Homeland: Cherchez la femme

Saul catches up with an old friend. Elizabeth finally gets a win. Carrie is boss lady of her own private avengers. Carrie and Max watch a disappointing episode of her favorite live stream.

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We open with Saul, in a heavily guarded car, passing a street filled with angry rabble who have been roused. He arrives where Brett is being held, and tries to find out who’s the boss of him, but Brett is not cracking despite Saul’s glare of righteousness.

One eyebrow raised slightly. Eyes straight ahead. Hold forever like a grudge.

Saul could glare at him all day, and has practiced this exact look in many episodes, but he’s ordered back to the White House, so he leaves Brett with the parting words, “You could’ve stopped this.” Always with the guilt, that guy. No wonder Mira left him.

Carrie arrives at Anson’s trailer and has a beer despite having given up drinking several seasons ago. Sure, hypomanic people with a history of alcohol abuse can just have a beer now and then.

So who’s Anson? Hey, you know how when you see someone you haven’t seen in a while, you catch up by immediately explaining your entire history to each other? Wait, you don’t? That’s right, because you’re not a a character on a TV show, but these two are, so here comes the requisite backstory conversation for our benefit. He used to be in the spy biz, until three months ago, when President Keane canned everybody that she didn’t throw in jail. He and Carrie were fuckbuddies despite his being married to Donna, who sounds like she’s not as much fun as a bipolar side piece. Donna told Carrie she threw him out on account of his taking a sledgehammer to the family room. Carrie wants to know if he’s losing it or just acting out. It’s important because she’s putting together a team to save the world.

He’s in.

Saul is at a meeting with the President, David, and assorted suits who aren’t in jail this week. Saul tells them that Agent Maslin lost a man and “overreacted,” despite some snide comments by the FBI director, and he’s not taking the bait or the blame. He also doesn’t think Brett was responsible for the fake story about JJ’s death, but if not Brett, then who? Someone else says “the Russians,” and Saul doesn’t say “Bingo” but it’s clearly what he had in mind. However, Keane is less concerned with figuring out that part of the puzzle, and more worried about preventing the upcoming riots. When the meeting adjourns, Saul tries to talk to David some more about his Russian theory, but David doesn’t have the time or inclination to listen, so Saul goes back to his office, and tells someone he needs a plane.

The way things are going, we’re sure to see the headline: Nat’l Security Advisor Charters Military Flight to Mountain Hideaway After Screw Up Leads to 19 Deaths in Virginia!

Carrie meets with her all-boy team, which includes Dante, Max, Anson, and some random dudes she maybe used to work with and/or sleep with or knows from the liquor store. Their backstories apparently aren’t as important as Anson’s, but like him, they can’t say no to her because who can?

“Carry out a covert operation with no backing by anyone and risk serious jail time? Sure, we’re in!”

What’s the plan? Rough up Simone, but don’t punch her in the face, and then tell her they know what she did, and they want $100,000 to keep quiet about it. Let her think they’re prison guards. Step deux, wait till she goes back to David… because that’s Carrie’s big theory. It’s all David, David, David. Get evidence of his involvement. Oh yeah, and they’re going to do it this very night.

The president arrives at the home of Jackie Goodman, the widow of the FBI agent who shot JJ, and was killed by Big Daddy. Keane tells her that her husband was a credit to the bureau and the nation, by which she maybe means, “We aren’t going to throw him under the bus for shooting that kid, but…” she has a little favor to ask. She wants the Widow Goodman, who’s also an FBI agent, and not coincidentally African-American, to attend the memorial service for the 15 people killed who were not FBI agents, including the man who assassinated her husband after the fake news report.

The widow doesn’t see what good can come from her walking into a church filled with “a thousand white separatists who lost fifteen of their own.” But Keane tells her, “You’re the one who’ll mean the most.” Also, sheesh, they’ve got metal detectors, so what can possibly go wrong?

“Black? No, it has nothing to do that. I don’t even see color.”

Where is Saul off to? Hey, remember back in the season five finale when Saul had that chat with Russian spymaster and Allison handler Ivan, and your humble recapper wondered whether Saul and Ivan in retirement might wind up solving crimes Matlock-style in some Colorado ski-town? This isn’t the spin-off, but it may be as close as we’re going to get. Saul is visiting Ivan to ask him if he thinks the Russkies are behind the fake news about JJ and other assorted goings on.

Ivan has an almost age-appropriate Americanski girlfriend: a ski instructor, and retirement agrees with him, which Saul probably finds suspicious because it’s clearly not an option he can imagine for himself. Ivan is dismissive of Saul’s suspicions, telling him that “Sometimes a domestic crisis is just a domestic crisis.” Saul doesn’t completely buy Ivan’s denials. We know this because Saul calls someone on the flight home and tells whoever he’s talking to to check out Ivan’s allegedly American squeeze, and also that he’s not sure Ivan is really retired, but he doesn’t want Ivan to think that his visit was anything more than following up on a hunch and a casual visit.

“Just happened to be in the neighborhood, thought I’d drop by.”

Looks like it’s time for operation Cherchez La Femme. Carrie’s team is watching the building where Simone goes to, how we say, “work.” They check off people leaving one by one. Her car is conveniently parked in front of her office, because of course it is. They’ve screwed with it so she can’t turn over the engine. Fortunately, she doesn’t have jumper cables or one of those newfangled doohickeys that starts your battery because she is, how you say, French. She calls roadside assistance, and Max intercepts the call, telling her it’ll be about an hour. Does she go out for coffee or wait in the car? Does she decide to deal with it in the morning and call Uber? Nope! She goes back into her office to wait, which is exactly what the team planned on.

Over at the White House, President Elizabeth I is watching the memorial service on TV with David, and seriously, this woman can’t catch a break. Even the newscaster is describing it like all the dead were heroes and martyrs. It doesn’t look like the Widow Goodman is going to show, but there she is walking through the door with two other FBI widows. At first they get heckled, but then Big Daddy’s widow goes up to her, takes her hand, and asks her to sit with her.

The soft power of bereavement.

It’s a hell of a gesture, but given the way Mrs. Big Daddy saw through Brett last week, even before it all went very bad in a hail of bullets, we shouldn’t be totally surprised. President Elizabeth I makes a great speech about how we need to put all this behind us, and it looks like civil war has been averted, by strong women, without guns.

Carrie and Dante continue to check off people as they leave the building. Conveniently, the organization is in a townhouse and not a giant office building where it would be harder to identify staff, and they have everybody’s photo from the website because sure, NGOs post photos of all the staff including support staff, newbies, and interns, so that’s 100% accurate.

Once they’re sure Simone is alone, they go in. Anson punches her, but not in the face, because Carrie said so, though he does look like he kind of enjoys roughing her up. She admits to delivering the money for the hit on McClendon. They don’t ask her for more information because the point is to go to David’s. One of them is putting a bug into the lining of her handbag, while the other two distract her with physical pain. They tell her they’re watching her and they want $100,000 delivered in two days.

They leave. Then she leaves. She’s figured out the car issue was a ruse, and she goes to a local bar. The bug bugs out, so they send someone into the bar to plant another one, but Simone goes into the ladies room. Because Carrie is the only lady, she goes into the bar so she can get close enough to Simone’s bag to drop in a new one. With this mission accomplished, Carrie gets that self-satisfied look on her face we’ve seen before.

Simone has no idea who Carrie is of course, despite Carrie’s being in the death car with the President, and then working for the President, and then being fired by Simone’s boyfriend.

Simone calls David, and gets an Uber to his house, but she leaves her bag in the Uber, because of course she does. Carrie wants to follow the Uber and get him to return the bag, but Dante points out it wouldn’t make sense for the driver to show up and say someone called him. He tells Carrie she’s not thinking clearly, and then he does the thinking for her, telling her they have what they need. They connected Simone to McClendon, and David to Simone, and it’s enough to go back to Senator Paley. Wasn’t he the guy who didn’t want to go near Paley? Anyone else noticing how smoothly he diverts Carrie from her suspicions about problems with both bugs?

Carrie doesn’t let on to Dante that Max has already bugged David’s house anyway, which is a good thing because either Dante is up to no good, or he’s just been written that way. Let’s not forget, this is the guy who threw Carrie down on the floor to get away from Paley, and then suddenly went all in a few hours after Carrie sent him Simone’s photo.  This is the guy who happened to have a bipolar girlfriend, but last week seemed surprised that Carrie might not have the insight to monitor her meds. This is the guy who’s always trying just a little too hard.

Carrie leaves him and goes to meet Max in his van where he plays her what he’s already seen at David’s, which is not exactly what she was hoping for. David talks about the great speech his boss gave and how things are finally going to turn a corner, and it looks like Simone showed up for an ordinary booty call… with clothes on, so David doesn’t see the punch she took to the gut. There’s lots of moaning, but no words about McClendon, cash, or getting beaten up at the office. Plus, she’s a lot cooler than most of us would be in the situation.

This surveillance has jumped the shark.

Carrie is mystified and more than a little annoyed. Viewers are left with questions: If Simone isn’t working for or with David, then who is she working for? And did she leave the bag in the Uber by accident or accidentally on purpose?

Time to speculate amongst ourselves. All theories welcome.

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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