Tonight’s penultimate episode of Homeland succeeded in pulling together nearly nine hours’ worth of storytelling to provide a clearer picture of season 6’s overarching narrative. At least, I think we’re supposed to believe the “reinforcements” coming to the aid of President-elect Elizabeth Keane are, in fact, the guys taking up residence in the agency briefing post… right? And they’ve got to have far more nefarious goals in mind than providing a protective detail… right?
Either way, several questions remain: Is Dar Adal really the one calling the shots, considering he wasn’t told about the plan to paint Quinn as a radical online? Is O’Keefe taking their propaganda machine a bit further than Dar would like? Is the agency itself involved, or has Dar gone rogue? And finally, will O’Keefe and Dar ultimately get what’s coming to them?
Answers are likely forthcoming in next week’s season finale, but in the meantime, let’s revisit what went down in episode 11, “R Is for Romeo.”
When the lights go off in the house Quinn’s watching, he reluctantly puts down the rifle as Carrie begs him to tell her what’s going on. He says he’s got proof the man who was watching her blew up the boy in the van (i.e. Sekou Bah). How? Because the real van is in the garage across the street. It appears the special ops team currently taking up residence in the briefing post switched the vans prior to the bombing that killed Sekou. With tangible evidence finally in front of her, Carrie offers to call the solicitor general. He can “make things happen” so that Quinn doesn’t have to kill anyone, she says.
Unsurprisingly, Quinn’s not down with her plan. “The guy is mine,” he responds, and he doesn’t care if it means he’s tried for murder. “Well, I do,” Carrie says, much to Quinn’s frustration. When Carrie launches into a diatribe about how much she “doesn’t care” — she visited him in the hospital every day, took him into her home, lost her daughter, dropped everything when his “hooker girlfriend” said he needed her — it opens the door for Quinn to confront who could have been the love of his life about what happened in Berlin.
“You owe me!” he practically spits at Carrie. “You made me this way, in Berlin. You woke me from a coma for answers. I don’t have them. You made this stroke,” he says, gesturing up and down the partially paralyzed side of his body. Horrified, Carrie asks who told him. But what does that matter? “You only care because you got found out,” he says. She did this to him because for her, the mission always comes first.
When the guys across the street start leaving the next morning, Quinn packs up to follow suit. Carrie heads him off at the door, admitting he was right about what happened in Berlin and apologizing for her actions. “I told myself I was doing what you’d want me to do, preventing an attack,” she says. “I should have told you… And it’s not just the mission, it never has been.” Interrupting what I hoped would be a long-awaited confession of just how much she cares for him, Quinn finally says, “You gotta let me go.” And Carrie, adopting a cry face only Claire Danes can pull off, nods slightly and moves out of his way.
Luckily, Quinn doesn’t go far — because moments after she enters the supposedly empty briefing post to look for clues, our mystery man grabs Carrie from behind. She doesn’t go down without a fight, of course, but when the guy grabs her by the ankle just as she’s about to make her escape, Quinn makes a perfectly timed entrance to save the day. He fires off one shot and proceeds to beat the man to death with the butt of his gun. Though Carrie tries to stop him, all she can really do is watch in horror.
With the solicitor general and law enforcement on the way, Carrie wants her and Quinn to get their stories straight so nothing jeopardizes his immunity deal. That’s when he mentions Astrid: “She came all the way from Berlin to take care of me. I’m so f—ed up… I thought she came to hurt me. I took the bullets out of her gun and she couldn’t defend herself when he came. I killed her.”
Though Carrie wants him to tell the solicitor general about Astrid to better explain his use of excessive force, Quinn waves her off. “It’s all I can do,” he says about his penchant for violence. “There’s nothing here [pointing to his heart]. There never was.” She tells him to shut up and again apologizes for her role in his condition, but he insists she didn’t do anything after all. “I’ve always been this way.” It’s heartbreaking to see the once-stoic and seemingly indestructible Quinn accept his fate, even if he’s wrong about his own nature.
The solicitor general arrives and Carrie endeavors to explain how things “got a little out of hand.” She deflects his concerns about the dead guy without a face by drawing his attention to the van in the garage, complete with a photo of Sekou Bah’s family in the visor. She finds Quinn standing in front of the whiteboard, trying to decipher the bits of writing that bled through the last sheet of paper. The partial letters remaining indicate local times of places where the special ops team might be headed — for example, B would be Bravo time, which could by Syria or Jordan. R, on the other hand, would be Romeo, which is the East Coast (i.e. somewhere in the very near vicinity).
Carrie’s spidey sense kicks in, and she tries to find the solicitor general, who we’re told is off dealing with “a situation with the president-elect.” She then calls Rob, Keane’s chief of staff, to find out what’s going on. He says a demonstration got out of hand but that Keane’s all right and reinforcements are on the way. Which reinforcements, exactly? While she’s waiting for an answer, she tries telling the officers to stop unlocking the garage. Sadly, her instincts are right — the van inside explodes, sending Carrie flying and killing at least a few of the others onsite.
Luckily, Quinn’s not one of them. He emerges from the smoldering remains of the home into Carrie’s waiting arms, and the two quickly start checking the pulses of the bodies littering the front lawn. It’s been a few too many episodes since the last Homeland explosion, huh?
Back in the city, Saul pushes through throngs of protesters to get to the site of Keane’s press conference, the one she insisted upon after the release of a doctored video depicting her son as a cowardly soldier. The president-elect calls the video an attack on her presidency and dares whoever made the video to “come out of the shadows.” And despite a reporter’s question about a possible resignation, Keane makes it clear she’s not backing down. “I was elected by the people of this country to be their next president,” she says. “I will represent them.”
After the press conference, Keane is surprised to see Saul, who’s decided he cares more about the country than he does his professional reputation. In other words, he wants to help Keane bring down Dar, even if it means he’ll be discredited for sleeping with a Russian mole and allowing an agency breach on his watch. She’s right that Dar’s behind the video, but it’s “more complicated than that,” Saul tells her.
Speaking of complicated, Dar and O’Keefe are about to interrogate Max about his infiltration of the “Office of Policy Coordination” when the talk show host admits Keane’s taunt worked: He wants to go public about producing the video. “If somebody calls me ‘deplorable,’ I think they should say it to my face,” O’Keefe says. Dar, of course, thinks Max is the bigger problem — after all, his shooting a video of O’Keefe and Dar together is not just a misunderstanding. For his part, Max denies taking such a video and tries pretending like he doesn’t know who Dar is. He’s not especially convincing, but he gets an A for effort.
A little while later, a security guard brings Max some lunch and (inadvertently?) leaves his key card on the tray so Max can escape. Any thoughts of this being a setup are confirmed when two guys jump Max in the parking garage, throwing him into a black van and speeding off to… Dar Adal, who wants his help figuring out the origins of an online presence made to look like it’s Quinn. Though it appears Dar wasn’t behind the decision to make his “son” look like a radical on the internet, I find it hard to give the season’s biggest villain the benefit of the doubt right now — especially once we see what, exactly, Quinn’s supposedly been up to online (more on that later).
Elsewhere, Saul’s just told Keane about the sock puppet operation, a piece of intel her team is hoping might be enough to bring down Dar for good. In the meantime, O’Keefe has invited Keane on his show to talk about the video, which he’s admitted to making. What’s a president-elect to do? She seeks advice from Saul, who tells her that what’s going on sounds eerily familiar — it’s a strategy the intelligence community has embraced in its overthrowing of various governments around the world, one that doesn’t end well for the elected regime. “You’re fighting for your lives here,” Saul warns, advising Keane to take on O’Keefe head on.
And that’s exactly what she does. She arrives at his studio with bodyguards (and Saul) in tow, and what happens next is a heated argument between the president-elect and the guy I could easily see working for the Trump administration: Keane confronts O’Keefe about the doctored video, asking him to air the remaining footage that shows her son pulling a wounded soldier out of enemy fire. When O’Keefe claims to be “making democracy a little more equal,” Keane’s done pretending to be Mrs. Nice President (elect).
The so-called 2 million shares of the video within one minutes of its release? “A physical impossibility,” Keane says, publicly accusing O’Keefe of creating bots via the Office of Policy Coordination and of being funded by the same establishment he claims to despise. She’s got evidence of his collusion with the intelligence community, and she’s not afraid to send said evidence to the attorney general and watch him be prosecuted. “In my government, truth will have a value and you will have no place,” she declares. It’s all I can do, really, to stop myself from screaming, “YAS QUEEN!” at my TV screen.
On the way back to Keane’s hotel suite, she thanks Saul for coming forward, considering he’s essentially throwing himself on the sword to get Dar Adal. But Saul has always put the agency first, and what’s happening now isn’t in line with the organization to which he’s dedicated his entire career. He reassures Keane that she did well on O’Keefe’s show, but it appears the masses don’t agree, as many more protesters seem to have gathered outside Keane’s place of residence. When one demonstrator gets clipped by her car, Keane looks shaken, and the caravan opts to pull into the underground parking lot rather than go through the front, as Keane had insisted on only moments before.
In the episode’s final moments, Max finally finds the “online presence” made to look like Quinn. With the handle of “Toxic Soldier,” the posts are full of anti-Keane propaganda, clearly the work of O’Keefe and the minions he has working for him six floors underground. Given the explosion at the briefing post, the “reinforcements” heading Keane’s way, and the impersonation of Quinn on the web, I can’t help but wonder: Is Quinn being set up as the fall guy for everything?
We’ll find out next week, when your regular Homeland recapper Shirley returns to break down the season 6 finale. See you then!