When last we saw Carrie Mathison and Peter Quinn, Carrie was barring the door to Quinn's hospital room and disconnecting him from a heart monitor, while preparing to smother him with a pillow. Naturally, then, we open Season 6 of "Homeland" with Carrie paying a visit to a VA hospital and rehab center, looking for Quinn. What is continuity?
Quinn is skipping his rehab appointments, and Carrie tracks him down at the center to confront him about it. "I'm not getting any better," Quinn screams, telling Carrie to stop pestering him. Quinn ambles off, and a nurse at the in-patient center calmly suggests to Carrie that she postpone any potential future visits to give Quinn space. After Carrie leaves, Quinn uses that space to head to a crack house, using the drug to ease his pain.
"The mission is creeping, gentlemen," says President-elect Keane. As the new leader of the free world prepares to take office, Saul and Dar brief her on what it might take to roll back ISIS in Syria. Saul suggests that it would require an invasion, followed by an occupation.
As the briefing turns to more wide-ranging subjects, Keane makes it clear that her objective is to rein in the CIA, particularly when it comes to any drone strikes that don't require her sign-off. Dar and Saul shoot each other knowing looks, as they realize that this new president is something of a maverick, which could complicate their professional lives.
"I think she despises us, Saul," Dar says later, reminding him that Keane had a son who died in the military. "I think she blames us for her boy." Feeling the heat from the president-elect, Dar calls for a covert meeting with Israeli intelligence and suggests that they act quickly on a major joint operation that they have in the works, before Keane takes power.
Elsewhere, we meet a young, conservative Muslim man, Sekou Bah, who lives at home with his mother and his not-so-conservative sister, Simone, whom he scolds for going to school with her midriff showing. We follow the young man as he films a documentary. The aim of the film seems to be to educate the audience on the roots of Al-Qaeda's war with America. "There's two sides to every story. Know that," the young man says.
We check in with Carrie as she heads to her new job. She walks into a meeting and is surprised to find Otto there. He's funding her new career of operating a foundation that advocates for Muslims who have been wronged by the legal system. Otto's interest in the cause isn't totally altruistic, though. He still has designs on Carrie.
"It's the same conversation, over and over again," Carrie tells Otto, as she refuses to have dinner with him. "I'm saying no, which is what I've been doing for the past three months."
Rejected, Otto turns to attacking Carrie's work, calling it "small potatoes" and telling her that she should be focusing on eradicating extreme poverty.
Otto tells Carrie that he's met someone else, providing Carrie with an ultimatum. In short, she must choose him now, or let him move on. Carrie insists that she isn't interested in him in that way, and he leaves, but not before giving her a gift for Frannie. "She misses you too," Carrie says, leaving me to wonder what exactly transpired between these two since we last saw them?
As learn more about Sekou, we see that his documentary cameraman might not have the purest of intentions. While Sekou seems altruistic, his cameraman has a radicalized friend whom he wants Sekou to meet with. Sekou resists, and tells him that his website has received a lot of traffic recently. "We are definitely on the radar," he says, and doesn't want to compromise his goals by meeting with someone that the government probably has on a watchlist.
It's too late, though, as FBI agents storm into Sekou's home later and arrest him for providing material support to terrorists. With likely very little in the way of evidence against him, Sekou's case is perfect for Carrie's foundation; she meets with him and takes on his case.
After hearing him out, Carrie heads to the FBI press conference on Sekou's arrest. She confronts the agent who arrested him, and insists that Sekou might not have even broken the law, let alone provided support to terrorists, as the bureau is insisting.
After her meeting, Carrie is alerted that Quinn is missing from the hospital. She investigates, and finds him in the drug den, where he was assaulted and robbed. She drags him back to hospital, but he begins to violently resist readmission. Carrie is heartbroken at the sight, and takes Quinn home to live in her basement.
"We'll make it work," she says, while Quinn wants to know why the wallpaper is moving. "There isn't any wallpaper," Carrie says. Good decision bringing this man in his current state into your home with your young daughter, Carrie.
In the final scene, Dar meets with some White House and Pentagon staff behind closed doors, without Saul. It looks as though Saul could be on the outs with the incoming president.
If you accept the glaring plot departure from the end of last season, namely Quinn being alive, then this was a fine table-setter for the new season. I thought it was foolish to kill Quinn off anyway, so I'm not that upset at the change in directions, but why not address the matter with a simple flashback?
While interesting to track, Carrie's story arc — going from working for the man to fighting against the machine — doesn't feel particularly inspired.
The show is at its best when Carrie and Quinn are in the field running operations, with Saul and Dar pulling strings in a command center. The only remnant of that here is the Saul and Dar dynamic, which has always been good. While F. Murray Abraham is so good at making Dar seem devious and untrustworthy, I wish the whole band was back together.