Homeland recap: season six, episode three – The Covenant

Carrie calls in a big favour, Saul reunites with the black sheep of the family and Quinn get bloody revenge

If last week’s episode was Homeland kicking into gear, this week’s saw it enter cruise control. There are no 180° turns, bomb blasts or thwarted attacks but there is just enough plot development to keep us going. Carrie, Quinn and Saul all have signature moments – a reminder that in Danes, Friend and Patinkin we have a formidable trio heading up the show.

‘I don’t need a babysitter’

Peter Quinn’s day begins badly with a horrifying nightmare compounded by a clumsy pass at Carrie. But things take a sharp upward turn when he visits Tommy, the coke dealer who ripped him off. Tommy is a big guy, but even the shadow of Quinn is too much Quinn for him. Our boy clobbers the oaf and steals his gun. Now he is armed and dangerous. He may need to be to confront whatever is going on in the apartment opposite Carrie’s – if it’s not the product of his fevered imagination.

‘Mathison – I got to hand it to you. You are a dog with a fucking bone’

Carrie is a born rule-breaker and as such, is perpetually in trouble. Her defiance of the court order to talk to Massoud/Tyrone prompts the prosecution to withdraw their plea bargain. Overnight, Reda and Carrie have gone from angling for three years to a trial where Sekou Bah faces 15 years in a federal supermax like the one currently housing the Boston Marathon bomber. Reda despairs of her and when she tells Sekou, he has to leave the room before he says or does something he will regret.

In desperation, she reaches out to Roger, an old colleague from her time in Baghdad. They have helped each other out in the past, but the transcript of a call between Conlin and Massoud that she asks for could end his career in a heartbeat. It’s a nonstarter, he tells her.

Yet somehow he manages to go one better. Instead of the transcript, he provides an actual recording of the call in which Conlin tells Massoud to delete a taped conversation with Sekou. Carrie tells Conlin face-to-face that it constitutes fabricating evidence and obstructing justice. He begs to differ, but knows it is significant leverage. She wants all charges dropped against Sekou or she will play the recording to the Attorney General. Carrie turned a catastrophe into a win – and even she’s not exactly sure how she did it.

If President-elect Keane wants to know what Saul really thinks, she should not rely on Adal’s creative précis.
If President-elect Keane wants to know what Saul really thinks, she should not rely on Adal’s creative précis. Photograph: 20th Century Fox/JoJo Whilden/Showtime

It is exactly that Midas touch that gets her private audiences with the President-elect. Having been assured by Dar Adal that Saul strongly endorses the Israeli’s parallel program theory, Keane seeks her counsel. The word ‘conclusive’ is an immediate red flag for her.

Intelligence officers steer away from such sturdy adjectives, she explains, citing George Tenet’s infamous “slam dunk” as a cautionary tale. If Keane wants to know what Saul really thinks, she should read his report and not rely on Adal’s creative précis. As he surreptitiously listens in on their conversation, Adal is deeply offended at the suggestion that he could be so underhand. You think you know someone …

“All we have to do was negotiate away a program we never wanted in the first place”

Saul gets down to business.
Saul gets down to business. Photograph: 20th Century Fox/Didier Baverel/Showtime

Saul wastes no time getting down to business in Abu Dhabi and Farhad Nafisi is swiftly caught in the Bear’s honey trap. Saul interrogates him as Tovah and Mossad look on. Nafisi claims to be buying anti-aircraft devices from the Russians, something completely legal under the terms of the nuclear deal. He says he knows nothing of any deal with North Korea and sounds convincing enough. The money going into his secret bank account suggests otherwise though. Saul expresses those concerns in his report to Adal.

Nafisi’s parting shot – that the entire Iranian nuclear program was just a ruse to get sanctions lifted – niggles Saul, and it’s not the only thing. An old empty packet of Nafisi’s cigarettes in the trash makes him suspicious, though we are not entirely sure why.

Saul’s trip over the border to visit his Zionist sister on the West Bank seems at first like a sincere attempt to reconnect with a troublesome family member. That may well be part of it, but his clandestine trip in the dead of night suggests his family reunion is a convenient camouflage for him to resolve whatever bothered him about that cigarette packet.

Notes and observations

Keane prepares for civil unrest.
President-elect Keane prepares for civil unrest. Photograph: 20th Century Fox/JoJo Whilden/Showtime

• There’s a new set of titles for us featuring Elizabeth Keane, civil unrest and Gil Scott-Heron’s The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.

• “How can you live knowing that your very presence here makes peace less possible?” Saul’s argument with his sister gets into the divisions between American and Israeli Jews, something explored here.

• Dar Adal predictably favours confronting Iran with meaty military manoeuvres and sanctions, but he has picked the wrong president to pursue that course with.

• My guess is that while Farhad Nafisi is definitely not on the level it won’t end up being North Korea he’s dealing with. Perhaps Saul will end up investigating Pakistan and aggravating the locals again?

• After President Trump’s first week in office, Carrie advocating for the rights of Muslims in America has such added resonance.

• We still need to know more about Hafiz, the man Conlin was pushing Tyrone to introduce Sekou Bah to.

What do you think is going on with Farhad Nafisi? Is Carrie’s apartment really being watched or is it just Quinn’s paranoia? Can the new president ever trust Dar Adal? Please give your thoughts below.


James Donaghy

The GuardianTramp

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