Homeland: Some deep rabbit hole

The United States of Homelandia didn’t elect Trump, but this season’s Homeland captures our paranoia. Homeland gives us an almost Trumpian fantasy of intelligence agencies running amok — or are they?  At midpoint, it’s not certain who is behind what, but possible suspects include the CIA, the Mossad, and  a very murky private entity that’s maybe connected to the bombing and the assassination of an FBI agent. Buttons are being pushed, and crowds of restless people are literally throwing stones at Carrie’s house, until they are stopped by Quinn, who unlike biblical-Jesus uses bullets and not words to disburse them. What exactly is going on? Nobody knows. But Quinn’s photos sure woke Carrie up. They were her red pill, and now she’s seeing how far down the rabbit-hole goes.

Carrie’s dealt with terrorist threats, but she’s no match for the passive-aggressive hostility that is New York City bureaucracy. After waiting hours at a police facility, she’s told Quinn was never there. He went straight to the psych hospital where he’ll be on lock down for 72 hours, and nobody will be able to see him. They could have told her, but that’s not their job.

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Did you think Obama or an equally handsome black man was the president of Homeland? It’s easy to get confused when Obama’s voice used to greet us in the opening credits. But the actual president is an old white dude who looks like a small town mayor, banker, or funeral director. He’s giving a speech about the bombing, pointing out that a young man filled to the brim with hate got out of jail, and therefore it’s time to take away more civil liberties, something he’s urging the Madam Prez-to-be to consider. Madam Prez is still in prison at the stately country home they won’t let her leave where she’s watching the speech on the television she isn’t supposed to have. She is not amused.

Carrie is at the speech stalking Conlin. She sent him Peter’s photos, but he hasn’t looked at them, so she’s there in person to open up his eyes. Conlin, like any sane person, is weary of Carrie, and her crazy theories – including the one about Sekou being set up, but even he can’t deny that Sekou couldn’t have built the bomb himself. Carrie tells him she needs to talk to Quinn to find out exactly what Black Hat Man did after he got to the Medina Medley lot. Conlin asks her if Quinn is “the crazy vet who held [her]  daughter hostage.”

“If by ‘crazy’ you mean totally right about everything!”

Hasn’t Peter been outed as the Saran-gas terror survivor? Because that would sure put a different spin on things.

Saul is at the CIA talking to Mercedes Acosta – played by Rachel Ticoton who once had a big part in a big movie but probably didn’t put out and is now older and relegated to bits. She tells Saul she “forgot” to check out Tova’s movements for him – probably the menopause. Oops.

She didn’t always work in an office.

Saul leaves his coat in the office, and when Mercedes’s young analyst assistant who heard him speak once and is in awe, runs to return it, Saul asks him why his boss is lying, and finds out there’s a standing order for no surveillance of Tova. Saul asks on whose authority, but the analyst, who’s by now close to peeing himself having realized this covert conversation could probably cost him his career, doesn’t know, and he can’t look at the file.

Conlin asks Saud if Black Hat Guy was working with Sekou. Saud would swear to it in court for a sandwich, but Conlin clarifies that he actually wants the truth. Saud looks at the picture again and tells him Black Hat Guy looks like someone the government would send. Based on Conlin’s expression, this is both a revelation, and something he really didn’t want to hear.

Saul goes to Coney Island to ask an SVR agent for help in tracking Tova because when you can’t trust your own agency, why not turn to the Russkies? They’ve been having these “back channel” meetings for years, which is how old-school like them secretly run the world or like to think they do.

Carrie and Franny are coming home from their stay at Letisha’s, which means that sometimes the nanny is just the nanny and not (as some thought) part of the conspiracy. Conlin’s waiting in front of Carrie’s house, which maybe is not the best place to meet given that Black Hat Guy’s been watching, and why exactly is she bringing Franny back there if that’s still happening?

Conlin tells her he traced the license plate on the jeep Quinn followed. It led to shell companies within shell companies. He has a contact who can get Carrie in to see Quinn, so she can get more information. Looks like despite the initial distrust, Conlin and Carrie are teaming up. That probably won’t end well – for him.

Meantime, Madam Prez is still getting ever lamer excuses about why she can’t contact Rob. She tries to steal the housekeeper’s cell phone, but the housekeeper (Margaret) catches her. Uh-oh! No milk and cookies for you Madam President!

Quinn is in a completely empty room where he’s on the floor like a dog. He’s been badly beaten, and is NOT happy to see Carrie. She apologizes and admits this is all her fault. YES, Carrie of course you should have listened to the man you saw rise from the dead, who is NEVER wrong.

This is what happens when you don’t trust your friends.

She asks him what he saw after he took the final photo. Did Black Hat Guy plant the bomb? But Peter blames her for “taking [him] down” and thinks she’s part of whatever it is. He’s freaked that she got into his room, as he was told “nobody gets in.” She tries to calm him down, and he bites her hand.

Conlin enters some non-distinct humongous office building in a Northern Virginia suburb. He spots the jeep with the license number out front in the parking lot. He tells the receptionist he’s there because of “insurance” and that the driver was in an accident. She tells him to take a seat. There are tons of people filling out clipboards and waiting to be interviewed for jobs, and they all look like as Saud might put it,  “government.”

Conlin starts talking to one of them, who works for an intelligence agency, but can’t wait to get into the private sector and work for a company that controls “the great bitchstream” – 98% of the world’s data. Can’t you feel the throb coming from the biggest, hardest, fiber optics cable in the world?

When a woman comes to escort “Group A” to the interviews, Conlin follows along. They take the elevator down six flights down either because this is all a metaphor for hell, or that’s some deep rabbit hole. Conlin sneaks off into a massive room with ladders and wires, but the escort comes back for him. She won’t give him any information and isn’t impressed with his badge.

Badges? We’re not impressed by no stinking badges.

She gets security to escort him out, and the jeep is now gone.

He calls Carrie who tells him it didn’t go well with Peter. He makes a joke about how it might get better. After all they’re practically partners. Did anybody warn him that 99% of the people that help Carrie die? He doesn’t give her details about Virginia, but tells her to meet him at his house, and texts the address.

Rob shows up at the gate of wherever it is they’re holding Madam President. The Secret Service or whatever agency is actually holding her is very interested in knowing how he got the address. While they’re “sweeping” his car, and threatening him with the dogs, we see Margaret pull out in her pick up truck. Rob looks meaningfully at the truck while trying to distract the guards.

Victor of the SVR and Saul meet again in the same place because it’s cheaper to film that way. He tells Saul that Tova was back and forth between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv several times prior to meeting there with Saul, and shows Saul the picture of Tova meeting with Dar in New York. Saul looks like a jilted lover. He and Victor are sitting, facing opposite directions, but if anyone were following either of them and taking pictures,wouldn’t it be obvious they were together? Does it even matter? Is poor Saul so far out of the loop that nobody even cares what he knows?

Hat, trench coat, dark glasses. Don’t think you’re fooling anybody.

Rob is finally told he’ll be shown in to see Madam Prez, but surprise! She’s gone rogue and escaped with the housekeeper with whom she’s having a serious heart to heart. Margaret is not a fan, but agreed to help because she could see something wasn’t right. They both have boys who died in the military, but Margaret feels her son died for something, and she doesn’t like Keane’s changing her mind about the war. While Keane believes mentioning her son would be exploitative, Margaret feels not talking about him makes him and the others who died invisible.

We hear helicopters. Madam Prez puts the battery back in the phone and tells Agent Thoms to back off. She’s going to New York with Margaret.

Carrie shows up at Conlin’s house to find the front door locked, but the back door open. There’s an uneaten sandwich on the counter, and blood stains on the floor. We see Black Hat Guy sneak across a room as Carrie goes up the stairs, finds Conlin’s body, and grabs his gun. There’s a great cat and mouse sequence where they never encounter each other directly, but Carrie manages to catch a glimpse of Black Hat’s reflection in a window and recognizes him from the photo. She makes it to her car – just barely – and takes off.

At least the kids weren’t home yet! Speaking of which, Carrie races to Franny’s school and hugs her kid so tight she almost crushes her.

Madam Prez arrives in New York and thanks to her conversation with a sister-mom, gives the best speech ever, mentioning her son by name, and talking about facing our fears and developing “a new strategy” which is not a police state. Even the tough reporters have lumps in their throats.

Carrie, for some inexplicable reason is back at her house despite the fact that THEY KNOW WHERE SHE LIVES. Max is spending the night, and working on a security system because apparently she has him on retainer. She’s staying by Franny’s bed, holding Conlin’s gun.

Another interesting story Franny will be telling her therapist one day.

Why is she there and not at her sister’s? Or a Holiday Inn Express?

Peter is strapped down to a bed in his otherwise empty room when two men come in. They put tape over his mouth,, and give him an injection, which may be a good sign because they could have just smothered him with a pillow. They get him on a gurney and take him out to a parking lot. How convenient that his room is completely isolated from other patients and staff as well as on a ground floor and near an exit!

The gurney goes into a black van, where Peter is warmly greeted by his old squeeze, Astrid of the BND. It’s easy to picture her reading about his latest misadventure, muttering the words, “Carrie Fucking Mathison” and deciding to step in before Carrie gets him killed. Or could Carrie have called her in? That would have been an awkward conversation.

The Mossad, the SVR, the BND, plus Black Ops CIA and who knows who else. Who knew New York City was such a hot bed of intrigue? Are people like Dar and Tova as guilty as they look? And what about Black Hat Guy and the ominous corporation? Are we certain he’s the one who took Conlin down, or could the rabbit hole be even deeper than we ever suspected?

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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  • It’s a bitstream, not a ‘bitchstream!’

    PS Dar Adal is behind the bombing. He warned Carrie that she didn’t know how vulnerable she was. That was the tipoff.

    • As much as Dar is ACTING like he was behind the bombing, and seemed absolutely bonkers giddy about it, I’m still thinking it’s too obvious.Also it sounded like bitchstream and I’m going with it because that seemed like a metaphor — a personification — it made it sexy and dangerous.