Carrie searches for clues to help her understand Dante, while Saul gets more than he bargained for.
By the end of this hour, I felt like Dante at the beginning: bleary-eyed, perhaps awake enough to vaguely know what’s happening, but most likely still under the influence of whatever drug Carrie slipped in his drink. This may have been the most ludicrous Homeland has ever been, and that’s saying something for a show that had a man survive a heavy dose of sarin gas, a brain hemorrhage, and a drowning.
That’s not to say that this entire season’s been off the rails. In fact, it’s been on the right track as far as capturing America’s increasingly partisan attitude, the vocabulary of today’s politics, and the threat of Russian interference, but every time Homeland delves deeper into each of these topics, the stories grow absurd. (I mean, capturing a potential double agent mid-coitus? What is this, Red Sparrow? I haven’t seen Red Sparrow, but anyway…) Sure, maybe it’s all a reflection of how bizarre real-world headlines have become, but I wish Carrie et al were making choices that made sense, at least in the world of the show.
Because Carrie dragging her daughter out of her sister’s house makes no sense. Yes, she’s tired from a night of snooping in Dante’s house with her task force, and yes, she’s been going through a lot lately, but Carrie makes a scene — “You dragged me from the kitchen,” she whines — when Maggie was simply trying to figure out where she’d been all night. It’s a tantrum that feels like it comes out of nowhere. If anything, shouldn’t Maggie have been blowing up at Carrie instead of the other way around? And shouldn’t Carrie, former Drone Queen and ace CIA agent, know better than to leave the only place she could call home?
Guess not. Carrie takes Franny to a motel first, but when her credit card’s declined — ah, yes, remember all that debt she’s also in? — Carrie abandons the idea and snaps at poor Franny, who cries because clearly Mommy has no clue what she’s doing, and also, is Mommy still on those drugs she bought on the black market or did we forget about the Great Lithium Conundrum from a few episodes ago…? Anyway, Dante rescues Carrie in the nick of time, offering her his place after they chat about what exactly happened the night before. Dante says he can’t remember, and Carrie cheekily responds that if they had done it, he absolutely would. And after she vents about her “big blowout” with Maggie, Dante lets her and Franny crash, making her big mission the night before pretty much moot. Carrie now has access to Dante’s place without the need for any task forces or late-night missions. Plus, he makes excellent pancakes! Neat!
Franny thinks so, at least. Mommy’s new boyfriend is nice and makes smiley-faced pancakes, and oh hey, what’s this photo album with a woman in it? Carrie takes a look at the wedding album Franny has picked up and learns that his ex-wife is Audrey Navarro, a woman who works at Treasury. And because her operation uncovered nothing the night before, Carrie decides to pay Audrey a visit, posing as someone at the Bureau vetting Dante for a new gig.
Dante has a similar plan. He visits Maggie’s under the guise of picking up some clothing and toys for Franny, but instead uses the opportunity to snoop around Carrie’s desk — where he finds a printout of what looks like his LinkedIn profile. (Do FBI agents really use LinkedIn? I wonder how many connections he has.)
Carrie uncovers much more fruitful intel. Audrey spills the beans on how Dante felt after “the whole Kabul thing,” a messy operation that derailed Dante’s career and his marriage. She reveals that Dante didn’t come home and develop a drinking problem, as he had told Carrie; instead, he started “obsessing” over what went wrong, for getting blamed for something that he (and Audrey) believes wasn’t his fault. But then just after Audrey finally left him, he got a new assignment that took him overseas — and one that Carrie knows nothing about. She also wasn’t aware of what Dante truly thought of her at the time: As Audrey puts it, Dante couldn’t get over the “sheer unfairness” of how he was punished while Carrie, an “off-the-rails” station chief, got a promotion after killing 40 people at a wedding party (the drone strike Carrie initiated back in the season 4 premiere). Audrey chalks it up to life not being fair, while Carrie now understands Dante’s motive in targeting her.
Looking for answers, Carrie calls up Max, telling him exactly what she’s learned about Dante. Max, though, is careful with how he responds; after all, he’s now being watched.
Time to rewind a bit: Saul is now keeping a close eye on Max and Carrie by forcing Max to work in a room right next to his tiny task force hunting down details on Simone. Earlier in the episode, Saul paid Wellington a visit, giving him the full rundown of exactly who Simone is — at least, according to Saul and everything he’s gathered — and breaking the news, it seems, to the chief of staff that his girlfriend is an agent of the Russian government who was paid to coordinate McClendon’s murder and is prepared to frame Wellington for the act as part of a bigger plan to topple the Keane presidency.
Saul watches Wellington closely as he tells him all of this. He sees how shell-shocked Wellington is and accepts that he had no part in whatever Simone’s doing. Satisfied with that, Saul heads to Max’s, and as soon as Max returns from his late night out with Carrie and the team, he makes Max do his work under his nose, or else Saul reports him and Carrie and their illegal surveillance of Wellington — surveillance that has now been removed — to the feds. For now, he just has to help Saul with figuring a way to take out Simone before she testifies in front of Paley’s committee in three days. Better hurry! (Next: Roads to “No”-where)
After some hours of investigating, Saul’s team has found… some things, like the fact that Simone’s NGO is simply a front for Russian oligarchs. Saul hopes this will be enough to convince a judge to halt Simone’s impending testimony, but when he presents all this to one, the judge dismisses him outright. “This is witness tampering,” he tells Saul. “Your problem? It’s called politics, which is why it’s such a goddamn mess, which is also why I have no intention of intervening.” Ouch.
The day’s also not going well for Keane, who’s being pressured to comment on Wellington and also being cornered by her vice president (Beau Bridges), who’s eager to get some face time with her. She’s been putting him off for a while, but now, he gets three minutes — and he uses them to ask about the rumors, which she (correctly) interprets as him fishing for clues to whether she’ll be ousted soon so he’ll get the Oval Office. “If you’re wondering whether you’ll sit in this chair anytime soon,” she tells him, “the answer is ‘no.'”
She doesn’t win as easily later that day. At a speech and photo op, Keane gets handed a letter from Wellington. Make that two letters: one is his resignation notice, and the other is a much more lengthy explanation of what he got involved in, what Simone did, and why he’s leaving. But on her way back to the White House, Keane can’t stop examining Wellington’s word choice. He called his relationship with Simone a “relationship of convenience” and that she “meant nothing to me” and that his “true feelings”… well, what are his true feelings?
Keane can’t help but wonder, and so she has her motorcade take her to Wellington’s, where she gets a chance to talk to him face to face. There, she tears into him for resigning after doing so much to bring her to where she is — including, remember, initiating the air strike behind her back that led her to her speech and press duties that day, a move that still makes little sense — and for writing such a letter. She tells him she needs him and that she can’t accept his resignation and that, well, it’s not stated clearly, but there’s something underneath between these two that goes unsaid, at least there in Wellington’s house. It remains unsaid by the end; after telling him he’ll remain on her staff, all Keane does is leave those letters at the door.
But if the president and her chief of staff can’t work things out, at least Saul gets a new clue: His task force has combed Simone’s travel history as well as Dante’s trips thanks to Max, and they’ve found that the pair overlapped five times in European cities in the exact same time frames. Saul, with no time to lose, instructs the team to go after Dante, which means bad news for Carrie, obviously.
Because Carrie, after speaking with Audrey, returns to Dante’s place, to his orbit. There, Franny’s beyond happy to see her stuffed rabbit again, but Carrie chides Dante for heading to Maggie’s place and going behind her back. Franny tells her not to push it — Mommy really needs to cool it with all the confrontations — but after Franny goes to bed, Carrie questions Dante about what he learned from Maggie.
And Dante tells the truth, that Maggie was discreet and was also happy to hear that Carrie was working with him, an actual employed person in the government. He doesn’t disclose that he was snooping, but of course, Carrie’s already figured that part out. What she didn’t know, though, was that Dante also knows Carrie spoke with Audrey. He tells her that Audrey immediately called him after their conversation so she could congratulate him on his new job offer.
Carrie tries to cover her tracks, but Dante knows she’s hiding something. And so, Carrie relents, relaying everything Audrey told her back to Dante, and ending with the fact that she now knows he was, well, “preoccupied with someone else,” and that someone else being her, Carrie Mathison. Hearing that, he approaches her — and soon enough, that tension’s given way to a full-on makeout sesh right outside of Franny’s room. “She can sleep through anything,” Carrie says, in case anyone needed more evidence to take her out of the running for Mother of the Year.
Too bad, then, that right as Carrie and Dante are, well, in flagrante — hey, I can make a cheesy rhyme here now that Homeland chose “Andante” as the episode title — Saul and his team bursts into Dante’s place to drag him out for questioning. It’s impeccable timing: Not only are Carrie and Dante butt naked on Dante’s couch, but Carrie was just about to tell Dante why she went to Audrey. “Because I think you are—” Carrie moans just as the agents crash through the door.
And after she pulls a blanket over herself and calms a frightened — and definitely traumatized — Franny, she watches as Saul walks in and surveys the scene. He just looks disappointed in his former pupil. She, though, almost looks defiant, even though she’s the one who did the exact opposite of what Saul had told her to do. But Carrie’s never one to shy away from a problem — at least, any problems over national security. Family problems, on the other hand…? All I’m saying is it’s time Homeland gave Franny a break.