The penultimate episode of this season’s Homeland took some unexpected twists, leading me to wonder if Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) has been more prey than predator for the last few weeks. It looks like someone is trying to frame Quinn for an attack on the president, although one wonders how that would have worked if one of the bullets fired at him in the water had connected a few weeks ago. Perhaps this was Plan B.
Long before we get to those final minute revelations, we have some demons to exorcise between Quinn and Carrie (Claire Danes), who he has brought to the house across the street from this target. Why? Carrie won’t watch him shoot another man. Quinn reveals that he also found Sekou Bah’s van in the garage. Carrie can take the van as evidence, and Quinn gets vengeance on the man who killed Astrid. He’s also pretty angry at Carrie, accusing her of making him a “fucking monkey.” Then he starts shouting at her like a monkey, running around the room. Quinn is losing it.
Meanwhile, Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) is crossing a protest line that’s pretty reminiscent of #NotMyPresident gatherings against President Trump. It’s one of the loudest echoes of the real 2017 in this year’s Homeland. PEOTUS Keane (Elizabeth Marvel) is furious about the “knowing lie” being spread about her son’s death, and she’s giving a press conference about it. She calls the makers of the commercial about Andrew “cowards” and directly calls the men in the video liars. She learns that there’s a petition to remove her son from Arlington and that the secretary of Defense she’s considering may withdraw his name. A voice from the crowd shouts, “Are you planning to resign?” (It’s a little shocking how quaint the controversy around Keane seems given what’s really happening with the investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election, but how could the writers have known?)
While Saul is telling Keane where the video really came from, Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham) and Brett O’Keefe (Jake Weber) are about to interrogate Max (Maury Sterling), caught last week with a phone in the propaganda bunker run by both men. Would Dar really show his face to someone who he knows could ruin him by connecting the dots? Unless he’s planning to kill Max. He gets pretty intense, even as Max denies taking a video. Dar gets physical, too, doing some sort of Vulcan Death Grip on Max’s shoulder. Max asks for a lawyer. (Good luck with that.)
O’Keefe makes a daring move, publicly taking credit for the commercial slandering Keane’s son. He wants her to come on the show. Keane’s team advises against it, but Saul knows better. He notes how information and propaganda helped topple regimes in Nicaragua, Chile, and Congo. There can be no more press conferences. She has to confront O’Keefe directly or risk his voice only growing louder.
After Quinn leaves to follow the ops crew, Carrie breaks into the briefing post with an alarm code that probably should have been changed years earlier given someone they’re trying to kill knows it. Anyway: Claire is attacked! She fights back and makes it to the door, but is pulled back in. Then Quinn bursts in — he shoots the assassin and starts beating him with his gun. Again. And again. The sounds of contact gets, shall we say, “crunchy.” He smashes his face in, although it was in defense of Carrie. She confirms as much, and Quinn reveals that the man on the floor killed Astrid. It’s a long, well-done, emotional scene. “There’s nothing here,” says Quinn. “There never was. I’ve always been this way.”
Max is still in his interrogation room when a man comes in with a meal. Max asks for help, worried that Dar is going to kill him. It turns out, the meal has a key card on the tray. Someone is letting him out. Max uses it, gets into an elevator, and makes it to ground level, where he’s grabbed and thrown into a van. He’s shoved into a room with Dar Adal, looking more Nosferatu than ever. It turns out that Dar wants Max’s help. He noticed last week that O’Keefe was building something related to Quinn. He claims there’s suspicious online activity, and he wants Max’s help getting to the bottom of it.
While Dar is essentially betraying O’Keefe, we get this week’s centerpiece: the showdown between the repulsive host and the soon-to-be president. She comes out swinging, accusing O’Keefe of slander. He’s gross enough to show her the commercial, just to get an emotional response from a woman seeing her son in his final moments. She’s strong. She questions why the footage ends where it does. She questions the legitimacy of the posts on the video, noting how they all came too quickly to really be possible. She busts the sock-puppet system run by O’Keefe, and even claims that he’s doing it with government assistance, which is the most damning for a man like this — calling him a shill. After a phone call that’s clearly a plant and an attempt to change the conversation, she takes her mic off and leaves. Both Weber and Keane are very good here. As is Patinkin in a subsequent scene, where he tells her she did a good job. But they come back to increased protests that are reaching riot levels. A man even jumps in front of the motorcade, getting sideswiped and really shaking the PEOTUS. Is she thinking about resigning? I really hope not.
Meanwhile, Solicitor General Pallis (David Thornton) has gotten to the house and seen the body and the van. While Quinn tries to decipher some mostly erased letters on a whiteboard, and discovers that the crew from the briefing post may be headed to the East Coast, Pallis mysteriously disappears. Something weird is going on. The crew who was briefing here may be going to NYC. And as suspicions grow, Carrie goes outside to try to get a hold of the president. As she’s on the phone, a couple of agents open the garage, and BOOM, we get a moment right out of the opening of Sicario. Was this the plan all along or did Pallis cover tracks and then flee? Who blew up the van? How would it frame Quinn? Even Carrie? Or were they just trying to kill them? They probably expected Carrie to be in the house. As Max and Dar are learning that someone created an anti-America online brand for Quinn under the handle “Toxic Soldier,” Quinn comes stumbling out of the smoke. He’s okay, and probably even angrier now.
It’s hard to believe they’re going to wrap this all up in one episode. Quinn and Carrie have to get back to NYC, figure out what happened with the explosion, and clear Quinn’s name. We need a reckoning of some sort for Dar, and I’m starting to wonder if Keane isn’t going to step down in the final moments of the season.