Considering that pastries are established harbingers of doom on this season of Homeland, an episode called “Halfway to a Donut” was never going to be good news. It was, however, damn good television, as Homeland has once again taken all the elements that ever made it work—the intrigue, the espionage, the cat-and-mouse tangos with the Taliban, and the ever-present wildcard of Carrie Mathison’s mental state—and thrown them together in a configuration that’s at once familiar and thrillingly original.
This week, we open with Carrie on the morning after her hallucinogenic reunion with Brody, as she wakes up in Aasar Khan’s guest room with what we can only assume is a world-class hangover. (Or, y’know, whatever you get when you’ve spent half the night on an acid trip to Crazyland.) And now, embarrassing confession time: I totally assumed last week that Khan was complicit in sabotaging Carrie’s drugs, between his making the comment that triggered her pill-taking and his overall aura of smug villainy. But in this episode, it becomes clear that he didn’t (and still doesn’t) necessarily know that his colleague is a terrorist sympathizer, and that he doesn’t approve of Tasneem having poisoned Carrie’s pill supply. Obviously, poor Khan just suffers from a bad case of evil bastard resting face. Sorry, dude. I misjudged you.
Carrie, who wises up within minutes to the connection between her meds and her meltdown, makes her way back to the embassy and into a room with the only people she trusts: Lockhart and Quinn (who is finally, gratefully done having emo tantrums about Carrie having sexed an asset; he seems completely back to his old, super-cool self). Interestingly, where Carrie’s mental health nearly spelled her undoing back in the show’s first season, this time it’s not even a thing. Nobody even suggests that someone so easily unbalanced might not be the best choice for a CIA station chief; instead, Quinn and Lockhart are looking to Carrie for solutions, asking for her input, and treating her with respectful concern. It’s all pretty remarkable, considering that she was causing chaos less than 24 hours ago, assaulting hospital orderlies and trying to shoot people with an imaginary gun. Either the CIA is suddenly being very understanding about on-the-job manifestations of mental illness, or (more likely) the showrunners just aren’t interested in yet another multi-episode “Crazy Carrie” arc.
Carrie begs Lockhart not to disclose the information about the breach to anyone else, but Lockhart, who is really honestly the worst at his job, promptly informs Ambassador Boyd, because something about transparency. (Couldn’t he have been transparent with her about something else? Anything else?) And of course, shortly thereafter, over some sort of Pakistani pastry that Dennis Boyd describes as “halfway to a donut,” the ambassador delivers that same information to her traitorous mole of a spouse. Seriously, Martha? YOU HAD ONE JOB. But I suppose we should have known what would happen as soon as the ersatz donut appeared.
NEXT: If you’re all out of escape, I’ll take some death.