Homeland recap: season seven, episode two – Rebel Rebel

There’s a lot more going on this week with Elizabeth U-turning on the detainees, Saul hot on O’Keefe’s trail and Carrie frantically trying to extract herself from a mess of her own making

‘I’m CIA. You try anything, I will hunt you down. I will kill you’

When you’re engaged in one of the lighter treasons, the very last thing you need is a 4chan loon planting ransomware on your laptop, but that’s exactly what Carrie gets. With her future on the line, she ruthlessly targets the achilles heel of all tech-savvy misogynerds – sex. The promise of physical contact with an attractive woman makes the troll drop his guard for a minute and that’s all it takes. It leads to the mother of all beatdowns from Carrie who, with a bit of luck, has done him permanent damage.

Thrilling as it is to see a turbocharged Carrie in the field, it shouldn’t distract us from the spectacular misjudgments that put her in this position. She talks to her therapist, who tries to make sense of her erratic recent behaviour. She speculates that the lithium that has allowed Carrie to function for the past 15 years has become ineffective. An unmedicated Carrie is a whirling dervish we would like to avoid.

Her instincts are generally good, though – sometimes deranged, generally contrarian but often right. That’s her saving grace. Although Wellington is the voice of reason in the Keane administration behind-the-scenes, there is still that mystery woman scribbling something on a pad in his home. It has got to mean something.

‘The national security establishment came after me with machine guns … I doubt I’ll ever get over it’

Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson and Elizabeth Marvel as President Keane
Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson and Elizabeth Marvel as President Keane. Photograph: Antony Platt/Showtime

It’s a tough decision to take but Elizabeth does the right thing and frees the Bear, along with the other 200 detainees. Saul immediately becomes her new national security adviser and he’s barely back on the clock before she tasks him with bringing Brett O’Keefe in. The president’s frustration is understandable. A failed military coup and assassination attempt against her and all she ever hears is how she’s the bad guy.

She tries to play hardball with Senator Paley demanding that he shut down the investigation into her detention of the 200 but finds him in an unforgiving mood. He assures her his committee is going nowhere and he even intends to extend its scope to include General McClendon’s death. David promises war but Paley is happy to take his chances.

‘The Founding Fathers … foresaw the dark day when we would face a President like Keane, as deadly as any foreign king’

O’Keefe eulogises General McClendon and it’s the kind of performance on which he made his name. “The Real Truth” is the name of his show and in this instance it is really true that McClendon’s death is a conspiracy, though of what kind we’re not entirely sure. Holed up with some West Virginia hicks, O’Keefe reveals a lot more about himself than he intends. He barely knows one end of a gun from the other and is a lot less enthusiastic about his rustbelt fans than they are about him. You had to feel sorry for young JJ proudly sporting his O’Keefe tattoo only to hear his idol refer to him and his family as the “lunatic fringe”. The man who specialises in mob oratory fears and despises his core audience. There’s your real truth.

Notes and observations

  • That Carrie still tries to include Dante in her investigations is testament both to her stubbornness and her current inability to read the room.
  • It may be the lithium no longer working for Carrie but it could just as easily be the Quinn-shaped hole in her universe that’s the problem. “He would have understood what I’m doing,” she says, which is not to say that he would have agreed with it. Maybe only he could have talked her out of the surveillance on Wellington and the 4chan disaster. You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.
  • Elizabeth seems genuinely clueless about McClendon’s death so if she’s not behind it, who is? “Cui bono?” is the conspiracy theorists’ starting point and with McClendon you can make a case for pretty much anyone at any point on the political spectrum.
  • The season seven credits debuted tonight and apart from the scenes of civil unrest the main theme seems to be Carrie’s bipolar disorder, so it looks like her illness will be centre stage this year. We also have the excerpt from Quinn’s letter to Carrie in season five “Just think of me as a light on the heavens, a beacon steering you clear of the wrongs”. We already do!

Who had McClendon killed? Who is the woman in David’s house? And who’s first out of a job: Paley or Keane? Your thoughts below please.


James Donaghy

The GuardianTramp

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