Previously on Homeland: Saul Berenson became President Keane’s new national security advisor and was sent out to round up right-wing radio star Brett O’Keefe, who was staying out at some farmhouse somewhere with his girlfriend Sharon and telling the local gun nuts that he thought they were blessed or something; Saul told a local FBI agent he was going alone to get O’Keefe; Carrie asked Dante to ID a woman who had gone into David Wellington’s house; Maggie thought Carrie might be manic because she was on a mission to save the country that only she could do; her therapist thought the lithium might not be working anymore; and Carrie beat up a horrible little perv who had hacked her computer and threatened to kill him.
We open on Carrie sitting tensely in a waiting room somewhere. It turns out she’s been lying in wait for an unscheduled visit with her therapist. The therapist agrees to five minutes. She notices that Carrie’s bleeding, and Carrie’s like “I don’t have a head wound, a head wound would be a fucking relief, can you focus?” Heh. Then she sits down and admits that her lithium might not be working; she’s jittery and she’s talking too fast. Ha! You don’t say! The therapist is, naturally, concerned. She thinks Carrie needs an HIV screen, but Carrie claims she was drinking and fell down. Uh, is she supposed to be drinking? She says she’s not hearing voices, or visions, but is grandiose, “and impulse control is becoming a problem.” Uh, yeah. Of course that makes it sound like her impulses were to like buy shoes on Ebay, not to beat up creepy motherfuckers who hack her computer!
Carrie tears up and says the drug saved her life and that she can’t let this happen. “You know the drill pretty well,” says the therapist, “wanna get to the rest of it?” Carrie says she’s not a danger to herself. Then the therapist asks if she’s a danger to others, and the awkward pause that follows that one is hilarious.
Saul and his FBI pal are driving over a wooded country road and stop, only to have five identical black SUVs line up beside them. Saul’s about to get out when Agent Maslin tells him this is “fucking nuts.” Saul gives him an inscrutable look, but I imagine he’s thinking, You shoulda seen me in season 5.
Young Redneck JJ comes to greet Saul with a scary-looking dog, but acts all polite. When Saul asks for Brett O’Keefe, JJ’s all “Who?” He holds his dog on the leash, but the dog barks ominously. Saul repeats that he needs to talk to Brett. JJ smirks and repeats that he’s not there, and agrees to go get his dad.
Carrie arrives home in major hyperventilating mode and sees a newspaper headline about Saul. Maggie finds her and it turns out they all were wondering where Carrie was and had called the police. Franny is terrified. Carrie protests that she was at her therapist’s, just like Maggie wanted, and that the lithium might not be working. She’s supposed to take Seroquel to knock her out for awhile and then they’re going to experiment with her dosage.
Carrie starts to freak out and Maggie—who is exhibiting remarkable forbearance considering what Carrie’s been putting her through—pulls her into a hug. “I’m so scared,” Carrie pleads. It kind of surprised me at first, since we know she’s voluntarily entered a manic phase befor ejust to solve a mystery. But I guess the point is that she was willing to take crazy risks for the job knowing that there always was the lithium to fall back on. Not having a fallback is very different—even for someone like Carrie.
Finally she gets serious and says “I can’t raise a kid if I’m at the bottom of a black hole.” Maggie promises her they’ll do everything. Carrie says, “I can’t have Franny visiting me in a locked ward,” and asks Maggie to say that Carrie’s dead instead of letting that happen. Maggie tells her to stop and to get started on the Seroquel. Poor Maggie. She’s the unsung hero of this entire show.
Back at the farm (seriously), Brett comes with gun-nut reinforcements behind him to confront Saul, whose FBI reinforcements are also right behind him. Saul tells Brett this doesn’t need to end badly, but Brett declares he’s not going anywhere. “I see women and children back there,” Saul says. “You really gonna put them in harm’s way?” Uh… that’s kind of retro, Saul. Have you ever met a person named Carrie Mathison? Anyway, Brett is willing to consider having a talk with Saul. Saul calls Keane and Wellington and asks for authority to negotiate the terms of Brett’s surrender. Keane hesitates, but agrees to “anything within reason.” Wow, she really is backing down. He also asks for orders for the FBI to stand back, since they’re mad O’Keefe’s been making them look stupid for so long.
After the call, Wellington tells Keane that they could end this right now by letting O’Keefe go and dropping the charges. But Keane is still too mad at O’Keefe to do that. She says he’s a menace, not caring that, as Wellington points out, guns have already been drawn over at the farmhouse.
They enter a meeting of what seems to be a bunch of military dudes. They tell her there’s a time-sensitive matter: Assad is mounting an offensive against the Syrian army and they have found a convoy shipping weapons. Keane immediately calls them out on the fact that they apparently gave her all this intel before. A military dude claims that they have new strike scenarios so it’s totally new. “The intelligence is the same, though,” Keane repeats. “So what makes you think I’ve changed my mind? Because as far as I can tell, this is exactly the recommendation I rejected on Friday. Right?” She insists on getting him to agree when he tries to deflect. I love it. I mean, I know Keane is a fascist dictator who’s trampling on people’s rights, but I like that she doesn’t let these clowns try to pull a fast one on her. She tells them no matter how politically vulnerable she is, she’s not going to back down from the military drawdown she announced in her candidacy.
Over at the farmhouse, Brett sadly sips a Diet Coke and apologizes to his host for dragging them into this. He explains that Saul is the president’s right hand, which means they’re big news right now—and if the plan was to take Brett by force they’d have done it already. “They are outside holding their dicks,” he says. But they’re outnumbered. “We don’t have to be,” says Bo. Uh-oh. Sharon walks in for the end of this and starts to look worried. Brett just says he’s going to talk to Saul. “Ten minutes!” he yells out the screen door towards Saul.
Carrie is sleeping in bed, her neck covered in angry red bruises, when her phone starts beeping. She rolls out of bed with effort when she realizes it’s not her main phone and picks up a different phone out of the super secret spy bag hiding in her closet. When no one responds she gets back into bed, only to be interrupted again by loud knocking. Looking completely exhausted, she slowly makes her way to the door and finds Dante there.
“I’ve been calling you for the past hour,” he says and then asks if anyone is there. Shouldn’t he have checked that before showing up? “I thought I was supposed to fuck off and never call you again,” Carrie mumbles. But he found the woman whose photo Carrie sent him last week. Her name is Simone Martin and she’s French and is an on-and-off girlfriend of David Wellington and works for an NGO. Carrie tries to get him to stop and says she can’t be involved in this because she’s sick. “Fuck that, go get in my car, we’ll get you some antibiotics,” he says. Carrie sort of staggers over to the living room and sighs and says, “I’m bipolar.” She explains some of what she’s up to with the meds and then, essentially, sums up her entire arc from the show: “Part of being manic is seeing connections everywhere. Some of it’s made my career, but some of it’s just nightmares that don’t stop when you’re awake.” Dante looks sympathetic but not entirely convinced. She says it’s true that the president is messing with civil procedure, but the “nefarious shit” that she’s ascribing to the president is probably made up.
Dante disagrees. He tells her that there’s a parking ticket registered to Simone Martin’s vehicle was issued three miles away from the prison where McClendon died suspiciously, the day before he died. And… he knows where she lives. Carrie’s resolution to be calm visibly melts away, and we next see her standing in the bathroom, staring at herself in the mirror with fear and determination on her face, just before she takes one of Josie’s Adderalls.
Saul and Brett have met up at a picnic table under the shade of a big tree, in full view of . Saul tells Brett he’s a major national security concern, but Brett says he’s just exercising his constitutional rights. He whines about the fact that Saul has sharpshooters with sights trained on him just in case something goes badly and then says he’s “filling a void, the one vacated by the walking dead and decrepit media.” Yeah, no society can survive without someone to tell blatant lies on the radio. Saul says as much, telling him that these people might be less angry if Brett didn’t keep lying to them. But Brett passionately says that people are angry because they were sent to fight the Vietnam war (fair), their kids were bused to the school in the ghetto (uh…), their jobs were shipped overseas, and their values were ridiculed “in favor of every boy who thinks he’s a girl and every girl who thinks she’s a boy.” I almost cried at that moment—the hate being spewed out of that horrible man was so upsetting and so real. Saul says that it’s worth talking about all of this, but that Brett’s negotiating position is strongest right now, so he should ask for what he wants in return for surrendering.
Carrie and Dante are watching Simone in her house from a car across the street. Carrie looks awake, but kind of exhausted and freaked out. Dante reveals that he had an ex who was bipolar. “Is that why you broke up?” asks Carrie. “You can say it, it’s not gonna hurt my feelings.” That’s so sweet and sad—she’s still convinced, deep down, that she’ll never have love because of that. But Dante says it was because he drank too much, after Kabul. “Did you stop?” she asks. “No,” he says, but then says it’s under control. They kind of share a laugh at this idea that you can have your issues under control. He says that it took his ex, Audrey, years to figure out her medication regime, but eventually she got her head straight … and left him. Carrie looks a little cheered by this story.
Just then, Simone leaves her apartment and Carrie leaps out of the car. Dante protests since this obviously wasn’t part of the plan, but Carrie being Carrie, she insists on going in to look around, and sends Dante to follow Simone. She looks around on the sidewalk for a second and then goes around back to the side of the house to climb in the window. Inside the house, she finds the ticket and snaps a photo of it on her phone, backs up all the files on the unlocked desktop computer to a flash drive, and finds a bunch of printed photos of Simone with Wellington.
Speaking of whom, he’s on a call with Keane and Saul. Saul has passed on Brett’s demand for immunity for everyone who’s traveled with him, including Sharon. Keane agrees, but she balks at Brett’s demand for a televised trial, saying she doesn’t want to give him a platform. Saul argues that they can slowroll the trial.
Meanwhile, Brett watches Saul through the window. Sharon tries to make a break for it with all her bags, but he warns her that she shouldn’t be sure she’s gotten immunity yet. Brett is now “not so hot” on the idea of going to prison. Uh, a little late for that, buddy. Sharon says that there’s a trial first, and “You didn’t know anything about a plot to assassinate the President. Right? … Brett?” Uh, should have probably ascertained that before you went into cahoots with the guy, Sharon. “A course not,” Brett finally mumbles. Then he mentions that she had McClendon poisoned, and when Sharon expresses doubt, Brett reveals that some other surprise is coming for Saul, and she’d better go back upstairs. Unclear why he didn’t just tell her that to begin with.
Carrie climbs out of Simone’s window and is pulled over by a couple neighborhood cops. She pulls this suburban-lady act saying that she’s feeding her friend’s cat, trying to get out of being arrested through sheer white privilege. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to freak anybody out.” Then she refuses to give her name when they ask for it, saying, “Do I look like a burglar?” They don’t buy this, and say that she’s going to have to give a statement at the precinct. Carrie keeps going with her nice-suburban-lady act, but it looks like they’re not buying it.
Back at the farm Sharon runs desperately through the woods and surrenders, along the way totally selling out Brett. She says there’s something going on in there and that there’s reinforcements coming in now. The agents immediately go on the move, calling for Saul. Just then a bunch of scary-looking lumberjack types with plaid shirts and rifles ride in on their trucks. Before Saul can get away they’ve got him. (“Why does like every plotline on this show involve Saul getting kidnapped?” Keets wondered when we watched this episode together.) “I’ve got snipers in the woods pal,” says Agent Maslin, threatening to slaughter them all. The army of lumberjacks think for a second and then let Saul go. Maslin tries to arrest Head Ponytail Guy, but he says, “Fuck you. You want us? You’re gonna have to shoot us in the back.” And then he turns around and walks away. Defeated, Saul and the FBI turn around and walk away. WHAT?
Wow, if you want to see a portrayal of white privilege, just look at this scene. There is literally a rebel army holding down this farmhouse and they couldn’t get the FBI to shoot them by double-dog daring them. Think of the slaughter that would have resulted if this had been a bunch of angry black guys. It would have been a massacre. But yet you can totally picture this happening with white guys. Wow.
As Carrie walks into the precinct she’s still complaining about how she needs to pick up her kid from school and she’s a single mother. A woman who seems to be in charge responds with a patient smile when Carrie insists that this is a misunderstanding, and brings Carrie alone into a room for questioning. She asks again for ID and Carrie again refuses and asks to see her commanding officer, which is kind of funny, like this cop is just a recalcitrant Walmart employee who won’t accept her merchandise for return or something. She begs that she can’t end up in the system, and explains that she has a daughter and is in the middle of an ugly custody battle. The cop is not unmoved, but she’s not fooled either; she rolls her eyes and says she has to book Carrie, and calls the arresting officers back. Carrie fights all the way to the fingerprinting pad and sobs as they push her thumb on the inkpad.
Wellington arrives in the Oval Office and tells Keane that Brett was playing them, stalling so he could bring in reinforcements—at least 30. “Jesus,” Keane says, and asks if they have the option to walk away. Wellington says that they can’t becuase the media’s there, but they could do the airstrike as a “show of strength.” Ugh. Keane protests that she’s not going to blow up a convoy in Syria to control the news cycle, so at least she has some kind of ethical sense remaining. But Wellington protests that she’ll save lives on the ground. Keane says she can’t cross that line because “it’s bad policy, it’s wrong, it just is.” Wellington pleads that she’ll enver get anything done if she stays ont he defensive, but she says she can’t do it and kicks him out of the office. Wellington leaves, looking quite displeased.Over at the house, the FBI agents are all kind of suiting up, while Saul looks on with a face of fatherly disappointment in the world, as he so often does. An agent offers him a room at a motel, since nothing will happen till morning, but Saul declines. He watches in horror as a truck brings in tanks.
Carrie’s sitting alone in a cell when the door opens and the cop from earlier tells her to get up. Carrie demands a lawyer, but the cop tells her to shut up. She brings her out front, where Dante is finishing up some paperwork. “Have Wiley call me,” he tells the cop, and she agrees. Carrie asks what he did, but he tells her to walk and marches her out, free.
Late that night, Wellington, sitting in his office, seems to come to a decision. He shuts the door and makes a call to General Rossen, one of the guys from the meeting earlier (presumably—they all looked kinda the same to me). Wellington tells him that the President has come around and that he has “full operational authority” on the Syrian mission. The General says he needs to hear this from the President, but Wellington says she’s not feeling well… and that she might have changed her mind by morning. He offers the confirmation codes, “just so you have it.” The General confirms one more time that the President really authorized the mission, and Wellington says, “You have my word.”
In the car, Carrie almost cries again as she realizes that there’s no record of her arrest. Dante went looking for her when she didn’t answer her phone. He asks if she found anything, and she says she got a photo of the parking ticket and a copy of her hard drive. “Then it wasn’t for nothing,” says Dante, who sort of seems to be channeling Carrie’s more daring self from earlier seasons. This season’s Carrie, though, is overwhelmed—presumably by the near-loss of her daughter—and asks Dante to pull over so she can get some air.
Dante gets out with her—they’re by some kind of soccer field on the side of the road—and asks if she needs something to eat. “I just need a second,” she says, on the edge of tears, and turns away from him. She turns back and explains that she had difficulty with CPS recently and an arrest on her record would have been really bad. Dante accepts this with a smile. They sit down next to each other.
It’s nice to see Carrie actually opening up to someone about her illness without the typical defenses she tends to put up — either total denial, or a mask of pessimism that her whole life is doomed by her illness. But on a personal rather than a critical level, I still super dislike Carrie bonding with this dude, because I’m a ridiculous Carrie-Quinn fangirl and I’m so not over them!
This is a little bit of a slow episode, but I think it’s setting us up for more excitement in the next one, so hopefully it pays off. I do feel like Carrie’s plotline is taking awhile to grind into motion, but perhaps she’ll have more action in the back half of this season. Keane was the most interesting character of this episode to me; I think I’m so used to Trump that it’s strange to watch a character trample all over civil liberties in a way that is clearly Trump-like, but to actually be rational and even scrupulous in other areas of her presidency, instead of just being a complete disaster who couldn’t stick to a plan or formulate an ethical objection to anything if his life depended on it. And she’s being undermined at every turn, which is going to make her angrier and probably make her more evil in the end, but I enjoyed watching the subtle way that she used the power of her office to snub and override the people who are trying to bully her.