Previously on Homeland: Quinn? Who? What? I’ve never heard of him. The entire previouslies takes place without so much as a mention of the fact that this guy ever existed.
Actually in the previouslies, President Keane yelled at Gross Right-Wing Radio Personality Brett O’Keefe and threatened to prosecute him for slandering her dead son; Dar Adal told her not to go to war with the national security establishment; some dude told Dar Adal he wasn’t doing anything to Keane when he clearly was; Carrie broke up a big assassination plot against the President; Brett insisted (complete with a loooot of slobber) that the country was headed for civil war; Carrie assured everyone in the national security establishment that there would be no purges, but then Saul was arrested under the authority of a memo from the DOJ; and Keane refused to talk to Carrie.
We open with no credit sequence, just fading right up on a tight-faced Carrie on the treadmill. No jogging for this one, she is running. It’s pretty awesome. Later, in the kitchen, she watches a brief flash of the news talking about Keane’s government’s “investigation” as she cooks eggs for her sister, her sister’s husband, her sister’s teenaged kid Josie, and Franny.
It turns out Josie’s one of those impossible kids (of which I was also one!) who reads up on politics so that she can start shit over family meals. She claims that Carrie was fired from a regime that jails free thinkers, and then suggests that her father join her at a “free the 200” (people who have been jailed by Keane’s regime) march, which is how we find out that Maggie’s husband is working for the government and Josie blames him for it. He’s so incredibly milquetoast, like if the boyfriend from the beginning of a romantic comedy who gets dumped for the real love interest was crossed with… an actual piece of soggy bread. But, he’s sweet with Franny. Which is like the easiest possible way to look like a nice person when you’re actually in league with fascism. I mean, even Donald Trump is nice to kids.
Anyway, the kids and Mr. Milquetoast flit off to start their day, leaving Maggie and Carrie alone. Maggie complains about how Mr. Milquetoast is being treated like “a scab” at work and how Carrie is treating him badly at home. Carrie points out that everyone’s behind bars, and he stepped up, so “God bless,” but that she should be glad her daughter’s politically engaged. “Yeah? What else did you want to tell me about being a mom?” Maggie snaps back. BURN. Carrie—and I think this is evidence of how well she’s doing right now, that she doesn’t immediately lose her shit at Maggie—is hurt but takes it on the chin.
Immediately after this we find out why Carrie’s so calm: it’s not because she spends her whole life cooking eggs for her niece and daughter. It’s because as soon as Maggie is distracted, she brings out her Spy Bag and embarks on a Secret Spy Mission. Love this character—you know when she’s happy, it’s because she’s working.
Over at what appears to be military court, President Keane marches into a silent room and tells everyone to sit. General McClendon, that big ole rebel, declines to sit until the judge tells him to. It’s weird, like, Keane is obviously a fascist and people should be defying her, yet this particular way of defying her is so petty and ineffective and also so in line with how a petty and ineffective misogynist would defy a female president just for being female, that it makes me dislike McClendon just by sheer association.
Anyway, Keane addresses the court and tells McClendon she’s here on behalf of the country he betrayed and that he was attacking not just her but the democracy itself. Ironic, eh? She says “We execute people for that in this country.” Yipes.
Outside, Keane’s advisor, David Wellington, who is only slightly less milquetoast than Maggie’s husband, raises a timid objection to her harshness in the court. He says “Paley’s committee” is going to issue subpoenas soon and that there is talk of a special prosecutor. Hmm, sounds familiar! Keane just says that she wanted to send a message: “Don’t fuck with us ever again.” Uhhh… how presidential.
We next see a car that contains Brett, a messy-haired brunette lady, and a random white dude stuck in a traffic jam. Brett emphatically complains because he wants to broadcast every day “come hell or high water.” With every word he says you can tell his coffee breath and spit are just coating the faces of his two pals. He’s the most gross human I’ve ever seen in my life. When his friend tells him to get over it, he threatens to turn himself in to the Feds. She meets this with an eyeroll, but Fake Buddy Garrity mentions a small town close by that might be able to help them, so they turn around and drive towards that.
At a quiet corporate-ish bar, Carrie drops off a bag at coat check, takes the ticket, and stands at the bar looking around nervously. Way to be stealth, Supposedly Talented Spy. When a black limo pulls up, she texts someone named Janet to meet her in the kitchen. It turns out Janet’s on the staff of Senator Paley whose committee was being discussed by Keane and Wellington earlier. She brings Paley back to the kitchen and we glean that Carrie has an anonymous “guy” (whom she reveals is a federal employee she worked with in Afghanistan) who’s been leaking to the Senator and it hasn’t been enough to do whatever they’re trying to do.
Senator Paley says he wants David Wellington to be implicated, and Carrie promises that will happen if her source is guaranteed closed-session testimony with some sort of Senate committee. She says that he has seen the dossiers of several of the 200 people who’ve been arrested and none of them have been linked to the attack. They arrange a meeting at the Hay-Adams, and Carrie gives them a burner and Janet snots, “Is the spy shit really necessary?” Paley agrees to the spy shit and the meeting but seems suspicious that Carrie’s stuff is going to be worth his time.
Carrie immediately leaves the bar, goes into a coffee shop, and puts the ticket from her checked bag up on the bulletin board. I don’t know what’s wrong with Janet—the spy shit is fun!
Brett’s car pulls into a quiet, depressed-looking town and they stop at a mattress store with a big old gun rights sticker on the window so that Brett’s friend, Sharon, can hop out and ask the friendly, gun-lovin’ mattress store employee for help.
Soon enough, Brett and Sharon are clearing off a table in the mattress store’s office, with two minutes to do a shoot. Brett complains that he’s sweating like a pig, like, well, when one is a chauvinist pig I suppose that’s fitting? Sharon turns the camera on and Brett growls and snarls about “the resistance” and that he broke the news that the attempt on Keane’s life was a hoax. He also, somehow, knows about Keane advocating for McClendon to get the death penalty. “BRING BACK THE FIRING SQUAD,” he paraphrases, so emphatically that he looks like a blood vessel is about to pop in his eye. He slips in a menopause reference, leading to a long-suffering eyeroll from Sharon. You know what they say… lie down with a shitbag racist like Brett, and you’ll wake up with the fleas of casual misogyny. Which you will richly deserve.
Carrie arrives at a hotel and does a quintessentially Carrie impression of a bubbly corporate traveller who’s impressed that her company booked her at such a swank place—and by quintessentially Carrie, I mean slightly too intense to actually be believable. The bellboy takes her up to her room and places her suitcase on the bed for her, and Carrie raves more about the king-sized bed. (It seems weird that she keeps talking to people, like, wouldn’t it be better if they just didn’t remember her at all?) Anyway, as soon as he leaves she changes into a different pantsuit , puts on a brunette wig and some dark lipstick, and heads down to the parking lot by the staircase. She then drives up to what appears to be a different hotel (I’m kind of confused on this part) and checks in as Lisa Salter, and asks for the receptionist to leave an extra key for her husband.
Max walks into the same restaurant where Carrie was earlier and gives the coat check person the ticket. Hi, Max!
David Wellington waits anxiously for her in the Oval Office and tries to comfort her as soon as she arrives. Apparently McClendon didn’t get the capital punishment she wanted him to—and they deliberated for less than a half day. “It comes damn near condoning another attempt on my life,” she says. He points out that the military never executes one of its own, and tells her to put it behind her. “Madam President, not Elizabeth,” she corrects him coldly. She then tells him she doesn’t want a trite lecture. “Fix it,” she tells him. David can hardly believe his ears, but she doubles down and says if he can’t she’ll find someone who can. He slowly turns and walks out of the room, clearly about to make a momentous decision.
Up in her new hotel room, Carrie signs for room service—appears to be a fruit platter, for whatever reason—and then closes all the drapes. Then she settles in the lobby, looking around.
Ugh, back to Brett. I hate this guy so much. HIs voice is grating, his views are obviously terrible, he’s a misogynist and NOW, he’s TALKING WHILE CHEWING, because of course he would. Anyway, he’s sitting on a bare mattress, presumably in the mattress shop, with Sharon while they eat fast food and watch videos on a laptop. Brett’s flying high on the success of the day, planning more broadcasts. Then Sharon says she can’t do this anymore. He promises that he’ll never say menopause anymore, but she says that it’s more than that—she misses being at home and her cat. He tries to lean over and kiss her, ewwwwwwwwwwww Sharon get away from there!, but just then they notice police lights congregating silently outside.
They make a break for it out the back, but they’re quickly surrounded. “OK, boys, you got me. congratulations. Our country’s now officially in the shitter,” Brett spits. I think the country actually officially entered the shitter when you got your own radio show, dude. But it turns out these are red-state cops who are totally on Brett’s side and they’re here to save him from the Feds who are on their way! Sharon doesn’t want to go, and promises to call someone else to help him out. “Not one of them has ever made me laugh,” Brett says, which is apparently his way of being romantic. (By the way, I googled this character recently and found many write-ups describing him as a “charismatic” radio personality, which is so mysterious to me? I mean the man is physically and aurally repulsive and every time I see his slobbery face I want to vomit. Does anyone actually find this guy charismatic? I’m so curious!) But it works on Sharon, who finally agrees to go with him.
Carrie’s waiting in the lobby when New Quinn (as Carrie’s new dark-haired brooding spy pal is known in our household, after we watched the season 7 trailers) walks in. I already feel hostile to this guy. He picks up the key for Lisa Salter’s husband, but as he heads to the elevators a suited man follows him while pretending to read a newspaper. Carrie notices immediately, and as soon as New Quinn is in the elevator she gets up and reports his tail for exposing himself to her in the ladies’ restroom! The shocked receptionist apologizes and promises to take care of it, so Carrie thanks him and hurries up to her room.
She finds New Quinn in the room and accuses her of bringing his wallet or phone. He says he brought nothing, and he walked. Finally they realize he took off his jacket to go to the bathroom and he has a tail. They run out of the room and down to Carrie’s car. When he sees her open the trunk, New Quinn tries to back out, but Carrie says that a reporter was thrown in jail today and that they were looking for him, and he finally tucks himself into the trunk and Carrie drives him away. In the car, Carrie calls Janet to tell her there needs to be a new spot for the meeting, but doesn’t tell her about the tail.
David Wellington arrives at a prison visiting room to find a rather cranky-looking, full-bearded Saul Berenson. He tells Saul the president doesn’t know he’s there, and then says, hilariously, that she feels a little friendless. “Tell her to get over it. The job is to put the country first,” Saul says. “First she has to clear a path to power,” says David. Uh… that’s actually not the first thing? Anyway, he asks for a show of faith and forgiveness from Saul to turn thigns around. Saul answers, hilariously, “I’m a little indisposed at the moment.” David pleads that he could put the country first by becoming a national security advisor. To the president who just threw him in jail. Saul demands Oval Office privileges, direct access to the President, and a release of everyone who’s been arrested in the second wave. David balks there. “They’re all innocent, you know that,” Saul says. He says it’s non-negotiable. “I will not carry water or make excuses for a woman who cannot rise above her own vindictiveness,” Saul says.
Carrie’s niece, Josie, waits on the street for her in a corporate parking lot. Carrie thanks her, and Josie excitedly asks, “Is that a wig?” Oops. Carrie asks what she told her parents, and Josie says they’re out, and that she left Franny with some guy named Jason. Carrie’s shocked by the realization that her spy mission caused her child to be left at home with a strange teenaged boy… for about four seconds. Then she shakes it off and moves on to the real important thing: taking the thing Josie brought her (a set of keys) and asking Josie not to say anything if her parents get home before Carrie does. Josie asks if everything’s OK, and Carrie laughs it off. But as Josie drives away, she catches a glimpse of New Quinn getting out of Carrie’s car in the rearview mirror. Uh, way to be stealth, Carrie. Wait till your niece rounds the corner at least!
She brings New Quinn into an office that she unlocks with Josie’s keys, and explains that it’s her sister’s. So they’ve broken into poor Maggie’s office, apparently. Then there’s a little reminiscing about some other time that Carrie stuffed him into the trunk of her car, and New Quinn asks, “Why am I here?” So Carrie explains that Paley really needs to talk to him—at this meeting that she told Paley that New Quinn had demanded. I guess she had counted on her ability to manipulate him into it, which is usually a pretty good bet for Carrie Mathison. He gets up to bolt, but Carrie tells him he has no career to ruin, and then tells some weird backstory about how he stole a Humvee from her office and caught a most wanted criminal or something. Then she drives the knife home: “I know you thought fighting terrorists was the most important work you’d ever do with your life, but what if this is?”
It almost works, but then Paley starts knocking and he realizes she already counted on convincing him. She tries to tell Paley to leave, but he busts in and both men realize they’ve been lied to. “Back the fuck away from me,” New Quinn says, and then tells Paley she’s out of her mind. “You can trust him, Dante, please,” Carrie says. Big mistake: now she’s said his name, and New Quinn slash Dante is NOT pleased. He shoves her to the ground and leaves. Paley, totally pissed off, also leaves, telling Carrie not to call him again. She sits on the ground, disappointed.
When David gets home, he finds the door wide open and the (giant, fancy) house crawling with investigators of some kind. They’ve apparently been sent there to do a bug sweep. David kicks them out, which he somehow gets away with, but one of them – surprise surprise – is Max! I guess it helps to be an extremely generic-looking dude.
Carrie gets home looking tired, but her day of getting yelled at isn’t quite over. Maggie and Maggie’s boring-as-crap husband are waiting for her in the living room with a sullen-looking Josie. Apparently they left the play halfway through (we don’t find out why ) and came home to find Josie’s friend, who they think is a pot dealer, watching Franny. They are not pleased. Carrie asks them to send Josie away and then confesses what she did and even apologizes. Bill, perhaps not realizing how extremely rare it is to even get an apology out of Carrie, starts yelling, so Maggie tries to send him away, and he asks, “Is the gentle management of Carrie’s emotional state really the only priority in this household?” But with a steely look from Maggie he’s cowed and leaves.
Left alone with Carrie, Maggie says she snooped in her room and found out that she has a bunch of credit card debt on eight different cards. Carrie dismisses this as “non-conventional behavior” and explains that she was trying to help a Senator course-correct the Presidency. Maggie says gently that everyone feels paranoid right now, but that this feeling that there’s a vast government conspiracy and she’s the only one who can stop it is, shall we say, familiar. Then Carrie says, “I’m on my meds. You think I’m the problem? You’re the one married to a collaborator.” Way harsh, Tai. But also, you know, kind of true.
Maggie gives Carrie a betrayed look and Carrie does look a little embarrassed. Maggie says, “Something’s going on, because normal people don’t act like this.” Heh. Well, I think that’s true of everything Carrie does whether she’s on her meds or not. I mean, not that “normal people” are something to emulate in general, but I think that the wonderful thing about the way Carrie’s been developed is that she’s so recognizably her same flawed self whether she’s dealing with an onset of illness or not. There’s never really an implication that her selfishness, manipulativeness, or willingness to sacrifice others for the cause (which may be a good thing or a bad thing) are because her illness makes her a bad person. She just is who she is, and that’s also, of course, why she’s so great at her job.
Anyway, Maggie presses Carrie to go see a therapist and says she’d better hope it’s her illness making her do these things (doubtful, but Maggie was always an optimist) and Carrie checks briefly on a sleeping Franny before going to her laptop and opening up what is apparently a six-camera setup that Max set up in David Wellington’s house. David’s watching TV, where a newscaster is discussing the fact that McClendon is on his way to jail even though Keane argued for the death penalty. Carrie squints at him as if she can read his thoughts. I don’t know, you guys, it seems like New Quinn is supposed to be Carrie’s next love interest based on the setup, but she does have a habit of falling in love with inappropriate guys while spying on them. Maybe she’s going to go for David Wellington! That would be a funny way to go full circle.
Anyway, McClendon is being escorted to prison, where we witness a drawn-out scene of him being completely undressed from his military uniform and searched, up to and including cavity searches of butt, ears, and mouth. It is pretty rough to watch, but it also makes me angry because I feel like there’s this sense we’re supposed to get of a Big Important Military Man who is experiencing a huge insult to his dignity. And while it’s true that he’s being subjected to something gruesome and humiliating, it’s not really any truer of him than of, say, Sekou Bah (or any of the many people who are arrested every day, too many of them black), who had an immense personal dignity and was almost certainly subjected to worse when he was arrested in season 6.
Anyway, after the guards leave McClendon starts to get dressed again, only to suddenly experience what looks like some kind of heart attack or stroke. The guard who strip searched him slowly peels off his gloves while watching McClendon die on camera.
So I guess David decided to “fix” things for Keane after all.
In the first post-Quinn episode—and it’s very post-Quinn; he doesn’t even show up in the previouslies—we are back in a show that’s driven entirely by Carrie and her self-deceptions and her paranoid (but often accurate) ideations and her mistakes and her brilliance. I do miss Quinn, but I also appreciate this. And I think New Quinn, a.k.a. Dante, is a very poor substitute, but who wouldn’t be, this late in the game? (My theory is that the real Quinn was never shown in the previouslies because the contrast might lead people to realize that New Quinn, is a pale pale shadow of Quinn.)
Also, Carrie makes a lot of weird, sort of seemingly stupid, spying choices, though. I can’t quite tell if I’m just sort of cynical now, but like, letting Dante out of the car when Josie is half a block away? Hanging out in the lobby of the second, fancy hotel when her supposed husband is there? It all seems a little bit poorly thought out.
But the really notable, and impressive, thing about this episode is the way it takes what’s happening in the world and twists and transforms it so that it remains both new and topical—so that it seems to shed light on our world without being so on the nose that it becomes trite or obvious. Keane’s totalitarian government, with its purges and paranoia, is not dissimilar to what many of us feared going in to the Trump administration even if the motivations and politics are completely different. (That they’re able to be so in tune with the major concerns of international relations today is probably due to the infamous spy camp they do every year.)
Still, I’m never going to want to see that horrible Brett O’Keefe on my screen. No matter how bad Keane is, I will never be on that dude’s side!