“Andante” kicks off the back half of Homeland season seven with two big questions: Who can our heroes trust at this critical point, and who among them really knows what’s going on? Saul Berenson tries to figure out if David Wellington was complicit in the crisis aided by his Russian girlfriend Simone Martin. President Keane tries to figure out whether or not she should keep David by her side, as her administration faces its greatest challenge yet. Most of all, Dante Allen and Carrie Mathison play a game of chess, learning just enough about each other to both scare and titillate. (Carrie has always liked dangerous men, especially the ones obsessed with her.)
We pick up where last week’s episode ended, with Dante on the couch and Carrie’s team taking apart his living space, looking for clues. (The shot of Russian nesting dolls in the possible Russian spy’s apartment is a clever one.) The team is downloading hard drives and snapping pics when Dante wakes up. He immediately goes back to sleep. The team leaves quickly, lest he doesn’t lie back down the next time, and they reveal they didn’t get much information — but Max did download his hard drive. Suddenly, Carrie remembers she has a sister and a daughter and races off.
Meanwhile, Saul is ready to confront David and drop some knowledge. David already looks like he hasn’t slept in days, but his life is not about to get easier. Saul reveals the truth about David’s girlfriend Simone: She is a Russian operative, and she is prepared to give false testimony about David in hopes of toppling the U.S. government. Saul wants David’s help to stop her.
Carrie pretends to come home happy, but instantly gets into another fight with her sister. This is the last straw. She grabs Franny and storms out of the house. They get to a motel, but Carrie’s credit card is denied, and things get worse when she tries to use one issued to her alias. (Motel managers don’t like multiple credit cards with different names on ‘em.) Once again, Carrie’s pride and emotion about her sister are getting in the way of an operation. It’s familiar territory for Homeland.
As Carrie looks for a place to stay, Saul intercepts Max and not only incorporates him into his team, but forces him to hand over Dante’s hard drive. Do we think Saul would get this directly involved with an illegal operation? It’s certainly feasible, given what Saul thinks Simone’s testimony could do (and his constant desire to protect Carrie, of course). Anyway, Max is going to work the Dante angle while the other team members continue to investigate the David/Simone story.
Dante calls Carrie to ask what happened last night, even wondering if they “did it.” She informs him that he’d remember if they did, and then reveals that she’s basically homeless with her child now. He tells her to come over. What would you do? Dante may be the enemy or at least working with the enemy, but he has a warm bed and pancakes.
In the White House, the great Beau Bridges appears as Keane’s vice-president, a character who will likely play a major role in the rest of the season. He wants some details on Simone’s testimony, but Keane doesn’t know anything. He’s worried the White House is going to crumble and he’ll be pulled down with it.
While Carrie is considering her next move, Franny finds a photo album with Dante’s ex-wife and asks why they split up. (Good question, kid!) That discovery sends Carrie to talk to Audrey, who reveals that Dante has told a few lies. There was no drinking problem and Audrey was not bipolar. It sounds like Dante was angry about getting burned for a bad op in Syria, especially as Carrie was getting promoted after an even bigger screwup. How long has he been obsessed with Carrie? Is that how he was recruited by the Russians?
As Carrie checks into Dante’s background, he stops by Carrie’s sister’s house to get some of Franny’s stuff, but we know he’s really there to snoop! He very creepily looks through her room and finds a printout with his picture on it. As this happens, Saul and his team get closer to tying Dante to the conspiracy. First, Saul tries to get a warrant to question Simone, but the judge denies it, claiming he’s just playing politics. More importantly, Max connects Simone and Dante, revealing they were in the same place at the same time on five separate occasions while she was supposedly “fundraising.”
The final beats of “Andante” illuminate the relationships between Keane and David, and Carrie and Dante. First, David tries to resign, revealing to Keane the extent of what Saul told him. After considering his offer, Keane turns it down. She needs an ally. She’s going to need David by her side, even if he is toxic.
More dramatically, Carrie and Dante face off about their activities that day after putting Franny to bed. Dante says that Carrie’s sister was worried about her and then they discuss what Carrie learned from Audrey. She reveals that she knows Dante was “preoccupied with someone else.” He doesn’t deny it, even when she reveals it was her. And let’s face it: Carrie loves a bad guy who’s obsessed with her. It’s impossible to miss the echoes of all those times she went back to Brody, even when she suspected he was dangerous.
As Carrie and Dante get hot and heavy on the couch, Saul and his team break in. An agent grabs Franny while Dante is handcuffed naked. Franny is allowed to run to her also-naked mother. And then Saul comes in and makes eye contact with Carrie, who he warned to stay away. She looks utterly betrayed. But Saul has much bigger things to worry about than Carrie’s feelings.
• The title “Andante” could refer to the moderately slow tempo of this transitional episode … or if you’re a pun appreciator, the phonetic reading might be a wink to the episode’s climax, as Carrie was “On Dante.”
• Anyone else walk around the house doing a Brett O’Keefe impression lately? Try it. “CIVIL! WAR!” It’s fun.
• Do you think Dante really fell back asleep, or did he know his apartment was raided and played along to get information from Carrie the next day?
• Where do you think Homeland goes from here? Will Dante reveal his connections? How hard will Saul interrogate him to do so? Saul has to get the truth from Dante before Simone reveals the lie to the world, and Homeland is often at its best with a ticking clock. It won’t be andante for long.
This recap has been corrected to show that Max connected Simone and Dante, not Simone and David.