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'Homeland' recap: Carrie juggles a side gig, day job and Quinn in her basement

For The Baltimore Sun
"Homeland" recap: Quinn spirals downward while Carrie handles a secret side gig.

Change can be difficult, and Carrie and Quinn are struggling to deal with the recent change in their living arrangement on this week's episode of "Homeland."

Carrie passes Frannie off to a friend to watch while she attempts to care for Quinn one afternoon. "There's a man in our basement," Frannie tells the friend. 

Quinn locks Carrie out of his basement apartment in her home, then breaks a glass door while she knocks on it, trying to convince him to allow her inside. Once in, Carrie fails to convince him to take his anti-seizure medication, so she enlists her old surveillance colleague Max to attempt to wrangle Quinn. While Carrie jets off to work, Quinn asks Max to get him cans of food — likely because he is indoctrinating himself with audio propaganda about the need for Americans to rise up and revolt. 

Max provides the food and tells Quinn he stinks and needs to shower. "Why shower? Just get dirty again," Quinn says with complete conviction. What are we doing here? Quinn is a good guy and a super-soldier. Why are we reducing him to this? 

Carrie and her associate Reda meet with Sekou, and admonish him for not being forthright with them. They say the FBI is accusing him of planning to take cash to funnel to ISIS on his trip to Nigeria. Sekou insists that he was merely going to visit his father, and the money was a loan from his cameraman friend to fund the trip. 

Carrie and Reda see that the person who provided the loan may not have had altruistic intentions, and press Sekou for the man's name. He begrudgingly gives Carrie and Reda an angle to follow up on. They visit Sekou's family and learn from his sister, Simone, that she was secretly dating the friend. Carrie passes the friend's photo on to Max to help track him down. 

Saul pays Carrie a visit at her office; he suspects that she's been advising President-elect Keane on national security matters. Keane and Otto are friends, Saul says, and he connected the dots from there. "I think her entire national security platform came right out of that head of yours," Saul says. Carrie insists Saul is wrong, replying "You worry about the fate of the world. I've got more important things to do."

Saul looks her over, trying to determine whether she's lying. He tells her it would be hugely embarrassing for everyone if it turned out she was advising Keane. "That would not play well at all," he says, which comes off as a vague threat to Carrie's new career.

Carrie orders Saul to leave, and he complies. I don't like that their relationship has been reduced to this, but it feels way more organic than Quinn suddenly becoming an insane drug addict. 

While Saul tries to shake down Carrie, Dar visits with Keane's chief of staff and tells him the Israelis have learned that Iran is covertly pursuing a weapons program, iolating the terms of their nuclear deal. Israel plans to nab an Iranian operative with ties to the program, but Keane's chief of staff warns Dar that such action would be unwise, as the new president doesn't want to provoke an international incident just as she takes office. 

With Saul gone, Carrie turns her attention back to her case. Max informs her that the cameraman they're looking for is an FBI informant, who moved to New York after turning on his drug gang in Pittsburgh.

While Carrie and Reda decide on a course of action, Max follows Quinn as he leaves Carrie's home. Quinn collapses in a liquor store and has a seizure, and Max cradles his head while the store owner calls 911. Quinn refuses medical attention, and orders Max not to tell Carrie about the incident. 

As Reda argues in court for the FBI to turn over the informant for questioning, Carrie confronts the case's lead agent, railing against the FBI for essentially entrapping Sekou. It would seem that without the issue of the money, Sekou would not have committed a crime. But the money itself came from an FBI informant, who never explicitly directed Sekou to funnel it anywhere. 

"The informant is off limits," Reda tells Carrie after the hearing. The only "good" to come from the hearing was a plea deal offered to Sekou — a seven-year sentence. "You call that good?" Carrie spits. Still, they present the deal to Sekou. He angrily refuses to plead to anything, and a prison guard responds to his outburst by violently wrestling him away from Carrie and Reda. 

Done with her day job, Carrie heads off to her side gig — meeting with Keane and her chief of staff. So Saul was right. Very interesting. The trio talk over their respective meetings with Saul and Dar earlier in the day, and discuss how to handle a potential issue with the Iranian program. 

Carrie suggests deploying Saul to the region to represent American interests on the ground. "The nuclear arrangement started with Saul. He wants it to work," Carrie explains. Keane and her team seem to be in over their head in dealing with foreign policy and look almost eagerly at Carrie to provide them with marching orders. And in spite of Saul and Dar's attempts to strong-arm them earlier, Carrie insists that Saul is trustworthy. 

Keane passes the order on to Dar, who meets with Saul for dinner to give him the news of his assignment. Dar wonders whether Carrie might be advising Keane. Saul says that he thought the same thing, but Carrie denied it.

"And you believe her?" Dar asks. Saul says that he does. "She's a menace, Carrie is," Dar says. "Maybe, just not at the moment, to us," Saul insists. 

Carrie, that menace, orchestrates a meeting with the informant, using Simone as bait. She appeals to the man to consider how much jail time Sekou is facing, and he begins to crack. "You can fix this. You can tell the truth," Carrie says. Simone jumps in, angry at how the man endangered her brother, and the meeting ends without resolution. 

When Carrie return shome late in the evening, Max tells her about Quinn's seizure. "He's not happy, Carrie ... and he's got this strange thing about you, which is not helping," he adds. Max leaves, and Carrie checks on Quinn. "What happened to me?" Quinn asks. That's what I've been wondering too, Quinn. 

Carrie explains that Quinn nearly died and offers to show him the video of his nerve gas poisoning to jog his memory. Are you sure that's wise, Carrie?

Carrie plays the video, and explains how close he came to dying. "But you saved me," Quinn says. Well, sort of. She also supervised a dangerous medical procedure that brought you out of a coma just long enough for you to spit up blood and suffer some brain damage. 

"Why?" Quinn asks. "Why? Why?" she repeats back to him, overcome with emotion. She pats his chest, then leaves the room in tears. 

Final Thoughts

I've thought for a long time that Claire Danes is the best actress on television, and she showed why again here, turning average material into a great performance. 

There is value in examining the toll the work these characters do takes on their lives, but using it for one of the tent poles of this season makes for some dreary viewing. 

All is not lost, though. The intrigue presented by Carrie serving as a covert adviser to the new president, and the conflict with Saul and Dar that will arise out of it, could make for some more classic "Homeland" episodes later in the season. I just hope that it doesn't take much longer for that to come about.  

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