This Homeland review contains spoilers.
Homeland Season 7 Episode 8
So can we chalk this up as a win? A loss? There are so many mixed emotions running through everyone’s heads as Russian agent Simone is lost to the wind, Dante might be lost to a heart attack engineered by Carrie Mathison (but probably won’t be), and Frannie is lost to an aunt who finally sounds like she’s making a whole hell of a lot more sense than Carrie.
But at least the Russian spy didn’t get to implicate the President of the United States as a murderer in front of Capitol Hill. So there’s that, right?
Yeah, Homeland threw so many curveballs this holiday weekend that it is impossible to know if our heroes have struck out or are getting a walk on to base. But either way, it made for superb television and, if Carrie was smart, the end of her espionage escapades. Of course as we have four more hours to go after this, we know that absolutely can’t be the case. Even though there isn’t a whole lot more for her to do from Saul’s vantage.
Indeed, this was the first week where I finally began to see Carrie from Saul and Maggie’s perspectives. After last week’s shocking closing moments, in which Saul takes Dante mid-sex from Carrie, and a terrified Frannie is thrown into the naked arms of Carrie, our intrepid heroine did not even seem to spend a moment trying to get Frannie breakfast the next day. Rather than attempting to check to see how the sight of armed men with guns ripping her out of bed in the night might’ve traumatized Frannie, she sends her to school and makes her child—who is a little above the age to be considered a toddler—promise never to tell anyone what happened.
Understandably, Carrie is worried about the state of Saul’s investigation into Dante, however this is the first of several times tonight that Carrie is forced to choose between being an obsessive-compulsive secret agent and a mother, and she doesn’t even hesitate at this point. And I have to say, I was a little surprised given how much she fought child services last season and desperately wanted out of the CIA in season 4 in favor of a normal life.
These decisions are also hardly subtext at all for the rest of the episode: they’re the text as both Dante and Carrie use her own personal life decisions to try and manipulate his interrogation in their favor, and Saul spends a whole lot of time second-guessing his once so promising pupil. Honestly, the hour began with me mentally shouting to the old war horse on the screen, “Of course you can still trust Carrie!” And it ended by me going, “Why is he exactly keeping her around again?”
When contextualized from his point-of-view, Carrie interrogating Dante is a liability all the way around. She wasn’t close to breaking him before Saul’s men came through the door; she was close to being caught. And as soon as Dante flips the script on her about their first meeting and turns the conversation into one of him trusting her (and then being betrayed)—as well as having to be her partner in charge of helping monitor her questionable self-medication methods—it becomes obvious she’s too close. Claire Danes doing her patented semi-cry right there for Papa Berenson to see on the CCTV also does little to dispel this assumption.
A better play would have literally been to do good cop, bad cop with Saul and Carrie interrogating him together. Cliché? Sure, but so was her move trying to sympathize with his need to betray his country, and it still ended with him inevitably asking for a lawyer. The best we got out of this was Carrie revealing how embittered she still felt to the CIA and saying to Dante, as if to herself, “You love your country, but it doesn’t love you back.” There is an agonizing knowingness in this, not that it causes us to believe Dante for a moment.
So Saul and Carrie seem to be up the creak without a paddle when Maggie finally lowers the boom. Because surprise, surprise, telling a traumatized child to keep a secret is not good parenting. At this point, it is obvious that at least until Carrie reaches a happy medium for her disorder again, Frannie should stay with her aunt and uncle, although Maggie demanding Carrie check herself into a hospital that night is rough. It’s also an odd choice by Maggie, who knows her sister presumably better than we do. In which case, she’d know you never give Carrie an ultimatum, at least one that time sensitive. Give her until tomorrow or the end of the week, and make her stay outside the house until then. I suppose there is the legal threat of Carrie bringing lawyers into it first, but Carrie isn’t that person, and the only surprise is how long Carrie wavered.
Maggie acts shocked that Carrie hesitated in choosing between spy games and Frannie, but the reality is the surprise was she hesitated to pick Frannie after that rough morning. Maybe a better medicated Ms. Mathison would’ve made the same decision she made at the end of season 4, but this one is clearly too far down the rabbit hole. So she storms out of the life of her daughter, probably forever, rather than face her demons.
And for once, the show has made me wish Carrie picked her family over her career/the whole reason we watch this show. That has never happened before, so it must be something akin to quality writing for my allegiance to so soberly shift. This is probably because while I understand why Carrie brought Frannie to Dante’s, that was still a terrible choice as a parent, and she confirmed her head is in the wrong place at the top of this hour. Yet once this is all done, and she’s “saved the Republic,” what will she have to show for it? Saul nor Keane, nor the CIA are going to take her back.
Nevertheless, out the door she goes with another drastic scheme that admittedly fooled me. For as soon as that lawyer showed up with a pen in hand, I predicted he was an assassin, and that the ink was poison. After all, this isn’t Dante’s usual lawyer. And yet, it didn’t dawn on me that the authorities would literally poison him and fake a heart attack in the hopes of gaining a “deathbed” confession. But in retrospect, it seems so obvious as I wondered why Saul and Carrie waited so long to help pull Andante out of the hot water he’s in. I’m pretty sure that falls under the grounds of torture, but it at least is mildly effective. He says Simone is a spy, which is enough for a warrant, but not enough to prove anything.
Thus of course Simone is gone by the time that Saul arrives at her safe house. To my surprise, the Russians took Keane’s threat of this being treated as a hostile act seriously, when in fact they were about two days away from having her consumed by the greatest beltway shitshow since the British marched on Washington in the War of 1812. A president accused of murder would be so politically vulnerable that it’s highly unlikely she’d survive long enough to start World War III, especially via military branches that already hold her in suspicion.
Nevertheless, Keane’s threat is too effective, and the Russians free Simone just as Saul arrives. Meanwhile, surprise, surprise, a manufactured heart attack proves hard for Carrie to control. Still, the fact that the Russian big bad chose to kiss instead of kill Simone makes this at least a wash to my eyes. For the White House to be really screwed, the Russians would have had to have killed Simone, which seemed like a possibility. If that occurred, the innuendo and political tempest would still engulf Keane whole, as the implication that it was her operation would become the chatter of the country.
Granted the seeds are sown for how the drama will continue: Sen. Paley re-interviewing Simone confirms as much. He wanted to be sure, in his own mind, she was telling the truth and seems convinced by the hour’s end. So he’ll stir up a political hornet’s nest, suggesting that Keane’s people took Simone out. However, as Saul has a warrant for her arrest, and he is Keane’s National Security Advisor, I find it hard to believe this would destroy her presidency or the republic. It would be politically tumultuous, but we’ve survived worse in real-life. Folks all the time suggest our current POTUS is a Russian asset, but in power he stays, along with a relatively steady (if low) approval rating. This is now the realm of politics, not espionage.
While Carrie and Saul are stuck in the frustrating position of not being able to prove that the Russian conspiracy existed with cold hard evidence—I can relate—they cauterized the wound before it became infected. It’s a bitter non-win, but it ain’t a loss either. What Carrie should do, immediately, is drive straight to a mental hospital, check herself in, and then call Maggie and say, “Yo, I’m here, I’ll see you and Frannie in six weeks.”
That is what Carrie should do, but it’s not what will happen. She is like a dog chasing a car and she hasn’t let it fully run her over yet. Besides, we all know the Russian Big Bad isn’t actually headed to Moscow. He’ll disobey orders and create an even bigger crisis, because this is Homeland. But in the far less explosive world of real espionage, this would be as good a place to stop as any for Carrie while she’s ahead—or rather not so far behind that she’s lost her daughter forever.
But that’s not this kind of show. So farewell to Frannie, and hello to next week’s chaos.