Homeland recap: season seven, episode one – Enemy of the State

The presidential crackdown continues with a death in custody as Carrie fights the power and the resistance begins to gain strength

The season seven opener finds us in familiar territory with Carrie out on a limb, Saul stubborn as ever and O’Keefe peddling his garbage to an ever more receptive audience. For the most part, it’s tidying up the fallout from season six. The battle lines are drawn and it’s the Keane administration against the world.

I’m bringing you a federal agent to testify about some of the most expansive civil rights abuses in the history of our nation’

Less than two months have passed since Carrie was ushered out of the White House and little has changed. Since day one, she has thrived on conflict and in a climate like this, she has never looked more alive. Having fought so hard to keep the president alive, she now fights to keep her from killing democracy. Unemployed and living with her sister Maggie, she reaches out to Senator Sam Paley, putting him in touch with Dante, her FBI source right at the heart of the presidential purge. The inside scoop on the interrogations is that the state has precisely nothing on the detainees, but Dante refuses to go on the record.

She can’t stop there, though, and orders Max to set up surveillance on David Wellington. Even for Carrie, illegally monitoring the president’s chief of staff just a couple of months after she herself had high security clearance at the White House is astonishing. As much as we ask if the president is overreaching, who exactly does Carrie answer to?

Morgan Spector as Dante and Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison.
Morgan Spector as Dante, with Carrie. Photograph: Antony Platt/Showtime

Welcome to day 52 of the resistance’

Brett O’Keefe has always seen himself as a romantic action hero, so his current fugitive status is a dream come true. He bounces from town to town in the back of a car, broadcasting on the fly, relying on the kindness of strangers, dingbats and second amendment enthusiasts. Having fuelled anti-government paranoia for so long, he can barely believe his luck that he has a genuinely repressive administration on his hands. He even gets an escort from patrol police away from the federal marshals heading his way. The times make the man, and right now O’Keefe is a pig in muck.

We left Elizabeth last year looking paranoid, embattled and determined to crush her enemies. That there is a committee investigating her, led by Senator Paley, only hardens her resolve. Paley calls her thuggish and authoritarian and she takes it as a compliment. She is far from ready to free the 200, and her cold fury at McLendon avoiding the death penalty is chilling to view. The way she sees it, anything other than execution is encouraging another shot at her. She tells David to fix the situation before she finds someone who can. When the general is fatally poisoned in custody, it looks rather as though she found her guy. The resistance just got its first martyr.

I will not carry water or make excuses for a woman who can’t rise above her own vindictiveness’

Only Saul could be detained without trial in federal prison while simultaneously being offered high office. He is the establishment guy who is somehow always the outsider. David asks him to become national security adviser, but it’s not as attractive an offer as he clearly thinks it is. Saul will only accept if all 200 detainees are set free. It’s a non-negotiable that is never happening, so Saul stays on lockdown for the foreseeable future.

Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenons
Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenons. Photograph: Jacob Coppage/Showtime

Notes and observations

  • Carrie’s niece Josie is now a passionately political teenager and is exactly as annoying as that sounds. She looks up to Carrie for being “fired by a regime that jails free-thinkers” and generally being a badass, although it goes down badly with the parents when Carrie involves her in her nefarious night-time manoeuvres.
  • I enjoyed watching Carrie’s slick hotel lobby spycraft almost as much as she enjoyed doing it.
  • “Dante, please …” Carrie has a Captain Mainwaring-Private Pike moment. For an intelligence agent, she’s pretty bad at keeping secrets.
  • It’s so typical of Carrie to not tell Dante that Paley was coming and hope that they would just go along with it. Why finesse it when you can bulldoze it?
  • One of the unforeseen consequences of arresting 200 government officials is that you get underqualified, overworked schlubs such as Bill running the place. It’s just one of the many downsides of the slide into autocracy.
  • Carrie and Dante have a history stretching back to her time in Afghanistan – something about a guy called Abu Rami who slipped through the net. I have a feeling this will become relevant as the season develops.

How was the season premiere for you? Will Saul ever get out of prison? And who ultimately wins: the president or the resistance? Your thoughts below, please.


James Donaghy

The GuardianTramp

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