Carrie and Saul finally catch a break — only to hit another snag in their plan
Carrie has a confession to make: During her latest session with the court-ordered shrink, she admits that her relationship with Franny’s father was “unusually intense,” and that she had always feared Franny would be a reminder of him, of Brody. But it’s not just the fact that Franny looks very much like him; it’s also the fact that Carrie had a hand in Brody’s death. “I pushed him toward that,” she says cryptically before crying. “I really don’t like this.”
The therapist mercifully doesn’t push Carrie to talk more about Brody, switching instead to her background as ex-CIA. Carrie then talks more about Quinn and how the two of them also have a deep relationship. Much of what Carrie says is stuff we already know — that Quinn isn’t like Brody, yet matters just as much to her — but luckily, Claire Danes knows how to deliver exposition with intense emotion. This isn’t just Carrie letting things off her chest. This is Carrie reflecting on the pain of seeing Quinn hurt and the guilt she’s going through again for having a hand in ruining someone she loves. At this, the therapist offers some sage advice: He tells her that she’s going through what all parents go through. As difficult as it is to balance her needs with Franny’s, sometimes she has to put Franny’s needs first.
That parent-child dynamic will rear its head again later in the episode, but for now, Carrie feels satisfied with her session. At home, she tells Max she’s still stressed about the situation, but that she feels better after seeing the shrink smile at the progress they’ve made. “Fingers crossed,” she says drily.
Max, picking up on Carrie’s newfound calm, decides to divulge what he’s been working on: tracking exactly where Conlin was when he called Carrie. He’s found enough information to understand that it’s a mysterious entity working at some seemingly deserted compound. There’s not much information on who owns the facility, but they’re looking for new employees, people who are well versed in all things tech and security and social media. And without any other avenues in, Max has gone ahead and applied for a job.
Carrie bristles at this. “I just spent 90 minutes with a shrink reminding me how I put people in harm’s way without thinking twice,” she says, trying to discourage him from going forward with the application. Bad news, Carrie: Max reveals he’s already interviewed with them online and has been asked to go in that afternoon. He tries to comfort her before going on the move. “It’s not on you,” he says. “It’s on me.”
Besides, Carrie’s about to have a lot more to worry about. Elsewhere in the city, Dar and Keane are meeting again. This time, with Keane squarely on Dar’s side — as in, the side that believes Iran has cheated the nuclear deal — Dar’s a lot more willing to compromise. He apologizes for getting on the wrong foot with her, and Keane waves his groveling aside. She asks him for his plans for Iran, and Dar gleefully asks whether there was someone who provided the intel. She confirms it was Javadi, and Dar moves forward with his nefarious plan. He emphasizes that before they do anything with imposing sanctions on Iran, they must be careful with the “face we present to the world,” and therefore, they must have the right Secretary of State for the administration. Keane agrees to seeing a list of names to consider but explains that she wants to deal with the sanctions first. Dar is satisfied, and the two shake hands.
Of course, Dar still has plenty of tricks up his sleeve. In a hotel suite with Javadi, he coolly watches as Javadi downs his breakfast and demands he get his $45 million ASAP before running off to retirement. Javadi explains that with his own people hating him, he doesn’t have many options on where to go, and while Dar says he’s sympathetic, he throws Javadi under the bus. He explains that though they had a deal to let Javadi go, the Mossad approached him with a request to have Javadi for themselves. “The Mossad made the case that the head of IRGC would have a lot to tell them, and unfortunately,” Dar sneers, “I couldn’t convince them they were wrong.”
Javadi doesn’t go down without a fight. He surreptitiously calls Carrie while stalling, letting her hear exactly what’s going on. She immediately loops Saul into the call, who realizes that Dar is playing Javadi. Saul races to have Nate track the call, but they’re too late. “I should never have trusted you!” Javadi shouts at Dar right before he’s subdued and stuffed into a laundry basket.
Carrie and Saul later arrive at the hotel Javadi had been staying in and manage to track down Javadi’s phone, which had been left behind in the laundry basket that carried him. With the phone, Carrie and Saul are able to go to Keane and present the video evidence Javadi had of Nafisi admitting to the truth: that Iran wasn’t cheating on any deal at all, and that it was all an elaborate charade to rile up intelligence. Saul informs Keane that it wasn’t just a play from Mossad, but also from someone within the CIA.
“And who was that?” Keane asks, shocked. Saul is unable to say Dar’s name, so Carrie says it instead. Completely thrown, Keane gets up, walks away, and then calls Dar an “obsequious little s—.” “What’s with you people, the intelligence community?” she cries. “I mean, who thinks like this?”
Sorry, Madam President-elect, but that’s not all. Rob steps in to say that there’s more to the story, and again, Carrie delivers the intel we’ve known for weeks: that the bombing happened the day after Dar went to see her and told her to stand down, that Sekou was framed and murdered, and that there was a man tasked with surveilling her who later tinkered with the very van Sekou drove. Keane looks rattled but steels herself in the end. “How do we shut him down?” she asks.
For now, it’ll take figuring out what their legal means are. Later that day, Keane meets with the solicitor general and Carrie. Saul is conspicuously absent, and when Carrie brings this up, Keane admits that their plan involves him. See, there’s not enough evidence to implicate Dar in the entire nasty situation, because all they have is a testimonial from a man on camera under torture, photos of an unnamed third party near some white vans, a dead FBI agent, and a few more murky details that won’t hold up in court. Instead, they need Carrie to present evidence that Dar covered up the breach in Berlin — a case that will allow them to prosecute Dar under the Espionage Act.
Carrie tries to back away. If they reveal the Russian mole in court, that’ll implicate Saul as well, as he was the one who slept with Allison last season and allowed for the breach to happen. And this year, Saul’s been instrumental in uncovering this conspiracy, Carrie argues. With that in mind, can’t they find a way to stop Dar without also stopping Saul? Keane assures Carrie there will be a pardon for Saul down the line, but Carrie’s not so sure, telling them she’ll have to talk it over with Saul first.
NEXT: Mad Max to the… rescue?
After meeting with Keane and the solicitor general, Carrie asks Saul for a meeting. Her mentor is more than happy to see her, now that they’re on the same side, but Carrie quickly wipes the smile off his face. She explains the situation, and Saul is devastated. He realizes that Carrie must have told Keane about Berlin, and though she says that information was never supposed to be used, Saul asks her to stop trying to defend her actions. “Who cares about a cover-up? The breach itself is me… I was the one involved with the Russian spy,” he says. “Everything I’ve done, my entire career, will be wiped out.” Carrie attempts to comfort him by bringing up the pardon, but Saul has had enough and turns on her.
Hurt, Carrie fights back. “Maybe you shouldn’t have been f—ing a Russian mole,” she says. Saul glares back at her. “Well, coming from someone who f—ed a guy in a suicide vest,” he says, “that means a lot.” Ouch.
A call comes in for Carrie at just the right time. She walks away from Saul to pick up and finally receives some good news after all this: Child Services has approved her for a visit with Franny the next afternoon. Ecstatic, Carrie hangs up and looks happy for the first time in a long time. Saul, on the other hand, remains on the bench, looking more helpless than ever.
But hey, maybe it won’t have to come to Saul giving himself — and his career — up to defeat Dar. Max has slowly won the trust of the shady organization. His resume had been singled out as “near-perfect” by Brett O’Keefe, who talks to Max in person when a recruiter points out that Max hasn’t told them what happened in his one-year gap on his resume.
Brett talks to Max, who avoids his gaze as he talks about how he “can’t stand politics, especially now.” Pleased at this, Brett presses on about his missing year, but Max tries to leave because “it’s private.” That doesn’t stop Brett, who tells him that private doesn’t exist in what they do.
Max relents, takes his resume back, and writes “M+M” under 2015, the year he disappeared. “That year, from here to here, I spent smoking meth and masturbating,” he says without betraying any emotion — until Brett asks exactly what sent him into the tailspin. He talks, without naming her, of Fara, who died in the embassy invasion back in season 4. (Remember: He loved Fara and even told Carrie she had been rude to her after the Taliban leader Haqqani murdered her.) At that, Brett approves of Max and brings him inside.
During his onboarding, Max learns of all the perks of working under Brett — there’s a great corporate rate at the pool at Residence Suites, apparently — and gets led underground into the room Conlin had investigated. He’s taken to his desk and told to fix something for Trent, a jittery man who tells him their network is down and that whole lot of “sockpuppets” have disappeared. It’s all rapid-fire Internet lingo, but it looks like Max’s job is to help the massive team around him create and push false online identities that spew, as Trent puts it, “outrage” in the form of social-media identities that echo what Brett says on his show. The entire operation is disturbing, and Max looks worried as he stares at the massive screens in front of him, showing how quickly they’re creating these false, angry personalities.
Outrage is easy to cultivate online, but offline, it’s an entirely different game. Keane, having set that meeting with Dar to look over the Secretary of State names before learning the truth, is forced to keep up appearances with Dar. Dar at first is fooled, but he quickly picks up on Keane’s unusual new demeanor toward him. It’s not Keane’s fault: She’s PEOTUS, not a highly trained CIA operative. Sensing that something is up, Dar puts away his list of names — Keane had been hoping to see who Dar considered allies, and who may also have a hand in the Iran operation — and leaves Keane hanging with a pointed remark about her son Andrew, whose photo is framed on a table nearby. “I can’t help but think how proud he’d be of you right now,” he says, reverting back to his passive aggression now that he and Keane are no longer on the same page.
But if Keane has to keep her outrage under wraps, Quinn isn’t holding back anymore. Waiting inside the cabin the woods, he watches over Astrid’s corpse — he recovered her and placed her on the couch — while police officers prowl around the house to investigate the report of shots fired. As they near his hiding place, Quinn stands up, touches some of Astrid’s blood, and smears it on his lower lip. (Eek.) Burning with anger, he leaves just as the cops breach the house and drives off to accomplish his new mission of revenge.
Outside a store selling firearms, he stages a diversion using a Molotov cocktail planted under a truck, then sneaks inside and steals bags full of guns. After stocking up wordlessly, he heads straight for Dar’s home.
Inside, he waits until Dar enters after his unsatisfying meeting with Keane. Dar is already frustrated after failing to keep Keane on his side; on his drive home, he snapped at his driver for asking too many questions and took a long glance at his list of names — including Georgia Senator Kevin Westlake, West Virginia Senator Rachel Mercer, and Texas Governor Glenallen Stewart, characters who may eventually appear on the show, or not — before finally pouring himself a drink in his cozy apartment.
Quinn greets him from the shadows, and Dar jumps. As Quinn launches into his tirade about what Dar’s done, Dar plays dumb, insisting that he would never hurt Quinn. But Quinn is convinced he’s the man who was behind Astrid’s death and his near-death experience.
It’s hard to tell if Dar is lying when he seems shocked at Astrid’s death and at the news of another attack on Quinn. “I raised you, Peter,” he says. “You are my child, more than that. I would never hurt you. Never. I love you. That’s the God’s honest truth.” Quinn doesn’t look convinced. “If you don’t believe that,” Dar pleads, “please, just pull the trigger.” Instead of firing, Quinn knocks Dar over and them scrambles away, back to his car.
But he’s not running away; instead, he’s tapped Dar’s phone and listens in on his next move, a revealing one. Dar calls the mystery gunman and yells at him. “What the f— did you do?!” he wails at the man, reminding him that he had instructed him to leave Quinn alone. “I told you there were other opinions,” the man replies apathetically. “The good news is we no longer have your boy out there saying God knows what to God knows who.” Dar scoffs at the man’s overconfidence. “He was just in my house, you f—ing moron,” he says.
Quinn barely reacts to the confirmation of his creepy father figure being the one behind his near-assassination. He simply tracks the call to a location in Brooklyn and then drives away. Will he kill the man or interrogate him? This Quinn is too unpredictable to know for sure which option he’ll choose.
As satisfying as it was to watch Dar finally get hit upside the head for what he’s done, it’s even more satisfying to see the show tug the threads it’s been weaving for a while (too long a while, on my opinion). Max bringing up his past in Islamabad reminded me, as a friend did the other day, of Dar’s ties to Haqqani, the Taliban leader Carrie had hoped to shoot in season 4. Could he have a larger role in this entire conspiracy? And will Javadi ever return?
More than the new amount of mounting evidence against Dar, the episode did well with showing a new layer to Carrie and Saul’s freshly fractured relationship. Working together to take Dar down was never going to be easy, and making them contend with Saul’s potential undoing is a brilliant added layer that also ties this season to the last. In fact, the episode was strong emotionally: It underlined the tumultuous relationship between mentors and mentees, as well as handlers and their agents, and agents with their assets. Those dynamics really do work like parent-child relationships. Carrie has to think more about Franny’s needs, just as Saul must figure out whether he can meet hers. Dar, clearly, has thought of only himself, even as he tries to convince Quinn he still cares. But Dar isn’t the only one to disappoint: Carrie and Saul fail to come to Javadi’s aid (then again, he betrayed them in the first place), and Keane couldn’t manage to stand her ground after Dar brings up her son. And as for Max, I worry he’ll be turned by Brett’s extreme language. Brett seemed more a mentor than a boss in their scene together, and I’m thoroughly intrigued by what exactly is going on in that scary compound. Just loop Carrie in on what’s going on when you can, all right, Max? The sooner, the better.