Homeland recap: season 7, episode 5 – Active Measures

The entertainment is cranked up as the president plays a blinder, while Saul investigates the red menace and Carrie reassesses her squad goals

I’m not gonna lie to you and you’re not gonna lie to me”

Carrie puts together a team to beat the truth out of Simone Martin and we are reminded that while a Russian troll farm may be quite continental, a punch in the guts can still be a girl’s best friend. New squad members Doxie, Stein, Bennet and Anson join Carrie and Dante in a gloriously entertaining caper that takes them all over Washington, into a ladies bathroom and finally back to David Wellington’s place. Watching Carrie in the field, thinking on her feet and making policy on the hoof, is a huge amount of fun. It’s a compelling mixture of brilliance and buffoonery. The upshot is we now know that Simone did indeed pay to have McClendon assassinated, but there is every indication that David knew nothing about it. So if David isn’t behind it, who is?

It’s what they do, David – exploit existing divisions wherever they find them”

The Lucasville death toll is in: 19 dead, three of them children, five of them FBI agents. Saul has been around long enough to know the scent of the Russian bear when he sniffs it and he can smell nothing else right now. While the president and David are busy with damage control over Lucasville, Saul pays a visit to Russian dissident Ivan Krupin to get his take on Russian interference. You may recall Krupin from season five, selling out Allison Carr for a new start in America. The dissident life has been good to Ivan. He’s landed a nice little gaff in Wyoming he shares with his girlfriend Kira. Saul mentions Yevgeny Gromov – a media savvy operative who came up with a fake story about child crucifixion in Ukraine. He certainly wouldn’t be above creating the bogus story about JJ’s death. Ivan is sceptical. “Sometimes, a domestic crisis is just a domestic crisis,” he says. Maybe, but Saul is taking no chances. He orders surveillance on Ivan and Kira. Trust no one is a good policy.

Linus Roache as Wellington.
Linus Roache as Wellington. Photograph: Showtime

God knows I never thought my presidency would be about telling another woman to bite her tongue”

Elizabeth Keane is a woman who knows a thing or two about crises. Having buried her war-hero son, survived an assassination attempt and a coup from her own military and quite deranged hostility from the public, the fallout from Lucasville is the last thing she needs. She takes a big gamble and asks the FBI agents’ widows to attend the memorial in Virginia. It’s the kind of thing only a grieving mother who happens to be commander-in-chief can ask. The women agree and enter the church, led by Jackie Goodman, the widow of the agent executed by Elkins. It’s on the verge of turning very ugly before Mary Elkins shows some class and invites the widows to sit with her. It’s the Christian thing to do, but more importantly, it’s a vindication of Elizabeth’s strategy. From berating her chiefs of staff to her personal appeal to Jackie and her powerful address to the nation, Elizabeth is on terrific form. She’s never looked more presidential. It’s a good week for Madam President and she doesn’t get too many of those. Hail to the chief.

Notes and observations

  • It was a relief this week to have a break from Brett O’Keeffe and his self-serving garbage. It’s going to be quite the challenge to broadcast The Real Truth from whatever federal hellpit he ends up in.
  • She’s unemployed and up to her eyeballs in debt, so how exactly is Carrie financing her crew of mercenaries? Is there a Just Giving page we haven’t heard about?
  • “We cannot allow what divides us as individuals to continue to undermine what unites us as people.” Elizabeth’s post-Lucasville address is reminiscent of Jo Cox’s maiden speech in parliament.
  • Saul’s instincts about Yevgeny Gromov are correct – IMDb now confirm him as Costa Ronin’s character.
  • Ivan has a neat line in folksy wisdom. The story of how Snake River got its name is a parable on the effects of misunderstanding and mistranslating other cultures.
  • Anson and Carrey have a sexual history and he certainly fits her relationship template of every-kind-of-wrong. We might voice concerns about a trailer-dwelling drunk who took a sledgehammer to the family room and seemed to enjoy assaulting Simone a little too much, but who would listen? Not Carrie. Currently he’s the reckless devil on her shoulder to Dante’s cautious angel. Who will win out?

Now that David is in the clear who is behind McClendon’s murder? Is Krupin on the level? What will Carrie’s squad do when they realise she can’t pay them? Your theories below please.


James Donaghy

The GuardianTramp

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