A character named Brett O'Keefe has been on the periphery of the major plot points of "Homeland" this season. I'm not sure that I've even mentioned him by name in my recaps, but his appearances as an alt-right talk show host, voicing opposition to President-elect Keane, have foreshadowed a larger involvement in the future.
That future is now, as this week's episode opens in O'Keefe's studio, where he is interviewing soldiers who served with Keane's late son, Andrew. O'Keefe is using the men, and his platform, to discredit the younger Keane's military service and to bash the incoming president's efforts to scale back the military and the CIA.
"We can't just stand by and watch her gut our armed forces," O'Keefe says to one of the soldiers, Rudy, who has cold feet about appearing on the show. O'Keefe's pep talk works.
On the show, Rudy tells his version of events from the night of Andrew's death, and testifies that Andrew was running away from an ambush when he was shot in the back by a sniper. "He ran! He was shot in the back," O'Keefe says, playing to the cameras. "Doesn't sound like a hero to me."
"No, sir. He was the opposite of a hero," Rudy says.
Elsewhere, Saul meets with Javadi, who is anxious to learn when his promised meeting with Keane will take place. Saul has Javadi stashed in a homeless shelter for the time being, and Javadi is anxious not to spend another night there. In an effort to speed things up, Saul pays Carrie a visit — she has a direct line to Keane, and Saul needs that right now.
Saul arrives at Carrie's, and Max greets him. Max tells Saul that Carrie has been shut in Frannie's room overnight and is too depressed to come out. Undeterred, Saul enters the room. "Hey, you," he says, in a fatherly tone.
Carrie tells Saul about her plight with Frannie, and says that she has no chance for an appeal and no way to get her daughter back, except to show the court over time that she's a changed woman.
"I swore to myself it would be different here. I swore to myself I would be different. And look what happened," Carrie says, despondent. Saul acknowledges that his timing is poor, but tells Carrie that he needs her help.
At the cabin, meanwhile, Astrid leaves Quinn alone while she goes for a run, and jokingly tells him to take the rental car if he decides to escape again. Quinn is deadly serious about getting away, though, and searches the house while Astrid is away. He finds a large amount of cash and an entire kit made up for him with a new identity, including a passport. Searching the car, Quinn finds a loaded gun as well, which he takes it upon himself to unload. It seems as though he isn't ready to run yet, but he doesn't want Astrid to have a loaded gun should she try to stop him from moving later on.
Out of compassion, and because he needs Carrie's help, Saul pulls some strings and finds out where Frannie is being fostered and takes Carrie there. They sit in a car with a view of the house, and Carrie sees Frannie. She tries to bolt to go see her, but Saul is able to convince her that causing a scene will only hurt her case down the road.
As she calms down, Saul explains his plight, and Dar's treasonous plot to undermine the nuclear deal with Iran. He doesn't name Dar, but he tells Carrie that he has Javadi in New York, and asks for her help in getting him in front of Keane to explain that Iran is holding up their end of the bargain.
Carrie agrees to set up the meeting, but also wants to know if Saul suspects Dar. She tells Saul about Dar paying her a visit, the likelihood that Sekou wasn't responsible for his van exploding, and Conlin's murder. "My god, Carrie. You had all this, why didn't you come to me?" Saul asks. "Honestly, Saul, I didn't know whose side you were on," Carrie says.
We check back in with Quinn and Astrid, who are on a grocery shopping trip in town. While there, Quinn sees the man who lived across from Carrie, the same guy who likely wired Sekou's van to explode. Quinn takes note of the vehicle that the man drives away in, and on the drive back to the cabin with Astrid, sees the same vehicle in a motel parking lot.
When they return to the cabin, Quinn snaps, asking Astrid a million questions about what she knows about Dar and why she agreed to come look after him. Astrid says that she doesn't know anything, and that she came because she and Quinn are friends — or more than that, even. Quinn doesn't like the answers he's getting and becomes violent, punching Astrid in the stomach. He stumbles to the car, and drives to the motel in search of the mystery man.
Saul sends Carrie to retrieve Javadi from the shelter, a fact that Javadi is not pleased with. He asks if there's not an agent currently employed by the CIA whom Saul can trust to do his bidding instead. "If you don't like it, I can pull over, let you take your chances," Carrie says, shutting him down.
"It's all men like us know, our careers, the institutions we serve," Javadi says, explaining that he's worried about Saul's state of mind in the wake of being betrayed by elements within his own agency. "It's a very painful moment when we realize we no longer make the weather," he says.
Carrie reminds him of the work that they have done together over the years, "Work that men died for, in case you don't remember," she says, referencing Brody. Javadi then details how he had Brody's remains secretly moved to a resting place for martyrs, and offers to draw Carrie a map of the location. Aw, that was sweet, I think?
As Carrie and Javadi arrive for the meeting with Keane, Saul does his best to assure her that Javadi has no reason to lie. As an outed double agent, Javadi's life is at risk, and the only chance he has to save it is to tell Keane the truth. As the meeting begins, Keane asks Javadi if there is an effort to get her to withdraw support for the nuclear deal, and if so, if Javadi knows who is behind the effort. Javadi tells her that elements in the Israeli government, and in her own national security establishment, are pushing her to withdraw her support.
If the conversation ended there, all would be well. But it it doesn't. Javadi goes on to flip the script on Saul, and says that Iran did break the deal and is pursuing a parallel program in North Korea. Saul protests, but Javadi goes on, and says that he lied to Saul to secure this audience with Keane. "I'm sorry, madam, but if I were you, I'd watch your back, because my country is not your friend," Javadi says. Saul continues to protest, telling Keane that he saw evidence to the contrary on Javadi's own phone, but the jig is up. "Ma'am, please, don't listen to him," Saul says, desperately trying to save his reputation. "You brought me here to listen to him," Keane says, justifiably indignant over Saul's actions.
Keane pulls the plug on the meeting, and starts to leave. Carrie chases after her, and tells her that Saul wouldn't have risked his reputation for nothing, and that Javadi has to be lying. "It's the only explanation," Carrie says. "No it it's not," Keane says. "I can think of others, including one where you were wrong, and I was wrong to have ever listened to you. Goodbye, Carrie," Keane says, leaving Carrie and Saul reeling.
Saul chases after Javadi, desperate for an explanation. "Dar? You reached out to Dar?" he asks, putting two and two together. "I'm sorry, old friend. I bet on a horse. In the end, I went with the sure thing," Javadi explains, feeling that the better-connected Dar could provide more certain protection than Saul going forward.
We cut to Dar meeting with O'Keefe, who shows him helmet camera footage of Andrew Keane's death, provided by Rudy. The video shows Keane running from the ambush, but also trying to save some of his fellow soldiers as he was killed. "I don't get it. He was trying to save those men's lives," Dar says. O'Keefe responds with a cleverly edited propaganda video, which ends with Keane running away, stopping before his valiant efforts are shown. O'Keefe assures Dar that he owns the only copy of the video, and that with the clever edit, they should be able to derail the president-elect.
At the motel, Quinn stakes out his target, who finally arrives late at night. Quinn approaches the man and knocks him out with a tire iron as he enters his room. But as Quinn flips the man over to identify him, he sees that it is not the same person he saw across from Carrie's home.
In a panic, he flees the scene and returns to the cabin, calling out for Astrid. He's surprised that she's still there, but with her car and phone back in her possession, she is now ready to leave Quinn. He begs her to stay, realizing that he's not in his right mind, and stammers something about chasing the wrong man. "That's it? That's your apology? You punched me," Astrid says. "That was bad, I admit," Quinn says. I don't know how I feel about that line. Is it being played for laughs or is there some unintentional comedy going on with that bit of dialogue and the way it was delivered?
"Are you going to be able to do this? Live out here? Make a life for yourself?" Astrid asks, trying to ascertain Quinn's capabilities. "In truth, I don't know," Quinn says. "Can't you stay?"
"I'm still here, aren't I?" Astrid replies. Boy, this is weird.
Astrid keeps trying to coax some niceties out of Quinn, but their conversation is cut short when a red dot appears on Astrid, from a gun outside. Quinn pushes her out of the way, taking a grazing gunshot to the head.
A camera cut reveals the man whom Quinn was after, standing outside with a sniper rifle and making his move toward the cabin. Astrid tries to revive Quinn, who starts to come around. She says she'll retrieve the gun from the car to defend them, but, of course, Quinn unloaded the weapon earlier. He tries to alert Astrid to that fact, but isn't able to communicate it in time.
Astrid reaches the car and grabs the empty gun. She trains it on the man, who has her in his sights. She pulls the trigger, but nothing happens, and she takes a gunshot to the chest. As Quinn screams for her inside the cabin, the man stands over her and shoots her again, killing her.
The gunman chases Quinn to the water, where he fires again, apparently hitting Quinn and sending him beneath the surface of the lake. He fires another half dozen times into the water, and after a minute or so without Quinn surfacing, seems content that he must be dead, and leaves.
After the gunman walks away, Quinn surfaces, still very much alive.
It's patently ridiculous to believe that Quinn could have survived all of that, but that was another in a series of great, intense action sequences this season. I'm sorry to see Astrid go. I wish we would have been given the opportunity to get to know more of her backstory.
I like how the last third of the season is setting up, with Carrie and Saul back on the same page and fighting from underneath; Dar dastardly pulling strings; and Keane caught between those two warring factions. Things are in place for a fun final four episodes.