Homeland: It's happening here
Homeland has a history of penultimate episodes that deliver, and R for Romeo is no exception. Keane confronts her tormentors, Quinn gets revenge, and Saul is vindicated, but is it all too little, too late?
We begin where we left off: Carrie spots Black Hat Guy through the scope of one of the many weapons Quinn scored previously. She tells Quinn if he brought her there so she could watch him kill Black Hat, that’s not going to happen. As always Carrie automatically goes to (a) it’s all about her and (b) she’s the one giving in charge.
Quinn tells her about the switched Medina Medley van in the garage of the flag house – proof that they blew up Sekou. The van is his gift to her, the evidence she needs, but the guy is his. Carrie wants to know why taking him out is so important, and when Quinn isn’t forthcoming, she insists she’s “owed” an explanation.
That’s when he tells he knows about how she woke him from his coma. He blames her for the stroke and making him a “monkey.” He starts running around acting like a monkey – not by publicly masturbating and/or throwing his feces, but by running in uncoordinated circles and making apelike grunts. It’s a desperate physicalization of the frustration he can’t express any other way. He collapses in a corner crying. That’s tonight’s Emmy moment number one.
The next day, Saul makes his way through a crowd of protesters to see Keane at the hotel where she’s holed up, and why is she holed up at a hotel in New York? It’s one of many annoying glitches that doesn’t go by quite fast enough for us to ignore.
Keane is giving a presser about the video of her son. She calls it a false narrative and challenges the people who made it to come forward. She’s asked if she’s calling the soldiers who claimed to see her son running from battle liars, and she says, “Yup.” The press continues to ask inane questions that miss the point of the film’s being a fake. The press never gets a break on Homeland. They’ve been portrayed as enemy spies, easily manipulated dupes, self-righteous do-gooders, and now dupes again. If there is a next season, it would be interesting to see them shown as a pillar of our democracy, or at least not-terrible.
Carrie and Quinn are still at the conveniently empty house. Carrie is sleeping in a corner, and Quinn is packing his things. Carrie wakes up. Quinn tells her the team is leaving, and he’s going to follow them. He’s left her instructions for getting into the flag house. She tries to pick up the conversation where they left off before he went ape shit. Maybe she should try using actual words to tell him how she feels, but neither one of them is too good with the feelings.
Quinn says about as clearly as he’s said anything this season, “You got to let me go.” Then he walks out the door into sunlight so bright he seems to fade away, and maybe I’m not the only one who wondered if they brought him back just to kill him off on one final mission? Has he been a ghost this entire season – which might explain how he’s managed to get beaten, shot at, and survive being submersed in freezing cold water for what felt like several minutes?
Speaking of people who may or may not already be dead, Not-Alex Jones silently watches as Dar interrogates Max about his phone. Max denies making or sending a video. He admits to knowing Carrie, but not that she sent him. Dar starts to do something to Max’s neck that looks like a Vulcan death grip and seems to hurt a lot. Carrie, we can all assume, hasn’t noticed that Max hasn’t checked in.
Not-Alex Jones calls Madam President-Elect’s people and admits he’s behind the swiftboating. She called him “deplorable” at the presser, and delicate flower that he is, he can’t let that stand. He invites Keane to come on his show and chat about it. Rob, Pallas, and Keane’s press adviser all tell her not to go on his show, but she turns to Saul who came earlier with Max’s video, and more information about the Office of Policy Coordination aka the troll factory. At first, Saul seems to be collecting his thoughts, almost rambling, but then in tonight’s second Emmy wining performance, he sorts it all out – propaganda, a coordinated campaign of disinformation, “boots on the ground” aka the crowd of protesters out front. For Saul, it’s a familiar scene that’s been played out before in democratically elected regimes the CIA wished to replace – Congo, Nicaragua, Chile, and others “going all the way back to Iran.” He warns Keane the scenario never ends well for the newly elected government. He doesn’t add that it often ends permanently for the newly elected leader.
He tells Keane she has no choice. She has to take Not-Alex Jones on.
Can we also get some love and applause (and another Emmy please) for the writers on this one? Never has an accounting of the misdeeds of the CIA been stated this clearly and succintly in a television thriller.The entire season has been a slow burn leading to the fireworks of this episode. Saul with all his experience, was too close to see what was in front of him, but the audience (like Quinn) could. Now what’s happening is all too obvious, and Saul knows he may be too late. There have been other shows about an imminent threat to the US, but they’ve mostly been nonsense playing to irrational fears – zombies, viruses, zombie-viruses, Muslims, etc. But this is so much closer to the likely scenario – the enemy is among us. As Saul told Mira last week, they’ll come as friends.
Following Quinn’s instructions, Carrie uses the spare key to get into the flag house, but it looks like the alarm wasn’t set. It’s time for the viewers at home to yell “Get out!” But she persists. She goes to the van, where she finds a photo of Sekou with his family on the flip side of the sun visor. She goes back to the house and sure enough Black Hat Guy (no longer wearing his hat) grabs her from behind. He’s got his massive paws around her throat. Carrie grabs a chopstick from some take-out and manages to poke him in the eye. It’s enough for her to get to the door and open it before he starts dragging her back, but guess who came in through that open door? Peter Quinn that’s who! Did the guys stop to buy sodas at the convenience store and he noticed Black Hat Guy wasn’t with them? Did his spidey sense tell him Carrie was in trouble? Who cares? He shoots Black Hat Guy in the leg, and once he’s down, he starts beating him in the head with a pistol, and boy were there some good brain squishing sound effects going on there. Do they have an Emmy for best sound engineering?
Quinn keeps hitting him long past the point the point of death, with enough splatter to keep many a CSI team happy.
A security guy at the troll factory delivers Max’s lunch. Max tells him they’re going to kill him, and asks for help. The guy tells him to drink his milk. Max finds a key card under the milk, and if you smell a trap, you are right. Max makes it out of the building, and then is forced into a van by members of team flag house.
Carrie has phoned a friend. She tells Quinn the Solicitor General himself will be coming to the crime scene to handle “the immunity situation.” She’d like to get the story straight with Quinn as the overkill may be a problem. Quinn doesn’t want to talk about it, but finally after more of Carrie’s hounding, tells her about Astrid and how in his screwed up state he removed the bullets from her gun, leaving her defenseless. He says he killed her, but Carrie tells him that’s not true, and that now she at least understands what just happened. Then Quinn looks at the corpse, points to his own heart and says, “This is what I do. It’s all I can do because there’s nothing here. There never was.”
It’s too bad that Carrie doesn’t even know about that time back in season two when David Estes sent Quinn to the cottage to kill Brody, but he didn’t because he saw how much Carrie loved Brody. He was a changed man from that day on. He wasn’t just Carrie’s beacon. She’s always been his.
We’re over at The Real Truth studios which judging from the visible lower-Manhattan skyline appears to be in Brooklyn. The troll factory seems to have moved itself from northern Virginia (where I swear they said it was) to somewhere “off I-95” – which still probably means one or more hours away from Brooklyn especially with traffic. Please forgive your humble recapper’s obsession, but is there a helicopter pad on the roof or some kind of super secret high speed train running between the buildings, a pneumatic tube for people maybe?
It appears that Max has been taken to the studio as well. Dar tells Max not to worry as he’d already be dead if that were Dar’s intent (unless of course Dar wanted some intel before “tying up a loose end” as our friend Javadi might put it). Like many older people Dar doesn’t know much about this internet thingy and he’s trying to figure out why Quinn’s photo was on Not-Alex Jones’ laptop.
Max hacks into the computer – because that’s what he does.
Keane goes face to face live on the air with not-Alex Jones. While he doesn’t lose his composure, neither does she even though he makes her sit through the video of her son’s death one more time. She demands he restore and show the complete footage which will show her son running to save a colleague. She says the 1.5 million comments on the video were mostly bots, and she names the troll factory they came from. She calls him a “government shill,” and tells him he will be shut down. Then she drops the mic (literally) and leaves. While it was cool to watch, he didn’t exactly crumble.
Carrie is explaining to Pallas that the flag house is briefing post for special ops to the middle-east. He’s a bit taken aback by the state of the corpse, but says he’ll make the immunity work. She tells him about the van, which he goes to check out.
Saul is sitting next to Keane on the drive back to the hotel from the studio. She tells him how grateful she is he came forward, especially considering they were totally planning to screw him over, and then she mutters something about taking the CIA down. He says that whomever is doing whatever is not his agency. Despite his earlier condemnation of the agency’s history, Saul’s CIA, as we saw much earlier when he met “off-book” with a Russian counterpart, exists to get to the truth which will set us free. If we believed in happy endings, he might be her new CIA director, but the vibe becomes ominous as they approach the angry hordes still protesting outside of the hotel. Her performance on The Real Truth didn’t win their hearts and minds.
The motorcade speeds up. Someone comes out into the road and is hit. Keane’s vehicle keeps going, and she’s shaken to the point almost of shock. Saul takes her hand. Is there a vibe here? And if so, will these two do it long before Carrie and Quinn ever become Quarrie?
Carrie, Quinn, and a bunch of FBI agents inspecting the crime scene are still at the house. Carrie tells Quinn to have a chat with the Solicitor General. Quinn is looking at the whiteboard. He shows Carrie some not quite erased letter and asks Carrie what she thinks it might be. B, R, or P are the guesses. B would mean Bravo time – the team would be off to the middle-east, but R is for Romeo, the east coast. Carrie sits with that a second, and then runs out to call Rob.
Rob is distracted by the trouble they’re having with the protesters, and tells Carrie to hold on. Carrie is walking outside the house now, and then she sees someone about to open the garage door and suddenly her spidey sense kicks in and there’s a massive explosion. When Rob gets back on the phone, she’s gone.
Max has uncovered Peter Quinn’s alleged web-activities. Not Alex-Jones has been posting or having someone post as Quinn for the past four months. There’s a website showing a very unhealthy obsession with President-Elect Keane. Is this Plan B if they couldn’t get Keane to resign? Could they be setting Quinn up to take the fall as an assassin?
Carrie gets up from the ground. Several people around her appear to be dead or badly injured. The garage door is blown. She screams for Quinn, who stumbles out of the house. They go to see whom they can help and who is beyond help. How do they happen to be the only ones left standing? The police arrive.
So what horrible thing will happen next? Saul, Carrie, Quinn with maybe a little help from Keane (if she’s not dead) and Max (if he’s not dead) have one episode left to save the United States. Godspeed!