I had high hopes that this episode would involve Carrie going on a really exciting mission, which I feel has been somewhat missing from this season—and I wasn’t disappointed! Things sure speed up a lot when you don’t have to take care of the six-year-old kid you had with your terrorist lover.
Previously on Homeland: Saul wanted Carrie to help with extracting Simone and Yevgeny from Russia; Carrie agreed to send her team; Paley told Janet that he had been tricked by an attack on American democracy; Keane fired her cabinet; Paley tried to get Beau Bridges to sign on to the 25th Amendment petition, but he wouldn’t unless Keane kept firing her cabinet; Keane told him no so he said he would deliver the document; Saul told Carrie that he was going to a talk with his Russian counterparts as pretext for an op, and Carrie asked to join.
A plane lands and, while Saul and Carrie and their team get out, Yevgeny and a Russian officer go over all their names while watching from a livescreen. They recognize Carrie. “Useful idiot,” says the Russian officer, but Yevgeny says, “She’s not an idiot.” Then he asks the officer what he was thinking letting them come here.
Paley arrives at a large bare field surrounded by barbed wire: a prison yard, where he approaches a man who turns out to be Dar Adal. (F. Murray Abraham got a producing credit for this single scene, which I found amusing.) He tells Dar about Keane and about Saul going off to Moscow on an unscheduled diplomatic mission. He wants Dar to figure out what Saul’s up to, vaguely promising him freedom in return. After a few minutes of smirking skeptically, Dar opens the paper, sees Carrie’s name, and immediately realizes that it’s a covert operation. Paley asks how to find out what the mission’s for, and Dar tells him that Saul will have a small handpicked team somewhere off campus. Good guess, Dar! His last hint to Paley is that since Saul went to Russia, Paley should look for Russian experts.
Color me impressed that F. Murray Abraham negotiated a producer credit for that.
Carrie and the team arrive in a “clean” (non-bugged) hotel room and unpack giant suitcases full of guns. They have a sort of curtain room set up right in the middle of the hotel room, where one of the team members is on comms. They have a video feed of the dacha where Yevgeny and Simone are staying, and security’s light there. There’s some dude with them whose function isn’t clear, but he’s in charge of obtaining local help for their mission and also of asking questions designed to elucidate exposition in a natural-seeming way. He asks how they’re going to separate Yevgeny from Simone and Saul just says he has a plan for that and for her exfiltration. Random Dude asks what happens if Keane, who authorized this operation, falls. They do not have a plan for that.
Janet knocks on the door of a nice suburban home and asks for Clint. The nice, middle-aged woman who answers calls to the basement that Clint has a visitor. So Clint is an unwashed engineer who lives in his mom’s basement. I should be annoyed by this because it is such an outdated stereotype about engineers, but like… it’s still funny, because Clint kind of sucks. So whatever. He asks if Janet is Paley’s assistant, to which she assents while correcting him that she’s the chief of staff. Uh, now I feel pretty stupid for not realizing that that’s probably her title and calling her Paley’s assistant myself. She threatens to tell the Attorney General if Clint doesn’t tell her why Saul and Carrie really went to Russia. While Clint makes a pro forma attempt to pretend he doesn’t know what she’s talking about, his mom calls down to ask if he and his guest need anything. SO embarrassing. Naturally, Clint totally folds after about five seconds, and tells Janet about Simone, tears in his eyes. Oh, Clint.
Over in Russia, Carrie and the team meet up with a group of Russians, including Mirov—the guy who was yelling at Yevgeny way back when—in a giant fancy room with an interpreter off to the side. Saul, however, protests that it’s not worth talking unless Yevgeny is there. Mirov says, “He sits in front of a computer screen in the basement. He’s nobody.” No, not Clint, Mirov! We’re talking about Yevgeny! Anyway, he eventually gives up the game and assents.
He ducks out of the room and calls Yevgeny, telling him that General Yakushin (one of the other people at the meeting) doesn’t value his work so Mirov couldn’t lie about him. Yevgeny is sitting by the pool at the dacha watching Simone do laps, but he agrees to come in. The meeting adjourns until Yevgeny arrives, so Carrie goes up to the hotel room and sends her team on their mission.
Janet picks up Paley in her car and tells him everything (mostly offscreen). Paley, the poor patriot, is horrified that Keane was right that the “fucking Russians” were using him to get to her and he’s going to be humiliated when people find out that everything they’ve blamed on Keane is actually due to the Russians. He’s kind of cute, like this dumb, selfish person who has still convinced himself that he’s an idealist. Janet is like OK never mind all that, let’s sabotage the mission! Paley is horrified… but kind of tempted. Janet says, “Were we wrong about some facts? Apparently. But we were not wrong about her.” Oh, Republicans and their non-reality-based community! (I don’t want to go all partisan, but, well, Karl Rove started it.) Anyway, Janet has already called the Russian ambassador, just to make sure Paley is maximally tempted to betray the President, and he’s waiting across the street. Paley hesitates—so Janet goes to talk to him herself. This lady does not fuck around.
The US-Russia meeting has reconvened, now with Yevgeny present. Saul asks him about his involvement in McClendon’s death, the Fake News in Lucasville, and Dante’s death. Yevgeny at first denies knowledge, then goes on a rant about how the US isn’t a victim because it’s been aggressive towards Russia on various occasions: NATO expanding into Eastern Europe, the war against Yugoslavia, the war against Iraq, etc. Carrie jumps in on Yevgeny, putting forth pictures of him doing nefarious things. But shortly a message is received and whispered amongst the Russians, who cut the meeting short.
Meanwhile, Anson and the team are on a little motorboat zooming over to the dacha. They dock near the dacha and move stealthily in towards the building. Before they enter, Carrie rushes up to the hotel room and calls them to warn them that the Russians might be on to them. But this doesn’t stop them from getting totally owned when they go into the building. Just as they see Simone, who’s reading a book on a chair (that’s how beautiful European spies typically spend their days, so I’ve heard), turns towards them, one of them (not Anson) gets shot in the head. A shoot-out follows, and finally the Americans get the car keys from someone they’ve killed and speed away, eluding more gunshots on the way. “It’s a fucking ambush,” Carrie says from the hotel room. Very helpful. Upset, Carrie returns to the meeting, making Significant Eye Contact with Yevgeny on the way.
Back at the White House, Wellington reveals some news to Keane: the Supreme Court has ruled against her. “How is that possible?” Keane says, because the Solicitor General told her that it was OK. This is in some ways out of character for her, I think—she’d have to have an almost Trumpian amount of ignorance about constitutional law and about the way checks and balances work, to think that one lawyer could definitively interpret the Constitution for her. On the other hand, you could read this as “a very corrupt woman is so bent on maintaining power that she simply ignores any knowledge that might dissuade her from her chosen path.” And in that case, it’s very in character. Anyway, Wellington said the court had issues with the “delivery.” He also says that they still have hope because of the Congressional vote and because of Saul in Moscow.
Just then Beau Bridges arrives and dramatically relieves Keane of her post, even though she protests that no one framing the Constitution thought the twenty-fifth amendment could be used against someone who wasn’t disabled and could discharge her duties. (I mean, true. That’s why I’ve never had much hope for it against Trump. Sure, he has obvious symptoms of dementia and doesn’t appear to have the IQ to pass a high school government class, but even that doesn’t seem like it’s exactly what the framers meant.)
Back in the hotel, Carrie and Saul disagree on what happened; Carrie thinks the ambassador was tipped off, but Saul just wants to get out before they’re called to account, because this mission was a long shot. And because he knows about Keane. Carrie doesn’t want to leave, but Saul says there’s no other plan.
Max and Sandy arrive at the work site and try to help her come up with a new plan. Carrie thinks there’s no point trying to get Simone unless they get someone to take them to her. Her one hope is to exploit the animosities amongst the Russians. Sandy says it’s a good idea, surprising both Carrie and the audience by actually agreeing with Carrie. She suggests playing off Yakushin, who’s from SVR and wants America to be stable because he’s stealing money and hiding it there. She suggests making Yakushin’s money disappear.
Carrie does what she always does: she meets someone on the roof. This time it’s Saul. Carrie explains the plan—to drain Yakushin’s accounts and ask for Simone—and Saul protests that there’s no exfil plan because the window of surprise is gone. Carrie’s answer? “That’s not the mission. The mission is to retrieve Simone.” Um… I don’t mean to be like a STICKLER or anything, but how do you “retrieve” someone that you can’t actually… retrieve? Her final argument is “I’ve not come all this way in that fucking plane and in my life to fail in that mission when I know I can succeed.” I commend the writers for taking such care to Raise the Stakes for Carrie, but… is this really more important than, say, catching the people who framed Sekou Bah? Or stopping the terrorist plot in Berlin? I like this season and I’m invested in it, but I have a hard time feeling like this particular mission is what Carrie has been working towards her whole life. And her making this speech about it feels manipulative towards the audience.
Oh, and she says “I’m all in” (title of episode spoken by character!) and tells Saul she needs him to say yes. So it’s like, doubly disappointing because not only do I feel like its importance to Carrie’s arc is being exaggerated but I also feel like the mission is being devalued in terms of its value to the country. Ugh.
Anyway, Yakushin finds Saul at breakfast at a fancy-ass hotel, angry at being robbed. Saul demands Simone, and says this is only the start if they don’t get her. Yakushin flounces off in a rage, and Saul sees him yelling at Mirov on his way out. “He says he never heard of her,” Yakushin says to Saul. Saul watches expressionlessly as Yakushin leaves. Mandy Patinkin is kinda phoning it in here, TBH.
Sandy and Max are doing that TV thing where they have magical video feeds of everything in Moscow and they’re tracking Yakushin’s car, with Carrie on the other end of the line. He’s heading to SVR headquarters. Meanwhile, Saul restarts the meeting with the Russians without Carrie, whom he claims is sick. And without Yevgeny, who, Mirov claims, is insulted from his treatment yesterday, or Yakushin, who… had to leave, Mirov says, not bothering with a lie. He then points out that Saul serves at the pleasure of the President, only the President is out. Saul just laughs.
Yakushin’s car drives in to a complex, presumably SVR. Max and Sandy don’t have coverage inside the building despite their magical computer powers. Just then Clint arrives and completely loses his cool when Max says that someone tipped off the Russians about the mission. Luckily, Max is too trusting and Sandy too busy to notice.
Back at SVR, a whole cotingent of black SUVs arrives and guys with guns climb in. Max tracks them while Carrie gets ready to head out with her team. Sandy realizes they’re going to the GRU building, where there’s a secure suite. Bennett, the other white dude on the team who’s not Anson or dead, drives them to the GRU building. Meanwhile, Yakushin’s people arrive there and create a bonkers hostage situation, pulling everyone to the ground and lining them up face-down on their stomachs.
Back at the meeting, everyone’s phones go berserk in the little phone tray. Mirov leaves and calls Yevgeny, who tells Mirov this is Saul’s fault and begs for help against Yevgeny. MIrov doesn’t sound hopeful and reminds Yevgeny that if it doesn’t go well, they can’t get to Simone.
Yevgeny ignores this and busts into the secure suite where Simone waits by the window like a big idiot. He pulls her away from the window and she asks a bunch of questions about what’s going to happen, but he just promises impatiently that she’ll be safe. So patriarchal—very “Don’t worry, little lady, you’ll be fine.” She begs him to stay, but he just kisses her on the forehead and leaves.
Back outside the building the hostage situation continues, and Carrie’s team arrives in their black SUV, with Carrie swearing like a… well, like a Showtime actor. They pull on their little spy ski masks and emerge from the car into the fray.
Meanwhile, Max comes up with the idea to post a bunch of fake news making it seem like Russia’s falling apart. Clint hesitates, but Max just orders him, “Come on, come on!”
Inside the building, Carrie and Anson are making their way upstairs in their disguises. But some other Yakushin thug orders Anson to take a prisoner outside, and after a moment of hesitation he realizes he has to follow orders or else they’ll be made. So Carrie goes on alone, after snatching the prisoner’s security badge.
Back at the White House, Beau Bridges is being like the President now or something. Paley arrives and tells him about the Russia crisis by doing that classic TV move: “You need to see this,” followed by turning on the TV which just so happens to be tuned to a news channel that’s conveniently right at the beginning of the relevant news story. Paley says it’s Keane’s fault for sending an unauthorized mission over there and says Beau Bridges needs to disown Saul.
Inside the GRU Carrie ends up alone in a stairwell somewhere and calls Max, asking for help. Max talks her over to another stairwell, while Sandy looks at him in panic. It turns out that he wants her to edge along the scaffolding on the side of the building, basically, to get to Simone’s suite by the window. She hesitates, but he presses her that they’re coming up and she has to keep moving, so she climbs out onto the ledge—literally—and makes her way over while Max looks on, his face a mask of terror.
OK. On the one hand, I love seeing Carrie doing all these deeds of derring-do. On the other hand, it makes so much more sense for the characters if it’s Carrie who wants to climb around on the side of a skyscraper and Max who’s trying desperately to stop her. The way they wrote it, it’s like she’s just trapped into it by a man. Of all people, by Max. And she’s like crying in fear, instead of exhilarated the way the normal Carrie would be. It was way less fun because it felt like she was coerced into it. On the other hand, watching poor Max stare at his video feed in complete horror at what he’s done to the woman he maybe kind of loves or maybe just worships, is pretty memorable. Excellent acting there.
When Carrie makes it inside, she pulls out her gun and the music goes berserk. She breaks into the suite, only to be held at gunpoint by a terrified Simone. Carrie makes short work of her, convincing her that Yevgeny will kill her if needed. “That is the deal we make in the work we do,” she says, going back to this notion she’s brought up several times that she resents being expendable in her job. This is another instance where I don’t feel like what Carrie’s saying resonates with her character. I see her as someone who’s totally fine with dying for her country, whose regrets are mostly about the times she let someone else sacrifice themselves for her own mission—not really because she values her own life too much but because she values others’ too little.
Yevgeny arrives back at the suite and demands to be let in. As soon as Simone doesn’t answer he totally shoots the door down (I guess we have our answer as to whether he’d kill Simone) and finds the suite empty. Downstairs he can just see a brunette woman getting into a car, and sends his people after them. But, twist! It’s Carrie, in one of her wigs.
Meanwhile, Simone climbs into a car with Bennett, wearing a blonde Carrie wig.
This episode was exciting! I’m writing this a bit late, because we’ve been behind on watching it, but I’m excited to see “next week’s” (aka last night’s) finale.