This week’s episode of Homeland was not made available in advance to the media, which seemed like a peculiar decision for a random, mid-season installment of the series… right up until the very last scene, when a certain someone made a sudden, unexpected onscreen appearance, and it seemed like we, the viewers, might be tripping bipolar balls just as hard as (if not harder than!) our beloved Carrie Mathison. There are no words to describe the sound that erupted from my mouth upon seeing the special guest star of “Redux,” and with only a few minutes elapsed in which to have processed what just happened, all I can say is: Well-played, Homeland. Well-played indeed.
And that’s only the last five minutes.
Meanwhile, the first five minutes of this episode set the tone—one familiar to anyone who first fell for this show’s tense, authentic portrait of a woman trying to balance the burden of mental illness with the career necessities of espionage. The first shot is of a fine-ground powder, being packed expertly into pill capsules that will eventually find their way into Carrie Mathison’s personal apothecary. It’s an ominous moment, for reasons that become clear right around the time that we see Professor Dennis Boyd subbing the pills into Carrie’s supply from his sweaty, traitorous palm. And latecomers to the series, take note: If you missed the inaugural glory of Claire Danes’ epic crying face during one of her manic aeason 1 meltdowns, the time has come for you to see what all the fuss is about.
Unfortunately, Carrie isn’t in a position to worry about her pills being tampered with, or even to consider that she might be the target of this type of sabotage. CIA Director Lockhart has arrived in Islamabad, with a) questions about her competency, and b) a directive to keep Saul Berenson’s abduction secret while the U.S. meets with Pakistan’s intelligence to try and facilitate his release. Although Quinn vouches for Carrie’s Vulcan-like cool-headed-ness off the bat, shutting down the insinuation that she was emotionally compromised by the mission, Lockhart still charges into his meeting with the ISI like the proverbial bull in the china shop. Ignoring Ambassador Boyd’s attempts at diplomacy, the director straight-up accuses Pakistan of double-dealing, first mentioning their complicity in hiding Osama Bin Laden, and then outright threatening the country with the loss of United States money if they don’t sniff out the moles in their ranks. (This is seriously bad news for international relations, but great fun for Lockhart, who whips out his phone after the fact like he’s about to snapchat a victory selfie to the President.)
NEXT: Terrorists: They’re just like us!