With some closure for Carrie and Quinn, and the clues about what’s happening falling into place, this episode sets us up for a game-changing finale.
Previously on Homeland: Astrid got shot at the cozy little cabin where she was taking care of Quinn; Max figured out that it was probably Dar Adal or one of his agencies illegally paying for O’Keefe to create a massive domestic propaganda machine; Max got caught filming Dar Adal’s visit to Vast Right-Wing Propaganda Incorporated and got in major trouble; Dar figured out that O’Keefe was creating a sock puppet under Quinn’s identity; Keane declared that she was the next president of the United States, but Dar still warned her not to go to war with the national security establishment; O’Keefe published a nasty video about Keane’s dead son, and she was PISSED; and Quinn caught sight of the Medina Medley van that Sekou was driving the day he blew up, in the garage of a house he used to stage missions out of in the suburbs; and he brought Carrie to a deserted house where he had a sniper gun pointed at the staging house, and revealed that he’d found the man who placed the bomb in Sekou’s van.
Up in the abandoned attic where Quinn still has his gun trained on the staging house, Carrie asks Quinn if he brought her here to watch him shoot Black Hat Dude. Quinn intones slowly, “That’s not why I brought you here.” Carrie—who up till an hour ago thought Quinn was still at Bellevue—asks him what the hell is going on. Quinn, ignoring her, explains that the man in the black hat “blew up the boy in the van.” He has proof: the real van, he explains, stuttering severely, is in the garage across the street. Carrie promises that Quinn doesn’t have to shoot the guy, that she knows the Solicitor General.
Quinn eye-rolls that the van is his little gift to Carrie, but “the guy is mine.” Carrie asks why. Quinn won’t answer at first—he even declares he doesn’t care if he’s tried for murder—but Carrie says she does. Quinn makes a “Well, that’s rich” face, at which point Carrie, bless her self-congratulating heart, starts ranting about how much she cares about him, how she visited him in the hospital and took him into her home. She even blames him for losing Franny. Good lord, does she not HEAR herself?
Quinn cuts the absurdity off by telling her she had no choice since she made him that way by waking him up from his coma. He pounds the wall and cries, “It’s always the mission, the mission, the mission.” As he gets angrier and angrier, and Carrie starts to cry, he says she made him into a monkey and starts hooting and ooh-ooh-ahh-ahh-ing like a monkey himself. Carrie tries to explain that thousands of people were going to die, but he just screeches over her and then finally runs over to the corner and falls silent, leaving Carrie holding back tears in the middle of the room. It could easily be a major chewing-the-scenery moment, but it’s actually very affecting seeing Carrie come face-to-face with the ugliness of what she did, even if it was perhaps necessary, and seeing Quinn reveal the sad truth about how he sees himself.
On the sidewalks of Manhattan, Saul shoves his way through a vehement “Not My President” protest and into the hotel where Keane is giving a press conference. She is in the middle of saying that it’s not political speech or a protected opinion, but a deliberate lie. Ooh, yikes. It may be true that certain types of speech are not actually protected (even a public figure can sue for libel, you know, like Melania just did), but you don’t really want to go around saying that there’s some speech you don’t want to protect as President. And, of course, having now seen the finale, we know this isn’t just a random misstep on her part.
Keane goes on to call the cowards who made the video to come forward. A reporter asks about the petition to remove her son’s body from Arlington, which is horrible, and sends a tremor through Keane even though she responds strongly. Someone else asks about a man named “Johnson” withdrawing his name from consideration for Secretary of Defense, which clearly takes Keane by surprised; another asks if she’ll resign. She makes it very clear that she won’t.
As she stalks out of the conference, she scolds Rob mildly for not telling her about Johnson’s withdrawal. When she sees Saul waiting down the hall, she sighs in exasperation and then walks over to him to ask him what he has to tell her. He says it’s about the video of her son.
In the attic of the house where he’s been watching Black Hat Man, Quinn packs up his bag and tries to sneak downstairs. But Carrie stands in front of the door, trying to convince him not to follow the team by himself. He says he’s left her all the information she needs to get in the house and find the evidence of the van, but Carrie has more to say. “It’s true, what you said last night about Berlin,” she says, tearing up again. She says that she told herself he would have wanted her to do it, but she should have told him about it. Quinn tries to get by her, but she persists, saying: “And it’s not just the mission. It never has been.” Quinn seems to melt almost immediately (bless his soft, soft hear) but only nods and says quietly, “You got to let me go.” After a long pause, Carrie realizes it’s true, and steps aside. Quinn walks out the door into the bright light. And yes, that is foreshadowing. Carrie closes the door, crying.
Max is sitting alone in an interrogation room, presumably still at Racist Sock Puppets Inc., when Dar and Brett peep around the corner at him from the hall. Brett remarks that Keane has called on them to come out of the shadows, and says, “Somebody calls me deplorable, I think they should say it to my face.” But Dar thinks they have bigger problems, namely Max getting Dar in trouble by filming him.
It’s kind of amazing that two such self-involved people have managed to cooperate even for three episodes.
Dar enters the interrogation room and greets Max. Max plays dumb as Dar sidles closer and closer to him, asking about the video, about where he sent it, about what he knows about Dar himself—he keeps insisting he didn’t take a video, and for a guy who is usually tucked into the tech van running the scene from the background, he does an admirable job of keeping his cool. When Dar asks about Carrie, Max smoothly admits that he knows her, but keeps denying everything else. Dar stands behind him and grabs his shoulders. At first it’s more of a friendly yet creepy massage, George W. Bush style, but then he goes for the jugular—or rather, for that pressure point under poor Max’s ear. Max takes it like a champ: all he says other than groans of pain is, “I want a lawyer.” Dar retorts, “All that tells me is you have no idea the shit you’ve landed yourself in.” I mean, he has a point: It’s not like the people who assassinated Conlin in his house are going to be providing people time to call their lawyer. But Max won’t say anything else, so Dar claps him on the shoulder and leaves him alone.
In her suite, Keane is fuming. “Shut it down,” she says, referring to O’Keefe’s boiler room. Pallis, the Solicitor General, has found out that it’s called the “Office of Policy Communications,” and that it’s using special-access security protocols. “So it’s Agency,” Keane realizes. I didn’t quite catch that the first time I watched this; I thought Dar was just carrying out some extra-curricular activities.
Just then Reiko, the advisor who is basically around just to say stuff that it doesn’t make sense to have Rob’s character say, interrupts to tell Keane that Brett O’Keefe has called to claim responsibility (or credit, in his eyes!) for the video. He wants to talk to Keane on his show that afternoon. “Which obviously you don’t want to do,” Reiko hedges. Rob says Brett is irrelevant; Pallis says he’s insane. But Keane argues that he is relevant: he gets 15 million visitors a day. Good for Keane: She recognizes something that it’s very hard for liberals to grasp, that the people going to these websites are regular people, and what was once the fringe (indeed what still looks like the fringe to us, with its angry headlines, its offensive language, its disregard for science and even for facts), has become the mainstream of conservative media.
Keane asks Saul what he thinks, and he says he doesn’t hear a plan, because just following the money is going to be slow. ‘That’s what you’ll be doing when the world rolls right over you.” God, he could be talking to the real-life Democratic party. He says they’re missing the real story: that this is the same thing that has happened in regimes the United States helped to overturn. There are “boots on the ground,” even—the protesters outside. “And it does not end well for the elected regime.” He tells her she can’t afford to stay silent. From her face, she appears to be convinced.
Out in the burbs, Carrie ventures through the gate to the back of the staging house, holding what are presumably Quinn’s directions on a slip of paper in front of her. She gets the key from the fireplace, opens the door, and unsets the alarm. Tense music plays as she wanders through the house to the garage and comes face-to-face with Sekou’s van. She opens it and gets in, and sure enough, there’s still a photo of Sekou and his sister over the visor.
Leaving the van, she goes back into the house, looking around. She comes across the room where Quinn remembered being briefed in his flashback, and stares at the mostly-erased whiteboard. Just as she flips on the light to look at it more closely, Black Hat Man totally pops out and grabs her by the neck. It was so obvious someone was gonna jump out at her and yet still so scary when it happened!
Carrie tries to fight him off, but he overpowers her, dragging her backwards into the next room, and is pretty clearly about to kill her when he gets shot in the chest: Quinn to the rescue! The attacker falls down, but Quinn’s not done: he straddles the guy and, although Carrie tries to pull him off at first, beats his head to a bloody pulp for a full thirty seconds, with incredibly disgusting squishy sound effects in the background the entire time. Carrie, rightfully, looks sick.
Max is still alone in the interrogation room when a man brings him a tray with some food. Max springs up and pleads that they’re going to kill him, and begs for help. His visitor just says, “Be sure to drink your milk,” and leaves. Max turns back towards the tray and sees that there’s a keycard tucked under the milk. The plot thickens! He swipes himself out, looks cautiously down the hall, and begins to make his way towards freedom. He makes it into the elevator with a few other randos, emerges on the ground floor, and heads straight for the exit. So far so good—but just as he seems home free, he makes the mistake of walking way too close to an opaque-windowed black van. Bad idea! The doors open and scoop him up.
Back at the house, Carrie finds Quinn sitting at the table, blood still on his face, not meeting Carrie’s eyes. Carrie tells him that Pallis is coming to personally handle “the immunity situation” for Quinn, and that she told Pallis her life had been in danger. She asks if he wants to talk about anything, like you know, how he went totally wrecking ball on that dude’s head. Quinn pulls an attitude with her, but just as she loses patience and starts to walk away, he reveals his secret: the guy killed Astrid, who was only there to take care of him. He says, “I’m so fucked up… I thought she came to hurt me. I took the bullets out of her gun.” He concludes sadly he killed her.
Carrie, intensely sympathetic, insists that he didn’t and pleads that he needs to tell Pallis all this. Quinn says actually she doesn’t understand, this is just what he does, because there’s nothing in his heart. “Shut the fuck up,” Carrie yells. Then, more quietly, she admits that he changed after the stroke, and that she’s sorry for what she did to him. He says she didn’t do anything, and that he’s always been this way. (I wrote a post last season about the paradox that Quinn’s guilt is both the reason he thinks he’s such a terrible person and the reason he is actually a lot less frightening than Carrie.)
Keane and her entourage arrive at the set of Real. Truth., to be greeted by a very pleased-with-himself Brett. He makes some joke about bringing an army with her, but Keane is having none of it; she suggests in a clipped voice that they start.
Max’s kidnappers take him out of the van, with Max struggling the whole time, and bring him to Dar Adal, who’s waiting for him in some sort of storage room. Dar says they have a friend in common: Peter Quinn. And that Quinn is very active on social media now, which is weird. Max doesn’t say anything, and Dar remarks with irritation, “If I wanted to hurt you, you’d be hurt by now. You must know that.” I mean, just looking at the way that dude’s face looks like an evil grinning skull, I would have to say it’s a pretty believable remark.
Max is apparently convinced as well, because he agrees that Quinn is too secretive and not a tech user, for it to be realistic that he has an active social media account. Max thinks he’s probably being impersonated by Trolls & Co.. Dar sighs in satisfaction. He tells Max that the only place the account exists is on Brett’s computer, and asks Max if he can get in there. Max says no, and Dar says, “Not even for Quinn?” Which magically jogs Max’s memory about an alternative strategy he could use.
Well! Looks like pretty much everyone in the whole Homeland universe is a sucker for Peter Quinn’s sad blue eyes.
Meanwhile, Keane and Brett are filming their conversation. Brett welcomes her, and remarks that usually she prefers “the loving arms of the mainstream media.” Keane gets right down to it: he made a video that viciously slandered her dead son. Brett insists it’s true, and asks if she’s seen it. Keane—poor Keane—says she’s seen it “more than a dozen times.” You can just picture her, watching it over and over again in her office, all alone. But Brett plays it one more time, just for good measure. He even has the grace to look slightly embarrassed to cause her that kind of pain.
But he’s not the kind of guy to be stopped for long by mere embarrassment, and he pushes her whether she thinks the people in the video are lying. Keane insists that right after the footage, Andrew was killed pulling someone out of the line of fire. Brett says he produced the video because people were upset by the injustice that no one believed them about Andrew because his mother was powerful. “They were voiceless, they were hurting,” he proclaims. Yeah, we all know how much conservative pundits care about voiceless, hurting people! Keane points out that a lot of his commenters seem to have commented on the video without even having had time to watch it after it was uploaded, and that most of them are bots. She deliberately states the exact name, location and nature of the Office of Policy Communication—and then accuses Brett of being funded by the same establishment he claims to despise: the government. She says it will go to the Attorney General, and he will be prosecuted and shut down.
Brett is barely holding back his excitement that he got her to threaten him with censorship on-air. Then, just to drive home that he’s got the upper hand here (and despite the fact that Keane is ten times more articulate and poised and right than he is, I think he really does), he takes a call from someone named Bill and asks, “Are you real?” Heh. That is a good one. Bill rants about Andrew getting special treatment. Then he adds, “Your son runs like a fucking girl.” Well! Bill is just a treat, isn’t he!
Keane leaves, telling Brett that whenever he’s trapped in a lie he raises his voice and changes the subject. Unfortunately, as Saul predicted, I think the world did just roll right over her while she tried to keep the conversation centered on facts.
Pallis arrives at the house, where a team of some sort of law enforcement has already arrived. He has been warned that there’s an issue with the body, which… yeah, if by “issue” you mean “his head is now a hamburger.” Apparently the guy’s name on his ID was “Portius Belli,” which is inspired and hilarious, IMO. I mean, imagine the kind of self-important, aggressive dude who would pick that name.
Pallis reproves Carrie that this guy could’ve been a major witness, and she can’t really argue with that. But she brings him to the van to see all the evidence they do still have. She points out that Quinn handed them an actual, prosecutable case, and confirms with Pallis that his immunity deal covers everything.
Back at Real. Truth., Brett waxes dramatic for his audience, declaring that he “met power today.” In the back of a black car, Keane and Saul listen, ruefully. Saul comforts Keane that she probably changed some minds, but couldn’t have expected to change Brett’s. She turns off the radio and thanks Saul for coming forward, despite how protective he is of the agency (and despite her plan to screw him over, he ruefully points out).
They’re interrupted by one of her escorts telling her that the protest has grown, but Keane insists that they still drive to the front of the hotel. As what seems like hundreds of people protest on the street, Keane looks tensely out the window. After a few blocks, someone jumps over a police barrier, just in time to get hit by Keane’s car. Keane takes sobbing horrified breaths as the cars speed into the garage. Saul, respectfully, wakes her up from her reverie with a “Madam President-Elect?”
Carrie finds Quinn in front of the same whiteboard she was looking at before, and tells him the update on his immunity deal. Quinn ignores this and leans close to the letters. Carrie, ever impatient, demands, ”What are you looking at?” Then, about half a second later, “You want to tell me?” Like jeez, Carrie, calm down. Quinn can’t even form a single word in the time it took you to escalate to flat-out irritation.
Quinn points out one of the letters and asks Carrie what she thinks it is. They decide together that it’s either a B or an R, and Quinn explains that whichever it is, it represents the time zone where they’re going. If it’s a B, it’s Syria or Jordan, somewhere in that longitude. But if it’s R—it’s US East Coast time.
Carrie, alarmed, strides out to look for Pallis, who’s stepped out to take a call about the situation with the President-Elect. She can’t find him outside, so she picks up her phone to call a harried Rob. Rob tells her that a demonstration got out of hand, but they have reinforcements on the way. Carrie demands to know what reinforcements, but a harried Rob tells her to hold on while he deals with something else.
In that moment, Carrie looks back and sees a few agents opening the garage door. Something connects in her brain, and she screams for them to wait, but too late—a giant blast blows the entire scene apart.
Just then, Rob comes back to the phone to answer Carrie’s questions, but gets no answer.
Meanwhile, Max is poking around in Brett’s file backups as Dar waits anxiously. He’s found Quinn’s fake handle: “Toxic Soldier.” He was in lockup while a lot of the posts were made. The sock puppet’s main preoccupation is hating Elizabeth Keane.
Carrie slowly comes to consciousness, lying flat on the front yard of the house, bodies injured and dead strewn about the lawn. As soon as she gets up, she starts running around yelling for Quinn, looking around desperately in an apparent attempt to confirm that each body is not Peter Quinn.
Then, after a few seconds, Quinn himself emerges from the house, coughing and covered in dust. She rushes into his arms, and they embrace tightly, then draw apart but stay connected for a long moment, each holding on with one hand to the other’s shoulder. Then, finally, they get down to the work of helping the others.
So there we have it: a little bit of closure for the doomed couple before the finale. Quinn’s reaction to Carrie’s too-late, forced confession is very different than it would have been in the early parts of the season, which shows that he’s emerging from the cocoon of depression that wrapped around him before—probably partly because of the healing power of having work to do that he’s capable of doing. If the Quinn of ten episodes ago had learned that Carrie was acting out of some secret guilt towards him, he would have handled it, I think, with much more anger, shame, and withdrawal. This new Quinn, damaged but much more similar to the Quinn of seasons past, doesn’t take the revelation as some reflection on himself. And, as is not out of character for him, he forgives Carrie simply and completely after one burst of anger—which is quite a feat of love and generosity from anyone, let alone from a man who thinks he has nothing in his heart.
This episode also shows the cracks in Keane’s idealism, which lasts, apparently, only as long as her son isn’t threatened. It’s a human reaction, but turned up to an inhuman scale by the combined facts of her political power and her personal strength, as we’ll see in the finale: she may not want a police state, but boy does she want her enemies to be punished. Gross, unpleasant, dishonest Brett O’Keefe may be the worst, but her threatening him makes her play right into his slimy little hand.