Homeland recap: Super Powers
Well, that was fast. After Carrie learned she was the target of the assassination in Lebanon, she high-tailed it back to Berlin and went into hiding with Jonas and Frannie outside the city. And then, thinking she can figure out who’s after her, she makes a reckless call to go off her meds. She spirals and spirals and spirals until, well, we see her paranoid alter ego appear.
Yet, her most volatile trait also makes her who she is, as she explains to Jonas. Just as her timeline of enemies can all be considered both potential suspects and “avenging angels,” the manic state she achieves with her bipolarity can be considered her own worst enemy and her titular “super power.” The paranoia drives Jonas and Frannie away, but it also saves her from Quinn (for a bit, anyway) at the end of the episode.
Funnily enough, Carrie’s condition makes her the most self-aware of all the players so far this season. Sure, she should have totally expected to go out of control with all that caffeine and lack of medication, but she’s also tuned into the consequences of what she’s done with her career — and the potential enemies she’s made. The same can’t be said about Numan the hacktivist or Laura the dissident journalist or Allison the desperate station chief. Or, most importantly, Saul, the company man who didn’t get the top job and may now be recklessly involved in some darker, ripped-from-world-news-headlines plans.
Let’s start there, then. Saul begins the hour at the Düring Foundation, attempting to pry intel out of Otto about Carrie’s whereabouts. He’s tracking his former protégé after the debacle with Laura last week, as he and Allison saw the photos of the two together. Otto calmly deflects the questions, despite facing a Saul who’s more aggressive than ever. “I’m not a statesman,” Saul says. “I’m out for blood.” (That thesis will come into play later in the episode, when Saul tries to turn on his “statesman” side.) After failing to glean anything from Otto, Saul corners Allison and reprimands her for trying to get him kicked out of Berlin as a sacrifice to the BND’s wrath. When he reveals he won’t be sending her back to the U.S. after all for her Hail Mary pass, she thanks him. Where did this forgiving Saul come from? Why would he renege on his original plan to put her in the BND’s crosshairs and instead send the American ambassador to Germany back to the States unless…
Oh. The two are carrying out an affair, cozily taking Xanaxes and cuddling in bed after a long, hard day at work with the agency. (Was this affair already happening, or does this mean that Allison… slept with her boss after her job went into danger? Didn’t Saul just arrive in Berlin two episodes ago? How long has this been going on? Maybe we’ll find out.) The couple have had a rough 24 hours — and boy, do showrunners Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon know how to dole out rough 24 hours — but while Allison’s been dealing with the inept CIA teams she’s been using to track Laura and Carrie (we’ll get to this in a bit), Saul’s been manipulating entire governments.
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Earlier that day, he met with an Israeli intelligence officer who’s wondering if his government should be prepared for an American coup in Syria. “Israel would be the first to know,” Saul assures him, adding that there’s no chance the CIA wants to replace Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or go anywhere near Damascus, because the CIA is done overthrowing Arab leaders. And yet, hours later, Saul talks to Dar Adal, who reveals they’ve gotten the green light (the “operational balls,” if you will) to make their move. That move: the coup in Syria Saul had just said wouldn’t happen. According to the intelligence they have, Assad is already in danger of being overthrown, and they have just the candidate to replace him. Whatever happens, something’s brewing in the Middle East and being manipulated by two men several time zones away.
Also being manipulated by two men: Laura Sutton. Just when she thinks she’s gotten the documents from the tech-savvy Numan — he triggers the fire alarm inside the Foundation to get Laura outside so he can contact her and set up a rendez-vous — it’s Not Dane Dehaan Karsten (at least I think that’s what Numan called him; if anyone caught the spelling on closed captioning, let me know?) who’s actually pulling the strings. The baby-faced prankster corners a Russian embassy officer back at Club King George and tells him he’d like to do business with some documents he has for sale, just as Laura discovers the USB drive Numan gave her is utterly worthless. At least she and Numan got to meet and, from one idealist to the other, tell each other they’re fans of each other’s work…
NEXT: Carrie constructs her Wall of Crazy, Version 2.0
While the rest of the players in Berlin shuffle the board and try to carry out new alliances while duping the old, Quinn is having no trouble sticking with his Mathison mission. Once again, he’s stalking a woman who’s hanging around some impressionable kids, though this time, he’s not putting a bullet in her head — at least not yet.
Because first, our favorite neighborhood terrorism janitor has to pay a visit to another blonde from his past: Astrid, who looks like she’s in the middle of a pleasant first date. When she spots Quinn eyeing her a few tables away, she leaves to follow him to an alley where they (sexily) stand silhouetted against some dim lighting. There, Quinn asks for a handheld stingray, which, in layman’s terms, is a device that would allow him to listen in on phone calls. Astrid apparently has the ability to get him one, and she’s happy to do so — but she also, given her body language, looks happy to do some other deeds for Quinn. Quinn, smooth as ever, picks up on this and asks if she would like to get out of there. “I live here,” Astrid says, politely shooting him down. “You can’t just appear and interrupt my life.”
Quinn handles the rejection the only way he knows how: by forcefully kidnapping the child of the woman he was observing earlier. (Fine, he’s just following up on his mission, but it’s also a bit over the top to have him scream “Shut the f— up!” at a little boy considering how Quinn acted around children in the past, especially how torn up he was after hurting one.) But then, it turns out the woman is Jonas’ ex, and the child is Jonas’ son, so when Jonas’ ex calls Jonas, Quinn uses his handy new stingray to trace the call to Jonas, who’s hanging out with…
Carrie. Or rather, Crazy Carrie, by the time the fateful call comes through.
Several key events happened for Carrie to get there. First, she decides to send Frannie back to the States, back to Maggie. “Christ, I really thought I’d left all this behind,” Carrie says while watching her daughter, echoing the thoughts of every viewer who see what she’s been up to in the next scene: Carrie, in another room, has upgraded her Wall of CrazyTM into a Room of CrazyTM, and it’s jam-packed with the people she’s killed or pursued in her time with the CIA. It’s a room of ghosts, from heavy hitters like Abu Nazir to collateral damage like Aayan, all staring out at her from their grainy photographs. Carrie, at this point not yet disturbed by them, proudly explains to Jonas that it’s a timeline, so she can track all of her enemies she’s ever made.
In the morning, she and Jonas take Frannie to Otto, and there, Carrie has a tearful goodbye with her daughter. “She’s fine,” Carrie says. “I’m the one that’s a basket case.” (Not yet.) Otto tells Carrie about his meeting with Saul and says he didn’t like her old boss all that much. “He seems like a man too used to getting his way,” Otto says. “He is now,” Carrie replies. “He wasn’t like that before.” They may be talking about Saul, but the same dialogue can be used to talk about Carrie, who thinks that by sending Frannie home, she’ll eventually get her way as well.
It’s a decision that leaves her rattled. Once again, we see Carrie gazing outside of a car window, but that confident side we saw last episode when she looked out at General Alladia Camp is gone. She’s worried, and she ends up snapping at Jonas. When the two bicker about how much Carrie has revealed of her past, Carrie decides to spill to Jonas about what’s going on: She hasn’t been herself for the past few days because she’s been — oh no — off her meds. Her reasoning: “You feel elated, you feel like you’re flying down a ski slope with no chance of falling. Until you don’t, until you fall. You can’t avoid falling, I’ve learned that… The point is, the meds have saved my life literally, but something is lost, too.” So, she tells Jonas (poor, poor Jonas) that she wants him to catch her during that fall and give her her meds when she starts leaving that window of being crazily energized but still lucid.
The plan works for about two seconds. The pair begin to make an enemies list, but the investigation is slow going; they have sex in Carrie’s Room of CrazyTM first — “Did I mention the sex is better, too?” Carrie quips — and so, Carrie amps things up by snorting caffeine (drinking coffee is for regular humans not involved in combating terrorism).
Obviously, things go wrong. Did Carrie really think that working in a room full of ghosts and enemies would help her keep a clear head?
NEXT: Who’s the target now?
Jonas, after working 14 hours straight with a spiraling Carrie, ends up leaving her when she starts getting shaky and dismissive. She hurls insults at herself, calling herself a repulsive war criminal because she believes that’s how Jonas now sees her. And maybe she’s right: As he leaves, he tells her, “I don’t know how you live with yourself” — incredibly harsh words coming from a guy who told Carrie hours earlier that he loves her.
And yet… is there a chance Carrie could be imagining the hostility in his tone? She’s spent hours staring at the walls in the room and she’s getting worse and worse until — BAM — she’s hallucinating Aayan. (Welcome back, Suraj Sharma!) Carrie’s guilt has manifested into a cruel ghost, and to cope, she heads straight for the bottle of vodka conveniently hanging out in the fridge. Goodbye, nine months of sobriety. Goodbye, any attempt to actually figure out which of her old enemies could be after her.
In the morning, Jonas discovers her sitting in the middle of the floor with a circle of portraits surrounding her. Carrie’s Beautiful Mind-ed the task and figured it all out, she says, but just as it looks like she really has, she dives straight into a rambling monologue about her current enemy is all of her old enemies coming after her, because they’re all avenging angels and — oh man, Jonas can you believe it, can’t you just see it?!?! — she needs to go to a church now to resolve what’s going on. As she babbles, Jonas grabs her pills, but Carrie’s too far gone to take them without putting up a fight.
“I know exactly what you’re doing,” she taunts, spitting her words in his face. “So patient. So reasonable.” When he threatens to call the ambulance and reveal their location, she really loses it. Jonas, for his part, stands his ground and gets her to take her pills, but when the clowning begins to end, he receives the call from his ex about the kidnapping. And this time, Carrie’s right to be paranoid, but she’s lost all of the trust she had built with Jonas over the course of their relationship. When she calls Jonas’ son a “pawn” in the plot to kill her, she’s right, but he’s having none of it.
So Carrie, being Carrie, grabs a rifle and dashes into the woods. Jonas doesn’t find her and leaves for his son, and so she waits and wait and wait and waits ands waits until…
Quinn arrives. Oh no. She watches him as he stalks into the woods. Oh no. She trains her rifle on him and — oh no, oh no, oh no — she shoots. But as she moves closer, he’s disappeared, because he’s — oh no — behind her and — oh nooo — choking her and — nope nope nope — injecting her with something until she’s knocked out. And that’s it. Quinn removes his jacket to reveal his (super durable) bulletproof vest and says the best Homeland closing line yet: “Motherf—er.”
Sure, we didn’t learn anything about who’s actually after Carrie, but now, three episodes into the season, we can be sure of what Carrie’s thinking. She’ll do anything to fight the battle she thought she abandoned. Look at it this way: She must have known that going off her meds would cause her to lose Jonas; taking that risk means she’s taking the threat on her life seriously, and taking the threat seriously means she’s back in the game. Sending Frannie back was just the final move she needed to take before she went back in, like grabbing that rifle before she headed out into the woods.
But where does that leave Quinn and Saul? Quinn clearly distrusts the order to go after Carrie; maybe he knows it couldn’t have been Saul who would put out an attack on his former favorite, or maybe he’s just never going to follow orders to take her out. Saul can’t be the guy who gave the order to take out Carrie; he’s still intent on finding her so he can rid the CIA of the Laura Sutton business and get moving on taking Syria. And as far as the Laura Sutton business goes, the idea to loop in the Russian government — another “super power” indicated by the episode title? — is an intriguing one, but it’s unclear where that will go.
Then again, are any of us watching the show really all that concerned about the geopolitical ramifications of the leaked intelligence documents at this point? After this episode, the biggest question I have is whether the show was smart in bringing Crazy Carrie to the forefront again. It’s her super power, yes, but powers have a cost. (The show learned that in real life this week with the graffiti.) And whether you’re going to stick around with the series this season will probably come down to whether you’re willing to go with the writers’ intent in pursuing a Carrie who’s again willing to go off her meds and her sobriety in hopes of winning the War on Terror. The writers have mined plenty of plot from the idea that Carrie is her own worst enemy. Are they scraping the bottom of that barrel or are there new shades of Carrie we can expect to see now that she’s the one hunted, not part of the CIA, and has Quinn (presumably) on her side? For now, I’m willing to bet on the latter.