'Homeland' recap: 'The Flag House' a return to Season 1-level greatness

For The Baltimore Sun

“Homeland” left us with a cliffhanger last week, as Quinn raced off to find his would-be assailant. As this episode opens, Quinn arrives the following morning at a familiar diner, the location of the mystery man's phone when Dar called him in a panic.

It seems that Quinn used to frequent the place when he was in the military, and he recognizes a waitress, who knows him as Johnny. Quinn tries to make small talk, then attempts to get information about when the mystery man might have left the night before, but his slowed verbal skills make it clear to the waitress that all is not well with him.

Quinn leaves without getting anything useful, and decides to drive around town in search of the man. After circling the neighborhood, he settles on a house with an American flag hanging in front, a place that he seems to recognize.

At Carrie's house, Max fills Carrie in on what he saw at O'Keefe's office complex, explaining the "sock puppets," and how the law is being broken if any federal agency is bankrolling the operation — directly or indirectly. "Yeah, I'm aware," Carrie says, far more focused on her visit with Frannie later in the day. "If this is Dar Adal, I'm about to bring the roof down on his head," she adds, urging Max not to go back there. She is clearly ready to move on from the CIA portion of her life.

Saul appears ready to move on as well, as he visits a jewelry shop. The owner isn't there, but he has left a "go bag" for Saul, stocked with cash, a fake passport, a gun and diamonds. Is Saul fleeing the country?

As Carrie heads to give her deposition before her visit with Frannie, her driver, a man that she's never met before, addresses her by name, and as she gets out of the car, urges her to confirm her afternoon meeting to see her daughter. The man speeds off before Carrie can figure out who he is or who sent him.

In a panic, Carrie calls child services and learns that Frannie is sick with a fever and sore throat, and that her visit has to be postponed. A mystery fever and illness? Oh, no. When she heads in for the deposition, Carrie asks Keane's chief of staff, Rob, if he sent the car for her. Rob tells her that it wasn't his team, and Carrie confirms that no one else involved in securing her testimony sent for the car either, which she plays off, but tells her that something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

As she is being sworn in, Carrie has second thoughts. "I can't do this. I'm changing my mind," she says, bolting from the room. Carrie pulls the driver's card and calls the number. "Tell Dar Adal he wins," she says to the voice on the other end of the line. "I want to see my daughter."

Rob calls Keane to tell her that Carrie changed her mind. Keane tells Rob that, completely coincidentally, Dar has arrived at her office for an unscheduled meeting. Rob theorizes that Dar found out about the deposition, and got to Carrie before she could bring him down. "It is what he does," Keane says. With Carrie seemingly out of the picture, Keane agrees to cut a deal with Saul, offering him immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony, and orders Rob to find Saul and make the deal.

Keane agrees to meet with Dar, who says that he wasn't pleased with how their last meeting went and hands over his list of cabinet recommendations. "Because this friction between us has to end," he says. Keane scoffs at that notion, then calls Dar out on feeding her bad intelligence and attempting to use her as a puppet for his gain. "60 million people voted for me. Who the hell voted for you?" Keane asks.

"Don't go to war with your own national security establishment. I'm telling you, it's a war you won't win," Dar responds.

"In the future, in case you're wondering, this moment, right now? That's when I decided to put your [expletive] in jail," Keane fires back, refusing to back down. Dar leaves, then calls O'Keefe, ordering him to set the next phase of their plan into motion.

As we check back in with Quinn, we see him entering the house, and disarming the burglar alarm, correctly entering the code. We learn in a flashback sequence that this was the safe house for Quinn's hybrid CIA-military team, and that team is returning home right now. Quinn avoids detection, slipping into the garage, where he finds a catering van from Sekou's company — confirming our suspicions that this team, which operates at Dar's beck and call, was behind the attack in New York.

Keane and her Secret Service detail pay Carrie a visit at her home, and Keane confirms that Dar is using Frannie as leverage over Carrie. Keane details her visit with Dar and his attempts to undermine her. She begs Carrie to help her by giving her testimony, but Carrie insists that her priority is Frannie. "I can't," she says, leaving the next leader of the free world and jetting off to see Frannie.

After an elaborate ruse to avoid detection, Saul arranges a meeting with his ex-wife, Mira. He tells her that he's fleeing, and that she will likely face a line of ugly questioning once he disappears. Without going into too much detail, he tells her that Keane is asking him to fall on his sword, and that his response is to run away. "Honestly, Saul, this doesn't sound like you," Mira says, encouraging him to stay and face the music, using some colorful language.

As Carrie's visit with Frannie takes place, Dar and O'Keefe's attack ad on Keane hits the media, enraging Keane. "I want to take him down," she tells the solicitor general. Despite her team's suggestion that she ignore the ad, Keane orders a press conference for the next morning, where she will deliver her response.

At O'Keefe's office, he and Dar plan their next move. Max is there and takes the liberty of capturing video of Dar in O'Keefe's office with his phone. Max's actions are not unnoticed, though, and he is led away for a meeting by the office security detail.

Carrie returns home, and is greeted by Quinn's friend Clarice, who shows her a video that she and Quinn just shot. Quinn tells Carrie that Clarice can be trusted, and asks her to let Clarice bring her to him. Carrie agrees, and heads off to find out what Quinn has for her.

Saul arrives at Carrie's house, hoping to talk to her. He breaks in and makes himself comfortable, but he's in a hurry to speak to Carrie. He calls and leaves her a message, telling her that Mira set him straight and that they need to talk. As he waits in Carrie's house, Saul hears the sound of a computer chiming with a notification, behind a locked door. He gains entry to the room, and finds a classic “Homeland” sight — the walls of the room are covered with information about the attack in New York, complete with Carrie's typical notes and strings connecting different pieces of information. Saul opens the computer and finds a message for Carrie from Max, with the video of Dar in O'Keefe's office attached. Paydirt.

As Saul discovers Dar and O'Keefe's collusion, Keane sits in her office watching their attack ad, again and again. "No one should be allowed to see this. No one," she says forcefully. She tells Rob that she regrets ever dragging her son's name in to her political life.

Clarice drops Carrie off at Quinn's location, which is a house with a direct line of sight to his old team's headquarters. Carrie enters and finds Quinn with a sniper rifle trained on the house, and on one target in particular. "That's him, Carrie. The man who watched you, who put the bomb in the van," he says.

Quinn holds the gun, peers into the scope, and places his finger on the trigger.

Final Thoughts

This was the latest in a series of excellent “Homeland” episodes, and one of the show's better outings since the incredible first season.

Keane is mad; Dar is coiling, readying for another strike’ Saul is on the run; Quinn is unhinged; and Carrie is caught in the middle of all of it, which should make for an exciting final two episodes.

ALSO

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