Homeland Recap: 8×04 “Chalk One Up”

Previously on Homeland: Carrie got a tip to pursue Samira Noori, and that helped her secure peace with the Taliban by blackmailing G’ulom; Saul made a ceasefire deal with Haqqani; a brash young soldier whose name I still don’t know thought Max was a lucky charm; Beau Bridges realized that his Republican VP was probably running against him in the next election; Jenna and Mike let Carrie meet with Yevgeny to incriminate herself, and when Carrie met with him she discovered to her horror that she and Yevgeny had apparently been rather intimate in the asylum; and she lied to Mike about the meeting, knowing he hadn’t been able to hear her.

Carrie’s parking the Motorcycle of Doing Things Mike Wouldn’t Approve Of in the garage. I shudder to think what she’s been up to this time. A chef in the kitchen who knows her by name tells her it’s not safe out there, but Carrie, of course, doesn’t listen. And on her way back to her room, she manages to overhear something suspicious through the vent in a door that leads to the hallway. Um. I mean. This is the CIA. Would they really have doors that let you eavesdrop from the hallway like that? But whatever, the point is, it sounds like someone is sneaking around doing something important for Mike, and Carrie’s out of the loop.

Samira Noori meanwhile is walking with a friend through a lively open-air market. The friend is all excited that the ceasefire is working. Samira has her doubts; she’s not a fan of the Taliban just walking around. As they leave, they run into a couple of guys with ice cream cones, who just hand them their half-eaten ice cream. I’m guessing that they’re also Taliban since Samira looks so nervous?

OK, first of all, I know that this wouldn’t have struck me five weeks ago when this episode aired, but omg how unhygienic! Also, even in regular life, don’t take food from strange men even if they haven’t licked it first, I mean, come on!! Then Samira’s dumbass friend takes a selfie with the Taliban people. This scene was so tense — the whole time I was on the edge of my seat, ready for something truly horrific to happen, but it didn’t. So I guess the dumbass friend was right!

Back to Carrie’s bad decisions: she enters some kind of inexplicably deserted control room and starts rummaging around. Then a military police officer shows up and (politely) orders her to come with him. As soon as Carrie sees Jenna and Mike having a serious discussion nearby, she panicks and tells the officer to call Saul Berenson, but he condescendingly tells her Saul’s already aware. When she figures out they’re going to the airport, she’s even more desperate. “You want to tell me where they’re sending me?” she says with an angry tremor in her voice. No answer from her escort, of course.

They pull into a hangar, where Carrie emerges to see Saul himself. It turns out the President is coming here to meet the Afghan President and announce a plan for peace. Carrie realizes that’s the meeting she overheard at the station. Saul laughs and says “it’s a mess getting your clearance restored.” Can’t really blame the government there. The President has specifically asked for Carrie to be there so he can talk to her. “We did it,” he grins to Carrie. Oh, Saul. Never celebrate your success in the fourth episode of the season!

Samira’s friend is I-told-you-so-ing as they walk home: even the fact that two women can walk around, unescorted, is apparently a novelty. Then Samira sees someone she apparently knows waiting outside her apartment. She greets him happily and lets him in.

At the Presidential Palace, a slow crowd moves through metal detectors, including Tasneem looking like a million bucks in a brilliant white head scarf and pantsuit. She heads straight for G’ulom when she gets in. They both sigh that there’s probably been an agreement between Afghanistan and the US without any input from either of them. Tasneem is here under threat of sanctions if Pakistan doesn’t get on board. Then G’ulom reveals that his President is on the way to Bagram airfield, and that the secretary of state of the US must be on his way. Tasneem thinks it might be Warner himself. 

Tasneem tries to leave so that she can get her confiscated phone back–but Saul finds her and stops her. Tasneem accuses him of going behind her back, and Saul calmly reminds her that she tried to kill Haqqani. Touche! Tasneem doesn’t look pleased, though. But I guess if she doesn’t have her phone, we can’t read too much into the fact that she knew the Presidents were at Bagram.

In her home, Samira happily serves tea and food to her visitor, who turns out to be her brother-in-law. He grabs her hand (ew!) and urges her to come back to their village, because everyone is gossiping and/or worrying about her. But mostly gossiping, let’s be serious. When she nudges him to go, he promises he’ll take care of her. Yikes!! He wants to marry her. Poor woman. She again, politely, hints for him to go–which he does, indignantly. When he leaves, she locks the door and sighs, looking upset and even scared. Or maybe I’m projecting.

Carrie waits at the hangar for Beau Bridges to touch down, and in comes the ubiquitous Jenna, who excitedly asks Carrie if she’s talking to the President. After greeting the Afghanistan president, he enters the hangar and peels off to talk to Carrie. He says that he wouldn’t be President if it weren’t for Carrie, which is kind of a demoralizing thing to say, isn’t it, when you’re only president because you happened to be VP when a previous president, like, resigned in a weird mixture of vindication and disgrace despite the immense sacrifice and effort Carrie made to keep her in office? But Carrie doesn’t point this out, naturally. And then Beau Bridges thanks her for everything she went through, since he can’t thank her publicly. Carrie fights back tears. Aww. He also wants to set up something in the White House for her when she’s back in Washington.

Then he tells her that he’s flying up with the other President to talk to the troops on the front lines. Carrie’s a little surprised that JSOC signed off on this, but Beau Bridges is unconcerned. He pats her shoulder paternally, if a little lingeringly (maybe he’s supposed to be the Biden of this alternate universe!).., before leaving for his next flight. Carrie and Jenna get into a line of black cars that will serve as the decoy envoy. Back at the station, Mike is following the helicopters from the control room.

Samira sits in her apartment, alone and tearful, listening to her brother-in-law plead outside the door to let him in and that he apologizes for upsetting her. THEN SHE LETS HIM IN NOOOO SAMIRA DON’T DO IT!! He’s come with two of his buddies and tells her she has to pack her things. Ahh!! This is so scary. She’s just being kidnapped from right out of her own home.

In the decoy car, Jenna asks Carrie what the President said. “It looked, like, intense,” she says intelligently. Shockingly, Carrie doesn’t immediately open up to Jenna’s hamfisted attempts at friendly talk. Finally Jenna says, “If it was personal… who do you have to share it with besides me?” Um, rude! But Carrie gives in and says the President thanked her “for Moscow. For what I went through there.” She tears up again as she says it.

Then her phone buzzes–it’s Samira, pleading for help from her bathroom while her brother-in-law pounds on the door. Carrie diverts her car from the fake envoy and speeds it towards Samira’s apartment (with Jenna meekly in tow and only the driver putting up any fight whatsoever).

Over at the barracks, Max is listening to something on his headphones when the soldiers are told to gather outside for an unknown big shot. Brash Young Guy (BYG) guesses that it’s a one-star general, but Max just silently jerks his thumb up to indicate it’s more stars than that: he knows who’s coming. I love how cool he is! Like, he’s a big dork, but in the coolest possible way. 

Meanwhile, Mike is still watching from a fancy control room with as many TV screens as a Best Buy. And over at the Embassy, Tasneem in her aggressive white sulks in a corner while Saul makes an announcement that President Daoud welcomed President Warner to Baghram and that they’ll be here soon–but first he wants to show a message from the front line.

At the White House, David tries to get the amateurish Vice-President into the Situation Room, but he’s just like, nah, I’ll just watch TV from my office, kthanks. Poor David has obviously already learned to pick his battles so he just stays there with Hayes.

Beau Bridges and President Daoud stride towards the assembled soldiers, including Max, as everyone in the world watches. Beau Bridges makes his speech, starting with the suffering that’s been endured at this base. Finally he says that the suffering has convinced the enemy to negotiate for peace. Everyone claps. Even Carrie and Jenna, stuck in traffic, can see people gathering around footage of Beau Bridges on store TVs. Tasneem shoots a death glare in the general direction of the world. And Max gives a little smile from the sidelines as the soldiers start taking selfies with Beau Bridges.

Carrie’s car finally pulls up to Samira’s apartment. Jenna asks Carrie, “What’s the plan?” Carrie explains that they don’t want to provoke gunfire right now and they’re outnumbered. Jenna remains utterly useless by asking again, “So what’s the plan?” At this point, Carrie just jumps out of the car without answering. I mean, just imagine if Carrie had been the rookie in the car with an experienced agent outlining the challenges of a situation. “What’s the plan” is not even in her vocabulary. Like, the experienced agent would’ve probably had to put her in a chokehold to get her to stop making plans to solve the problem.

Max is packing up to go–it’s time for him to go home–but BYG doesn’t want his good luck charm to leave. Max hesitates at the door and then… oh, no, Max… doubles back before getting on his ride home. He’s such a softie. It’s his fatal flaw. The President gets on the helicopter and takes off, and Saul accepts everyone’s congratulations while Tasneem stands in the corner with G’ulom looking like an avenging angel.

Samira, now clad in a head covering that covers her entire face as well as her hair, is led out forcibly by her brother-in-law towards a black van. You see it partly from her perspective, through the blur of facial netting, as she’s being kidnapped: it’s awful. They bundle her into the car–but the car won’t start. Then Carrie pulls a gun on the driver, the driver of her car pulls a gun on the other side, and Carrie pulls Samira into the car. Still with two guns trained on them, she and the driver get into the car and Jenna drives away. I love that Carrie didn’t even let Jenna be the one holding the gun. Wise choice. Inside the car, Samira takes off her head-covering and cries.

Tasneem and G’ulom rendezvous on the balcony at the Embassy and complain. Tasneem remarks calmly through her cloud of cigarette smoke that if the President is, as he said, talking to Haqqani, then Haqqani must be here. G’ulom growls, “I thought you controoooolled Haqqaaaaaani.” Why does this guy persist in talking like a particularly breathy Disney villain? It’s impossible to take him seriously. Tasneem, on the other hand: you don’t wanna mess with Tasneem.

Saul is pulled outside and into a black SUV by a man in camo. Once inside, he’s told that the President’s helicopter has disappeared off radar. The escort helicopter didn’t see anything. “Two Presidents,” Saul breathes, gobsmacked. Looking suddenly a decade older, he closes his eyes and breathes, as if staving off a panic attack. Meanwhile, Carrie and Jenna’s car is directed to return to base immediately.

At the station, Mike and Saul watch footage one helicopter, presumably the escort, in the mountains somewhere, looking down at the ground searching for the other one. Finally they find it: a black helicopter smoking on the ground. “Is the White House seeing this?” Saul says in a voice that’s almost shaky.

Finally looking like he maybe understands the gravity of the situation, Vice President Hayes scurries to the Situation Room with David Wellington. “Was it shot down?” he asks. They say they don’t know. And that the incline is too steep to land.

Carrie, Samira and Jenna arrive back at the station, and Carrie promises Samira she’ll be safe before running inside with Jenna to find Saul. They watch from the control room as the escort helicopter, about to land in the nearest safe place, suddenly spies Taliban fighters on the ground. A firefight begins–and the escort helicopter turns into a fireball and goes dark. We cut from the shocked faces of Carrie and Saul, to Hayes, and then finally back to Carrie’s devastated face.

Great episode! And there’s another run of really good ones coming, as I can promise you since we’re like five weeks behind. While a lot of the A-plot was sort of quiet, with everyone just driving around and watching Beau Bridges, the end was really powerful and the B-plot with Samira kept the tension level high. Mandy Patinkin did a lot of great work, too, as usual. (It never needs to be said that Claire Danes did the same.) But the real MVP of this episode, in case you couldn’t tell from my repeatedly mentioning it, was whoever did the costumes for Tasneem.

One Comment

  1. Specialist Drew Soto is the name of that “brash young soldier”.

    “she manages to overhear something suspicious through the vent in a door that leads to the hallway”
    She heard a conversation of the technicians who are working on cleaning up the recording of her conversation with Yevgeny at the mosque. She learns that they know a way how to do it. It will take a lot of work and some time, but now Carrie has to expect that they finally will succeed.

    That scene with Samira Noori, her friend, and the Taliban was great. First of all it showed that after the announcement of the ceasefire there are Taliban everywhere open in the streets. And Samira obviously still fears them, perhaps because of what she already knows about them. There are at least one or two of them in the family of her deceased husband, we learn later, I think.

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