Homeland recap: 'The Flag House'
Dar Adal backs Carrie, Keane, and Saul into an uncomfortable corner
Two episodes ago, Quinn admitted he couldn’t return to the way he was. And this week, he finally got proof his past is no longer his present. In fact, it’s his own worst enemy.
After tracking Dar’s call to the mystery man to a location in Queens, Quinn pulls up outside a diner he appears to recognize. He’s surprised by the destination, checks his GPS to make sure, and then heads inside and waits. This is definitely a place he’s been to; in fact, it’s one he’s frequented. He spots a waitress he know, Nicky, from when he used to hang here with the “other guys,” and the two awkwardly catch up before Quinn asks about the man he knew was there the night before. Nicky has no idea, but she can sense something’s up with Quinn. When she points that out, Quinn unconvincingly says he’s fine before leaving as quickly as possible.
This time, he doesn’t need his GPS. He drives straight to a neighborhood he remembers from his past and parks near a house with a flag planted by the door. He waits for someone to exit, but after a while, he asks one of the children playing nearby to go and ring the doorbell in exchange for some cash. No one answers, so Quinn heads inside through the back, easily disarms the alarm, then pokes around the house and flashes back to his time there.
In his flashback, he’s with several other young men like him, men like Andrew Keane, soldiers who are eager to serve their country who listen carefully to orders from — gasp! — General McClendon. The general tells them to cancel their plans for the evening; they have new intel they’ll have to act on. It’s not clear exactly when in Quinn’s career this occurs, but judging by his casual, playful demeanor with his compatriots, this was probably very early on.
Suddenly, present Quinn hears the new guys walking back into the house. He stumbles — he’s still nursing the wound in his shoulder — to reset the alarm, then hides inside the garage where he spots a white van. Yup, it’s another white van belonging to Medina Medley, the delivery company Sekou Bah worked for prior to his murder. It’s yet another clue, further confirming Quinn hasn’t been making crazy connections this whole time.
But the smoking gun comes from another one of Carrie’s trusted men: Max. After he tells Carrie about the dangerous sock-puppets operation, she warns him not to go back, pointing out that after today, he might have to find evidence of Dar’s involvement.
It turns out she’s completely wrong. As she’s dropped off to give a deposition about Dar and Saul’s cover-up of the Russian mole in Berlin, the driver warns her to confirm her appointment to see Franny later that day. Carrie’s thrown; how could the driver know her movements? Inside, she asks Rob, Keane’s chief of staff, and the solicitor general if they sent a private car her way, but they deny doing so. Carrie realizes what’s happened: Dar’s orchestrated a way to prevent her from seeing Franny, unless she reconsiders what she’s about to do.
And she does, because Franny matters more to her than anything else. Outside, she calls the number the driver gave her and says that this time, Dar Adal wins. Rob and the solicitor general are shocked to see her walk out of her deposition — and Keane, while obviously unhappy with the situation, immediately understands what’s going on. After all, this happened just as Dar appeared on her doorstep out of thin air, requesting a meeting. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know Dar got to Carrie in some way.
With that in mind, Keane no longer steps lightly around Dar Adal. This meeting is the coldest one yet between the two power players: She looks over his list of nominees for secretary of state and immediately declares all three names unfit for her Cabinet, directly questioning Dar on what, exactly, he wants her to do. Does he want to back her so far into a corner that she simply rolls over and agrees with him? Does he want her to resign? No, Dar says. What he wants is to keep America safe, and though no one voted him into office, he knows better than she does about national security. He then threatens her with war — the intelligence community, he implies, can ruin her upcoming presidency. Keane doesn’t back down; instead, she tells him she’ll put him in jail.
In the hallway outside, Dar gives O’Keefe a call and tells him to weaponize their information. That information turns out to be the footage of Andrew Keane’s final moments — and it’s clear that despite Dar’s misgivings about the video, in the end he approved it. Keane finds out shortly after she visits Carrie, wondering exactly what Dar has over her. Carrie doesn’t answer, but Keane figures out Dar must have Franny’s safety under his control. Carrie replies that she simply can’t help bring Dar down; it’s not about letting Dar win, but about keeping her daughter safe.
Later, after Carrie reunites briefly with Franny and sees the video herself, Keane finally watches the the footage of her son with disgust. She asks her advisors what they think she should do. One tells her not to address the video directly, but to change the topic. Rob advises the same, but Keane has had enough. She tells them to set up a press conference first thing in the morning.
Saul has gone on the move. He knows he’s the only person left who can testify about Berlin, but he isn’t about to give up his entire career to bring down Dar. And so he walks through New York, looking over his shoulder until he enters a safe haven in the back of a jewelry exchange store. It’s a Jewish outpost with connections he trusts, one of whom gives him a bag of materials he’ll need to disappear: passports, weapons, cash, and burner phones, as well as a sack of diamonds after Saul passes along a coded message.
But is Saul really ready to run away from it all? For now, he still has loose ends to tie up. He manages to get a message to Mira, his ex-wife, whom he hasn’t seen in years but who still follows his directions until they meet face-to-face. Saul wants to warn her about what’s going to come next: If he leaves, the intelligence community will be at her doorstep trying to worm information about his whereabouts out of her, first through tacit means, then through more forceful ones. Mira’s not afraid of this, though; she’s more concerned about this new, scared Saul. After decades of being married to him, she knows he’s not the type of man to run when things get ugly — and reading between the lines, she understands he’s probably caught in the middle between the president-elect and the intelligence community. Saul admits that if he doesn’t run, he’ll be humiliated publicly for what happened in Berlin. But Mira just scoffs. “When has that ever made the slightest bit of f—king difference to you?” she asks.
It’s a good question, as Saul’s been in much more dangerous situations than this one before. All of them have — though at the moment, Max is in the most trouble. Inside the sock-puppet farm, he’s spotted Dar visiting to talk to O’Keefe and decides to use his phone to gather evidence of the two working together. Unfortunately for Max, a coworker spots his phone after bumping into him and reports him to their icy supervisor, who has Max searched and taken away. It may be useless to request this, but please, Homeland, please don’t hurt Max. Leave the guy alone! Give him another year of M+M if you have to!
At least Max sent the video before being taken away. That night, Saul arrives at Carrie’s place and lets himself in after finding it empty. After giving her a frantic call to return ASAP and talk about his next moves — “Mira set me straight about a few things,” he says — he hears the pings of a new message from a locked room on the second floor. After finding the key, he enters to find … another Wall of Conspiracy. It’s not clear whether Carrie or Max set it up, but given what we know about Carrie’s tendency to map out clues, this was probably her doing, with a little help from her techie friend.
Saul rushes to the laptop and sees the message from Max. It’s a video that he — enhance! — realizes shows O’Keefe and Dar in the same room, talking together. That’s gotta be the push that topples all the dominos for Dar, but only if Saul can get it to the right people in time.
And for that, he’ll need Carrie’s help. Too bad she’s a little occupied at the moment: When she arrived home earlier, Quinn’s brothel friend Clarisse showed up, handing her a video of Quinn explaining that Clarisse can be trusted and Carrie needs to come to him stat. Carrie’s still a few steps behind, wondering how Quinn could’ve done this from Bellevue. “Oh honey, you are way confused,” Clarisse says before leading Carrie to her car.
The pair drive to the neighborhood Quinn has been in all day and Clarisse drops her off at the house being remodeled across the street, where Quinn has set up camp. He’s thrilled to see Carrie, even though she’s still hesitant about the entire situation. He lets her take a look through the scope on his rifle, and she sees the man who had watched her from across the street. “Oh my God,” she says, while Quinn updates her on what he’s done. He then grabs the gun and repositions it straight at the house with the flag, and Carrie simply stares out at the residence, looking frightened by what she sees.
The house is another intriguing clue to the bigger picture, but much of this episode felt like table-setting. We now have everyone where they need to be, and no one, not even Keane among all her security detail, is safe. It still bugs me that Dar and O’Keefe have been depicted as a pair of almost absurdly heartless villains — a short scene in which Keane can’t stop watching the video and crying over how she couldn’t save Andrew’s memory is painful to watch — but I’m willing to wait for Homeland to show me exactly why they’re going this far to, as they put it, keep America safe.
Are they confusing patriotism with extreme nationalism? Is the show questioning what it means to be a soldier for a cause, even if that cause doesn’t begin with peace? Whatever the case may be, it’s fitting that Quinn, it appears, will be the key to unraveling the entire conspiracy — and while I’m happy his story has finally merged back with Carrie’s, it’s a risk to put so much of season 6 on his wounded shoulders. I’m not sure how many more episodes we can take of him narrowly escaping death and being punished for it.