Homeland Recap: 7×12 “Paean To the People”

Well. I very rarely get genuinely mad about plot twists in TV shows unless they involve some kind of sexism (or, OK, really annoying couples getting back together!), but WHAT WAS THAT? This episode starts out really great, then takes a wild left turn into preachy nonsense that also undoes the entire meaning of the season. DISLIKE.

Previously on Homeland: Janet told Clint she knew he was working with Saul and that Saul is in Moscow doing something, and Clint crumpled right up and told her what Saul was doing; Paley was worried what would happen if everyone discovered that what they’d been blaming on Keane was actually due to the Russians, so Janet talked to the Russian ambassador; the mission to get Simone ended with an ambush; Beau Bridges used the 25th Amendment to oust Keane; Carrie suggested that they use divisions amongst the Russians to get Simone, and so Gakushin ended up attacking the GRU; Carrie told Simone she was expendable, and by the time Yevgeny arrived to kill her she and Carrie had donned wigs and were fleeing in separate cars.

So Carrie’s with Anson and Simone’s with the other white dude on the team who looks pretty much just like the less nervous, less underfed version of Anson. “Was that always the plan?” Anson asks, kind of panting in panic. Carrie says yes and directs him where to turn.

In some giant fancy room that isn’t the Oval Office, Keane and Wellington are silently watching the news about Russia when Beau Bridges storms in and asks what’s going on. “Apparently the Russians are fighting each other,” says Keane, which made me laugh so hard. Like, I think he can see that for himself. Beau Bridges accuses her of starting this by sending Saul to Moscow. When he threatens to pull Saul from the field, Keane reveals that he’s there to get Simone. Beau Bridges says he should’ve been briefed, but Keane thought he might compromise the operation, since he betrayed her two days ago. Which is kind of paranoid and narcissistic as usual—she can’t imagine a scenario where he’s a “true patriot,” as they say, but also went against her.

Over in Moscow Saul, notified quietly by the comms guy that “they have the package,” immediately calls his people off. Um, what a clever code, guys. No one who overhears will ever figure it out! He tells Mirov that he’s been recalled to Washington by the new President, and Mirov immediately gets all excited: “You’re not National Security Advisor anymore?” Heh. Saul corrects him that he’s been recalled, not fired, which puts a damper on Mirov’s obvious desire to have him thrown in jail right that moment. And with all due haste he makes off with all his people.

In the garage, they load up into a black SUV, including Not-Anson and Simone in her Carrie wig. Upstairs, Mirov gets a call from Yevgeny saying that Simone got away, and runs out to the garage exit and jumps in front of Saul’s car. Simone, in her blonde wig, tries to hide her face and Mirov demands for everyone to get out. Just as Saul is pleading for him to calm down, Yevgeny calls again to say he’s found “Carrie” in the getaway car, and they’re saved. For now.

Over at the office, Clint gets a bunch of calls and Sandy finally asks him who’s calling him. Once again, Clint manages to deflect for about four seconds before totally breaking and admitting that it’s Janet. Sandy’s expression of disgust is EPIC:

Sandy grimaces down at Clint, Max in the background.

Poor Clint pleads that he’s been ignoring Janet’s calls so that he wouldn’t say anything about this mission. I love that his only recourse to keep secrets from people is to… not answer his phone. It’s very self-aware, at least. It’s like, “I have no strength of character. How do I maintain my integrity? I know! Hide!” Anyway, Max and Sandy take the sim card out of his phone so Janet can’t find him, and Clint apologizes in humiliation.

Anson and Carrie are almost at the American Embassy when they notice a police barricade being put into place outside. In her earpiece, Max tells her that Saul’s on his way to the airport with Simone, so Carrie tells Anson that she needs to buy them some time. Anson is horrified that she’s going to let them catch her. Carrie says it’s just to buy time, and this is what she agreed with Saul, but of course they both know that she will get caught. After one long awed look at her, Anson faces forward and Carrie runs out of the car. To buy her some time, he crashes head-on into the police car that was gunning for her.

On their way to the airport Saul shows Simone her fake passport, saying she’s Carrie Mathison. Somehow they got a picture of Simone with the blonde wig as the passport photo—the magic of Photoshop, I guess. “Carrie Mathison, your favorite,” Simone says. “What’s happening with her?” When Saul doesn’t answer, she says, “Are you just going to leave her here?” Ha! Saul faces forward with an amusing annoyed expression that I interpret as, “You canNOT win with Russians.”

Carrie ends up in a busy train station, where she sees a few of her pursuers from the top of an escalator. Yevgeny is watching the whole thing as well, thanks I guess to the proliferation of surveillance in Russia. I can’t believe he hasn’t figured out Carrie isn’t Simone yet, though! There’s no way those two women move or walk in the same way.

Meanwhile, Saul and his team have pulled up to the airport and wait in nervous silence while a cranky-looking guard scans their passports. He comes over and it seems like he’s about to make Simone, but instead orders Bennett to get out because he’s wanted by the police for murder at the dasha. Simone translates while Saul protests that they have diplomatic immunity. The whole thing ends in Saul physically pushing the guard out and shutting the door. Now they’re in a standoff, with half a dozen armed guards pointing guns at Saul’s car. He calls the Embassy.

On the train platform, Carrie, still on the run, hangs her red scarf around the neck of a random brunette woman who is immediately tackled to the ground by police. Mean! She runs into an empty room on the side somewhere, locks it, and hides behind a desk.

Beau Bridges is enjoying his moment in the Oval Office when Saul’s call is put through. As Saul explains what’s happening, we see that Paley is also in the office. Saul asks him to use diplomatic immunity to get them home, and lies that he wasn’t involved and it’s a mistaken identity. Beau Bridges asks if the mission has been a success, and Saul realizes he knows more than Saul thought. After a moment he says yes, but it won’t succeed if this problem isn’t solved.

Once Beau Bridges hangs up, Paley surmises that Saul has Simone Martin. Beau Bridges realizes that Paley already knew she was still alive. Paley protests that if Simone comes back, Keane will be back in charge and feeling vindictive. Beau Bridges asks what Paley advises, and Paley suggests that Beau Bridges throw Saul and Keane under the bus with the Russian ambassador. He thinks he’s getting through, but it’s pretty clear from Beau Bridges’ smile that the latter is not impressed with this nakedly Machiavellian approach.

Over at the station, Carrie waits in her hideout while the officers evacuate everyone from the station. They find a little girl staring at the door she went through and realize that Carrie’s in there. She asks Max, who’s still following along in her ear, if Saul’s on the plane and Max says there’s a problem at the airport. “Jesus,” Carrie whispers.

The Russian ambassador arrives in the Oval Office and starts accusing the Americans of starting the problems in Russia, but Beau Bridges authoritatively interrupts him and says that actually, the problem is that Saul is being detained at the airport even though he has diplomatic immunity. Paley starts to protest but is roundly ignored. When the ambassador starts to protest that Saul has also been up to other things, Beau Bridges interrupts, “No different than you.” He says that Saul needs to be allowed to board in the next five minutes or he’ll close the Russian embassy and detain every Russian diplomat. After the ambassador gives in, he also tells Paley to get the fuck out of “his” White House. Yay! Over at the airport, Saul sees the cranky guard getting a call and closes his eyes in relief.

Over at the station, Carrie, pointing a gun at the door, watches as the guards start to break down the door to her room with an axe. She tells Max she hasn’t got much longer. “I’m with you, Carrie,” he says. Just then they break the door down and Carrie drops the gun, raises her hand, and throws herself to the ground. Meanwhile, Saul’s car drives forward to the plane. Carrie, keeping her head down, is dragged towards the exit. Just then the Americans finish boarding (it’s super suspenseful even though realistically there’s no way that it takes Carrie as long to be dragged out of a room by three men as it takes seven people to board a plane!). Just as she looks up and Yevgeny sees her face, she hears Max in her ear saying that Saul is away. The plane takes off, and at the station, Carrie looks up at Yevgeny and laughs in relief. But she’s immediately taken away by the guards.

Saul, on the plane, stares back at the city they’re leaving, presumably thinking of Carrie, whom he left there.

Side note: We’re now a third of the way through the episode and mostly finished with the suspenseful portions. I don’t know why the finales of this show always seem to be so … boring. The first twenty minutes were admittedly pretty great, but it took me three tries to finish the episode because I kept falling asleep!

A title card tells us that it’s three days later. At the work site where Saul’s team has been holed up, we now have Max, Clint, Sandy, plus Anson and his team. They’re watching the news, where a reporter is saying that Simone Martin is testifying today and Paley has been arrested on charges of cooperating with a foreign power, while his chief of staff Janet is cooperating with authorities. Ha, I love it! Janet comes out on top once again. Talk about Machiavellian! The team look around at each other, more sober than triumphant.

Homeland 712 sandy 2

Simone sits down at the Congressional hearing, is sworn in. Sandy watches with a hilariously disgusted expression (this actress is just SO GOOD with the faces, I love it!). Simone admits to being a captain in the GRU. “That one’s for you, Carrie,” says one of the people back in Saul’s office. Simone describes her mission to disrupt the American political system by compromising the President. Back in the office, everyone cheers, except Max—poor guy can’t enjoy anything with Carrie gone.

Keane busts in just as they’re cheering, accompanied by Saul. She says it feels good, and says, “So this is the room where it happened!” (See what she did there?) She thanks them all, tells them that they kicked ass, and promises that she’s doing everything she can to bring Carrie Mathison home.

Speaking of whom, she’s alone, reading, in what is a pretty giant cell. She looks up when she realizes she’s being watched through the peep hole in her door, and the watcher comes in, a baby-faced guard named Aleksandr. He makes small talk with her, and she thanks him for giving her the book. Then he brings her across a courtyard to a room where Yevgeny’s waiting.

The room is set up with a camera and spotlights. “I’m not gonna save your asses now by reading some stupid statement saying this was all a CIA plot,” Carrie says, unafraid. She tells him everyone will know the statement was coerced, but Yevgeny says, “As long as the seed of doubt is planted, that’s all I need.” Oh, do you think they’re saying something about the real world here? Fake News maybe? Just a theory. He pulls out a pill bottle, says he knows all about her new medication, and—when Carrie remains defiant—asks if she wants to spend her days pleasantly reading and exercising in prison, or in an asylum. If she makes the statement she can have her meds. Carrie, holding back emotion, repeats her “no.” Yevgeny tells her it’s going to be months before the exchange is made, if ever, and she has till tomorrow to decide.

A police escort accompanies Keane in her limo as Wellington talks on the phone to a reporter about how Keane is still finalizing her statement for her address tomorrow night. He covers the phone to ask Keane if the reporter should mention that Keane chose the anniversary of her son’s death for the address. “My son’s off-limits,” says Keane. Um… then maybe schedule your statements for days that aren’t the anniversary of his death? Just a thought. Wellington passes this on to the reporter and asks if he can see a draft of the statement, which Keane essentially brushes off. They exit the limo, and Wellington says Beau Bridges is asking for a meeting with her. “Put him back in his doll box and close the lid. I’m done playing with him,” says Keane. Heh.

When they enter the White House a whole crowd of people is gathered waiting to cheer Keane as she reenters. After a moment of surprise, she grins tearfully and walks down the hall thanking and shaking hands with people. Wellington apparently arranged it, that big old suckup. Beau Bridges is even there, along with some other people waiting in the Oval Office. She thanks him for holding down the fort, no mention of doll-boxes, and thanks everyone else for having her back. The Chief Justice swears her in, with Wellington holding the Bible, after Keane makes a few of her patented “I’m-pretending-to-be-less-intense-than-I-am” jokes.

Aleksandr lets Carrie back in her cell, and she pulls him in to ask him to get her her pills. “I’ll do anything,” she says tearily, doing everything but literally pointing to her crotch to make sure he knows what “anything” means. It’s extremely painful and uncomfortable. Aleksandr says he’ll try and leaves her there, still on the edge of tears.

After the ceremony Beau Bridges gets his meeting with Keane. He asks about the Russian sanctions, claiming to agree with them but saying that she’s missing an opportunity to push this through Congress and make it a bilateral move. Keane looks at Wellington, then says that she doesn’t want to hand her agenda over to “a legislative body that has forgotten how to legislate.” Beau Bridges argues that this is a good way to start building bridges so that it’s not just “Democrats and Republicans” forever. Keane continues to demur, but remains polite and gracious to Beau Bridges and promises to think about it. As soon as he leaves, though, she basically scoffs at the whole thing, wanting to enjoy having her “foot on their throats.” Oh, how… charming.

Wellington spouts off some very on-the-nose dialogue about how someone needs to stop the cycle of pressing partisan advantage whenever in power. Keane now agrees more sincerely to think about it, but she doesn’t exactly seem thrilled at the idea of bipartisanship. She is thrilled, however, to sit back down at her desk. Then she says that she’s willing to talk to Paley, who’s apparently been asking to see her.

Saul and the Russian ambassador meet at some garden, with the birds cooing all around. Saul gives him a piece of paper with three names on it, but the ambassador says he needs Gorin. Saul says Gorin’s a deal-breaker. He pleads that he’s offering three of the highest-value captures from the last decade, but it’s a no-go. The ambassador says to wait a few months for people to be more in the mood to negotiate. “I don’t even know if she’ll be alive in a few months,” says Saul. The ambassador leaves, and Saul sits, looking gutted.

At the DC Central Detention Facility (according to the title card), Paley meets with Keane. He’s in his prison uniform, and greets her as Madam President. He begs her forgiveness. While she stands impassively before him, he says he’s asking for his family because he’s not a wealthy man and without his pension, his family won’t have enough to live on. After he’s spent several minutes pleading, and Keane’s been silent the whole time, he even gets down on his knees to literally beg, in tears. And then she spits on his face and leaves him crying on his knees. Wow. Afterwards, Keane drives through the streets of Washington, past the Washington Monument, looking pensive.

It’s nighttime in DC, but it’s apparently also dinnertime in Russia, because Aleksandr brings Carrie, in her cell, dinner and tells her it’s not horrible. There’s also a pill waiting on one of the plates. She thanks him, he says she’s welcome, and then she tells him to come back later tonight. Oof, so painful. It’s especially painful because Carrie, far from being upset at the price she’s had to pay for this, is so relieved to get her meds that she literally sits down and smiles to herself in sheer relief. That’s how terrifying it is to be without her meds.

It’s the next morning and Keane, followed by David Wellington, walks through the cemetery to where her son is buried. She takes the wreath David was carrying and places it by the headstone, where there’s also a small American flag planted in the ground. Everyone gives her her space while she bows her head before the stone for a long moment. Then, as if she’s come to some decision, she stands up quickly, tears in her eyes.

Back at the White House, Wellington comes to the Oval Office to find people setting up for a televised address—but no Keane. They say she “changed her mind” (we don’t know what this means until later) and Wellington immediately panics. He finds Keane getting her makeup done in the residence. It turns out she was supposed to be doing this in front of a live audience but she’s decided to do it in the Oval Office instead. She claims she’s listening to Beau Bridges and that’s why she wants to speak directly to the people. Wellington protests that that doesn’t match the speech, and Keane just says she’s going to wing it. Wellington is not pleased about this, and it’s obvious from the Law of TV Tropes that Keane is planning something radical that she doesn’t want him to know about.

Yevgeny arrives in Carrie’s cell and tells her her time’s up. Fortified by her belief that she’s prevailed on Aleksandr, she repeats her “no” and defiantly tells him, “Tough shit.” He tells her Aleksandr’s been promoted, and brings Aleksandr in to force Carrie to congratulate him. Finally he reveals that the pill was sugar. Carrie tears up, but her answer is still a defiant, “Fuck you.” He and Aleksandr leave her alone in her cell, trying not to cry.

Over at the Oval Office, Keane starts her speech, with Beau Bridges and Wellington, among others, standing on the sidelines.

Keane basically says that she was going to talk about how Russia has waged a covert war on our country, but that what’s really changed is the fact that the country is an easy target because it’s “deeply divided.” (Oh my God, I’m so tired of this nonsense, by the way. Being deeply divided is not what makes us an easy target. People have always disagreed! Being a country full of borderline illiterates who can’t tell the difference between lies and the truth is the reason we’re easy targets.) She apologizes for using the power of her office to lash out at her enemies after the assassination attempt, which is good. But then (while we see people watching this speech from all over the world, including Yevgeny) she says the democracy is in trouble and “locked in an existential conflict over race and identity and culture.” She then says she’s spent the day talking to Beau Bridges, and that they agree something needs to be done. THEN she says she’s part of the problem because half the country believes she’s a liar, and people need a leader you can trust to save the democracy or something, so she’s resigning. She concludes by pleading to everyone to try to find common ground and to help the new President.

Warning: rant incoming.

This makes NO SENSE. “Our democracy is in trouble, so I, the person who was democratically elected to lead the country, am going to step down.” That is basically what it boils down to. It is completely irrational and serves only to turn Keane into a mouthpiece for a set of banal complaints about the fact that this country is in trouble—trite observations that the neoliberal sellouts at the Atlantic have already made plenty of times for her. And it cheapens the entire thrust of the rest of the season; we watched Carrie voluntarily sacrifice her sanity and possibly her life, we watched her laugh triumphantly in the face of Yevgeny as the rest of her team flew away without her, leaving her in the hands of the Russian, just so that Keane could GIVE UP because some people think she’s a liar? WHAT? It makes no sense whatsoever.

And don’t even get me started on the nonsense that people disagreeing with each other is the biggest problem this country has. The lack of cooperation between Democrats and Republicans is certainly problem, but what about, I don’t know, the fact that there are Nazis marching in the streets and “incels” murdering women at will? They might as well just go on TV and say, “Oh, there were good people on both sides.” Sometimes there IS only one side to a disagreement. If you can’t admit that you’re just pandering. UGHHHH.

Anyway, I realize that a TV recap is not the correct venue for an in-depth discussion of what’s actually wrong with our country, so I’ll just say that Keane’s resignation feels like an extremely cheap answer to a problem much more complicated than the Homeland writers want to admit.

OK, rant over. Now we get ANOTHER title card telling us it’s seven months later. Saul stands waiting in the rain at some dark bridge somewhere, which we are informed by a title card is the Russian-Estonian border. He’s accompanied by the dude who was helping with the mission in Moscow, who I think is the American ambassador to Russia (though I’m honestly not sure what his actual title is). They’re waiting for an unnamed female person who we know is Carrie, and don’t know what her condition is.

Across the bridge, a group starts moving towards them. Saul says he doesn’t want to start moving till he sees her with his own eyes. As the group approaches we see it’s one woman, hunched over and moving slowly, with a man holding her up on each side. “That’s her,” Saul says softly. “Get the prisoners.”

Armed guards escort a group forward from the SUV behind Saul. “Christ, is that Gorin?” says Saul’s companion. So we learn that Saul gave up the most valuable prisoner for Carrie after all. Saul walks forward in front of his prisoners. Carrie, her face full of terror and confusion, doesn’t move. Finally the guards let go of her—and she still doesn’t move, so they shove her forward. Still confused, she runs towards Saul—and past him—and then falls to the ground. Saul lifts her up, and she looks at him totally without recognition as he gently strokes her hair and whispers her name.

Ooh, that was really sad. And it’s made even rougher—but also pretty infuriating—that this character voluntarily gave up her sanity for a president who couldn’t even be bothered to serve out her own term.

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