Homeland Recap: 6×10 “The Flag House”

The pace of human change is slow, as I remarked last week–but it can still happen. This week, we see Carrie’s priorities, however unevenly, shift towards Franny.

Previously on Homeland: Dar was frustrated that Keane was a “Gold Star Mom”; Max got a job at what turned out to essentially be a company of professional internet trolls, where Conlin had been right before he died, and run by nasty right-wing talk show host Brett O’Keefe; Keane and her team wanted to get Dar Adal by revealing the story of the ever-annoying Allison, which would also get Saul in trouble; a social worker named Christine determined that Franny should be taken away from Carrie and Carrie got approved for a visit with her. Finally, Astrid was shot to death by the white nationalist terrorist who set up Sekou after Quinn took the bullets out of her gun, and Quinn confronted Dar and used him to find the terrorist.

It’s morning, and Quinn, his face all banged up, is at the wheel. He takes out one of his stolen guns and hides it in his pocket (grimacing with pain from his still open, never treated bullet wound, by the way—Quinn pretty much just lives life like he’s permanently on a mission in the desert somewhere without access to basics like, I don’t know, coverup and/or doctors). Then he walks into the fairly nondescript diner, sits at the counter, and stares at the young waitress. “I know you,” he says. She recognizes him delightedly as “Johnny” and reminds him of her name: “Nicky.” He returns her hug, but looks very uncomfortable. She asks after people named Sean and Dario, and it basically seems that he used to be a regular here, not only a regular but part of a group of regulars. She takes his aphasia, dirtiness, and visible injuries totally in stride. Plus, she makes a cryptic comment about how the “latest crew” is “the worst,” and remarks that her husband is not a soldier. So basically, you can surmise that Quinn used to come here with fellow agents or soldiers, and that somehow, there may even be continuity between his connection to the diner and what our black-hatted terrorist friend is up to. (I really wish he had a name; it’s so annoying to recap, and Black Hat Guy is getting old.)

Finally she gets worried about Quinn and asks if he’s OK, but he snaps that he’s fine and gets up to go. She’s still smiling sweetly if a little disappointedly, and tells him it was great to see him again. He touches her arm as he says good-bye, as if to apologize.

Next thing you know he is driving through a classic suburban neighborhood, as kids play in a backyard. He parks the car by an unassuming white house with an American flag hanging outside.

Meanwhile, at Carrie’s house, Max is excitedly explaining to Carrie all about his discoveries at Trolls & Co. She’s apparently not familiar with the word “sock puppets” either, like where have these people been? Clearly not hanging out on the same websites that I do, let’s put it that way. (For anyone not familiar with the term, if you want to read an absolutely fascinating story about sock puppets, read this novel-length expose of a woman who created racist sockpuppets to troll herself in a long-con attempt to become a big-name Harry Potter fan.) Carrie is too busy packing up Franny’s stuff to care about this—apparently there’s a car coming to take her to a deposition, then comes her scheduled visit with Franny. Max pleads that this is basically setting up a vast domestic propaganda machine, which is illegal if Dar’s involved. Carrie emerges from her Franny fog long enough to tell Max that he shouldn’t go back, that it’s too dangerous, and that she’s about to take Dar down anyway.

Saul walks through the sidewalks in what appears to be a largely Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, nervously darting looks behind him. Way to be cool, Saul. Did you really survive for decades as a spy with this poor of an acting talent? He shakes his tails by ducking into first one jewelry store and then into another across the street, where he goes into a vestibule in the back and announces to the security camera that he’s here to see Pesach.

He’s buzzed into a workroom in the back, where someone greets him with a black bag and the news that Pesach’s abroad. They clear everyone else out of the room, and Saul checks the contents of the bag: a passport, burner phone, and a gun. Once Saul produces a card with what appears to be a password on it (“You can’t fall off the middle”), he also receives a nice little envelope full of fat, shiny diamonds.

Carrie’s getting out of her black car when her driver offers her his card—and then, just as she leaves, calls out to her that she might want to confirm her three o’clock at Children’s Services, and speeds away. She calls Christine, and Christine—who is staring at a yellow sticky note; I’m not sure if this is significant, unless Dar Adal now communicates with sticky notes—confirms that she was just about to reschedule the three o’clock visit because Franny’s going to the doctor with a slight fever. Carrie almost asks her more but then thinks better of it and thanks her. She enters the courthouse, where it turns out Rob is waiting anxiously for her. On their way into the deposition, she asks if he sent the car for her, and he says no.

In the deposition room, the solicitor general, Pallis, greets Carrie and starts to explain how they’re going to do the deposition and discuss her discovery of the situation with Allison in Berlin. Carrie, barely listening, asks if his department ordered a car for her. She explains that her assistant got a call to expect a car, and Pallis, puzzled but not particularly alarmed, just says that he didn’t order it. As the videographer recites some introductory information, Carrie keeps thinking about this, and finally—visibly—comes to the realization that she can’t do the deposition.

She takes her stuff and rushes out. Rob follows her into the hallway to demand what’s going on, grabbing her arm with what I would describe as mild anger. Mild or no, it’s basically the first time he’s displayed any personality whatsoever. He asks what to tell Keane, and Carrie says to tell her Carrie’s kid is sick and she can’t see her. I immediately thought Carrie was basically blackmailing Keane, saying that if Keane didn’t help her with this issue that she wouldn’t help with the deposition. Turns out I was a little too cynical. But anyway, outside the courthouse, a teary-eyed Carrie calls the number on her mysterious driver’s card and says simply, “Tell Dar Adal he wins,” and that she wants to see her daughter.

When Rob calls Keane to tell her what’s going on, Keane realizes that it’s not a coincidence that Dar is waiting outside her office for an unscheduled meeting. They decide he must have gotten to Carrie somehow, and Pallis says that if she goes through the Justice Department, they can approve a deal with Saul to get his testimony instead. Rob agrees to coordinate, and Keane, back in her own suite, asks for Dar to be sent in.

Dar comes in and explains that the bruise on his face is from a fight with an old friend who thought Dar was responsible for something he didn’t do. Keane, with a hilariously dubious face, says only, “Really?” Dar answers, “It happens.” Then he pulls an envelope out of his pocket and says he has the names for the cabinet positions that she asked for. Keane takes one look at them and practically rolls her eyes. “Three candidates I would never consider for any position at any time.” Tell us how you really feel, Keane. Then she sits back, spreading her legs like a dude on the subway, and says, “You think you know better than me.” He says he does, when it comes to the security of the country. She asks if feeding her bad intelligence and leaking false reports qualifies as keeping America safe. She asks if his endgame is for her to come around to his point of view, or resign, or what.

Finally she gets up and delivers a line that enjoyably resembles the classic Center Stage insult: “I am the next president of the United States. Sixty million people voted for me. Who the hell voted for you?” “Nobody,” Dar answers calmly. But then he basically threatens her: “I have a constituency too. Don’t go to war with your own national security establishment.” Furious, Keane shakes her head and says she believes in the country’s movement towards the light, and that she won’t be held hostage by him.

Dar, not at all intimidated, stands up too, his nose barely a foot from hers. (Like the mature adult that I am, I totally yelled “Kiss!” at the screen.) Keane says, “This moment, right now, is when I decided to put your ass in jail.” Uh, not to ruin your big moment or anything, but I’m pretty sure you’d already set that wheel in motion way before this meeting, Keane.

Dar, barely outside of the suite and still totally in hearing distance of the Secret Service agents lining the hallway, calls Brett and outright says that he wasn’t able to persuade Keane the way he’d hoped to. “Time to weaponize some information,” Brett declares. Shouldn’t Dar wait till he’s at least out of the building for this? Maybe get ahold of a secure line? He’s like, the worst spy ever.

Back in the ‘burbs, a cute little kid rings the doorbell at the house Quinn’s surveilling, and then sprints over to Quinn and demands his promised payment. Quinn gives the kid a little life lesson before handing it over, saying, “Next time, you ask for cash up front.” Then he gets out of the dar and walks right around to the back, where he pulls a hidden key out of the outdoor fireplace (confidently enough that we know he knew it was there) and lets himself in. An alarm beeps, but he just walks right over and enters a code to disarm it.

In a golden-lit scene, he’s immediately tackled by a couple dudes who pull him away from the alarm and into a briefing. It’s apparently some sort of hazing ritual; he just brushes himself off and calls them fucking assholes. The briefing starts, as a guy who apparently in charge announces a bus is coming to get them in 90 minutes, because they found Al-Shabaab.

Back in reality, Quinn stands in the briefing room, all alone. So apparently, whatever Black Hat Guy is up to, Quinn has been involved in a related mission. Interesting!

Then a car door slams shut right outside. He peers through the blinds, sees a group of men heading towards the house, and re-arms the alarm. He’s about to escape out the garage when he sees that the van parked inside is a “Medina Medley” van, the same brand of van that Sekou was driving when he was blown up.

Carrie gets a call from Christine, who apologizes and says that it wasn’t actually Franny who was sick, but another girl at the home. “It was an honest mistake,” she says, which literally no one would say unless it wasn’t. They set up a new meeting for the next day, and just then Carrie’s doorbell rings. It’s Keane, with her army of Secret Service agents.

Keane and Carrie face each other in her living room. Keane says she has some idea why Carrie didn’t go through with the deposition, and Carrie simply says her priorities shifted. Keane gives what is becoming her trademark sarcastic look at this lame answer. She tells Carrie about her meeting with Dar. Apparently the names on the envelope were the names of people who signed letters denouncing her during the campaign. She says Dar must have gotten to Carrie just like he got to Majid Javadi and asks what Dar’s holding over Carrie’s head. On Carrie’s hesitation, Keane realizes it’s Franny. Carrie denies it, and Keane says, “Don’t lie to me.” Carrie accuses Keane of trying to strong-arm her, and Keane just gives her a scornful look, and says, “So this is all fine with you. He gets a free pass.” She reminds Carrie that Dar is responsible for the murder of Carrie’s own client and a federal agent, but Carrie repeats that she can’t, and leaves.

Ooh, it’s Mira! Yay! Whenever she’s onscreen she just brings a little breath of humanity into the proceedings. At the moment, she’s enjoying a peaceful cup of coffee at a fancy restaurant when a waitress arrives with an envelope. It’s a note from Saul, who asks her to follow his directions if she can find it in her heart, for an “absolutely private meeting.” He has her pay, emerge, and turn right on Central Park West, where she’ll be picked up by a silver Range Rover. We see Mira following his directions, and getting yanked forward and across town by the Range Rover. It lets her out at a hotel, where a random woman directs her inside and the doorman tells her to go to 16A. Shaking her head, Mira keeps following the trail.

She arrives in 16A to find an empty apartment full of boxes. Saul is standing with his back to the door looking out the window. “What the hell, Saul?” she greets him. He tells her he’s in trouble and he’s about to disappear. From a remark she makes, we learn that they haven’t talked for two years. He warns her that counterintelligence is going to come looking for him, and that she shouldn’t tell them where he is. Then he tells her he’s going to “the rectory.” Mira, a little bitterly, says, “And here I thought all these years it would be our little hideaway in the Greek islands.” Saul says that thing TV characters say when they don’t want to admit that they’re being called out, “Let’s not do this.” Mira lets this slide, and Saul warns her of the tactics counter-intelligence are going to take to find him.

Mira asks if it’s about the president-elect, and if Saul’s caught in the middle between her and the intelligence community. “I’m impressed,” he says patronizingly. Then he explains that Keane is asking him to fall on his sword. Mira gives Saul a little tough love: he can’t just leave Keane to “the wolves.” Saul says he’ll be humiliated, and Mira just says, “When has that ever made the slightest bit of fucking difference to you?” She may change her tune when she realizes the issue is Saul having the sex with a Russian spy.

Carrie waits impatiently for Franny at Child Services, only to get distracted by the receptionist watching the new viral video knocking Keane’s son—Brett’s masterwork. She’s interrupted by the arrival of Franny, with Christine behind her. Carrie hugs her happily, and makes awkward eye contact with a seemingly embarrassed Christine.

In a briefing room, Keane watches the same video with an absolutely dire look on her face. She declares it Dar Adal’s handiwork, since he basically threatened her with this same thing this morning. “I want it taken down,” she says. Everyone is like uhmmm… you can’t do that actually? She corrects herself that it needs to be dealt with. An advisor named Reiko that we’ve barely seen before says they shouldn’t respond directly, but change the subject. Rob agrees, but Keane growls, “That is my son they are dragging through the mud,” and demands a press conference. Left alone, Keane stares sadly at her son’s face on the paused video.

Over at Fake News LLP, Max sees Dar walking around with Brett as Brett brags about how many views they’re getting from the Andrew Keane video. Brett explains that people hate Andrew, not really because of the nepotism issue and not even really because of the “stolen valor” issue they’re working in the video—but because they think he looks like a pussy. Yay America!

They go into Brett’s glass-walled office, and Dar catches a glimpse of Quinn’s face on Brett’s screen and asks what it is. Brett shuts the computer and casually says it’s a work in progress, then tries to distract Dar with something else. Meanwhile, Max tucks his phone into his armpit and walks by with his camera pointed at Dar. He’s so distracted that he bumps right into Trent, who looks at him suspiciously. Uh-oh.

Carrie arrives home to find Clarice waiting on her doorstep. Carrie has no idea who she is, and Clarice—you know, the hooker slash drug dealer who robbed Quinn—is amusingly insulted that Quinn didn’t tell many stories about her. She shows Carrie a video of Quinn, telling her to trust Clarice and that Clarice will lead her to him. Carrie asked where Clarice got this, which is admittedly a sort of dumb question, like, it was pretty clearly filmed with Quinn on the phone. But Clarice says, “Metro PCS.” Heh. But Carrie, who’s like five steps behind on Quinn’s storyline, asks if they shot it at Bellevue. “Honey, you are way confused,” Clarice says. She asks for her phone back and then asks Carrie if she’s coming.

Max is back at his desk when Scary Blonde Lady, accompanied by an entourage of tall enforcement types, yells his name and asks if he brought a phone onto the floor. “I don’t think so,” Max says. A quick pat-down quickly reveals this to be false. Scary Blonde Lady marches Max off to parts unknown. More very mature commentary: “Oh, he’s so dead,” I announced to my screen when I first watched this.

Saul arrives at Carrie’s place and rings the doorbell, but no one answers. Then he screams Carrie’s name, which I guess is a pretty strong sign that he’s not trying to hide from counter-intelligence anymore. When he still doesn’t get an answer, he lets himself in using the still-unrepaired hole in the basement entrance door. In his kitchen, he makes himself at home, putting on a pot of tea. How adorable! He leaves Carrie a message saying they need to talk. “Call me back. Call me back call me back,” he says with uncharacteristic anxiety. Then he hears electronic dings upstairs and goes up to investigate.

I actually almost thought he was going to find Carrie beaten up and left for dead by a vengeful Peter Quinn. But no. When he gets into the back room where the dings are coming from, he finds a magical treasure trove! Well, actually it’s a room whose walls are covered with a classic-Carrie-Mathison-style, deranged collage of investigation materials (including, somewhat hilariously, a post-it that simply has a diagram with “DAR ADAL” in the center, connected with arrows to “CIA,” “Justice,” and “NSA.” Did she really need a Post-It to remind herself that Dar is in the intelligence community?). But the tinkly music and Saul’s face of delighted wonderment makes it feel like he’s discovered a magical treasure trove. Then he opens the computer, which is somehow unlocked (just go with it), and finds the video Max managed to upload remotely waiting on the desktop. Dar’s face is fairly clear, though blurry.

Post-It with a

This just cracks me up. It’s like, why would you need to write that on a Post-It? Does she have another one that just says, like, “Elizabeth Keane –> President”?

Rob finds Keane sitting alone at her desk, watching the video yet again. He suggests that she get some rest. She’s crying. She says she knew if she mentioned him, something bad would happen, and so she’d kept his memory safe all these years; and this is the last few seconds of his life, and no one should be allowed to see it. Breaking down, she wonders, “Have these people no fucking shame?” Rob shuts the computer and says softly that they should go. She sniffs, steels herself and agrees.

Clarice and Carrie pull up to a different house in the same quiet suburban neighborhood that’s being remodeled. Clarice directs Carrie that Quinn’s on the second floor—and then drives away as soon as Carrie gets out. If I were Carrie I would be a wee bit concerned right now, but she’s not. She goes upstairs and finds Quinn at the window, with a huge rifle pointed across the street. He tells her to look, so she comes over to peer through the sightings. They can see the group in the meeting house where Carrie was before—including Black Hat Guy. “That’s him, Carrie,” Quinn says, saying it’s the guy who killed Sekou. She gasps and stares at him as he resumes his surveillance.

Conclusion

Carrie’s priorities, challenged in the last episode, shift radically in this one—only for her to find herself right back in the middle of a mission. Last week, Carrie sat in a therapist’s office as he very rightly pointed out that sometimes four-year-olds, like Franny, need to come first in her life. This week, she is forced to choose between getting Dar Adal out of commission, and not being kept from her daughter. That she chooses her daughter, even when Keane–whose trust she once valued so highly–reminds her of all the heinous acts that they’ve finally managed to start to pin on Dar, is a sign that she took it seriously.

But of course, her life isn’t so simple that she can just snap her fingers and make herself a regular old family woman. And it’s notable that it’s Quinn who pulls her back in; as soon as she’s convinced it’s really he who’s sent Clarice (or rather, as soon as she’s convinced it might be he) she is back in the game, following the trail. And similarly, Quinn meets her not (or at least, not immediately) with the recriminations she deserves for hiding what she did to him in Berlin, but with the results of his investigation. A good pair, those two: they both care so deeply about saving the country.

And for me Keane is consistently one of the highlights this season. Her strength is on display in this episode even as she allows herself rare (and very much necessary) displays of emotion. I was also personally glad to see her go back to trusting Carrie, without subjecting her to any more humiliation than I’m sure she already feels about the incredibly cringey drunk-dialing incident. Carrie’s only friends have generally been male (Saul, Max), and I really enjoyed seeing her friendship with Keane earlier in the season.

Meanwhile, poor Max has basically taken his life in his hands to get this video of Dar, he’s now in the hands of security six stories underground at like the most terrifying company like ever, and because he’s Max and no one actually cares about him, no one is even trying to rescue him yet. But he turned out to be a pretty good field agent, or at least a brave one.

And the second villain of the season (along with Dar), this shadowy internet troll company, is a preternaturally topical one. It’s so angering to think about the amount of propaganda that has flooded this country in real life, about the destruction of the value of facts, and about the way that violently racist trolls have somehow managed to make their views mainstream. If only it were as simple to stop in real life as taking down one evil company in a bunker.

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