Episode 307

Tracy Letts as Senator Lockhart, F. Murray Abraham as Dar Adal and Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson in 'Homeland.' (Kent Smith / Showtime / August 13, 2013)

The best scenes of episode seven linger at the Bethesda crime scene, where Javadi killed his ex-wife and daughter-in-law before being taken into CIA custody. There, as Carrie and Quinn face off with local police investigating the horrifically violent double-murder, certain truths about the CIA and civilian life come to light.

The route back to the scene of the crime is convoluted. Dar Adal is upset that Quinn, who was initially Adal’s protégé, has been working with Saul on an operation Adal knows nothing about. Despite the hurt feelings, Adal warns Quinn that he was captured on a neighbor’s security camera and is wanted by police as a suspect in the murder.

In this age of everyday surveillance, it’s not surprising that citizens have their cameras trained on the spies. Quinn shows the photo to Saul and Carrie. Carrie claims to have pull with the Bethesda police chief, she goes to the murder scene to tell them to shut down the investigation. Given that Carrie has been in the news as a CIA pariah and that the investigation has already become a spectacle in this upscale neighborhood, it’s not clear how convincing Carrie’s orders will be.

Carrie arrives at the house prepared to pull rank, but when she sees Javadi’s ex-wife’s mangled body, she briefly loses control of her own emotions. For a horrifying second, Carrie’s uncertain face and trembling expression are unreadable.

When she runs to the bathroom and vomits. we quickly realize that she's grappling not with moral indignation or psychiatric symptoms, but rather first-trimester nausea. It's a nuanced scene that reminds us of how well Carrie embodies the blurring between our collective post-9/11 trauma, professional spy paranoia, mental illness and the experience of being female in a male-dominated profession. Joseph Heller famously wrote, "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that they aren't after you." In that vein, Carrie is unpredictable in an erratic world.

The Bethesda detectives, however, are not impressed. They dismiss Carrie’s “national security” line and demand to speak with Quinn.

Although Saul is reluctant, Quinn complies. He arrives at the house intending to offer a false confession for the two murders. The frustrated detectives know he is lying. “Have you people ever done anything but made things worse?” the officer asks, and Quinn doesn’t try to defend the agency’s maddening secrecy.

Carrie and Saul are energized by the close of the episode, but Fara – like Quinn – has a sour taste in her mouth from CIA double-dealing. Fara and Saul spend most of the episode holed up with Javadi in the claustrophobic operation headquarters. No one but Carrie and Quinn can know they are there.

Mid-interrogation, Saul announces his plan to return Javadi to Iran, where he will resume his government post and feed information back to Saul at the CIA. Fara is horrified. She thought she’d amassed a dossier on Javadi so that he would face trial for his crimes in the United States. Instead, he will go back to Iran to further the spy games? It seems outrageous.

Senator Lockhart thinks so, too. Saul explains the operation – including his own whereabouts, Carrie’s release from hospital and the Bethesda murder – to the soon-to-be-director and Dar Adal. Adal is congratulatory, Lockhart disdainful.

Lockhart demands that Javadi be kept in the U.S. and brought to justice. Saul argues that if they lock Javadi up, someone else will simply take his place. If they use him as their inside man in the Iranian government, they might glean useful intelligence that could prevent future attacks.

It’s a legitimate difference of opinion. Saul’s plan hinges on many “mights” and “coulds,” but Adal and Saul see the prospect of sending Javadi home as an unambiguous victory. When Lockhart threatens to blow the plan, they enjoy a slapstick moment of locking him in the conference room.

Javadi continues to his plane, escorted by Carrie and his Iranian handlers. They pretend that he has interrogated her, as was the plan. He taunts her with information about the Langley bombing, suggesting that he knows something she doesn’t. Carrie knows better than to trust Javadi, but she caves and asks him what he knows.

It wasn’t Brody, he confirms. Brody didn’t know. The man who planted the bomb was “one of Abu Nazir’s guys,” “someone you’re already met.” Carrie realizes he is talking about Bennett, the WASP-y lawyer who arranged their meeting. Huh. Something to scratch our heads about until next week…