wow. That was a BURN. And Carrie, who has been insulted by her fair share of foes and erstwhile friends, does not shake it off easily; she nearly cries as Keane leaves.

Meanwhile, Saul follows Javadi outside, demanding to know what happens. “My God, Saul, you have lost your power,” Javadi says. He says he doesn’t want to spend his whole life looking over his shoulder. “Dar?” Saul says, his voice shaking. Javadi says he had to go with the sure thing, and pushes Saul to the ground. Carrie runs over to see if he’s OK, and he says he’s “fuckin’ miles away from all right.”

Dar is sitting in Brett’s studio, watching a video from Rudy’s helmet. The video is chaotic, but it shows a lot of soldiers under intense fire, followed by an explosion. A man runs towards the camera, yelling, “Get out of my fuckin’ way.” Brett explains that this is Andrew Keane. But the camera turns towards him, and shows him trying to drag a man away from the raging fire, until he gets shot. Dar doesn’t get it, but then Brett plays a rough cut of a hit video, interspersing pictures of Keane with her son, excerpts from the interview filmed earlier, and excerpts from Rudy’s video—cut to make it seem that Andrew was simply running away. Brett proudly mouths along with the closing line, where Rudy agrees that Andrew was the opposite of a hero. Dar thinks about this for awhile, then says only, “Is this the only copy of the footage?” He doesn’t look like he enjoys it—but then he has Brett play the video again.

Quinn’s at the motel when he sees Black Cap Dude arrive at his room. He gets out of the car with a big weapon stick thing (oh NO, Quinn!) and goes over to the man just before he lets himself in and knocks him out with the stick. Then he shoves the guy inside and realizes it’s not Black Cap Dude at all.

He drives back to the house where he left Astrid, looking panicky, and lopes on his uneven feet into the house, calling for Astrid. He apparently starts to think she’s left him (and I started yelling “She’s dead! She’s so totally dead!” which, to be fair, I had been yelling at intervals pretty much all episode), and sits down on the landing, calling himself stupid. Then Astrid comes over to the landing, looking fairly displeased with him. “You stayed,” he marveled. She says drily that she didn’t have much of a choice since all his neighbors were gone. She gets her phone back from him, and her car keys, and he asks her not to leave. He says he fucked up, and tries to explain that he followed the wrong person.

Astrid, who is still living in a world of normal relationships and boundaries that Carrie and Quinn left behind a long time ago, says, “That’s it? That’s your apology. You punched me.” He admits it was bad, but she isn’t convinced, and even when he shouts that he can’t do it without her, she says, “Oh, you’re mad now, huh? You gonna come at me again?” Quinn thinks he can make it up to her by inviting her to come at him, to which Astrid is like, are you serious? They stare at each other for one long moment, as Quinn realizes that she wants something more from him, and then, I think, realizes that she’s probably going to stay after all.

“So, what now?” he asks. She asks him if he’ll be able to stay out here, and make a life for himself. He says he doesn’t know, but that he’ll try. She tells him that he’s different than he once was, and that he’ll have to accept it—and Quinn admits that, which is wild. “Say something nice now, Peter,” Astrid says, as she admits that she’s not going to leave him. “You’re my friend,” he says. Astrid gets a little annoyed at that rather lame attempt at niceness, and calls him an idiot, but sort of affectionately—and then a red light glows behind her.

Peter tries to pull her down, but gets shot in the forehead. Astrid hides behind the bookcase in time to escape another blast of gunfire. As the real Black Cap Dude approaches the house, with his gun, Astrid kneels over Quinn and tells him he’s only been grazed—and then that she’s going to get a gun from the car. Quinn wakes up and tries to form the words to tell Astrid what he did to the gun, but it’s too late; she’s on her way out of the house, as Black Cap Dude sneaks around towards the front.

Quinn tries to get out towards Astrid, who’s crouching by the car with her gun. She leans over; he yells to her to run; and she stands up to shoot the attacker. The gun doesn’t go off, and she’s shot down (twice, once point-blank) as Quinn screams her name. Black Cap Dude starts coming after him, chasing him through the house and then out the back door, until finally Quinn is—apparently—shot and flops down into the river where he threw the bullets earlier. Black Cap Dude stares at the calm surface for awhile after aiming a few shots in there for good measure, and finally gives up and leaves.

A few seconds later Quinn pops up with a gasp, his face covered in blood, and moves stealthily towards solid land.


Well, as I said, I was announcing to all and sundry that Astrid was so dead as soon as this episode started, and I was right. I found Astrid’s extraordinarily melodramatic death somewhat sentimentalized, but the episode overall was interesting and suspenseful.

And while Astrid always felt like sort of a plot device to me, she was a very useful plot device here, showing that there are people who live as spies without veering as far into the psychic deep end as Carrie and Quinn. The fact that she actually takes offense to his hitting her and demands an apology was such an eye-opening moment to me. Can you imagine Quinn or Carrie getting mad at each other for that? They’re both so utterly embedded in a mindset where the mission is paramount, where violence is de rigueur, and where anyone could at any moment become your enemy, that they would never even think to apologize to each other for that. (And to be clear, I’m not saying that’s a good thing. It’s just a thing.)

A couple of really good moments I noticed:

  • Quinn admitting that he is different now, but keeps hoping he’s not. If he can take the step of accepting that change, we might actually have a chance of seeing a less tortured, miserable Quinn by the time the season’s over (well, except he’ll be nursing his guilt over Astrid and probably a healthy grudge over Carrie).
  • Carrie losing Keane’s trust. We both know that this isn’t really about Saul being wrong about Javadi, but about the giant, embarrassing mistake Carrie made by calling Keane last week and begging her to use her influence to get Franny back to Carrie. And Carrie looks utterly humiliated. I really felt for her.

I look forward to seeing what Quinn’s next step is, now that he’s alone in the woods at a house that the increasingly terrifying Dar Adal put him in.

Brett’s storyline, meanwhile, is so on-the-nose that it’s difficult to even enjoy watching. It’s interesting; the writers probably thought that this would be a realistic storyline. Right-wing fanatic bloggers making up lies about the president-elect, which then go viral, beyond all capability for fact-checking or corrections to ever fix the damage that they do. Pizza sex rings, death panels, “we replaced Obamacare with the Affordable Care Act”…the list goes on. I bet when they conceived of this they thought it was going to be so very Ripped From the Headlines. Instead, we have a president who actually watches the fanatic right-wingers and then repeats their claims on Twitter with absolutely no interest in fact-checking. And who could have come up with that?

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