Homeland Recap: 8×02 “Catch and Release”

So I fell asleep the first time Keets and I watched this, but don’t let that be a comment on the quality of the episode–it’s good!

Previously on Homeland: Carrie failed her polygraph; she had flashbacks to hugging a mysterious person in the Russian asylum where she lost several months of her life; the VP of Afghanistan, G’ulom, made comments sabotaging Saul’s work to broker a deal with the Taliban, so Saul pulled Carrie out of the hospital where she was recovering for a week or two in Afghanistan; Carrie went to see an old source, only to learn that the Taliban killed him as an American asset while Carrie was in Russian custody; Max went on a mission to fix a listening device to help them interpret Saul’s negotiations; Carrie went to see G’ulom, only to be confronted by Yevgeny and realize that he was the star of all her awkward hugging flashbacks. That was one of the more horrifying moments of the entire show, honestly. (And having seen episode 3, it only gets ickier…)

So, right after seeing Yevgeny, Carrie follows him at a distance, and watches him leave the building. She looks gutted, but has to pull it together somewhat when Jenna finds her and tells her G’ulom is ready for her. Although she doesn’t do the best job–I feel like for Carrie, “pulling it together” means something akin to “no longer making the classic Carrie cry face, but something closer to what a normal human would call a cry face.” Jenna definitely knows something’s up.

G’ulom greets Carrie–who you’ll remember refused to let Jenna come in with her–quite warmly. Carrie calls him out on parading the Russians in front of her to upset her. Turns out that he’s been trying to convince the Russians that if the Americans pull out, it will be a disaster for them, too. He totally knows why Carrie is there–to convince him to release the prisoners–and he’s not very excited about it, to put it mildly. Carrie points out that the Taliban prisoners are prisoners of war and have to be released as part of any peace settlement, which… TBH I had never thought of. Interesting. She even pleads against their personal relationship. Wow, sometimes her choices are completely terrible, but when it comes to persuasion, she is so convincing. Still, he doesn’t fall for it. He says she should have come with “either a gift, or a gun to the head.” Carrie looks upset, as if she’s realizing she’s off her game. Not a good feeling.

Max, having fixed the listening device, is now sitting in the middle of the military bunk doing HILARIOUS stuff like yelling, “Parse. Translate.” at his screen, despite the fact that two days ago his mission was supposed to be classified. He’s setting up keywords to listen for, including “Haqqani,” who if you’ll remember was the architect of the attack that killed Fara, the one that Tasneem refused to help the Americans defend against. Or in other words, the one that led Quinn to go rogue and then come back and make out with Carrie, because you know that’s how I actually remember it in my head.

Carrie and Jenna arrive back, and when Jenna asks if she needs anything, Carrie is like, “Some privacy.” Ha, rude! Once inside, she calls Saul and tells him who she saw. She can barely breathe, she’s so upset. She goes full Maverick With a Temper Problem, saying she wants to “roll him up” (not even sure what that means) and “strap him to a chair.” But Saul, ever the calm one, says that a condition of her release was to do nothing related to her time in Russia. Yeah, I’m sure that’ll work on Carrie. The fact that Carrie says “Fine” and hangs up should really alarm Saul more than it does, I feel.

When he hangs up, he has a call from Max: Max has picked up a call from Haqqani. They decide the other person on the call must be his son, Jalal. Good work, Max! As a reward, the poor guy has to have his head ruffled by every soldier on their way out, because they’ve decided he’s a good luck charm. Poor Max cowers and goes, “I really don’t like people touching me?” Naturally, no one listens.

Carrie finds a note at her desk that simply says “Samira Noori” and then shows it to Jenna. End of scene. Cool.

Saul and team have assembled a big Pinterest board about Haqqani and the negotiations. The transcript convinces Saul that Haqqani is tired of war, and that peace may really be possible. He thinks they can get Haqqani to the table without going through Pakistan (and the untrustworthy Tasneem). By a happy coincidence, the prisoners released from Guantanamo are arriving tonight and one of them just so happens to be Haqqani’s cousin.

Carrie has figured out the meaning of the note: the woman watched her husband get blown up by a car bomb after she was involved in a corruption probe targeting G’ulom. She tells him it was an anonymous tip, which Mike finds not particularly convincing. She thinks they can bring Noori in to talk to her for a fake job interview, and meanwhile look at her apartment. Mike says Jenna has a phony NGO and could run this play. Carrie clearly has her doubts, but I guess she figures she can only push so hard.

I still would put even money on Jenna being some sort of evil criminal mastermind.

The helicopter, presumably carrying the Guantanamo prisoners, lands as Tasneem waits. She’s concerned to see that one of the prisoners is brought directly to an ambulance due to a supposed health problem. Yeah… I feel like this cover story is way too flimsy for someone like Tasneem. Also, shouldn’t she at least like, go over there to make sure it actually is the right guy?

Carrie goes over the mission with Jenna and then anxiously reminds her she’s not looking for intel, just stalling. Jenna, who has apparently forgotten the whole “stuck at the starting gate” thing that she JUST heard Mike say, like, yesterday, asks if Mike told Carrie she was a fuckup. Calm down, Jenna. Luckily Carrie doesn’t have to pretend she thinks Jenna is capable for too long, because an email comes in from Samira herself, and Jenna sets up an interview for the following afternoon.

In the hospital, a Middle-Eastern man gets an injection while Saul looms over him. The second cousin, presumably. Saul tells him that he doesn’t have to be stuck in Doha till the negotiations are over, if he takes a message to Haqqani.

Carrie waits till Samira has left her place and gotten in a cab, then gets into her building somehow. They don’t find anything, but Carrie insists there’s got to be something, because she’s convinced that Samira is “a fighter.” Finally she finds a burqa (I think?) and finds it suspicious, since Samira isn’t a big headscarf wearer; sure enough, the lining contains a flash drive. Carrie gives her team a hilarious “I told you so” smirk.

Meanwhile, another helicopter lands, this time in the desert somewhere. Jeez, spying is not a very sustainable industry. Saul and the cousin emerge. The helicopter takes off in a cloud of lens flare. Did JJ Abrams direct this episode?

Also meanwhile, Jenna meets Samira at the interview and makes a little small talk about the foundation. The whole time you’re totally waiting for Jenna to screw up and do something terrible, even though there’s really no reason to think she’s incompetent… but then she totally DOES slip up and mention the “audit.” Samira immediately gets suspicious, and when Jenna can’t cover, she takes a picture of her with her cell phone and runs. Ha, Carrie should recruit Samira to her team! Jenna just got owned. Jenna calls one of the guards and tells him that she has Jenna’s picture and not to let her leave. Oh, Jenna. The guy legit climbs into her cab after her. Oh, Jenna.

Saul and the cousin are in Peshawar, Pakistan. Saul lets the guy out and reminds him to put the letter into Haqqani’s hands. The letter reminds Haqqani that they fought on the same side back in the mountains (um… but Haqqani kidnapped Saul in 2014?) but now they’re enemies. He invites Haqqani to talk to him face-to-face at his hotel. He promises he has no drones or backup. Yikes.

Carrie arrives back at the embassy to a total shitshow. They’ve got Samira under a hood like a prisoner. Jenna’s like, “It was me, I lost control of the interview.” What a hero. Carrie, worried that they’ve traumatized her all over again, goes in, pulls off the hood, and apologizes to Samira. As soon as they’re alone, she says she’s Carrie and works for the CIA. Both Mike and Jenna give a deep sigh as soon as they hear this. Heh. Then she whips out the flash drive and names what’s on it: files from the audit, which could still sink G’ulom. She says she wants to take down G’ulom. Samira says hopefully, “Arrest him?” Carrie corrects that she just wants to control him. 

Samira, no fool, realizes what this really means: Carrie’s going to bury this if G’ulom does what she wants. “Who do you think you are?” she says angrily. There follows another lecture about Americans getting out of the country. Samira takes the flash drive and makes to go, like a badass. Carrie pleads with her that peace is actually the thing that will reduce G’ulom’s power.

Next thing you know, Carrie calls Saul to let him know she can turn G’ulom. Basically, she has info that there’s some kind of ghost battalion that G’ulom was using to get American aid money. Saul gives her the go-ahead, and says he might see her in Kabul soon. Then he hangs up and stands alone on his rooftop again, where presumably he’s waiting for Haqqani.

In Rawalpindi, Pakistan, at a “Military Cantonment” whatever that is, Tasneem–in a gorgeous purple headscarf and fab shades–swans glamorously into a large complex, hands her sunglasses to the butler or whatever he is, and goes out into the garden, where an old man in a wheelchair is sleeping. Oh, it’s her rich dad! He’s apparently out there hunting squirrels or something. Tasneem takes the bullets out of his gun. Over a fancy dinner under a crystal chandelier, she asks about Saul. Her dad says they were friends until 9/11, when America began its war on the Muslim world. Tasneem complains that Saul “outflanked” her. She’s worried that Haqqani’s tired of the fights and might be on the way to a breakthrough. Her dad says that the talks will have to be controlled by Pakistan. “Or prevented from happening in the first place,” says Tasneem. Then she says, “How far am I allowed to go?” Her dad just says she can go as far as she must. When it comes to Tasneem, that’s a terrifying thought. 

Carrie visits G’ulom to lay out all of his falsified papers. His defense is that everyone’s corrupt, but Carrie points out that he’s already made people mad by sabotaging the peace process. She gives him two hours to walk back his statements. It’s pretty clear she’s won. He says that the Taliban will never keep the peace, that it will be “Saigon all over again,” and that he’s the only one with the balls to fight the Taliban. It’s a little scary, but of course, Carrie doesn’t really do scared. She smiles at him and says, “Two hours,” and leaves.

Max, adorably annoyed that the soldiers keep bringing him his meals for him (there’s also a little bespectacled rock labeled “Max” that they clearly made for him, which is just the cutest), calls Saul and — also adorably — apologizes because he knows he’s only supposed to call if it’s important. But he says there are a bunch of ISI numbers making encrypted calls converging on Peshawar, where Saul is. Saul hangs up, and tells whoever he’s working with that Pakistani intelligence may know they’re there.

Haqqani is watching via binoculars from a field nearby when a radio announcement comes out about G’ulom retracting his statements. Haqqani is pleased, but one of his men thinks it’s a trap. Still, they all peel off in their incredibly dusty cars.

Saul and the other guy hear that there’s a convoy headed towards them. Saul heads out to the street, ignoring the guy warning that he’s not safe out here–he’s worried that they’re not the target after all. Saul, listen to the guy! You have been kidnapped a statistically improbable number of times already! Don’t tempt fate by wandering out into the street while your friend begs you to stay inside! “They’re gonna hit the convoy,” Saul suddenly realizes. He runs towards the cars, yelling, and just then they explode. (So, I’m still mildly confused about this, but I’m inclined to blame Tasneem?)

Just then, Saul has a hood thrown over his head and is dragged into a car by the Taliban.

Yup. He’s been kidnapped. AGAIN.

Honestly, I laughed so hard at this. Saul getting kidnapped had at this point happened so frequently that it was a running joke between me and Keets. He’s now been kidnapped by so many people that, like Ted Mosby after he’s been on a first date with every woman in New York, he is on round 2 of being kidnapped by Haqqani. Come on, show! Find a new damsel in distress! (Not Max, though. My heart can’t take Max in peril every week.)

Carrie walks through the street, attended by two men, and descends to the basement of some bar. She’s there to meet some of the embassy people, Jenna and Mike included–she orders soda water with lime and smiles at Mike that she’s less fun than she used to be. Jenna thanks her for saving her ass, and Carrie–suddenly in a buoyant mood after taking down G’ulom–assures her kindly that it didn’t need saving.

Then she goes to the bathroom only to be confronted by Yevgeniy in the back hallway, smiling smarmily at her. “Get the fuck away from me!” she says. He says she should thank him, for handing him Samira. Carrie, still kind of terrified, calms down and asks, “Why?” Yevgeniy’s smile gets even creepier, if that’s possible–omg it’s SO creepy–and tells her not to play dumb. Then he leaves as she has yet another flashback of begging him not to leave her.

Saul’s kidnappers arrive at what’s presumably Haqqani’s complex and unhood him. “Thank God,” Saul says mysteriously when he sees Haqqani. “You’re alive.” I guess he’s worried about what would happen to the peace process if Haqqani died, but it’s a pretty amusing response to finding out that you’ve been kidnapped by the head of the freaking Taliban! Haqqani just glares at him and knocks him over the head. As would be expected.

Anyway. I quite liked this episode, though not as much as I liked the following episode (I’m a little behind on recapping already, as usual). There are a lot of hamfisted attempts to give us Both Sides of the story–to give us perspective on why various groups in the Middle East resent American intervention and why peace isn’t easy. I appreciate that, though I think it is resulting in some tonal confusion, because it’s obviously hard for the audience to sympathize with someone who did what Haqqani did (and what Tasneem abetted) to Fara. The show is, let’s face it, kind of an outlet for the psychic wound that’s resulted in this entire country from 9/11. So I appreciate that it’s trying to undo some of the negative stereotyping that may have resulted from earlier seasons (while also feeling hypocritical for even watching it, since part of my fandom is obviously just me exorcising that same psychic wound) and yet kind of doubt that that’s possible to do effectively. All in all–and Saul’s repetitive kidnapping storylines point this out in a different way–it seems pretty clear it’s time to end the show. Maybe make room for more shows that star and are created by brown people.

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