Homeland recap: season six, episode 10 – The Flag House

Information is weaponised as Saul has a change of plans, Quinn revisits his past and Dar Adal makes it personal

It’s family first this week, as Dar Adal targets both Elizabeth and Carrie in their most vulnerable spot. In a season when he has made an art of going too far, he still manages to go that little bit further. He may well be right that a president can never win a war with the national security establishment, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a high-profile casualty. While Quinn couldn’t kill him last week, the list of people happy to take him out must surely be growing hourly.

“It’s not just about fake news and manipulating public opinion – it’s about stifling dissent.”

Max tells a distracted Carrie about his exciting first day at work. “Somebody is paying O’Keefe a shitload of money to build a massive domestic propaganda machine. And if this somebody is DOD or NSA or Dar Adal, he’s breaking about 10 federal laws.”

Ignoring Carrie’s sensible counsel to pull a sickie, Max returns to the sock puppet drawer to do some secret filming of Dar Adal talking to Brett O’Keefe. His spycraft is not as polished as Carrie’s though and his ruse is quickly uncovered but not before he successfully emails the video clip to Carrie. You have to worry about Max given what happened to Agent Conlin, but once they register that the video clip has been sent, killing him may not be a good option.

Heading for humiliation? Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson.
Heading for humiliation? Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson. Photograph: 20th Century Fox/JoJo Whilden/Showtime

“If you can find it in your heart, please follow the directions below.”

Saul is on a mission to pull off a disappearing act, securing a handgun, a passport, cash and some diamonds as he gets set. After a bizarre paper chase, he reconvenes with the estranged Mrs Berenson to tell her his plan: head off to a rectory in Athens to lick his wounds before dying embittered and alone, ie anything to avoid his public humiliation. It takes Mira to ask “When has that ever made the slightest bit of fucking difference to you?” to snap him out of his funk. It appears, for now, he’s staying to fight his corner. He tries to reconnect with Carrie to formulate their endgame.

“Tell Dar Adal he wins. Now I want to see my daughter.”

Carrie’s emotions have been worked over in recent weeks and the report of Franny’s illness is enough to force her to walk out of her video deposition with the solicitor general about Berlin. Even though the report turns out to be fake, Dar Adal has already shown he has no qualms about using Franny against her. The appointment with child services goes ahead but the question remains: does the prospect of losing her child send her into her shell or force her to come out fighting?

“Sixty million people voted for me. Who the hell voted for you?”

Once Carrie’s deposition is merked, Elizabeth Keane is advised to offer Saul a deal instead. She would be happy to do that, but must first deal with a surprise visit from Dar Adal. He finally drops his “obsequious little shit” act and plays hardball with the president-elect. He puts forward three candidates for her cabinet: Mercer, Westlake and Stewart – the alt-right trio of her nightmares. “This moment, right now,” she tells him, “is when I decided to put your ass in jail.”

It is exactly the response he was anticipating and he immediately greenlights Brett O’Keefe’s plan to “weaponise some information”. The doctored video of her son’s last moments is released. O’Keefe’s sock puppets pour petrol on the flames. The bar of online discourse is lowered once again.

Carrie – coming out fighting?
Carrie – coming out fighting? Photograph: 20th Century Fox/JoJo Whilden/Showtime

“Sorry for the late notice, gentlemen, but intel just found us some shitheads.”

Quinn’s satnav takes him on a trip down memory lane, first to the Sunny Side Diner where the waitress Nicki remembers him as Johnny. Later he visits the titular flag house where he flashes back to a black ops briefing he attended there led by General McClendon. His reminiscences are interrupted by the return of McClendon’s men. He escapes through the garage, where he sees another Medina Medley van. It’s all the evidence he needs. He sets up a sniper’s nest over the road and summonses Carrie to his side. Baseball cap guy is in his rifle’s sights.

Notes and observations

  • Saul’s smile when he discovers Carrie’s mad wall of intel is that of the proud parent. He raised her well.
  • Blink and you’ll miss it but this is important. Peter Quinn’s photo appears on a laptop in Brett O’Keefe’s office. “A work in progress – not ready yet,” explains O’Keefe, explaining nothing. If family is everyone’s weak spot then Quinn is the closest Dar has to family. If O’Keefe plans screwing over Quinn that could be a step too far even for Dar.
  • “It never ceases to amaze me what people respond to.” Even as he carefully cultivates his man-of-the-people shtick Brett O’Keefe’s contempt for the public is palpable. He marvels how “he looks like a pussy” is the most common complaint about Andrew Keane, a man who died for his country, from people who have never been near a battlefield.
  • Elizabeth ignores her team’s advice to change the narrative after the attack on her son and calls a press conference for the morning to address it directly. It’s a risky move but her instincts on what plays well with the public have been pretty good so far.
  • The showdown between President-elect Keane and Dar Adal is a terrific scene. You don’t often see venom like that and this is before Dar went nuclear, leaking her son’s video. Elizabeth Marvel showcases her best work of the season in this episode.

What is Saul’s next move? Will the public back Elizabeth? What has O’Keefe got lined up for Quinn? Please leave your thoughts below.


James Donaghy

The GuardianTramp

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