Homeland: Everybody hates Elizabeth!

Previously on Homeland: Dar Adal, General McClendon, Brett (Not Alex Jones) O’Keefe, Black Hat Guy, and the rest were involved in shenanigans up to and including false flag bombings and murder in an attempt to keep Elizabeth Keane, a lady, from ever assuming office. Why they couldn’t just use voter suppression and get Diebold and/or the Russians to randomly reassign electronic votes in a few key states is a mystery the show hasn’t explained. Then again, this is fiction.

And they might have gotten away with it too if it weren’t for those meddling ex-CIA agents Carrie Mathison and Peter Quinn (may he rest in peace), who gave his life to prevent Keane’s assassination. Thanks to his sacrifice, our democracy was saved.

OR WAS IT?

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As we saw in last season’s finale, Keane began to round up not just the usual suspects, but Saul and shit ton of minor characters we’ve seen in the course of one or more seasons, and Carrie found herself out of a job and adrift in a strangely changed Washington DC.

We open a couple of months later with Carrie running on a treadmill emoting because she doesn’t do anything nice and easy, and also treadmills are to television what the hanged man is to a tarot deck: the surest sign of life in suspended animation. Carrie is stuck.

Then again, we all look like this these days when the news is on.

She’s unemployed and (oh lordy) she and Franny are living with her sister, niece, and brother-in-law. Her niece, Josie, is now a teenager, around the same age as Dana Brody was when the series began, and don’t we need another Dana?

Miss her?

Her sister is still a doctor, but her brother-in-law appears to be working some low level job at Treasury for Keane, and Carrie does not approve. Note to Carrie: You might not want to call him a collaborator aloud at the breakfast table in front of your niece when you’re relying on the kindness of your sister for room and board, and maybe to keep child protective services at bay.

Her brother-in-law, who is at least a responsible parent and uncle, is taking Franny to school, so that Carrie can presumably go to a job interview, but when Carrie goes to her room to get ready, she packs a gun, so clearly she’s got something else on her mind. Springing Saul out of the hoosegow, maybe?

Meantime, President Keane shows up at McClendon’s hearing to tell the general and the judges how much he deserves to die for all he’s done. And how are we, the audience, supposed to feel about this? McClendon, after all, is the guy most directly responsible for Peter Quinn’s death. While Keane may be doing some crazy shit, asking for his death might not be a problem for the show’s base.

Remember David, AKA the lost love child of Jon Stewart and Alan Rickman, her chief of staff who became her chief of staff because her chief of staff to-be got killed (by McClendon’s guys) when the car that she was supposed to be in blew up? He tells her that Senator Palin called her thuggish and authoritarian, and may be calling for a special prosecutor. Is that Senator Sarah Palin? That would be kind of fun if they mixed up our world and Homelandia, and maybe hired Tina Fey or Julieanne Moore, but no, it’s Senator Paley and he’s a man, and not a hockey mom grifter with a syntax problem.

We would’ve taken all of them, and maybe Michael too, but not the one in the middle.

Fortunately, Senator Paley is played by Dylan Baker, who always makes every show he’s in better, and so far it looks like we might be in need of his services.

Keane doesn’t care what Senator Paley thinks, or anyone else for that matter. She just wants to make sure McClendon gets a death sentence, and seems to be relying on David to make that happen. How exactly? Does she think he can whip the military judges like they were common senators?

Meantime, BretPlease get this British actor a dialect coach because his accent is eating up the scenery O’Keefe is hiding in the back of a car being driven through Anytown USA looking for a safe place to broadcast from, as he is on the run owing to “fascism” and the fate of the nation rests on his shoulders. Reminder: Bret (Not Alex Jones) O’Keefe wasn’t just reporting on government conspiracies last season, he was running them.

Carrie checks her loaded pack at the coffee shop, because sure, coat/bag checks at coffee shops is a thing. She sends a text, and then meets Senator Paley’s aide in the kitchen because Carrie apparently still has her special spy pass that allows her to use restaurant kitchens for rendezvous.

Restaurant kitchens: Because no one ever talks about what happens in them!

Looks like Carrie has been leaking like a sieve, and she makes the aide get the senator himself, so she can tell him personally that she’s got an FBI agent who can implicate David directly in the arrest and interrogation of innocent people. She wants to get her source a secret closed door session with identity protection, so his career isn’t ruined. Oh Carrie, you ruined his career when you said hello! You bring career-death and/or actual death to everyone you know. Look at your record!

Paley agrees to a face to face meeting with the source at the Hays Adams hotel. Carrie leaves the tag for her bag hidden on a bulletin board at the cafe and skedaddles.

Bret and company find a mattress store with NRA and other signage, which they take to mean they’re in friendly territory where the shop owner will risk imprisonment to help them. And what does Bret have to say to Real America? Keane’s “menopausal.” He’s seen the medical records. Also it’s “Day 52 of the resistance.”

Shall we unpack this a moment? In Homelandia, “the resistance” is aligned with the likes of right wing conspirators and rogue elements of the army and intelligence services, who have really been trying to set up the president, who has basically gone medieval on them. Kind of like what might have happened if Hillary had won—at least, according to the Bernie Bros and Fox News.

The crux of O’Keefe’s narrative is that his arrest warrant came out after he told his followers that the assassination attempt was a false flag operation (which we know from last season was not.)

Carrie does some more “spy shit” as the senator’s aide put it earlier. She checks into one hotel as herself, changes into a wig, and checks in somewhere else, asks for an extra key to be left for her husband, then sneaks back down to the lobby so she can watch when her contact, Dante, arrives. She notices that someone is tailing him, so she tells the desk clerk that he exposed himself to her, to buy enough time for her to get Dante out of the hotel room and into the trunk of her car, so they can come up with a new location to meet the senator.

Meantime, guess who picks up that backpack? If you guessed Max, you’re a winner!

David meets with his Lady Boss, and she’s not happy. Seems McClendon got a life sentence and not a death sentence. This will not stand. She tells David to “Fix it,” or else.

Brett and his producer/girlfriend are still in the mattress store, bunking down for the night and eating KFC like real Americans. She’s not happy. He thinks it’s because he said “menopause” on his show, but his being a misogynist man-baby is not the problem. She misses her cat. Their discussion is interrupted by the silent flashing of police cars.

Looks like the jig is up, or maybe not.

Turns out, they’re not here to arrest Brett, but to scurry him to safety because the feds are on the way.

David stops by for an evening visit with Saul in the Big House, because when you’re the president’s chief of staff, they let you visit prisoners whenever you want. Saul does his best imitation of an old testament prophet. (The beard helps.)

Saul is not amused.

They discuss Keane’s political future, which they both agree won’t be very long unless she continues to undermine democratic institutions. David offers Saul a job as National Security Adviser, and insists that his imprisonment was all just a terrible misunderstanding since he wasn’t involved in the conspiracy. Does any of this make sense? Given that Saul almost got blowed up with Keane last season, why did she lock him up in the first place? What reason did she have for “the second wave of arrests”?

Saul tells David he’s not taking the job unless everyone rounded up when he was is freed. David tells him no can do, and Saul tells him that he won’t “carry water or make excuses for a woman who cannot rise above her own vindictiveness” and then he goes back to playing pinochle with Dar or digging a tunnel hidden by a pinup poster, or possibly both things at once because those two are always plotting something when they’re together.

David goes home to find his house is being swept for bugs by his crazy boss. He tells the crew to leave, and of course one of them is Max.

Let’s do an entire season of silent Max, where he just shows up like Waldo.

Carrie meets Josie, who is after all old enough to drive and has sneaked out to give Carrie keys to Maggie’s office, which is the new rendezvous site. When Carrie asks what excuse she gave her parents, Josie tells her they weren’t home, and she left the Brodiette with a random boy who was visiting. Carrie’s looks momentarily worried, but it’s not like she’s going to call off a mission because it might be endangering her child.

Josie drives away, but parks and looks back to watch Carrie let Dante out of the trunk, and you can tell she’s thinking, “Bipolar disorder looks like a lot of fun!”

Bad influence.

Dante doesn’t fully understand what he signed up for because Carrie hasn’t told him. Sure, he came to Carrie with some intel, but he never agreed to talk to the Senator. He tells her no, which is not a word Carrie Mathison knows the meaning of. Then Paley knocks on the door, and Carrie tells him they need a minute. Things go even further south when Paley comes in anyway, and Dante pushes Carrie down to get the hell out. Paley tells her not to call him again, and Carrie bites her lip.

Could things get any worse? Yes, they can. Carrie gets back to Maggie’s, and there’s Maggie, Josie, and Bill, and it looks like it’s either intervention time or maybe just a “pack your bags and get out” time.

“You are grounded, young lady! And we mean you, the blonde in the corner, not the kid on the couch.”

Bill is very upset that Josie was out helping her aunt break and enter Maggie’s office while Franny was “left to watch MTV with some pot dealer.” It’s funny, because it sounds like he’s seen Clerks one too many times and is still living in the 1990s, but it’s that kind of talk that will turn Josie into one of those rebels who joins the CIA.

Maggie dismisses Bill and Josie so she can chat with her sister. She tells Carrie she went through her room and found $38,000 in credit card bills to various aliases. Carrie explains she’s running an operation which apparently doesn’t allow electronic billing. Maggie, who’s been through this before is like, “Yeah yeah, there’s a vast government conspiracy and you’re the only one who can….”

At this point, Carrie protests that this is not her mental illness, and Maggie would sound like the reasonable one if we hadn’t seen Carrie SAVE THE WORLD LIKE BUFFY SUMMERS at least once every season. Why is Maggie still acting like season one Joyce Summers? How does Maggie not know by now that her sister is a for real superhero? That this isn’t a delusion? She demands that Carrie go to a shrink the very next day.

Carrie goes to her room where she reads a text from Max. He got in. She goes to her computer and watches David, who’s watching his big screen TV. McClendon is at that very moment arriving in prison in West Virginia.

Then we’re watching McClendon as he enters a room and is told to take off his uniform. They check his nooks and crannies, including butt, ears, and mouth. There are few words but much tension in the scene. If you’re waiting for his band of mercenaries to break in, you aren’t alone, but this looks like the end of the line for him. And it is. It really is, because there was super fast and highly effective poison on the guard’s glove.

If the glove fits….

David has the TV off by now, and the General’s death isn’t in the news yet, but David looks guilty, and Carrie’s watching and we can tell her Spidey Sense is kicking in. She’ll put it together and it’ll sound crazy… until she finds proof.

Roll credits, and is everyone on this show some kind of producer?

Thus endeth our first episode in a post-Peter Quinn world. And the big questions of the season aren’t going to be what’s happening, but why? What is anybody’s game plan here? The real Alex Jones is a huckster selling supplements. Conspiracy is just what brings in the marks, but what’s Brett selling? Who was behind his troll factory? Who’s sending in the local police to ward off the feds? He knows what he’s saying is BS. He’s not a believer. What or who is keeping him going? Too bad they killed off Fara, because her accounting skills might have come in handy this season.

It looks like David may be a weak link, and aware his boss is nuts. Carrie might just get him to do the right thing.

And who are we supposed to be rooting for? Carrie spent last season trying to protect Keane, the newly elected POTUS. Now she’s determined to bring her down. But what’s the alternative? Who’s waiting in the wings?

And what the hell happened to Elizabeth? Last year, she seemed plausible as a president. You’d think she’d trust Carrie or at least be willing to listen to her, but she’s gone the full Mrs. Haversham.

So far it looks like Homeland has a lot of questions to answer. Let’s hope the answers are interesting.

Marion Stein

Marion writes television recaps and reviews for the Agony Booth, and books you can find over at Amazon.

TV Show: Homeland

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