Hey, did you guys notice that Carrie’s not okay? Did you get that? You got that, right?
Look, I’m not trying to knock the show for exploring its lead’s mental health issues — it’s just, Homeland knows how to explore them organically. But here, three hours into season 7, Carrie’s downward spiral feels like a plot contrivance to keep her sidelined.
We open the episode with Carrie ambushing her poor therapist while nursing a head wound, insisting she needs new medication. Her shrink’s skeptical, but when Carrie returns home to find a panicked Maggie — she never told her sister where she’d gone, and Franny was left all alone — Carrie tells her she’ll be taking drugs that’ll knock her out for a few days to break the manic cycle before she can try new meds. She’s scared, she explains, and more paranoid than ever of Franny seeing her in a locked ward.
It’s all just a way to make sure Carrie’s groggier and more unfocused than ever by the time she springs into ill-advised action. (And to make sure we can at least sort of buy why Carrie would do what she does in the rest of the episode.) Carrie takes her drugs to pass out, but she gets woken up, first by a phone call, then by a frantic pounding on her door. It’s Dante, who, as it turns out, did run the screenshot of the woman Carrie saw in Wellington’s home after all. (Which means Carrie totally didn’t have to go through everything she went through last week, but…whatever.) The woman is named Simone, and she’s been romantically involved with Wellington since meeting him four years ago. She’s back in D.C. — and happened to be near the prison where McClendon died the day before he was incarcerated. How does he know? Because he found a parking ticket placing her just three miles away that day.
Carrie’s skeptical, but she can’t resist a connection like this one. She tries, of course, telling Dante she needs to stay home, even revealing to him her bipolar disorder and what she’s trying to do with her drug protocol. But as much as she doubts herself, describing her illness again as both a gift and a curse, she decides to join Dante on his quest. And so she downs some Adderall to counteract the Seroquel — bad idea, Carrie — looks herself over in the mirror, and joins Dante to stake out Simone’s home.
If only it had ended there. Instead, when Simone leaves her apartment, Carrie decides to ditch Dante and poke around Simone’s home. She enters through a window, finds the parking violation and snaps a picture, copies her hard drive onto a USB, rifles through Simone’s drawers, and then finds photographs of Simone with Wellington. Carrie takes more photographs, grabs her findings, leaves through the window — and then gets stopped by two policemen who have been patrolling the area after receiving a call about a woman breaking into an apartment.
Yup, Carrie got spotted, and now she won’t tell the cops her name, so they drag her to the precinct to be processed. But Carrie, high on drugs and paranoia, tries to spin a tale about having to leave so she can pick up her child, and how she was only in the apartment to feed her friend’s cat, and that she’s in a bad custody battle so please don’t put her into the system, and yada yada yada until, well, they drag her, crying, to record her fingerprints anyway. It’s the law, Carrie. You know that.
Hours later, Carrie’s finally told she can leave. Dante, after failing to reach Carrie again, realized something must have happened and used his connections to track her down and bail her out without having her registered in the system. Good for Carrie, then: Everything bad that happened in this episode has been swept under the rug (presumably), and as Dante drives her home, she asks for him to pull over. Carrie stumbles across the sidewalk, breathes heavily, and tells Dante about how rattled she’s been ever since her fight with child services months earlier (or last season, in our time, anyway).
Dante, for his part, asks if she wants to sit for a minute. Earlier he had told her he understands bipolar disorder — an ex of his had it, though they broke up not because of her illness, but because of his alcoholism. Anyway, it’s sweet of him to help her out, and the episode closes on a beautiful shot of the two “revolutionaries” waiting out Carrie’s panic on a curb, but it feels like the show’s stalling, spinning its wheels as far as Carrie’s story goes. That is, unless all of these moments between Carrie and Dante are setting Dante up as another love interest? Hmm, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.
After all, Saul’s story this episode is far more interesting to talk about. (Next: Lies and compromises…)