We’re excited to be back from hiatus! We may be even slower than we were in the past… but we will be continuing our posts regularly from now on! We missed this blog and our readers and are always happy to hear from you.
Now… on with my now very belated recaps of the last season of Homeland.
Previously on Homeland: President Beau Bridges and the President of Afghanistan were killed in a helicopter crash, which creepy Vice President G’ulom of Afghanistan blamed on the Taliban; Haqqani told Saul he didn’t do it; Saul told Carrie it was important (sorry, “it fuckin’ matters”) to find out what really happened; Carrie demanded that Max get the flight recorder before clearing out of the crash site with the US soldiers; Max got the recorder, but was eventually captured by a Taliban soldier.
We see Carrie taking a sink bath in her hotel, in a bra while mid-getting dressed. I don’t get the point of having Claire Danes wandering around in a bra (Showtime never has her gratuitously naked, unlike basically every other premium cable show and even unlike many of the male actors on this show; I bet that was a contractual stipulation), but damn, the woman’s abs are impressive. She’s certainly recovered nicely from her seven months of captivity–I guess all those runs across the hospital yard really paid off. She has the news playing on her laptop, describing a national day of mourning in the US for Beau Bridges.
An exhausted Max is being led through the desert by his captor. He begs that “they” will pay big money to get him back. In response, the soldier knocks Max over, ties his hands, and takes a leak. Max sees a plane fly overhead, rolls over, and makes a break for it. Go, Max! “I’m here! “ he yells, only to be shot in the back by his captor and go down like a rock. This is what I love about Max. He actually is not timid, just quiet. It takes guts to run from a Taliban soldier with a gun. But he’s also not exactly Carrie Mathison, so his escape attempt, while brave, is not exactly a genius plot. He’s yelling “I’m here” at a plane that’s like a thousand feet in the air. Poor guy.
Hayes speaks, somberly, to the nation to announce that he’s been sworn in as President, making a decent pretense at being rilly sad about it. Immediately afterwards, Wellington tells him that the Joint Chiefs want to talk to him about preparing for a possible other attack by “moving some hardware.” In response, Hayes, who seems to have exhausted his capacity for Presidential behavior for the day by his thirty-second address, whines about how Buzzfeed thinks he had the President shot down in a palace coup. Poor Wellington is like, yes, that happens, try to tune it out. Hayes proceeds to complain that he’s important now so “somebody in there better come up with something for me to do.” Wellington’s facial expression is like, “I’m pretty sure that’s what I just said they were doing, but OK.”
When they get into the briefing room, the monitor is blank — they’re having trouble connecting to Kabul. Hayes looks like he’s about to spew more complaints. We cut to the station, where Carrie and Saul are both having no luck finding Max. Owens gives Carrie the hard truth that finding one guy is not a priority with the number of targets he has to protect. “I sent him in there!” Carrie protests to Saul. Characteristically, her sense of guilt is much stronger after she’s gotten other people to put themselves in danger by doing what she wants.
Jenna finds Mike and tries to tell him that they found something on the tape of Carrie and Yevgeny at the mosque, but Mike cuts her off and Jenna, being useless, isn’t assertive enough to stop him from leaving and tell him the important information she learned. Meanwhile, Carrie goes to find a Generic Nerd who’s apparently in charge of automated scans of eavesdropped conversations and demands to know what keywords he’s using to find Max. She then criticizes his choices in the usual aggressive Carrie way. This scene reads at first like kind of a throwaway to show us that Carrie’s freaking out about Max, but now we know Carrie knows how to jerk around the guy in charge of surveillance.
Mike is introducing a team from the FBI, led by someone named Vanessa Kroll. She tells him the station is a crime scene (re: the assassination of the Presidents), till they find otherwise. Carrie overhears this and immediately straps on her black purse and walks out through the kitchen, gets on her bike, and speeds away.
Owens and Saul are arguing over whether to evacuate staff when Saul gets a message that G’ulom wants to talk in person. Meanwhile, Haqqani, still in hiding, gets the news that G’ulom is rounding up Taliban and putting them in the soccer stadium. He apologizes to his host for bringing danger to his home, but the man says that he prayed for Haqqani when he chose peace, yet is willing to be a weapon now that he’s chosen war. Haqqani protests that he didn’t kill the Presidents, he ordered a ceasefire, but his host awkwardly looks away like, “I’m supposed to know that you’re lying, right?”
Carrie zooms through the streets on her bike, looking like a badass in her black jacket, and arrives… at Yevgeny’s hotel room. He ushers her in, looking resigned. She marches in like she owns the place and says she wants a favor–but it’s not the beginning of any kind of arrangement. She explains her friend is missing, and asks him to find out if the Taliban has him. Yevgeny shrugs. He’s doing a thing where he leans on a tall piece of furniture that just emphasizes how ridiculously tall he is–and also allows him to do a little leaning towards Carrie. “You don’t have to be cute about it,” Carrie says, because she knows he’s got a lot of friends there. But Yevgeny says that he can’t talk to the Taliban without the US surveillance picking it up. Carrie realizes he wants her to turn off the surveillance. Yevgeny says that if he trusts her to protect his sources, she needs to trust him–but she cuts him off, not interested in examining exactly how much she trusts him. After a lot of protesting, she eventually agrees to two minutes at three p.m. on the dot and Yevgeny gives her a catlike smile.
G’ulom has summoned Saul to demand that he turn over Haqqani, but Saul insists they don’t know where he is–and that Haqqani came for a mission of peace. G’ulom makes fun of Saul for thinking he knows that Haqqani’s changed through the power of eye contact. “People change, they evolve,” Saul says, sounding rather like Joey Potter. “Do you know the sound a woman makes when her hand is removed from her arm with a hacksaw? It can be heard over the cheers of 5,000 Taliban,” G’ulom says. Well that’s lovely. But it’s true, I mean, the Taliban was a fearsome entity, and we know that Haqqani himself has taken delight in violence in the past–more on that later. The Americans point out that G’ulom’s just rounded up insurgents and confined them in a soccer stadium, and Saul goes so far as to accuse G’ulom of having the Presidents killed so he could take power, so G’ulom finally kicks them out.
Carrie arrives back at the station and is called into a meeting in Mike’s office with Vanessa Kroll. “Mathison, special envoy,” she says. “What’s that mean?” Carrie says that she was brought in by Saul a few days ago. This season is taking place on such a tight timeline–six episodes have taken place over just a few days. She tells Kroll all about–well, some about–the President’s meeting with her in the hangar. Kroll takes it all in and lets her go quickly, but says it won’t be the last time she’s talking with Carrie; she’s just getting the lay of the land.
Meanwhile, Jenna is showing Mike the video of Carrie and Yevgeny, now with complete audio. It does not look good for Carrie. Not only does it make her sound like she was having an affair with Yevgeny, but they can also hear that Carrie had a baby with a different enemy of the state already. Mike realizes that Carrie’s contact report was a fabrication. Jenna, mealy-mouthed as usual, says she thought Mike needed to hear it (gee, ya think?) but that she can see why Carrie didn’t want to say anything. Oh, Jenna. Mike points out what Jenna doesn’t get, that Carrie was also the one who had the idea to bring the Presidents here, where they were promptly assassinated. “Don’t let her out of your sight,” he says, conveniently forgetting that Jenna is, you know, not good at things–and that Carrie herself was supposed to teach Jenna to not suck at her job, so Jenna probably isn’t ready to tackle tracking Carrie if Carrie doesn’t want to be tracked. Jenna doesn’t look too optimistic about her own chances, either.
Cut to a rural complex somewhere, where Max is lying on a bed soaked in blood, under the watch of two men. His captor knocked him out with morphine, apparently. The other man goes through Max’s pockets, finds a notebook, and heads out with a gun and a big backpack, saying he’ll be back soon. He walks down a dirt path towards a village of some kind, enters a general store type place, and pulls out the crucial red box taken from off Max to sell it to the store owner. He won’t say where he got it, just that he found it.
Haqqani’s host is eating a meal in a dim kitchen with several other Taliban men, when they hear something alarming on the TV. He runs upstairs to tell Haqqani that G’ulom has put a bounty on his head. If Haqqani surrenders himself in the next 24 hours, G’ulom release the men in the stadium; otherwise, he’ll kill them all.
Over at the station, Saul and Ryan tell Hayes there are almost 300 men in the stadium, and that if he kills them the situation will become dangerous. They say that Hayes needs to talk to G’ulom and threaten to withhold American aid if he does this. Hayes, who’s not particularly excited for any part of his job that’s more challenging than redecorating the Oval Office, asks if maybe G’ulom is just, you know, kidding. No, the other men assure him, G’ulom is not just kidding, he would easily kill 300 men in a day. This doesn’t exactly light a fire under Hayes, so poor David Wellington asks Saul and Ryan for hints on how Hayes can “broach” this. After silent eyerolling, Saul advises him to remind G’ulom about the new Constitution. Hayes sighs and says nervously, “All right, get him on the phone.” As Wellington is trying to get him, Hayes demands a last-minute review on how to pronounce the guy’s name. I would make fun of him for this but you just know our current president would probably just call him Gollum and not bother asking anyone if he’d gotten it right anyway. At least Hayes knows he’s unprepared.
So G’ulom picks up, and Hayes comes in very hot demanding that he follow due process. G’ulom smoothly agrees that he’s the head of a nation bound by law. Then G’ulom outmaneuvers him by saying that the spike in violence Hayes is worried about already happened with the troop draw-down, and that the Taliban will only understand a strong message, rather than “due process.” Wishy-washy old Hayes is like, “Oh, OK, I guess go ahead and hold a mass execution in a soccer stadium then,” as Wellington looks on in consternation.
Over at the station, Carrie’s “turn off surveillance in eight minutes” alarm goes off on her phone. Way to be stealth, Carrie! She immediately gets up from her desk, and so does Jenna. As Carrie gets in the elevator, Jenna dashes up the stairs, but Carrie enters her room before Jenna can catch up. So Jenna like tiptoes through the halls and listens at Carrie’s door, only to be totally caught when Carrie opens the door. Then she pretends that she’s just lost and this used to be her room! Oh, Jenna. You’re so bad at everything.
So Carrie’s down visiting the surveillance guy, Lonnie, and asks for some kind of printout related to Max as a pretext so that she can jam the printer and get Lonnie away from his desk. She does an excellent impression of someone who was just impatient and accidentally jammed the printer (I imagine that Carrie actually is kind of a hazard to machines in her regular life, like, you can just imagine her being the kind of person who gets really mad and hits the printer when it goes too slow). She manages to turn off the surveillance for two minutes while Lonnie’s dealing with the jam. Meanwhile, poor Jenna has to go to Mike and admit that Carrie shook her. Maybe Mike should put someone on this who isn’t known to be “stuck at the starting gate”?
Wellington, Saul, and Ryan are conferring privately about how Hayes decided to countenance a war crime based on counsel from “Abdul fucking G’ulom.” (You can just imagine people having the exact same conversation about Trump every time he called some dictator somewhere and let them change his mind, right?) Saul remarks that two days ago they were about to end the war. Jeez, that feels like a million episodes ago–the timeline of this season is really tight, and so much is happening!
Just then Mike interrupts to take a walk with Saul. Up on the roof, he asks if Saul’s aware that Yevgeny’s here and that Carrie’s seen him… after the time he gave her the tip about G’ulom. Saul says he told Carrie not to go after Yevgeny, which is cute because he still thinks telling Carrie not to do stuff causes her to not do it. Mike tells him about the recording and the falsified contact report. Saul gives his best “am I extremely upset or am I just squinting into the sun” face as Mike says that he has to let the FBI know that Carrie may have “unwittingly” helped Yevgeny assassinate the President. (And he doesn’t exactly sound like he thinks it was unwittingly at all.) Saul, loyal to Carrie to the bitter end, says he needs to see the tape.
Over in his hiding place, Haqqani tells his protectors that he can’t run or the world will assume he killed the Presidents, and that he’s turning himself in. He believes G’ulom will have to put him on trial and the world will hear him argue for peace. They don’t look convinced, especially when he says he has to trust the Americans. Probably fair.
Carrie’s in her room texting when Saul knocks. He’s leaning on the doorjamb with both hands in a tragic kind of way, as if his disappointment in her has taken all his strength out of him. His opening? “Please characterize for me your current relationship with Yevgeny Gromov.” I love it. Carrie says, “I’m using complicated spy games to sublimate my hots for him.” Just kidding! She just gives some excuse for meeting with him despite Saul’s forbidding it. She completely lies about the meeting, and Saul finally reveals that actually he already heard the recording, and she’s lying to him.
Carrie gets teary and embarrassed. The beauty of it–the acting and the writing–is how real and yet fake it is. I’m sure she is embarrassed and upset about not knowing what happened to her while in captivity, but she’s going to use it as an excuse for going rogue when actually it’s more of a parallel fact, not a causative one. Saul, for his part, blames himself for bringing her over here before she was ready. What a champ he is! And (since the season is long over, I feel OK saying this) how tragic it is to see how deeply he trusts and cares for her, knowing what will happen.
Back to the scene: Carrie protests that she’s not a child, so Saul sits down and heavily outlines that she and Yevgeny have a complicated relationship. “You told him things you never told me,” Saul says, heartbreakingly. “You are vulnerable to him in ways neither of us can imagine.” Whew. Carrie, crying, says she’s still trying to put it together. Saul says that’s why she has to go back, but Carrie refuses as long as Max is still out there, and says to go ahead and let Mike share the recording. Saul has to connect the dots for her that it’s not just about her relationship with Yevgeny being exposed: she told the President to come here, and there was a full hour between her finding out he was there and his death. He says he doesn’t believe it (after which Carrie calms down–you can see that Saul’s faith in her is still her bedrock) but that the FBI will. Carrie still won’t leave Max–and she finally reveals to Saul that Yevgeny has a lead on him. Saul basically headdesks. Wouldn’t she do exactly what Yevgeny’s doing if she were trying to recruit him? Carrie is struck silent, and Saul tells her she’ll go home in handcuffs if she doesn’t go willingly. Then he leaves. That’s where he makes his mistake: when Carrie is silent, you don’t just assume you’ve won. Come on, Saul! You know better than this!
Anyway, so Carrie leaves with her suitcases as pensive music plays in the background. Saul, a gracious victor, tells her that the rehab center is expecting her, and Carrie says docilely, “OK.” And he still doesn’t get suspicious! Poor Saul. Jenna is keeping Carrie company in the van. Why do these people keep siccing Jenna on Carrie when they know she’s not equal to the task?! Send a good agent! Jeez.
As Carrie leaves the station, she sees Haqqani stepping out of a car just outside it. We cut over to Haqqani as he walks slowly towards the guards, who suddenly start screaming and pulling out their guns. Saul rushes over as Haqqani kneels, his hands up. “Let him up,” he says. Haqqani stands, looking noble and unafraid. (This season really does do a good job of emphasizing his nobility and making him sympathetic, in a notable tonal shift from his earlier appearances. And the fact that that tonal shift is necessary but doesn’t entirely hang together, I think reflects the fact that in many ways Homeland itself doesn’t hang together tonally or thematically–the seasons that took place during Obama’s administration spoke to fears that lingered from 9/11, while the seasons that took place under Trump had to grapple with the fact that our own overreaction to 9/11 turned out to be more dangerous for this country and its ideals than the actual terrorists were. [And I’ve probably written something just like this before, but we’ve been on hiatus so long I can’t remember!])
At the airport, Carrie and Jenna sit together, and Carrie admits what she did earlier that day to Jenna. She tells Jenna that she printed out everything she has on Max and the flight recorder, and that somebody should look at it.
Meanwhile, Max himself is bloody and sweaty, still handcuffed to the same bed. His captors are talking, but he can’t make out what they’re saying or their faces anymore. “You okay?” one of them asks. “No,” he says petulantly. Hee. Then he asks about the backpack. “No more bag,” the guy answers. “I need it back,” Max says hilariously, like the people who shot him and tied him to a bed care what he needs. Cut to a line of horses transporting some goods, including the flight recorder, through a valley. Goodbye, flight recorder!
It’s time for Carrie to board the plane; she and Jenna wish each other luck. The suspense builds as Carrie calmly shows her ticket and boards the gangway. Anyone who’s seen this show (or really, any show) knows Carrie’s not going down this easy. Sure enough, she finally ducks out of the jet bridge and runs down. A car speeds up to her and she gets in. And…
Hell yeah! It’s driven by Yevgeny!
So… yeah, as you may have gathered, somewhere in the middle of this season I decided that I was really, really, embarrassingly captivated by Carrie and Yevgeny’s weird-ass relationship. Thus, the rest of my recaps are going to have a distinct aroma of Carrie/Yevgeny Fangirl about them, but hey, fangirling is pretty on brand for this blog, so sorry I’m not sorry! You’ve been warned.