Homeland: season six, episode nine – Sock Puppets

Quinn goes on the warpath and we discover who has been feeding the trolls in an episode that proves the espionage drama still has its finger on the pulse

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

“Never read the comments,” is the first rule of the internet. So, who pays attention to internet commenters? The same people who hacked the 2016 presidential election, perhaps? Manipulation of social media is a serious business and a hot topic, so kudos again to Homeland for keeping its finger on the pulse. Exactly who funds Brett O’Keeffe’s troll army is unknown, but we know it is no small-time operation and that Dar Adal’s baseball-cap wearing assassin is somehow tied up with them.

‘Bring me some new names. Nothing’s off the table’

No one ever said the transition month would be a walk in the park, but Elizabeth Keane must feel like she’s hopscotching through hell right now. Between Carrie’s late-night drunk dials, being separated from her staff and fending off Dar Adal’s cabal of deplorables it’s no wonder she’s finding national security a tough nut to crack. “What is it with you people, the intelligence community?” she asks, “Who even thinks like this?”

When Carrie and Saul provide the evidence of the Dar Adal conspiracy, Elizabeth is furious. She earlier had a humbling briefing with Dar where she ceded significant ground to his hardline stance. She takes a further meeting with him to see if she can figure out who his co-conspirators are, but Dar’s finely tuned antennae start twitching and he keeps the names of his cronies to himself. Poker is not Elizabeth’s game.

The solicitor general decides the best strategy is to nail Dar over lying about Russian mole Allison Carr in his report about Berlin. Carrie knows that this throws Saul under the bus given that he was literally in bed with Allison but it looks like their only option. Never mind that they would never know about the conspiracy without Saul, all he’ll get for his troubles is a career-ending scandal and a presidential pardon some way down the line.

‘There’s a new set of talking points in your folders. Get outraged! Let’s go!’

Max is the furthest thing from a field agent - he’s always been the tech-savvy surveillance guy. That doesn’t stop him from diving headlong into a deep cover operation when he goes for a job at the mysterious corporation Agent Conlin visited. After acing the interview with shock jock Brett O’Keeffe, he is hired on the spot and taken to some kind of IT war room. There, professional men and women run 22,000 sock-puppet social-media accounts – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (“4chan , 8chan, fucking LinkedIn ... whatever, we’re there”) – to troll the hell out of Internet comment sections. These are today’s agenda setters and thinkfluencers – IraqBob, NavyWife and, err, DeltaForceGroupie.

Javadi … out of luck?
Javadi … out of luck? Photograph: 20th Century Fox/JoJo Whilden/SHOWTIME

‘You’ve been dropping missiles on their heads for the past 30 years – that’s got to take a toll’

Javadi is a man who made his name backing the right horse. When the Iranian revolution happened, he rode the wave of religious zealotry right to the top. Then when the CIA had him over a barrel, he betrayed his country in a flash. His knack of picking winners looks as if it has deserted him, though. He checks out of his hotel suite early, in a laundry trolley transported by Mossad lunks. They will no doubt be heading to some god-awful black site where they can get to work on his remaining fingernails. As he redundantly shouts as they take him away, he should never have trusted Dar Adal.

‘I raised you, Peter. You are my child – more than that. I would never hurt you’

I’ll confess I was sceptical about allowing Quinn to return. I still think he should never have made it out of the fifth season, but I am quite enjoying him back in the field, even as shot to bits as his motor functions are. Uniforms come to the lake house and stumble upon Astrid’s body. Quinn can’t stop and chat as his busy revenge schedule just won’t allow the window. Torching the jeep of a Second Amendment person, he knocks over a gun store for weapons and ammo before heading over to Dar Adal’s place. An emotional confrontation ensues at gunpoint from which Dar escapes with a bruise on his noggin and not the bullet in his brain he deserves. Just moments later, he angrily phones baseball-cap guy allowing the listening-in Quinn to pinpoint his location. Now things start to get interesting.

Notes and observations

It is fascinating that Quinn could not kill Dar Adal when it came down to it. He may have sensed that he was telling the truth about not wanting him killed. Perhaps some twisted bond remains between these two.

“Her father and I – we had a relationship that was unusually intense.” Carrie’s psychiatric evaluation allows us to reminisce on the folie à deux that was Carrie and Brody’s coupling and allows her to reflect on her complicity in his death. “It didn’t end well,” she says, showcasing her unheralded gift for understatement.

“You know he sat right there earlier today and lied to me about this all over again, the obsequious little shit!” Madam president-elect says what we’re all thinking.

If Max’s tale of a lost year of sounds real, that’s because it is. The person he lost he refers to is Fara Sherazi, the CIA analyst murdered by Haissam Haqqani. His “meth and masturbation” confession certainly didn’t harm his chances of being a professional Internet troll. If anything, he’s overqualified.

“Coming from someone who fucked the guy in a suicide vest, that means a lot.” Carrie’s “maybe you shouldn’t have been fucking a Russian mole” dig at Saul gets the response it deserves. Let’s agree that they have both on occasion used poor judgment in relationships and move on.

Will the baseball cap guy finally get what’s coming to him? Who is financing the troll war room? Will we ever see Javadi again? Please let me know your thoughts below.


James Donaghy

The GuardianTramp

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