Like I mentioned last time, this episode contains one of the more disturbing revelations of the season–in my opinion! But perhaps not as disturbing as the news in the real world, so thank you to Homeland for providing some solid escapism this season.
Previously on Homeland: This recapper had a rage stroke when the entire season’s work was undone by the stupid-ass President Keane winning back her job and then immediately giving it up like a fucking idiot, leaving Beau Bridges in charge (and yes, I’m still mad); Mike called Carrie out on tanking the polygraph; Saul got a transcript of Haqqani saying he was tired of war; Tasneem was worried there would be a breakthrough in the peace talks and planned to prevent them from happening; Haqqani decided to go forward, but then Saul realized that someone was going to attack his convoy; he was hit by the attack, was kidnapped, and came to in the custody of Haqqani.
Carrie is sitting on the roof having more detailed flashbacks of talking to Yevgeny and then begging him not to leave her. She seems pretty into him at that point. Present-day Carrie is smoking a cigarette, looking troubled. But she’s only thinking about Yevgeny–it’s unclear to me, and it remained unclear throughout this episode, if she were ever told that Saul had been kidnapped. I mean, maybe he’s been kidnapped so many times that she’s just not particularly worried about it?
David, the hapless chief of staff who last season saw fit to fall in love with President Keane at the worst possible time, attends a briefing on the Berenson kidnapping. The white, male VP, Ben Hayes, who sort of resembles Brett Kavanaugh minus about ten years of hard drinking and beer calories, has apparently just returned from Columbus where he was for a sports game–ostensibly. President Beau Bridges arrives and tells everyone that the ISI was behind it, but Haqqani is still convinced it was the US. Hayes thinks maybe they should just fire Berenson. “Shouldn’t we try to get him back first?” Beau Bridges says drily. Heh.
Carrie interrupts Mike in the middle of a meeting and happily announces that actually, she’s not leaving Afghanistan as scheduled. Again with that creepy smile! Everyone should know that something is fishy when Carrie smiles. When Mike insists that she is leaving, she kicks out the person he was originally meeting with. From his office. That’s a bold move! Then she tells Mike Yevgeny is in Kabul–and that he was the one who gave them the lead on Samira Noori, who helped them bring G’ulom down last week. She tries to convince Mike that Yevgeny is recruitable, but I think she just wants to figure out what happened to her. Which she basically admits as soon as Mike dares to push back. Of course, Mike is a total wimp, so he gives in. “You’re finally getting the hang of this job,” Carrie says. Wow, she’s kind of a dick. I mean, I guess we knew that. Mike tries to stand up for himself by giving her forty-eight hours. Carrie says “Fair enough,” which in Carrie-speak means, “I have no intention of even paying attention to your restrictions.” Because if she respected his authority at all, she would be arguing with him. There’s no such thing as setting a limit on Carrie Mathison and having her just peacefully accept that.
Over at Haqqani’s compound, Saul tries to convince him that it was the ISI who attacked him, and that one of Haqqani’s confidantes must have leaked to the ISI. Haqqani gets pissed, but nevertheless, rushes out to accuse one of his guards of leaking. The guard insists it’s only the people Haqqani told who know; and Haqqani immediately looks alarmed.
Cut to a young man–Jalala, Haqqani’s son–praying in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. Tasneem shows up behind him, leaning against the doorframe like an angel of death. She says that she will help resolve any doubts about the young man’s leadership–the implication being that he’s going to take over for the dead Haqqani. But a messenger shows up to say Haqqani’s not dead. Tasneem does not do a great job of pretending to look thrilled about this. Haqqani calls on some kind of burner phone. He tells him he’s with his cousins and where, and Jalala promises to come as soon as he can. He’s worried that his dad will think it was him, but Tasneem reassures him: “You and I are the only ones who know.” Yikes. So it was him!
Jalala is still freaked. Tasneem feeds him a cover story for their meeting today.
Over at the military camp, Max is still doing that hilariously unlikely thing where he uses his voice to boss the computer around in full earshot of everyone else. He apparently wants to use keywords like “ransom” to catch the people who have Saul. I’m sure that’ll work. Anyway, he’s interrupted by a few dumbass soldiers tackling him to the ground so they can rub his tummy for luck–including the young, brash guy who I keep expecting to die because, well, that’s what happens to young brash guys (spoiler alert: I was kinda wrong there, at least that he would die first). Anyway Max screams at them that he’s not their fucking Buddha. He really doesn’t like being touched.
Carrie gets a note telling her where to be at 6:30 in the morning. It’s dropped off via courier, so not exactly stealth.
Jalal arrives at Haqqani’s compound and is hugged by a few people. There’s a cute little donkey or something drinking in the yard–aww!! His father hugs him, and tells him they’ve been betrayed–but he’s not sure it was by the Americans, because Saul actually wanted the peace process to work. Jalal kind of protests that the traitor “you” (Haqqani) are looking for wouldn’t have done this, because it’s too bold. Haqqani catches it and corrects that it’s the traitor they’re both looking for. Coddled rich kids, am I right? They can’t do anything properly, including sabotaging their daddies’ peace processes (unless by accident; see: Kushner, Jared).
Carrie has gone straight to Mike (and Jenna, not that Jenna’s got anything to say about it) to report her contact from, presumably, Yevgeny. She’s still saying she thinks he’s recruitable, although it’s pretty clearly (to us) just that she wants to find out what happened to her. Mike insists on backup, which Carrie protests. Still confident–classic Carrie–that she has the upper hand, she condescendingly says it’s his station (oh, so you are aware!) and that he knows what she would do. She’s trying to pysch him out since she used to be the big shot between the two of them.
But as soon as she leaves, Jenna helpfully puts two and two together for any audience members who need it spelled out: they’re going to let Carrie meet with Yevgeny so that if she’s compromised, she incriminates herself. So there’s no question of not giving her backup, since they would need to actually hear her incriminating herself. Mike asks her to drop a bug in Carrie’s purse, which Jenna protests she can’t do, since they’re not at the hair-braiding stage of friendship yet. Yeah, I mean… what? Does Carrie even carry a purse? I’m pretty sure she has a messenger bag. But whatever. They decide on a parabolic mic instead.
That night, Jalal opens the door to some dude who tells him that Berenson is making his dad go crazy. Jalal didn’t even know Berenson was a prisoner–his dad didn’t tell him. His friend warns him that Haqqani thinks the traitor is him, Jalal. He’s worried they’ll both be killed tomorrow. Jalal says he’ll figure something out and pushes the guy out the door. From the perspective of that shot, it seems pretty clear someone is watching them. And for another entry in “Jalal can’t do anything right,” he immediately calls Tasneem on an open line like a dummy. She yells at him and hangs up. Hee! Hassani, listening in, puts down the phone in sadness. Then the friend who warned Jalal shows up, and we realize the whole thing was a ruse to get Jalal to incriminate himself.
Jenna finds Carrie on the roof smoking again. I gotta say: it’s still weird that Carrie has not mentioned Saul’s kidnapping once. Has everyone just not told her so she doesn’t lose it? Or like… does she not care because she’s too focused on her Lost Months? (I just realized: this plotline is so Alias. Remember Sydney Bristow’s two lost years?) Jenna asks a few sort of naive questions about what might happen at the meeting. Carrie thinks he’ll be a candidate for recruitment, not–as Jenna assumes at first, or pretends to–defection. Then Carrie gets super weird and defensive when Jenna remarks that Carrie knows Yevgeny best. Way to be cool, Carrie. Then she accuses Jenna of spying on her, and being sent by Mike. Jenna just smiles and says no. Um, good cover, Jenna? Carrie says she’s not sure if Yevgeny is trying to meet up with her to be recruited or just to throw more confusion and suspicion on her. I think she realizes she got too defensive and is trying to feign openness with Jenna to throw her off. Jenna, to her credit, still looks reasonably wary.
Over in Kabul, Saul is sitting against a cell wall sleeping when Haqqani comes over, gives him his glasses back, and tells him he’s free to go. Well, of Saul’s many kidnappings, this was probably one of the easiest, eh? Not so fast–instead of running away, Saul chases Haqqani down and asks what’s happened. Saul… come on! Run!! But no, he stands around with Haqqani, who’s mourning “my unlucky country.” Haqqani tells Saul that it was Jalal who tried to kill him, and that he’ll have to kill Jalal in order not to compromise his command–or step down. Saul tries to convince him neither one is necessary, but Haqqani remains morose. Again… I see that we’re humanizing people now, but I don’t feel that bad for Haqqani. He slit Fara’s throat!
Over in Kabul, it’s morning and Carrie, her eyes lined, is waiting for Yevgeny. Mike worries aloud to Jenna that Yevgeny may have made them–or been warned by Carrie.
Meanwhile, Jalal is woken up by being dramatically arrested. Saul stands by like a disappointed Father Time as Haqqani slowly comes out to confront Jalal in the courtyard. Jalal, prostrate and chained by the neck to a pole, pleads that it wasn’t him, and Haqqani shoots near his head, startling everyone–but doesn’t hit him. Jalal calls him a tired old man who’s lost his way and is negotiating with the enemy. Haqqani switches to English, I guess to keep his men from understanding him, and tells Jalal that they can’t win on the battlefield. Jalal is not convinced, and won’t back down because he’s got a gun to his head–so Haqqani unties him and stands him up. Uh-oh, he’s going to shoot him like he did to Ayaan!
The tension is incredible. Especially when–after Jalal appears to give in–Haqqani hugs him and touches foreheads with him. You just expect him to shoot the kid in the side of the head at any minute. Then he softly pleads with Jalal for the truth: did Jalal do it? Jalal keeps denying it, even with a gun to his head again. It’s sooo tense. Yet somehow, after approximately forever, it ends with Haqqani just kicking Jalal, alive, out of the compound and sending him, still in his sleep shirt and pants, “into the street like a dog.”
Back in Kabul. Carrie’s still waiting. Jenna says she doesn’t buy that Carrie would make that whole thing up just to avoid going back to Germany. I guess she did kind of buy whatever Carrie was selling last night. Just then they’re interrupted by horrible feedback on the mics: it’s the call to prayer. Yevgeny strides up to Carrie just then, and brings her over to the fountain to make doubly sure they can’t be heard. Jenna smiles to herself, “admiring the tradecraft.”
Meanwhile, Carrie’s a little testy. Yevgeny says that he thought she’d be happy to see him, and totally misreads when she says she’s not: he apologizes for leaving her in Moscow. He leans close to her, speaking softly–presumably to avoid being heard. You guys, even though this is horrifying for Carrie, is Yevgeny kind of … sexy? Oh, it’s just me? Erm, never mind. Carrie accuses him of getting her source killed, and Yevgeny denies it. He says that he was trying to “pick up where we left off.” Oh, yikes. Carrie starts to get worried as he leans in close and stares in her eyes and asks if she really doesn’t remember. “I saved your life… for one thing,” he says.
Carrie starts having flashbacks again as he narrates: she was trying to hang herself with her bedsheets and he found her. According to him it was “pure luck”–but I kind of doubt that. And then he got her back on her meds. He recalls the birch forest where she liked to walk, and that she told him about her relationship with Brody. Still playing tough, Carrie scoffs that he just read it in her file. So Yevgeny flat-out tells her that she tried to drown her daughter. Whoa!! That’s below the belt (so to speak… hopefully). A silence falls between them, and the prayer stops. Yevgeny PUTS HIS HAND ON CARRIE’S SHOULDER and then leaves. Good Lord. What will Mike make of that? Right now, though, he’s busy trying to figure out if they’ll be able to recover any of the sound. As for Carrie, she’s still sitting at the fountain, visibly freaked.
My inexcusable crush on Yevgeny aside, this is truly one of the most horrifying things that has happened to her: realizing that she was possibly in a real relationship with someone who almost took down the government. I mean, of course that’s not the first time that’s happened, but this time, instead of being in possession of her senses, it all happened when she was so broken she can’t even remember–it must feel like such a violation.
Back in the White House, Beau Bridges tells David the milksop chief of staff that Saul has been released and Haqqani may be willing to negotiate. Beau Bridges wants David to tell Saul the parameters of the negotiation — where he can compromise, etc. David takes the opportunity to tell him that Hayes was in Columbus and claims it was for a football game–but that every major donor in the country was there. David thinks that he’s positioning himself to run for President. Beau Bridges hilariously thinks that Hayes would never run against him. Um… has he never MET a Republican politician? Uh, sorry, I mean, someone “from the opposing party,” as David coyly puts it. They like, basically live to gleefully trash the norms of the political system (while constantly claiming that white people like them are the only ones who behave properly). It is so cute that Beau Bridges did not realize this before.
Saul and Haqqani are now negotiating, Saul still in his flannel shirt he’s been wearing since the attack. I bet it smells great in there. Saul’s demanding a timeline for Taliban disarmament, before the American troops leave. He promises amnesty and “the power of legitimacy” in return. Basically, Haqqani could be rich and corrupt instead of scrappy and outlawed like he is now. Haqqani broods at the window a moment before admitting that sometimes he just wants to go home. It’s this that makes him finally agree to a ceasefire, starting the next morning. He tells Saul he’s counting on him to keep the US honest.
The music swells, but not in a triumphant way–more in an ominous way. Haqqani confesses he regrets what he did with Jalal. Not sending him away, oh no–we haven’t strayed that far from his original character! No, Haqqani’s kinda wishing he’d sent Jalal’s head in a bag as a threat for Jalal’s fighters in the field. Saul pretty much hides behind his beard so he doesn’t have to comment on this.
Over at the base, Max is packing up to go. Young Brash Guy protests that he can’t go. When he finds out Saul has been released so Max can leave with a clear conscience, he yells, “That’s fucked up!” Heh. But at the last minute, someone else comes in and tells him that there’s a storm coming in, and it’ll take a couple days to clear. Young Brash Guy thanks God for keeping Max trapped there. Lucky, indeed!
Carrie shows her face to some kind of facial recognition and buzzes into an operations room of some kind. I don’t know what I’m supposed to call it. When she hears that Saul is there, she sounds surprised, but not in a “thank God my mentor and the one lasting relationship in my life is safe” kind of way, so… maybe she really never knew he was kidnapped? Omg this mystery is driving me crazy! Max knew, how could Carrie not know?!
Carrie joins Mike and Saul in a quiet room. They’re videoconferencing with Beau Bridges and David. Carrie learns that Haqqani has agreed to the ceasefire. The main problem now is getting support from the American people; they’re worried about its being twisted to look like they’re capitulating to terrorists. Honestly, aren’t Democrat politicians too damn worried about what Republicans will think? You can’t live your life afraid to do anything Fox News won’t like. Republicans certainly don’t care what the New York Times thinks about their decade-long campaign to stop people from having affordable health care. Carrie shares what she was going to advise Elizabeth Keane to do: a trip over to the troops to announce the ceasefire to them first and win over military opinion, followed by a joint press conference with the President of Afghanistan. Beau Bridges looks intrigued. He sends everyone out to talk to Saul alone.
Mike follows Carrie out, and Carrie tries to evade him so that she can write up her contact. Mike points out that if it were that urgent, she wouldn’t have been off the grid for 90 minutes after the meeting. I’m sorry, what?! Carrie disappeared for 90 minutes after that meeting?! Honestly, sometimes she’s terrifyingly great at what she does and sometimes she does something so OBVIOUSLY sketchy that it’s amazing to me she has gotten away with anything in her life. She tells Mike it was to clear her head because it wasn’t easy to see Yevgeny again. He presses her on whether Yevgeny’s recruitable. Carrie resists, then finally says Yevgeny was demoted and feels underappreciated. THEN she says she left it in his court and adds, “Either way, I don’t think I should be getting on a plane anytime soon.” Good Lord, woman, try to have a little chill! I am also losing respect for Mike that he even remotely buys this. She is being so super duper sketchy. Right?!
Jalal’s walking down the road when he hears a car coming and dives into a ditch. But the car stops, and Tasneem gets out and smiles at him in her cat-like way, and he gets in the car with her.
Guys, I kind of love Tasneem. She’s totally evil, but in a very fun way.