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Carrie searches for clues to help her understand Dante, while Saul gets more than he bargained for.

March 25, 2018 at 10:00 PM EDT

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)

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