This Sunday, everyone's favorite highbrow clown car Homeland returns for a new season crammed with the usual audacious plot twists and go-for-broke performances we've come to expect of it. But you'd be forgiven if you don't recall much about what happened last season, since, in TV time, it ended roughly 12 years ago. (Technically 10 months ago.) Listen, the main thing you need to know about Homeland season four was that it was a wonderful, harrowing, affecting season of television and — purists be damned — Homeland's finest season to date. That being said, it was also complicated and unpleasant. In a good way!
So to get you properly briefed in preparation for Carrie Mathison's annual mental breakdown fiesta, here are the main things you need to know about Homeland going into the new season.
Brody is still dead.
Yes, the brainwashed soldier who started it all, Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), concluded his hero-turned-terrorist-turned-hero arc at the end of season three with a public execution. Despite a memorable yet drug-induced hallucination in season four, during which Carrie imagined Brody spooning her on the floor, the former marine remains dead. But Carrie came away from that tragic relationship with a consolation prize...
Carrie has a red-headed baby.
Though maybe “consolation prize” isn't the phrase to use here when “heart-wrenching reminder” would be more appropriate. In fact, shortly after Lil' Frannie Mathison was born, Carrie immediately fobbed her off on her sister Maggie (Amy Hargreaves) and accepted a job overseas in Islamabad. Carrie's maternal instincts were further called into question during a brief visit home during which she briefly considered drowning Frannie at bath time. It was arguably the darkest moment in a show that is only dark moments.
Carrie finally kissed Quinn.
But just because Brody's gone doesn't mean Carrie's stopped making rash decisions of the heart. In season four she seduced and slept with a teenage mark (only to watch him get murdered during an operation), and in the finale she finally gave in to the wishes of millions of viewers who'd been shouting at their TVs all season to kiss! Peter! Quinn! (Rupert Friend). Who, as a reminder, is the best. Ever since this shady black-ops specialist/assassin was introduced in season two, we've been fascinated by his dashing inscrutability. But season four allowed us to get to know him better. This meant we saw him drink by himself a lot and have casual sex with his plus-size landlady, and later possibly get himself killed in Islamabad after a falling-out with Carrie (fueled in part by his jealousy over her affair with the teen). But when Quinn showed up for Carrie's father's funeral — and she caught him daddin' around with Frannie at the wake — Carrie had no choice but to mouth-attack him. Unfortunately, when Carrie balked at the idea of two people this damaged making a life together, he retreated back into the life and accepted a deadly black-ops mission in Iraq. Did he go and get himself killed? Or will their burgeoning love be rekindled this season? Honestly it's one of the biggest reasons to tune in.
Carrie still enjoys jazz.
Whether it's a troubled night in drinking white wine or going for a troubled jog, you better believe Carrie still likes to fire up that jazz!
Carrie has a mother.
Carrie's family situation grew more complicated in the season four finale, first when her father Frank Mathison (the late James Rebhorn) passed away, and then when she reunited with her mother (and surprise half-brother) after many years of estrangement. Though it's not clear what role the two new family members will play in Carrie's life, we did discover that Carrie's long-held belief that mental illness drove her parents apart was, in fact, false. Which should provide at least a modicum of hope for Carrie that she's not as cursed as she thinks.
Saul has been compromised.
When it comes to actual spy stuff, the big thing to know about last season was that Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) had been attempting to live life as a private security consultant only to find himself taken hostage by terrorists and later rescued by his friends at the CIA. But the entire mess led to a CIA shake-up, and Saul suddenly found himself in a position to get his old job back as director. The only problem was, in order to get the job without word spreading about his kidnapping, he'd have to accept a favor from the actual terrorist who'd taken him. By the end of the finale it seemed clear that Saul was ready to take that deal, a form of ostensible treason that left Carrie disgusted and disillusioned by her former mentor.
It's now two years later.
Homeland season five will take place two years after the events of season four, so expect a fair amount of resetting. Shockingly enough, this season finds Carrie working not for the CIA but rather as the head of security for a shady German billionaire in Berlin. Gone are Carrie's “drone queen” days, as she attempts to trade a life of finger-on-the-button tension with something more conducive to mental health. Unfortunately, her new life will prove to be short-lived when a CIA data breach calls her back into action. But will her relationship with Saul be too frayed? Has Quinn ventured too far past the point of no return? And is Frannie old enough for therapy yet?
Expect these questions and more to be explored when Homeland returns this Sunday at 9 p.m. on Showtime.