Previously on Homeland: Hayes told G’ulom not to execute 300 men in a stadium, but then gave up; Haqqani turned himself in in exchange for G’ulom freeing the men; Carrie asked Yevgeny for help finding Max; Saul sent Carrie home for lying to him about Yevgeny–but she snuck off the jetway and made her escape in a getaway car driven by Yevgeny.
Side note: It’s so interesting hearing soundbites from as early as season 2 (Carrie telling Brody he’s a traitor) in the credits. So much has happened in these 8 years. And there’s a snippet of Carrie saying “This whole country went stupid crazy after 9/11” shortly after the classic snippet of her saying “I missed something once before” specifically about 9/11, to justify spying on Brody.
Haqqani and Saul ride through Kabul in a van. Saul promises him it’s not over, and that as soon as G’ulom releases the men, they’ll direct the world’s attention to the trial to pressure G’ulom. But Haqqani knows that G’ulom “doesn’t care what the world thinks.” They pull up to G’ulom standing in a black coat before a line of soldiers, looking quite villainous. “I’m ready,” Haqqani says heroically. He said he had to trust the Americans and I think he does trust Saul in the sense that he believes Saul will try to protect him, but I also think he has no expectation that that will actually help. Whereas Saul, with classic American hubris, truly believes he can control the outcome here. (Carrie often seems to think she can control the outcome, but I think she convinces herself of that in order to feel OK about her choices. Saul actually believes it.)
Saul gets out first, and G’ulom releases the men. “You have an opportunity here,” Saul says with a trembling voice, to show the world how Afghanistan has changed. G’ulom says that neither the Taliban nor America have changed. As he leaves, Saul begs him to give Haqqani a fair trial, but G’ulom, unsurprisingly, is like, “Fuck that.” Haqqani emerges and he and G’ulom face off briefly before Haqqani is dragged away by two soldiers.
When Saul gets back to the station, Jenna has to confess that Carrie never got on the plane. And they have a picture of Carrie getting into the car with Yevgeny. Yikes. “Where are they,” Saul says heavily. Mike thinks they might be in Moscow by now, but Saul thinks she’s just after Max. When Mike realizes that Carrie already reached out to Yevgeny and that Saul didn’t tell him, he’s not pleased. “Just get her back,” Saul says. Ugh, I love how much he loves and trusts Carrie. He doesn’t even have a question in his mind that Carrie could be disloyal, even when she literally just ran away with a Russian agent she might have slept with.
In the car, Yevgeny remarks that Haqqani turned himself in–and that people are saying he was the mastermind behind assassinating the Presidents. They both try to feel each other out as to whether they believe that. “But how’d he get the intel?” Carrie says. Yevgeny says, “I don’t know.” And then Carrie complains that people in the CIA think she gave the information to Yevgeny. And they both remark that now it looks even more like that, “Since we’re out here together,” Yevgeny says, giving Carrie a cute smile. (Hey, I warned you last recap that I was going to be a total fangirl about this.) Then they come up to a roadblock, but it turns out the roadblock guys are Yevgeny’s allies, and they have a lead on Max.
The two cars drive away together and arrive in a village. Yevgeny once again gets out without Carrie, who watches the proceedings tensely. He and the men from the other car walk away, and Carrie sighs impatiently. Then she starts looking around, and you can see her grow uneasy, but (at least for me) it’s unclear why at first. She gets out, still uneasy, and starts walking around until she finds what she was apparently looking for: a row of headstones. Now we get the semi-explanatory flashback of her in the CIA station, watching as a bomb went off; and the row of bodies that was then killed, which turned out to be a family celebrating at a wedding, which as you’ll recall led her to sleep with a teenager to recruit him in her pursuit of Haqqani, which then got the teenager murdered by Haqqani, so basically a series of extremely horrifying things all caused by Carrie.
“Quit fucking with me,” she says when Yevgeny finds her and reprimands her for leaving the car. “You came to me for help,” he says. “You don’t get to complain.” He explains that the Russians have friends in places like this by coming in after the Americans bomb, helping to rebuild the mosque, and then making friends. “Is it a coincidence, no, but it doesn’t mean I’m fucking with you,” he says. (I really like how they did this: it has a solid basis in the world of the story and has the effect of reminding us of the worst atrocity Carrie has committed in her eight seasons of questionable choices.) Anyway, Yevgeny says that the imam he was talking to knows where Max is, and it’s not far.
On a video call with Wellington, Saul explains that if they don’t handle the situation well, they could be looking at increased Taliban violence. Someone on Saul’s side, a woman who I think is the Ambassador, says she knows the lead judge, Haziq Qadir, and that she’s fair and independent… but she might be open to a meeting. Sounds independent to me!
The President arrives to crash the party and Wellington tries to end the meeting, which apparently Hayes had no idea about. “You were saying something about contacting a judge,” he says. Saul is forced to explain that they want to submit to the judge some evidence that should prove Haqqani innocent: footage of him telling his son Jalal that the violence must stop. Saul explains that the problem is the footage is highly classified. Hayes interrupts to point out another problem: President Beau Bridges’ body is arriving home tomorrow, and Americans will be asking what the government is doing to avenge him. He says that he won’t unclassify the material and just wants “the goddamn action plan.” Well, at least he knows what he wants now?
Yevgeny and Carrie are still driving. “It was you, wasn’t it?” he says, noting that she was Kabul’s chief of station when the village was bombed. He says he didn’t put it together before. Interesting that that never came up in their deep talks during Carrie’s lost months–she confessed everything else! Carrie adds an ironic detail: the target was Haqqani, but he wasn’t there. She almost cries as she says instead it was a wedding party with a half-dozen children, and it changed everything. At first she doubled down on getting Haqqani to make things right, but then more people died, “and that is when I left the CIA.” Yevgeny sighs sympathetically. “Did you really not know?” she asks, and then says she’s not sure what he’s doing here. “I’m trying to find your friend,” he says impatiently.
Watching this in real time and now rewatching after having finished the season, I like how Yevgeny is in some ways the equivalent of first- and second-season Carrie. He’s trying to recruit her, yes–or at least, you think he’s trying to recruit her; and he’s just helping her to further that end. But he also is totally in love with her, and so it’s awfully convincing when he claims he’s trying to find her friend.
They pull up at a small building. “We’re here to pick up the American,” Yevgeny says to the guard; he brought $2,000. The imam told him that everything was OK, but the guard says the American is not for sale. Carrie pushes by him as Yevgeny keeps arguing with the guard. Carrie finds Max strapped to his bed, his wound looking EXTREMELY gross. He keeps babbling about the black box, but Carrie just says, “You did good.” Aww. She’s worried the bullet is still in his back, and he hasn’t had any medication for infection. She’s about to go back out to the truck for meds, but Max pleads that they don’t have time.
Just then a bunch of men arrive at the building. Yevgeny says, “This isn’t right,” but they come in anyway, shove Carrie aside. “Carrie,” Max pleads. Carrie yells, “I will find you,” as Max is dragged out to a car. Yevgeny demands from the guard to know who has the key and where they’re going. Then when Max is gone, Carrie busts in about ten degrees too hot, swearing at the guard, only to have Yevgeny pull her aside, hold her arms (swoon!) and promise her soberly, “I will take care of this.” Carrie nods slowly, barely keeping it together.
At the Dover Air Force Base, Hayes and Wellington and their entourage arrive to meet President Beau Bridges’ body. Hayes mentions something about Beau Bridges being responsible for his own demise, which… way to pick your moment. Classy. He also questions Wellington’s loyalty, but declines his resignation. Wellington spins it as keeping Hayes inside the “information flow,” but… come on. He wasn’t gonna flow any information to Hayes. Even Hayes knows that, and he’s so dumb he trusts G’ulom. Anyway, he takes his place by the President’s widow, but she’s not into his condolences because of the whole thing where he dropped a bomb on President Beau Bridges’ body. Speaking of which, G’ulom is here too, paying his respects. Widow Bridges is not pleased.
Saul arrives at a military cantonment in Pakistan, where Tasneem’s father is expecting him… but Tasneem is also there. Saul is not thrilled–he wanted to get Mr. Tasneem all alone–but he proceeds reluctantly. Mr. Tasneem promises a trial, but Saul says that the three of them need to intervene because they know Haqqani is innocent. Tasneem says to make his sources public, but Saul says he can’t. Saul lectures her that he and her dad have an agreement that they always tell each other the truth in this room, and she needs to live up to that. It’s a deliberate contrast: Saul’s upright way of doing things is no longer working because the new generation–Tasneem, etc.–are simply too slippery for him. (Which, spoiler alert, will be reflected on the home front later in the season, when old-style politicians who are used to operating in a world of facts, are confronted by the new brand of shamelessly disconnected-from-reality Republicans.)
Anyway, Saul is basically asking them to compromise their own sources because he can’t release his own evidence. Tasneem’s smirk shows what her answer is. Saul’s impassioned speech about how this will lead to war unless “sensible people” can work together makes little difference. Mr. Tasneem refers to the 70s, then to 9/11, when America pretends to be friends with Pakistan when they need help, then violate their borders when they don’t. Tasneem stands silently beside him, but it seems pretty clear he speaks for her too–and perhaps was influenced by her to take a harder stance.
Saul leaves (I love how Mandy Patinkin can make his walk look so angry) but Tasneem knocks on his window just as he’s back in the car. “I’ll help you,” she says. “I don’t want to watch the world burn.” Saul moves aside to let her in, but… come on, Saul. This is Tasneem. Don’t trust her! It might be foolhardy to trust Haqqani but it’s just silly to trust Tasneem.
Out in the countryside, Carrie and Yevgeny park their car and venture out to peer at a compound where, presumably, Max is being held. Carrie sees guards out front. “What are we, going to surprise them? Grab your friend? I’m not starting a war with the Taliban.” Carrie just walks away… to call Saul, to order up an extraction team. But she gets his voicemail. After a pause, she tries Jenna. Oof, now you know she’s desperate. Jenna runs straight to Mike. She gives them the coordinates of the location, and Jenna obediently writes it down while Mike rolls his eyes. “Get a drone overhead, it will confirm,” Carrie says, as if she’s his boss. “Tell me you got that.” “Yep,” says Jenna. Oh, I love Jenna. She’s so obedient. But even Mike agrees to pass on the info–and Carrie hangs up while he’s lecturing her on how much trouble she’s in. Heh. Then she hangs up and just looks at Yevgeny.
G’ulom and Hayes have a private meeting where Hayes continues to be wishywashy while G’ulom tries to get him in the mood to fight the Taliban. He lectures him that the Americans basically won against them in eight weeks, but then gave up and went to Iraq. He says Haqqani will be gone soon, and Hayes says that his advisors are unhappy about the trial. Naturally G’ulom doesn’t really care about this (his exact words being “Fuck your advisors”). But Hayes has to care since he has no ideas of his own.
Saul and Tasneem arrive at the judge’s house to meet in the middle of the night. She says it’s “highly irregular,” but the ambassador insisted. Saul says he’s not trying to compromise her, which… yeah, that’s why you’re sneaking in in the middle of the night to have a secret meeting with a judge? They say that they have classified evidence that proves Haqqani is innocent, but can’t offer the evidence in court or testify in court. The judge then decides this is inappropriate and asks them to leave. Yeah, it’s a little late for that, Your Honor. Then Tasneem very dramatically pulls up a picture of Haqqani’s car on fire, saying that she put an RPG through his windshield to deter him from making peace and it didn’t change his mind. She calls this evidence, but ya know… it’s a picture of a burning car? Still, the judge finds it convincing and says she can delay things for a week.
Out in the desert, some more pickup trucks arrive at the complex where Max is being held, as Yevgeny spies with binoculars. He wakes Carrie from the back of the truck and she runs over. They’ve clearly been taking turns on watch. I love how they’re just a team now. Carrie swears when she recognizes Jalal Haqqani going into the compound. Meanwhile, Jalal enters the room where Max is slumped on a bare floor. Max tries to sit up when he sees Jalal. He looks extremely pasty. Jalal demands to know who shot the helicopters down, and Max, barely able to form words, says, “What helicopters?” Oh, I love him. He’s so sassy! Jalal leaves, ordering some water to help Max with his fever.
Carrie has called Mike to tell them that Jalal is at the compound and demand that he send a team to rescue Max. I love how Carrie still feels totally comfortable making extreme demands on people even as she is literally a fugitive. Mike is like, umm… it’s an unscouted location and the intel is coming from someone who ran away with a Russian agent, so no? When Carrie realizes he’s not sending a team for Max, she hangs up looking defeated–and Yevgeny directs an inscrutable but somehow sympathetic gaze at her back. Teary, Carrie hands the phone back to Yevgeny and says, “I have to go in and get a closer look.” Yevgeny says, “Carrie…” “I know,” she says. “You get into trouble, I’m leaving,” he says. “I know,” she says again. Then she asks for a gun and he gives it to her. She gives him a sad look and heads out, all on her own, to sneak into a compound full of rebel Taliban.
Guys… fangirl alert. I love how easily Carrie and Yevgeny work together even though they’re still nominally on opposite sides. I love the way he looks at her with this mixture of sympathy and awe. Quinn? What Quinn?
At a building marked “The Supreme Court,” Saul arrives to see Haqqani, who’s being held in a cell, a cage in a room, that looks quite similar to where Brody was held before he was executed. He tells Haqqani he got the judge to agree to a continuance so that they can prove Haqqani is innocent. “Forty years of war, no one is innocent,” Haqqani intones. OK, we get it! He’s a wise martyr! I suppose Homeland is to be commended for the magnitude of its effort to keep up with the times over a time of great change in the zeitgeist?
But when Haqqani shows up to his trial, things don’t go as planned. The head judge is a man, not the woman Saul was attempting to cut a sketchy deal with. The judge dispenses with such niceties as evidence and arguments, and sentences Haqqani to death. Saul looks more upset than Haqqani, who clearly expected this. The rest of the room is cheering.
Saul leaves and calls Wellington to complain that G’ulom switched the judges and screwed them. He wants Hayes to intervene, but Wellington tells him that G’ulom got to Hayes yesterday, and that he’s brought in someone named Zabel to be a “new voice” on Afghanistan. We don’t know who that is yet, but apparently it’s bad news for Haqqani. “You have to tell them,” Saul demands. But Wellington, ever the wuss, pleads that he’s in too precarious a position to make waves. They hang up, and Saul stares out at a crowd clearly celebrating the sentence.
Now we get to meet this Zabel person: a smarmy white guy with neat hair and a patchy mustache who looks so convincingly like a tea-partying, gun-toting, racist conspiracy theory-quoting Republican I didn’t realize at first that he was played by Hugh Dancy, Claire Danes’ husband. He’s not displeased that Haqqani’s going to be up “against the wall.” Yikes.
Two men arrive to take Max from where he’s lying on the floor, and drag him out. Meanwhile, Carrie’s going around back with her gun on her solo mission. She goes fearlessly into the compound, and witnesses Max being stuffed into an orange jumpsuit in a courtyard while Jalal Haqqani looks on from behind a camera. He’s forced to his knees and Carrie full-on prepares to take on like eight Taliban fighters to rescue him. Until Yevgeny pulls her away, a hand over her mouth, pushes her against the wall with his hands on her shoulders, and says firmly, “No,” while she stares tearily at him.
Oh my God you guys. He said he was leaving if she got into trouble, BUT HE DIDN’T! I love it.