Homeland: Carrie's so-called life

Once upon a time, the opening credit sequence incorporated real world footage and voices. Obama might not have been the president of Homelandia, but we saw his image and heard him in the montage; Reagan and (Bill) Clinton too. It linked the fictional events to reality, and made the show relevant in a way that closed-world fantasies like Scandal or Designated Survivor never could be. That’s now gone, except for a tiny Hillary voice sample at the tail end. Otherwise, this week’s voiceover might as well be labeled “previously on” or “in case you just tuned in.” After learning that she’s a bi-polar ex-CIA agent, and the country is on the verge of a new civil war, we hear a nearly hysterical Carrie, yelling for the President to “Put a stop to this!” There’s even a shout out to Quinn, whose ghost lingers. He might still be Carrie’s beacon, but the bulb is dimming.

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We open with Brett (Not Alex Jones) O’Keefe broadcasting from someone’s basement in the heart of America (but not very far from the DC area). How is it this guy has been on the run for weeks and is still in the general neighborhood? He’s not buying General McClendon’s heart attack. Well, even a broken clock…

Or maybe given that he was running the troll farm, he’s in on whatever happened.

Now actually coming to you from someone’s basement. Literally.

Meantime at the White House, Keane is telling whatever security staffers she hasn’t locked up yet that even she finds the general’s death suspicious. David is denying he was childhood friends with the guard (as Brett had suggested in his broadcast). So does that mean she wasn’t telling David to rid her of that meddlesome general? What about when she told him to “fix it” or else? What about how David looked all guilty when Carrie was watching him? Is this a plausible deniability thing? Did he do it but Elizabeth really doesn’t know? Does she have that old standby of the soaps: a split personality? Looks like Homeland is going to keep us guessing.

When they’re alone, David tells Elizabeth that she really needs to release the 200, and this time, it looks like she’s listening.

Brett emerges from the cellar into the sunshine to meet his base in real ‘Murica. One young fan has his visage tattooed on his arm with the word “Rebel”.

“Re-BEL,” says Brett, trying to speak redneck.

“RE-bel,” the young’un corrects him.

Well, given the Civil War reference made a minute before, it was an understandable mistake.

Brett greets his host, and his host’s wives and kids, some of whom might be the same people.

It’s time for Carrie to see a shrink. The shrink is played by Saffina Jaffrey, the hardest working woman on television.

She’s a shrink, and an FBI agent, and a presidential advisor, and sometimes a gynecologist.

And don’t ex-CIA have to go to shrinks with approved clearance? And isn’t Carrie sort of famous by now, seeing as how she was in the deathcar with Peter and the then-President Elect, plus she was briefly working for the President? Didn’t Max say they were making Peter Quinn action figures? Wouldn’t they have made a matching Carrie Mathison doll too?

It’s not grandiosity if you made the front page, and as nuts as Carrie sounds, she’s has a point: It’s not crazy if it’s true. But Carrie has never been good at explaining her actions in a way that doesn’t seem looney tunes, and even she gets stopped in her tracks by the shrink’s suggestion that maybe the lithium just isn’t working the way it used to.

David goes back to see Saul and tells him Keane will release the 200 if he’ll take the job. Saul wonders if maybe McClendon’s death in custody is raising some questions. David tells him as a condition of his new employment there will be no carping from the sidelines. Really? From Saul? Why not just hire a fish to fly?

Carrie gets back from her apartment and goes to her room to continue her surveillance of David, because that’s totally not a sign of mania. A tall brunette enters and leaves a note in David’s kitchen. Carrie sends her photo to Dante, who’s in the middle of having a life. Dante blows her off, which of course confuses and upsets Carrie because she doesn’t understand the concept of “no”.

She’s CIA, Dante! She’ll always find you.

Her sister knocks on the door and asks who she was yelling at. Carrie tells her nobody, because that too is COMPLETELY NORMAL.

Sis tells her she wasn’t prying, and just thought there was something on the telly she might be interested in.

On the TV, Saul is next to the President, making a little speech about his new job as National Security Advisor. Bill is like, “Ha ha, no conspiracy. Told you so.” And Carrie, who’s unemployed and living with family like a snotty over-aged teenager, replies lamely, “When they release the rest of them, let me know!” And then she goes back to her room to sulk.

It’s like A Streetcar Named Desire, but if Bill tries to touch her, she’ll kill him.

Over at the White House, Saul has to remind the President (and us) that he wasn’t part of the conspiracy, that in fact he was in the lead car during the attack, his driver was killed, and they spent three hours taking glass shards out of his face. Then David tells him that his first job will be helping to apprehend Brett because sure, that’s a thing that a National Security Advisor would do.

When Carrie is tucking in Franny that night, Franny warns her mother to please be nicer to Uncle Bill because she really likes living here, and it’s almost like the little tyke is breaking up with her, and really, who could blame her?

“You could be my extra mommy, like every other weekend, okay?”

Carrie goes back to her room and gets on the internet, because now that she no longer drinks or picks up stray gingers at the liquor store, what else does she have? But instead of finding some nice porn and enjoying her alone time, she goes to 4Chan where she tries to get answers about the mystery woman in David’s kitchen.

The next morning, someone has answered her query, claiming to know who the woman is, but he wants to make sure she’s not the feds before he tells her. If you’re thinking Carrie would never be dumb enough to upload a file from some rando on 4Chan, you would be wrong. She barely has time to process the ransom demand when her sister asks her to drop the kids off because she has a work meeting that was pushed up. Carrie pretends to have a Skype interview in ten minutes, although Superagent can barely keep that story straight.

Brett is still out with the simple country folk trying to bond by pretending to know how to shoot hisself a gun. The target is a Keane poster, but there’s blow-back and Brett winds up on the ground with a cut above his eye. The rubes don’t realize their hero is a tenderfoot, which on the one hand might mean he’s not a real American, and on the other could prove he’s not an actual Russian spy either, because if The Americans has taught us anything, it’s that those guys can use firearms. But maybe the thicker-than-a-jumbo-stack-at-IHoP accent really is a put-on and doesn’t just sound that way because the actor is a Brit. Later, the kid with Brett 4-Eveh tattooed on his arm overhears his idol making fun of the local yokels. It’s ripped from the headlines, like Bannon’s not off the record comments about the alt-right monsters who made him.

Didn’t Max used to have a life separate from Carrie’s? Now he exists only to serve. However, even he can’t use his computer superpowers to get her hard drive back. He tells her to pay the money. And then their conversation is interrupted by the hacker, who tells Max to leave and tells Carrie the price has doubled.

Over at the White House, Senator Paley of Arizona pays a visit. David tries to play hardball, threatening his seat in November if Paley doesn’t start playing nice, and Paley doesn’t look frightened.

Wow, that backfired worse than when Brett shot that gun.

Carrie is looking in a mirror like she’s expecting her reflection to talk back. She goes to the computer to chat with the hacker, who’s now raised the price to twenty grand. He tells her he knows the cameras are in the White House chief of staff’s house. She tells him it’s a thing they have. David is a crazy freak, and he gets off on her watching him. (Hey kids: That may be an important plot point! The “political exile” Elizabeth referred to last week was a result of his being caught with two hookers. In the funhouse mirror of Homelandia, David could be the one with the kompromat problem.)

Carrie attempts to interest the hacker in a “negotiation” over a little “exchange of services.” She starts to strip for him. Apparently, in the Homelandverse, the internets are not rampant with tits because this actually seems to be working, and the Hacker doesn’t laugh at her, or tell her no thanks and he’d rather have his payday. He won’t unlock her computer, but she gets him to agree to meet with her, and he gives her an address which strangely enough is not on another continent, but within commuting distance. What are the odds?

Saul is interrogating the local cop who tipped Brett off that the feds were coming. Given Saul’s interrogation history on this show—there was the guy that cut his wrists with broken glass, and the guy what went out the window—what are the chances the cop will live to tell this tale? But presumably, Saul will ignore the cop’s calling him a “fucking moron” and bond with him.

Carrie arrives in an industrial area that looks a lot like Brooklyn, which in the Homelandverse is across the bridge from DC. She parks where instructed and the hacker tells her to leave her bag and jacket in the car. Uh-oh. Apparently, he makes a nice living on these scams, because he seems to have a large creepy loft space all to himself. It certainly looks like Carrie is putting herself in danger, but if we know Homeland, we know that she is the danger.

The perils of internet dating.

She comes closer to killing him than she might have meant to, forces him to release her files, and takes his laptop. Let that be a lesson to you, young man! Stick to sexbots! Real girls are complicated. As she runs back to her car, she doesn’t do that cutesy smiley we’ve seen before, possibly because she has some tiny bit of insight into the extremity of her behavior.

So looks like this season Homeland is true to form in its formula: Will Carrie save the world (or at least the US) before or after her imminent breakdown? And is this the season that leads her back to the agency? We hope so, because girlfriend could use some resources.

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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  • If you think, “Carrie would never be dumb enough to upload a file from some rando on 4Chan” you would be wrong.

    They really sort of lost me there. I feel like the writers didn’t watch the first few seasons and know Carrie is too smart for that.

    PS. Wasn’t it a woman who cut her wrists with broken glass during a Saul interrogation?

    • You might be right, but then was there a third suicide?