This Homeland review contains spoilers.
Homeland Season 6 Episode 7
Two steps forward and one step back. Isn’t it always the way?
The last three episodes of Homeland have enjoyed an immense urgency as the hidden noose around Carrie tightened. President-elect Keane also seems to be on borrowed time before Dar Adal kicks the chair out from under her, but at least she has made a vibrant protest and may even thwart his plans by refusing to allow herself to be trapped inside a gilded cage. And the plot developments on the Keane side, as well as what is happening with Adal, Saul, and everyone else, certainly moved the needle in troubling directions.
But I have to be honest, the soapy plot development of Child Protective Services targeting Carrie Mathison in the aim to remove Franny from her custody feels beneath the quality of Homeland. Worse, it is bringing the momentum of season 6 to a screeching halt for the series’ protagonist, even with the development that Dar Adal organized the whole coup.
I write this, because it is the kind of development we have seen occur dozens of times on network television dramas, and even though they find some painful honesty in the idea of Carrie being discriminated against due to having a history with mental illness, it still feels akin to the series padding the drama out before Dar Adal moves into his endgame maneuvers. Additionally, that it happened overnight, and that Carrie—a hardened CIA analyst who made a successful career out of reading people—couldn’t understand why the judge or CPS would consider Quinn a dangerous kidnapper is beyond frustratingly convenient.
The one exception that I would give to this is if the writers are setting up the concept of Dar Adal attempting to turn Carrie Mathison into an asset to be used against Elizabeth Keane. In theory, this could be a unique development. Homeland has toyed with the possibility before in season 3 when the series attempted to fool viewers into the idea that Carrie was being turned into a mole because of how Saul Berenson was throwing her under the bus before a closed door session of Congress. And it did at least convince me that Saul left her out to dry before the twist that it was all a wheel within a wheel sting operation against the Iranians.
For Adal to now be actually turning (or attempting to turn) Carrie against Keane out of desperation for her daughter would be a curious dramatic scenario. But I fear this is more a case of the mustache twirling fiend trying to simply discredit her before the eyes of Keane—as seen with a drunken Carrie begging Keane to intervene, yet the PEOTUS expectantly shrugs. After all, she’s a politician, not an actual hero.
But Carrie was already on the outs with Keane due to her non-profit helping put Sekou back on the streets, a scapegoated “terrorist” who Keane has no reason to believe is anything less than guilty. Consequently, this storyline feels like an arbitrary excuse to turn the screws on Carrie again, and kick the ball down the road further before Carrie takes the intel she has on the terrorist bombing inevitably to Saul or Keane.
The rest of the hour fared better than the episode’s dippy centerpiece. Saul Berenson for instance found out that he is most certainly on the outside of a coup operation that is so determined to undermine Keane that Adal has chosen to throw Javadi under the bus and burn him as an American spy. This also seems incredibly dubious that the CIA would value having a friendly POTUS over a spy at the heart of the Iranian intelligence community, drifting the ayatollahs to wherever we wish. In fact, it’s downright ludicrous.
But what a twist it still is when Javadi is being tortured! And it twists yet further when he’s unexpectedly saved and thus willing to spill his guts to Keane and Berenson for $40 million. I wish I could also say it was unexpected that he killed the nice Iranian chap that saved his life, but we witnessed Javadi massacre his ex-wife in season 3, so that is pretty standard “evil ally we must hold our nose about working with” plotting.
Still, Saul has proof that Dar Adal is working against Keane and even U.S. interests, now the dominos for Adal’s coup might start falling.
The other storyline that played well was finally having Adal and Peter Quinn get a sit down and heart-to-heart this season. Peter Quinn had always been Dar Adal’s man, his original ace in the hole against Carrie and Saul until he changed allegiances to “the Drone Queen.” However, I’ll give Adal credit for also calling her “Angel of Death.” That is quite apropos for the Carrie of the first four seasons.
Additionally, this is the kind of acting moment that, instead of padding a season’s runtime, is actually built up to and delivers genuine payoff for F. Murray Abraham and Rupert Friend. Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is the first time we learn that Adal and Quinn had a sexual relationship early on. “We’re all beautiful when we’re young,” says Adal in a creepy line that poisons the last good relationship Adal appeared to enjoy. In fact, it burns such a bridge that I’m starting to think that this will be the end of the road for him in season 6. Dirty old man, indeed.
It’s a bitter pill to see the mentor and protégé, no matter how creepy the actual relationship turned out to be, brought to this low. And it’s telling that Adal thinks Quinn could still be a threat to his plan even though the PTSD-rattled spook already fairly well disgraced himself on national television by shooting at protestors. Yet, even with as sadistic of a character as season 6’s Adal, it seems he views Quinn as a loose end and is trying to buy him off with a house by a lake. That is about as close as a heartfelt teary-eyed scene as Abraham will ever likely get to play on this series.
Overall, it is moments like this, and the twists with Javadi, that salvage season 7’s worst hour (thus far) into not being a total waste. Nevertheless, I think the series needs to hit the accelerator for the final five episodes. Carrie is persona non grata across the entire country and is being blamed by the media for a terrorist attack in New York City. We don’t need to next give her a puppy and then see Adal assassinate it just to get the point across that she is a much aggrieved protagonist.
Maybe she can actually start participating in the actual web of conspiracies and lies next week, until then it’s a grim thought that our hopes rest on Saul getting Javadi to Keane. Particularly if they decide to dress him in a red shirt on the way over.