Homeland Recap: 7×05 “Active Measures”

Previously on Homeland: Carrie figured out that Simone picked up five loads of cash on her way to the city where General McClendon was potentially murdered, and Dante agreed on an operation to go after her; she also took him on a parking lot drug deal so she could pick up medications to keep her up and down in the right proportion; an FBI agent shot JJ and was taken hostage by Brett’s band of armed rebels; he totally broke his promise to leave if anyone was going to get hurt; a mysterious brown-haired dude spread #fakenews that JJ was dead, leading to Bo executing the hostage; and the feds went in and attacked the rebel stronghold even though Keane asked Saul to stop it.

Saul rides in an SUV towards some kind of federal building as angry townspeople yell and throw things at it. Once he’s inside, he confronts Brett and tells him there are nineteen dead, including children. Saul points out that the whole fake news thing was right out of Brett’s playbook, but Brett says that he’s been on the run for too long to have the resources to do that, and besides, he knows and cares about the family. Oh, puh-lease. He’d have sold them out in a second but he didn’t have the guts. Just then someone calls Saul out, saying he’s needed back at the White House.

Carrie knocks on a trailer in a dark field somewhere, calling for a dude named Anson. When she lets herself in he’s lying on the couch drinking beer, and is not particularly welcoming. “You smell bad,” is her comeback. She helps herself to a beer out of his cooler while he stares at her suspiciously. We learn from exposition that his wife kicked him out because he took a sledgehammer to the family room, that he’s out of work… and that he and Carrie appear to have a history. (As soon as I heard that I decided I like Anson much better than Dante, who was christened New Quinn as soon as the trailer for this season came out.) Carrie kind of grins at him and asks if he’s really losing it, because she needs him for something. He grins back.

The President and Wellington are getting debriefed about the shootout. One guy is defending Maslin’s actions and the other guy is Saul, who is distinctly… not. Saul changes the subject to suggest that the fake news may not have come from Brett but from overseas. “I’m talking about information warfare,” he says, just in case you didn’t get it. He suggests Eastern Europe. Keane is focused on fixing things domestically: there’s a funeral tonight. Someone says there was rioting all night. “Rioting or demonstrations?” she asks, wisely. (Which, to be fair, authority figures do tend to use rioting when they are talking about demonstrations. Then again, this is exactly what Trump’s response would be, too. Angry black people are rioters, but angry white people are just demonstrating.) She asks them what their crowd control plan is, and one of the random other dudes claims they’re taking cues from local law enforcement. Keane eviscerates this idea and asks for ideas on her desk. “We broke it, we bought it,” she says.

Saul finds David afterwards to keep talking about the Russia idea, but David wants to wait till they’ve dealt with this crisis. Gee, if only there were a giant staff of people specifically devoted to chasing down national security investigations… oh wait. Frustrated, Saul asks for a plane from what appears to be his assistant.

Carrie has gathered a bunch of men including Dante and Anson and are going over what they know about Wellington and McClendon’s death, and a plan to scare Simone by pretending ot be prison guards who want more than $50,000 for killing McClendon. Kinda makes sense. Carrie reminds them that they’re not kidnapping Simone, just tying her to Wellington. Apparently all of them know each other from way back; there are some reminiscences, followed by a “Can we not, with the two of you?” directed at Carrie and Anson. (Which clearly got me excited about a potential Carrie/Anson hookup, because, well, anything but Carrie and the weirdly serious Dante.) Then Max tells everyone that Simone has a late meeting tonight at her office but has events every other night this week. Carrie’s up for tonight, but Dante is concerned that it’s too fast. Anson makes some remark about punching her in the face if she asks awkward questions, to which Carrie has to tell him—twice, because the first time he claims it was a joke—not to punch her in the face.

Gotta say I’m with Dante here. If a few hours before a mission you’re still reminding your guys not to punch your target in the face, you’re prooobably not ready.

Wellington briefs Keane on the location of the memorial service, the federal support for local security, and the possibility of crowds and firearms on display (gotta love those open-carry states!). Keane notices something else: there are only fourteen names on the list, so they don’t include the federal agents. Wellington is a little surprised by her surprise: the event was organized by families from Lucasville. But Keane thinks it’s not just their memorial.

Next thing you know, a big old convoy is pulling up to a civilian household so Keane can talk to one of the grieving widows. She—a black woman named Jackie Goodman—allows Keane to hug her and condole with her for her loss, and invites Keane in. There is a big board up with pictures of the dead man and Jackie. It turns out Jackie’s also an agent, who met her husband at the Academy. Keane promises her a Medal of Valor for Ryan (“I’ll repeat all this because this week will be nothing but a blur,” she adds, reminding us that Keane too experienced a loss like this one) and then asks her for something: to go to the memorial service, because she’s worried about people killing each other in the streets tonight. Jackie says she doesn’t think it will help for her to walk into a church of “a thousand white separatists who just lost fifteen of their own.” Keane agrees it will be difficult, which, duh. She says that if she tells people to behave, it won’t help, but Jackie could show them. “The picture of restraint?” Jackie says. Pretty classic—the black woman whose husband was murdered being asked to show heroic restraint in order to keep a bunch of angry white people calm. It’s also, interestingly, the mirror image of what Saul did, which was to assume that since Brett looked like Saul’s image of a reasonable man, Brett could be his ambassador of rationality.

Saul arrives at a large country house by car and is greeted rather warmly by a cardigan-clad Ivan, last seen being Allison’s handler. He introduces Saul to a blonde woman, Kira, who apparently is his partner and is cooking in the kitchen. The two men leave to take a walk and Kira just grins and keeps cooking. It’s all very Stepford.

On the walk, as the two men catch up, Ivan asks if Saul is still divorced. Classy! Saul asks about an incident in Russia where TV falsely reported that a boy was crucified by Ukrainian soldiers. “Directorate Six made it up,” Ivan confirms. Saul tells Ivan that the news of the boy in the hospital had a “similar operational signature” since the fake death of the boy in Russia stirred up anti-Ukrainian sentiment in Russia to justify an invasion. Saul says that according to Ivan’s “debrief on active measures” (title of word spoken in episode, one of my favorite IMDB plot keywords!), he has enough efforts going “to undermine democracies all over the world.” Ivan hedges that this was too dangerous since they’ve just been caught with their hands in US elections. That’s… a weird reference since we’re in a universe where the 2016 election didn’t happen.

Dante and Carrie stake out Simone’s office with a printout of her coworkers to make sure the building’s clear. They cross people off the list as they leave the office. Dante looks nervous, so Carrie reassures him that if they can’t clear the building they can call it off. He confesses it’s been awhile since he’s been on an op like this. He seems to miss it, since this work is different: “Nobody grows up dreaming of taking down criminals inside their own government.”

Ivan and Saul are still on their work. Ivan tells him that Yevgeny Gromov was responsible for the crucifixion story and that he’s a creative thinker. Saul says he hasn’t been seen in awhile and might be tucked away somewhere undercover, like he might have also been partly responsible for Brexit. “Active measures for the Facebook generation.” (What a great objective statement for a resume! “Experienced propagandist, expert in active measures for the Facebook generation, seeks position that will enable me to destroy democracies.”) Saul wonders if he’s using his talents against the US. Ivan just starts smoking and looking at the water which is universal film-noir code for “I’m about to start telling a long metaphor that will eventually answer your question.” Sure enough, he points at the river and explains that it’s called Snake River, because Indians were trying to explain it to European explorers and made a hand gesture that was misread. “Sometimes a domestic crisis is just a domestic crisis,” is the conclusion. I’m not sure we needed that whole story, but OK.

Outside Simone’s building it’s gotten dark, and Max is in the front of the van calling out names of people who are leaving while Carrie and Dante, who have apparently switched positions, are in back. Meanwhile, Dante tells Carrie it’s time for her meds and reminds her, “You asked me to keep track.” She tells him, “Five milligrams. 8:17.” and he writes it down on his phone. (Coming up with your own illegally obtained drug regimen to control your bipolar disorder? There’s an app for that!) Max chimes in, “I took a Zyrtec at 1. Hay fever.” Hee! I love Max.

Then one of the other agents says over the radio that he has eyes on the target, who’s packing up. Anson confirms he’s good to go. Simone leaves and gets into her car, but “Doxie,” one of the agents, disabled the ignition. Simone tries a few times, then calls AAA. They’ve hacked the signal somehow, so they can all hear Max taking her call and promising someone in 35-40 minutes. Simone goes back into her office just as the third to last coworker leaves.

Saul, driving home from Ivan’s, asks someone by phone for a team on him (presumably Ivan) 24/7 and also for a background check on Kira. But he warns them not to do anything to tip off Ivan: “As far as he’s concerned, I still think he’s the happy defector going about his happy life.”

Wellington and Keane have stayed late in the office and are watching the evening news, including footage of a demonstration outside of the church where the memorial will be held before a rally later tonight. Keane looks tense and worried. The TV shows Mary Elkins, sitting near the front. Wellington gets a call that Jackie isn’t at the church, and she’s not answering her phone. Keane sighs and says fine, tell the governor they’re OK with tear gas but not rubber bullets—nothing that looks like a gun. My my, how humane. And even that, David says, might not be possible. Keane also agrees to send in the National Guard even though they thought it would be a bad idea before.

But then just as she’s leaving, Jackie and two other women show up at the church, with Jackie in the lead. They walk slowly down the aisle, with people shaking their heads whenever they look at empty seats. It’s extremely tense and scary, and then people start shouting at them, and it seems like they might have to leave. But Mary Elkins gets up, walks over to Jackie and introduces herself, and brings the women up to the front with her family. The church stays in utter silence. Mary grabs Jackie’s hand. Keane, thrilled at her weird plan working out, asks David for a live feed on all the networks tonight.

Over at Simone’s office, Max is holding her off because the supposed AAA guy is late. Someone named Bennett is messing with the electricity of the building. The last coworker leaves, and Carrie tells everyone it’s last call. They shut off the lights in the building, and Simone is plunged into darkness. She packs up her stuff to go, swearing to herself in French, only to be tackled by three of Carrie’s team. Max stays behind while the other two tie her to a chair, planting a bug in her dropped purse. They ask her about the cash she brought to Hazelton, but Anson hits her so hard she can’t even talk, just nod her head. He demands another hundred grand and names her address and the decor of her room to scare her into complying. Simone looks appropriately terrified (plus, she can’t really breathe). Meanwhile, Max taps the newly planted bug, sending a loud crackle into Carrie’s ears. “Yeah, it’s live, thank you,” she says drily. The men leave, and Carrie remarks that Anson was rough.

A weak-looking Simone stumbles out of the building as the team watches from various cars. But she lets the first cab pass by, which puzzles everyone, and when a motorcycle passes by, they realize that her mic is out because they didn’t hear it. She goes into a bar on the corner, and Doxie dashes out of the building and over to the bar. (It’s weird, he runs so fast on this super quiet, dark block that he nearly catches up to her and only slows down like a few feet behind her—wouldn’t she have turned around? TV rules, I guess.) He reports that Simone’s gone to the bathroom, and Carrie points out that that was why they needed another “female” on the team. Dante suggests that Carrie go in and she asks, “You sure?” Ugh, what is he, your dad?

Anyway, Carrie goes into the bathroom and does her best impression of a friendly drunk girl. She drops her purse and pretends to clean up while dropping the bug into Simone’s purse, making some remark that she’s drunk. Simone, seeming to notice nothing, leaves the bathroom to make a call to David Wellington, who’s prepping Keane for her live address. She says she needs to talk to him and Wellington says he can meet her at his house in forty-five minutes. The team can hear this call since apparently Carrie’s bug worked. She gets back in the van and Dante smiles at her, calling her “slick.”

Keane sits in the Oval Office and makes a speech about the memorial service. She emphasizes the unity of the memorial and calls for unity: “We cannot allow what divides us as individuals to continue to undermine what unites us as a people.”

Back in the van, Carrie’s team pick up Simone’s Uber request, which she’s sending to Wellington’s. A couple of Carrie’s people follow the Uber, and Carrie and Dante get out to get in Dante’s car. “That was a nice save,” Carrie says. “You didn’t need saving. I called the op for three minutes,” he protests. “It was an important three minutes.” Ugh, Carrie, stop sucking up! You didn’t need saving! Or, if anyone did make a save, it was you dropping the second bug into Simone’s purse! Dante also protests that he’s getting patted on the head, but Carrie says it was just a compliment.

Simone arrives at the house and is greeted with a big hug by Wellington. But something’s wrong—the bug is picking up someone else’s conversation. They realize that they’re hearing the Uber driver because Simone left her purse in the Uber. Carrie’s about to get her team to call the Uber and tell him to bring it back, but Dante points out that Wellington will know he didn’t call the Uber, and that she’ll get the purse back in ten minutes. Carrie thinks they’re going to miss the conversation in ten minutes, but he argues that they already have the connection. Then comes the clincher: “You asked me to tell you when you’re not thinking clearly.” Carrie looks furious when he starts talking, but at the end she just sighs and tells her team to pull out.

That was where I just wanted to tell Dante, “Oh, honey.” If this were, say, Quinn, you just know he’d have known right away that something’s up. Because no way does Carrie Mathison abandon a mission after one round of arguing. Anyway, he drives her home and tells her not to beat herself up, that they did good. She’s frustrated that two bugs crapped out on one mission, but he kind of laughs it off. “How ‘bout we let Paley decide?” he suggests. He thinks they have enough to haul her up in front of the Senate. Carrie tells him he’s right and that she needs some sleep.

Of course the minute he drives off she’s on the job again. The ever-faithful Max is waiting in the back with his van. “Tell me we got it,” Carrie says as soon as she gets in. He says yes, but something is weird. Carrie starts talking about the two bugs again, but Max interrupts her and tells her to watch. They sit and watch as Simone greets Wellington with totally normal conversation, asking him about the President’s speech, sharing some wine with him, and telling him she’s fine. He points out that she said she “needed” to talk to him, and she passes it off as being horny. “What the fuck is that?” Carrie says, as Simone climbs on top of David Wellington.

Possibly the most amazing thing about this show is how many different scenarios they come up with where Carrie ends up watching dudes have sex on secret video cameras.

I’ve recapped this episode without giving away any spoilers for the following episode, even though I’m recapping it quite late. But now I’ll talk about what we know from the following episode—Dante is totally evil and screwing with the mission. I personally had no idea that was coming and completely ignored Carrie’s point about the two bugs. I thought it was just her being over-intense and perfectionist, as usual. And that was the tricky thing about Dante in this episode—he used Carrie’s mental illness to make sure she trusted his judgment, laughed off her concerns, and got her to discount her own suspicions about the fact that two bugs crapped out, even though Simone is acting so weird. I didn’t appreciate it when I first saw it because I didn’t know that the twist was coming, but watching it this time around, I kept seeing it. He’s basically gaslighting her. Creepy!

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One Comment

  1. […] Previously on Homeland: A brown-haired white man took a picture of JJ Elkins and spread fake news that he was dead; Saul asked Ivan about someone named Yevgeny Gromov in relation to the fake news; he told Keane this might be information warfare; Simone got jumped by Carrie’s team pretending to want an extra hundred grand for killing McClendon; she called and asked to see Wellington and two bugs that Carrie had planted blew, but on the secret cameras she has installed in Wellington’s house Simone doesn’t mention anything to Wellington. […]

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