Have you ever just spent an hour of television yelling “OH my GOD!” at the screen every five minutes? Because that’s what I did while watching this episode.
Previously on Homeland: Carrie realized they might have been wrong that Wellington was Simone’s contact; Saul told Sandy that he was looking for Yevgeny Gromov and he wanted her help; Dante told Carrie he had a bipolar ex but they broke up because he drank too much; Simone testified to the Senate that a senior White House official told her to leave money in Hazelton, but Carrie realized she was lying; Saul asked Carrie who told her about Simone, and Carrie realized Dante had played her; Saul told her to lay low, but instead she went home to his place, drugged him, and brought a whole team over to investigate him. As one does.
When the episode starts, Carrie’s team is still hard at work peering into Dante’s vents, going through his closet, and taking pictures of his books. Suddenly he sits up, opens his eyes, and looks straight at one of the team. Everyone freezes, and he passes back out, but they beat it post-haste. At least Carrie still has some sense of self-preservation left. You half expect her to just keep going till the dude’s gotten up to brew coffee.
Outside they complain that they weren’t done yet but Max chimes in that he has all the downloads. Carrie wants to get them back in there (um, WHAT?), but even Anson, the alcoholic mercenary, is like, “That’s the kind of shit you only get away with once.” Suddenly Carrie realizes she has to get home because her sister’s going to kill her. Oh, Carrie.
Saul comes over to Wellington’s house. He asks to come in and Wellington says coldly, “Actually I was just on my way out.” Saul stares him down for approximately a second and a half before Wellington gives in. I love that. It’s such an effective way of reminding us that Wellington is … what’s the word? … a weenie.
Inside, Saul asks him about Simone. He says it was at a conference about democracy, where they met and spent the rest of the conference in her room. Saul sits him down and tells him he knows what Simone’s going to say to the Senate: that Wellington gave her $50,000 as payment for the murder of McClendon. Wellington asks why she’s doing this, and Saul says she’s an agent of the Russian government trying to topple this administration. Wellington realizes he’s been involved with a Russian agent, his voice trembling. Saul tells him he’s got to share everything that might be relevant about Simone, but David’s just stunned. Maybe he’d feel better if Saul told him it happens to everyone. And I mean literally everyone.
Carrie walks into her house all casual and cheery, and starts offering to help with breakfast even though everyone is clearly already working on it. Even Franny doesn’t greet her happily. Maggie pulls her aside and tells her she’s had her bad-girl years and it’s time to grow out of them, so Carrie yells, “Fuck you.” Maggie says that everyone was worried about her including Franny. Carrie protests that she’s working. Maggie just says that she’s had it, and so has everyone else including Franny, so Carrie stomps upstairs.
Franny finds Maggie and asks, “Why doesn’t she like to be here?” in that Very Perceptive Yet Lisping way that TV children always say these things. But she and Maggie are interrupted by Carrie stomping back downstairs and pulling Franny out the door, furious. “Thanks for the hospitality. You’ve served your time,” she shouts angrily after blaming Maggie and Bill for pretty much everything. And then she marches Franny out the door.
Well, this should work out GREAT. Earlier this season I wrote that Carrie only cares about Franny when someone’s trying to take her away, but I guess she also cares about her when someone’s criticizing her parenting skills.
Max goes into his house only to be ambushed by a random dude. But before you panic—I certainly did, because Max is too adorable and I don’t want to see him get kidnapped and tortured by Russians—it turns out to just be Saul and a couple, for lack of a better word, henchmen. He tells Max that Carrie told him about the surveillance. “…What surveillance?” Max tries weakly. Heh. Saul is not impressed. “I told Carrie to back off and let me handle it, but… that’s not her way,” he says. Understatement of the year. Max can’t believe Carrie told Saul about the surveillance. (He says it in this quiet, tiny, sad voice. Poor Max!) Max immediately confesses in response to Saul’s next series of questions that he’s just come from Dante’s, where he and Carrie were looking around his apartment while Dante slept. Saul, to his credit, takes this admirably calmly. He wants Max to go through what he’s downloaded, somewhere where Saul can keep an eye on him. He and his guys immediately escort Max back out.
Carrie drives up to a motel and brings Franny into the lobby, holding her hand. Franny starts complaining that she’s hungry, and then Carrie’s card gets declined. She tries another one, but the motel receptionist points out that it has a whole different name on it. Carrie decides discretion is the better part of valor and takes Franny back outside. Franny asks where they’re going and Carrie just snaps at her. Franny starts to cry, and Carrie apologizes and says she’s just tired from working all night. “I want to go home,” Franny wails.
Just then, Carrie gets a call from Dante and leaves a crying Franny in the car. He asks what happened last night, and she tells him he fell asleep and they didn’t have sex. Then—and this is where I started yelling at my screen in total disbelief—she sighs and confesses she had a rough morning and moved out of her sister’s house with a hungry Franny. Dante hears the story and tells Carrie to come on over and have pancakes.
How insane is this? Carrie is literally bringing her child over to a Russian spy’s house for breakfast. I can’t believe it. The suspense is so high—not only wondering what will physically happen to the characters, but wondering how many bad decisions Carrie is willing to make. They seem endless.
Saul brings Max down to the unprepossessing office where he’s working with Sandy and Clint. While Clint and Sandy stare, he brings Max into a back room. “What is this place?” Max asks. “Don’t worry about that,” Saul says. Hee. He tells Max to start going through the files and basically blackmails him into cooperation by threatening to get a judge to throw him in jail for the secret tapes.
Outside, he tells Sandy and Clint that Max is someone working with Carrie. “Your Carrie?” Sandy asks. “If you’re implying I have any sort of control over her, then no,” Saul says. Heh. He gives them Wellington’s material on Simone and tells them it’s priority because they have less than three days.
Meanwhile, Carrie and Franny are SITTING IN DANTE’S APARTMENT. Dante and Franny are making chocolate-chip pancakes. It’s bananas. Like, you think Carrie can’t make any worse decisions than seducing and drugging the Russian agent who has played her. But then she brings her kid over after he potentially woke up enough to see her investigating him. It’s just… wow. Anyway, he tells her she’s welcome to stay with her. She just says, “We’re not in the way?” He says no, and leaves for a meeting, waving Franny good-bye cutely. This is so wild, you guys. My mouth was just hanging open by this point. I cannot believe she’s doing this. I mean, it’s a clever move because presumably Dante thinks she would never bring Franny there if she were onto him. But that’s precisely because using your kid like that is beyond the capabilities of really almost anyone. And I’m not saying it’s out of character for Carrie—it’s not. It’s just mind-boggling.
Keane is walking down the halls of the White House getting briefed by some assistant. They chat about Wellington and then Keane sees Beau Bridges waiting outside her door. (He’s actually supposedly the vice president, but we’re all obviously just going to call him Beau Bridges.) She sort of sighs like oh, this guy again, and asks her assistant to come get her in a couple minutes.
Once in the Oval Office, he asks what’s going on with Wellington. Not the video of him supposedly harassing Simone in the restaurant but the immunity deal. “Will he be charged with high crimes and misdemeanors? Will the walls of this White House come tumbling down?” drawls Beau Bridges, who is apparently under the impression that he’s the bad guy in a cheesy Southern drama. Keane says that there’s nothing going on with Wellington, and that Paley is just trying to sow doubt, and he shouldn’t let it take root. Classic Washington epistemology: “They’re just trying to make me look bad, so ignore them!”
Just then the assistant comes to get her, as ordered. Keane kicks Beau Bridges out, but before he leaves, she hisses to him, “Since what you’re really asking is whether you’ll be sitting in this chair anytime soon, the answer is no.”
Back at Dante’s House of Horrors, Carrie is snooping around looking for… evidence of Russian collusion buried under his stove? She even looks in his spice rack. She tells Franny she’s just cleaning up. But Franny finds a photo album with photos of Dante and his ex-wife, Audrey. Franny continues to ask silly Precocious TV Kid questions which I won’t bother recapping. Meanwhile, Carrie, seeing that Audrey works at Treasury, comes up with a new plan. She asks Franny if she wants to take a ride. I guess we should just all be grateful she didn’t leave Franny in Dante’s house?
Meanwhile, Dante has decided to be crafty, too! He shows up at Maggie’s house wearing his best Kindly Gentleman smile. Maggie gives him the most long-suffering of smiles when he asks if Carrie mentioned him. He assures her Carrie’s fine and when she mentions the “big blowout” this morning, he smiles and says that those are the same words Carrie used. (A cute character note for the two sisters to use the same phrase.) He says he’s here to get some things for Franny and Maggie lets him right in. I don’t know, you guys. Wouldn’t anyone living with a big-time spy be cautioned not to let randos into the house like this?
Meanwhile, on her inappropriate fact-finding mission, Carrie (or “Karen Harris,” her alter ego) has set up a meeting with Audrey. “So what has he done?” Audrey asks. Heh. But Carrie says she’s just vetting him for an assignment.
Back at the house, Maggie kids with Dante while she gathers some of Franny’s things, asking if she’s allowed to ask if he’s agency. He says he’s Bureau. Then, when Maggie hunts through a pile, he asks what she’s looking for—and offers to go look to see if it’s in Carrie’s room. Maggie, trusting lady that she is, points him down the hall. Dante starts right in on riffling through the papers on her desk. He sees a bunch of stuff about Simone, then a printout of info on him. Just then Maggie comes in and finds him at the desk… and he whips out the bunny like he had just found it on the desk. Clever man.
Back at Treasury, Carrie’s asking about Dante’s job disaster in Kabul. Audrey says he wasn’t happy about it at all. She starts a sentence with “He started…” and Carrie supplies, “Drinking.” But that wasn’t what Audrey was going to say. (It’s funny that Carrie had not realized yet that everything Dante said was false. Almost like she hasn’t quite realized how bad this really was.) Audrey corrects her to say “obsessing.” Apparently he had been blamed for something that wasn’t his fault and became bitter. Then she says that after they split up, Dante’s job thing apparently blew over and he started traveling overseas a lot again. Dun dun dun! Carrie says that this was very helpful. At the last minute Audrey adds that there was a woman Dante especially hated—that there was a CIA station chief who was off the rails, dropped a drone on a wedding party, and got a promotion for it, just as he was being unfairly blamed in Kabul. Carrie just smiles awkwardly.
Outside she calls Max and reports that the drinking thing was a lie, the Audrey bipolar thing was a lie (“She’s about the most stable person on earth,” like you can tell a bipolar person from one conversation?), and that he was traveling at a time when he claimed to be chained to a desk. She thinks that’s when he was getting recruited. Max is having this whole conversation in Saul’s office, with Saul listening in. Carrie asks to come tell him what she learned, but Max says it’s not a good time. Carrie, noticing nothing, tells him to call her.
Back at the office, Max is pissed at Saul, in that gentle but stubborn way that he gets pissed. He tells him it’s not right to keep Carrie in the dark since she’s the one who brought this to Saul. Saul characterizes it as Carrie bringing him a problem she had created since she had everything backward and had trusted the wrong people. Max can’t quite argue with that, but he’s still mad. Aww, poor Max. Saul leaves, telling Max not to answer Carrie’s next call.
Clint and Sandy call him away to show him what they’ve found on Simone. There are a bunch of people close to the Kremlin who make huge donations to the NGO she works for, and they think it’s a Russian front. Saul wants to get this to a judge this afternoon.
Keane arrives at a ceremony to honor the agents who were in the air raid Wellington ordered. Her assistant tells her that Wellington approved the text of her speech, and that he left a note for her. Keane opens it to find it’s a short resignation note followed by an extremely long, awkward letter about how he was played by a Russian agent. “No,” Keane cries. Just then, Beau Bridges is introducing her, so she has to go on stage, reeling.
Saul shows a judge all his evidence on Simone. “Nice shape,” is the first comment from the judge, an elderly white gentleman. Very helpful, dude. But then he says that the woman is a small piece of the conspiracy, and that Saul only has surmises and beliefs. Then he says, “Honestly, I don’t know what you’re asking for. A surveillance order? An arrest warrant?” So… Saul just showed up and started showing this dude photos without even saying what he was there for? That seems a little, uh, disorganized. Anyway, the judge recognizes Simone from the videos of David Wellington “manhandling [her] all over the Interweb.” Hee! I love when grownups talk about the internet. The judge says that she has to be allowed to say what she’s going to say. Saul argues that this could collapse the administration just by letting her say it, even if it’s false. The judge says that this is witness tampering and Saul knows it. He says, “What you’re talking about is politics and that’s why it’s such a goddamn mess.” Nice to see the justice system standing up for human rights, I guess.
Keane finishes handing out medals to the people involved in the air strike Wellington ordered. Then her assistant tells her a car is coming. She calls Saul and tells him about Wellington’s resignation letter (describing it, hilariously, as “three excruciating pages.” I’ll bet!). She asks if the Russian stuff came from Saul. Saul says yes, but he didn’t tell Wellington to resign. Then Keane says that this is what Saul warned her about. OK, we get it, Saul prophesied doom and now doom is coming, but this is totally partially Saul’s fault for thinking Brett was some kind of ally. Saul tells her about his task force, and they talk about how Simone can’t be allowed to testify, but Saul says the federal judge disagreed. Damn those checks and balances, amirite?
Back in the office, he finds Max out of his back room and working with Sandy and Clint. Max may have found something: Carrie said Dante had been going overseas a lot, and he found five points of congruence between Dante’s trips and Simone’s. Saul realizes he needs to go after Dante.
Speaking of whom, he’s waiting with Franny’s toy Hop when Carrie and Franny arrive back at his place (again, OH MY GOD: she just found this dude’s been traveling overseas probably to be recruited by Russian agents, and that he specifically hates and blames her for his problems, and she’s bringing her kid into his apartment). Carrie gets pissed at him for going to his sister’s house behind her back—which is probably the right move, since again, she’s banking on convincing him that she’s not onto him, and if she were onto him she might tread more carefully? But also I’m sure it allows her to express her real anger, which is that he blames her for the drone strike and her promotion. But then Franny comes up to her and just says, “Don’t.” Don’t—leave me displaced from yet another apartment today? Don’t—fight with someone in front of me? Hard to tell. Poor Franny.
It’s night now, and Keane’s in the back of her limo reading Wellington’s letter. This time she finds something even worse than the Russian stuff. It’s all about “his true feelings” and how Wellington never cared about Simone. Wow, Wellington really IS a weenie. This is so embarrassing. Keane asks the car to stop at Wellington’s house.
Carrie’s tucking Franny into bed AT THE RUSSIAN AGENT’S HOUSE. (I yelled “Oh my God” again here. I just couldn’t believe it!) Franny asks a bunch of Precocious TV Kid questions about what’s going to happen to them, designed to show us that she’s suffering from the instability of Carrie’s life. I won’t recap them at length. Anyway, Carrie eventually leaves the room and comes out to Dante. He offers her a drink as a peace offering (water, to his red wine), which she hesitantly accepts. She asks him aggressively what Maggie said since he was clearly spying on her. Dante says she’s worried about Carrie but she didn’t say much. Then he asks what Audrey said, since she apparently called Dante to congratulate him on the new job. “So did she say the right things?” Carrie mirrors Dante’s answer: she said she worried about him but couldn’t make it work. Dante gets all up in Carrie’s face, pressing her for more. Carrie resists, but finally says that Dante was preoccupied with someone else: a CIA station chief. She somehow manages to not look terrified, even though he’s leaning over her with at least six inches and sixty pounds on her. Yikes! This episode is so tense!
Keane arrives at Wellington’s and starts reading his letter back to her. “I thought you should know before I leave. Why I’ve been here,” he says. God, this is male entitlement at its finest. You’re in love with her? WHO CARES? She’s the fucking PRESIDENT. Don’t distract her with your stupid feelings. God. Keane protests that he can’t upend seven years with this declaration, and that she’s President of the United States. I thought she was going to finish that by telling him to get over himself, but instead she basically says he can’t leave her when her presidency is threatened on all sides, and refuses to accept his resignation.
Uh, WHAT? Dude, let him resign! You don’t need him! Oh, this is going to end so badly. (Even though Keane is a president I would definitely not like in real life, I have to admit that I can’t help but root for her here because she’s the female president I’m afraid I’ll never see in real life.)
Back at Dante’s apartment, Dante and Carrie are TOTALLY MAKING OUT. Wow, this is so bad! Meanwhile, outside, Saul has a team ready to go in and get him. They pause, realizing that there are three people in his apartment, not one. Saul looks at the camera and realizes what’s going on. “She was warned to stay clear,” he says. They take that as a go, and start moving in. Meanwhile, Carrie and Dante are full-on fucking on the couch. Dante asks (accompanied by much panting) why Carrie went to Audrey. Carrie gets as far as “Because I think you’re—” when Saul’s team storms in and takes Dante. One agent peels off to scoop up Franny, who screams, and as Dante is carried off Carrie wraps a blanket around herself and comforts Franny. The team is gone in about ten seconds, leaving her alone with her terrified daughter.
Wow. This was maybe not the most heart-pounding exciting episode I’ve seen on this show, but I think it was one of the best and most memorable. The show has spent years developing Carrie’s character, this desperate genius with a savior complex who also just happens to be bipolar and also just happens to have really bad taste in men. So then she’s saddled with this terrorist’s ginger-haired child, at once completely unwilling to change her lifestyle and completely unwilling to admit any inadequacy in her mothering skills. And now for the sake of a case we watched her bring Franny out of the safe environment Maggie has provided and essentially into the vipers’ nest, which panned out horribly, with Franny waking up to a terrifying raid—which is actually the best-case scenario anyway when you’re staying at a literal Russian agent’s house. It’s the culmination of years of tension between Carrie’s two responsibilities (and the fact that she is really only suited to one of them). It’s so painful and suspenseful at every step of the way. And the fact that they’ve built this character who is (in my opinion) entirely human and real to us but is also capable of these monstrous actions that very few of us could ever imagine doing, is one of the most admirable parts of this show.
All in all, really well done!