Homeland recap: Ka-boom!
I’m organizing this week’s recap by the storylines of the women of Homeland (and saving my discussion of that shocking ending for last) because it’s the first day of Women’s History Month! They can have this one recap, as a treat.
The midnight rider is back on her bike, ignoring all precautions and careening around the streets of war-torn Kabul. As a side-note, it’s slightly stomach-turning for me to potentially sensationalize or generalize on the security situation in a city at the hands of its Homeland portrayal — the way the show has shown Beirut, for one, is highly exaggerated. But, a cursory fact-checking perusal of the U.K. foreign travel advice site (pro tip: the U.K. is much more measured than the U.S. in this regard) proves that this isn’t actually fear-mongering at all. Carrie should not be out without protection. Enough soap-boxing for now.
Carrie is then plucked out of the base by the military police and while we’re meant to think she’s being sent home unceremoniously, much to her own chagrin, she’s actually escorted to a hangar where Saul and, eventually, the president, await. Warner is in town to announce the peace deal and tour around with the Afghan president and has requested to meet with Carrie upon arrival — and, if you’ll allow me a moment of superficiality, I simply have to mention that this lighting looks so good on Carrie. I wish her many more scenes among natural daylight.
Warner casually mentions, as he’s about to ship out for his tour stops, that he and President Daoud will be doing a quick pop-in at a military outpost to announce the end of the war, as ominous music plays in the background and the hairs on my arm stand on end. “JSOC signed off on it?” Carrie asks incredulously, before POTUS replies that they “whined like hell” about it first. As they say in my country, oofda.
After the meeting in the hangar, Jenna and Carrie ride back to base together and Jenna is on my nerves again. (She’s done nothing wrong this time, so I’ll own this one.) They get a call for help from Samira and peel off from the fake motorcade (meant to serve as a decoy for the real motorcade — which is currently barreling through the skies en route to … wait for it … Max’s base).
INT. the Presidential Palace. Tasneem, dressed in a gorgeous flowing white number, is miserable to be there. Her hatred for the Americans and the peace deal they brokered without her or General G’ulom’s involvement is palpable. She tries to storm out of the event in disgust, but Saul intervenes with one of his classic Saul take-downs. (“You put a grenade through his windshield,” he says of his new best pal Haqqani. “Which to be honest was the only useful thing you did.”
She stays for the gathering (because she has no choice), which has been staged for this big reveal: The American and Afghan presidents announce the peace deal live on television. The highly-orchestrated show is accentuated by Tasneem’s many scowls. On the base, Warner jokes about being advised against this visit, delivers a rousing speech about wanting freedom in Afghanistan at long last, and the music spooks me yet again. While Tasneem and G’ulom smoke cigarettes outside like two sullen teenagers, Saul is whisked away from the event for some Very Important Business that turns out, as we now know, to be Highly Disastrous Business.
As we find her in this episode, the potential-CIA-collaborator is out enjoying the peace of the brand new cease-fire in Kabul — she’s chatting with her friend about how great it is not to be bothered by the Taliban while the word foreshadowing flashes on an invisible screen behind her. (I’m a morbid a–hole, but as her friend contorts herself to get a cease-fire selfie with a few Taliban soldiers I can’t help but think, this is the photo they’ll show on the news when you die.) This show has left me with something more extreme than street smarts and just shy of all-out cynicism.
Samira arrives home and is greeted by the brother of her late husband, who’s seemingly in town for a friendly catch-up but is actually intending to kidnap Samira. It seems that he doesn’t think a woman should be allowed to live on her own in a city and also believes she is his property. He storms out in a huff but then comes back in a bigger huff with a gang of henchmen. Everyone has henchmen on Homeland.
Carrie, Jenna, and their escorts come to her rescue and, while this scene was a little bit of a distraction from the real action in hindsight, it was such a slick move. (They cut the engine on the henchmen’s car and take the opportunity to rescue Samira at gunpoint before speeding off.) I may have even involuntarily pumped my fist in the air — just a little bit.
The second Max turned down the chance to catch a ride home with the helicopter convoy we all should have had our guards up — there’s no logical reason why he would opt to stay at the base other than to keep him out of this disastrous turn of events. But before I get into my pontificating, let’s just replay the last six minutes of the episode.
The CIA team back at Kabul station is nervously monitoring Presidents Warner and Daoud’s whereabouts, fretting over the delays (the longer they’re out in the field the more dangerous it is), for what turns out to be very good reason. As Saul is rushed back to the station, he’s informed by a soldier that, four minutes ago, the president’s helicopter disappeared from radar and the escort helicopter has no idea what happened. Every available air asset is headed to the area of the disappearance (holy Islamabad attack flashbacks!), quick reaction forces are on their way, and CIA officers have been recalled from the field.
We follow the escort helicopter as they spot wreckage and, well, it’s wreckage. A smoldering pile of what used to be a helicopter. They’re monitoring at the White House as well, where the vice president and the team in the Situation Room try to make sense of what’s going on. The incline at the crash site is too steep for a landing so they veer off to more stable ground where the escort helicopter is promptly met with a huge group of Taliban fighters down below, one of whom has an RPG that they use immediately. The helicopter blows up as the camera pans to Carrie and Saul’s horrified faces before fading to black — and thus ensues our midseason reset.
There are many questions, of course, but top of mind for me is the matter of which of the previous plotlines were red herrings. The assassination of a sitting president, seemingly carried out by a man with whom the government just created a peace deal, doesn’t leave a lot of room for the other narrative threads. That means that either Yevgeny, Samira, and even the belly-rubbing freaks at the military base were decoys to distract us from this grand plan of destruction or they’ve been part of the plan.
If you’ll allow me a moment of spitballing: We know that Tasneem (along with her ISI cronies and Jalal Haqqani) has been looking for a way to disrupt everything after her Haqqani assassination attempt fell short. And we know that the GRU (the Russian spy group that Yevgeny belongs to) has a history of collaborating with G’ulom. And we know that Carrie and Yevgeny had an oddly close relationship during her time in prison, the details of which have not been revealed to us yet. There’s space for paranoia here and I’m inclined to fill it, at least for a week.