Homeland recap: season six, episode two – The Man in the Basement

Week two, and classic Homeland is back. Everyone has something to hide as Sekou explains the cash under his mattress, Saad reveals his criminal past and Carrie flatly denies her friends in high places

Spoiler alert: this blog is published after Homeland airs in the US. Only read on if you’ve watched series six episode two.

No wonder Carrie took offence at Otto’s “small potatoes” dig about her new legal venture. She must have been biting her tongue hard, trying not to reveal that she was essentially dictating America’s future foreign policy in the Middle East all this time. This means she’ll be butting heads with Dar Adal again soon, which can only be good for the show. However solid the intel on Iranian nukes turns out to be, it felt like the old Homeland was back this week.

“Because if you feel it – this calling to be an independent American – the time to rise up is now. Now!”

There’s a strange smell in the basement and an even stranger man. Quinn gazes vacantly at the ceiling, living off tinned food while listening to conspiracy channels. Carrie has to handle his vast list of prescription meds. When she tries to get him to take his anti-seizure medication, a coffee mug is launched at her in response. No good deed goes unpunished.

She calls Max in to babysit, but there’s only so much he can do. When Quinn heads out to load up on booze at the local bodega he has a grand mal seizure. Against medical advice, he returns to Carrie’s house without being checked out in hospital. He’s lost a great deal, but his stubbornness remains intact.

“It might get you votes, but God forbid it makes you think you know what you’re doing.”

Dar Adal takes President-elect Elizabeth Keane’s Chief-of-staff Rob Hemmis to lunch at a location thick with symbolism. It’s the restaurant he was in when the Twin Towers came down – they pulled in choking New Yorkers through their doors that day. It’s a great story. Not one word of it is true but Dar delivers it like a seasoned Broadway ham.

It is his gentle way of reminding Hemmis why they do what they do. Less gently, he calls the President-elect’s credentials into question. “A mother with a son killed in action – that’s her CV.” Unkind? Absolutely, but we live in dangerous times. He tells Hemmis there’s intel that the Iranians are cheating on the nuclear deal, running a parallel program with North Korea outside the country with the help of financier Farhad Nafisi. Mossad will be picking him up at a conference in Abu Dhabi next week. “How should the agency proceed?” Dar asks him, fully aware of the grenade he’s just dropped in his lap.

“That new paradigm we talked about? This is it.”

Saul pops in to see Carrie at her law firm. It’s great to hear her voice again. Funnily enough he heard it quite recently, coming out of the President-elect’s mouth when she was discussing the Middle East. What a coincidence!

A vulgar man might point out that Elizabeth Keane is friendly with Otto Düring who is friendly with Carrie and draw the conclusion that Carrie is advising the soon-to-be commander-in-chief. And that’s exactly what Saul does. Were it discovered to be true, he tells her, it would be embarrassing for everyone.

Carrie has never been so insulted – and she’s been insulted a lot. This type of baseless allegation is exactly why she left the CIA, she tells him. Chastened and believing her denials, he leaves.

It is only later that we see Carrie’s self-righteous rage was bogus and that Saul was bang on the money. As she briefs the President-elect on the Iranian issue, it is with the practiced confidence of the trusted source.

Elizabeth Keane’s dovish tendencies notwithstanding, the allegations are too serious to ignore. Carrie suggests someone absolutely trustworthy should represent US interests on the ground. Someone with unimpeachable integrity who wants to make the nuclear treaty with Iran work. If it happens to be someone with a soft spot for Carrie, even better. As it happens, she knows a guy … Saul “The Bear” Berenson will be our man in Abu Dhabi.

“If I can’t say anything and he’s lying how am I supposed to get out of here?”

Max is called in to babysit Quinn.
Max is called in to babysit Quinn. Photograph: 20th Century Fox/JoJo Whilden/SHOWTIME

Reda Hashem tells Sekou Bah to level with him about the smoking gun in the FBI’s case against him for material support of terrorism – the $5,000 under his mattress. Sekou explains it was just a loan from his filmmaking partner Saad Massoud to help pay for his family’s visit to Nigeria.

Good work from Max throws up that Saad Massoud is in fact a man named Tyrone Banks Jr. Back in Pittsburgh, Tyrone ran with a rowdy crew who called themselves the Steel City Gang. Special Agent Ray Conlin recruited Tyrone in his prison cell; he promised to make a five-year prison sentence disappear if Tyrone came and worked for him and the FBI in New York.

This is a game-changer and they go before a judge to request their right to confront Massoud at trial. Ray Conlin is at the hearing and has it out with Carrie.
“You go anywhere near Saad Massoud, I will have you arrested,” he tells her.
The judge agrees; Saad is off limits. The prosecution make an offer – if Sekou pleads guilty, he will get seven years. If he goes to trial and loses, he’ll do double that. Reda, well versed in legal realpolitik, advises him to take it but Carrie is a junkyard dog – no way is she backing down.

Armed with the knowledge that Saad was secretly dating Sekou’s sister Simone, Carrie shows up at a clandestine meeting between the pair. The man formerly known as Tyrone Banks isn’t too concerned about Sekou’s plight. Nonetheless, he lets Carrie know that he told Conlin that Sekou was not a terrorist but Conlin would not listen.

“It started with someone throwing a coffee mug at me – went downhill from there.”

It’s been a long day and they have a complex history but Carrie and Quinn have a quiet moment as they piece together his recent past. With his memory compromised he needs the gaps filling in. She explains what happened to him in Berlin. She can’t believe he hasn’t seen the video of his exposure to sarin gas. He watches it with her for the first time. “You saved me,” he says. “Why?” I was just wondering the same thing.

Notes and observations

Here’s a guide to Quinn’s anti-seizure medication primidone. I have a feeling this may be useful in later episodes.

• The extensive Claire Danes cry-face canon welcomes another entry this week from her emotional talk with Quinn.

• Now we know Saad Massoud was working with the FBI, I’m slightly confused about the guy he wanted Sekou Bah to meet before his trip to Nigeria. Was it just a way of testing his intentions?

• Conlin assures Carrie the airline tickets were bought two months before Saad loaned Sekou the $5,000. If he is telling the truth, what was the loan for?

• Simone being underage might offer Carrie some leverage against Saad even if it currently looks like national security trumps all.

Who do you trust on Homeland so far? Is Carrie having the President-elect’s ear on the Middle East a good thing? Exactly how real is the Iranian nuclear program? And what will become of poor Quinn? Please give your thoughts below.


James Donaghy

The GuardianTramp

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