In three pivotal scenes – with Dar, Sekou, and Keane – we get a sense of the questions Carrie has been wrestling with internally as she decides how best to direct her talents in service to her country.
Homeland Season 6 Episode 4 is a long-overdue exploration of Carrie’s professional motivations as they stand now.
When, in exchange for dirt on Dar Adal, Keane offers Carrie the chance to lead the wholesale reform of the CIA, Carrie is once again at a crossroads. Her decision will inform her trajectory for the rest of the season and, likely, the series.
Carrie and Dar face off
It’s clear to anyone who’s paying attention that Carrie is itching like nobody’s business to go back to the CIA.
She was beaming with pride at the wily spy methods she used to secure Sekou’s freedom and she’s positioning herself for a pretty darn influential role in Keane’s administration.
But what is it that Carrie wants exactly? She’s the one who left the Agency, after all.
Her exchange with Dar Adal outside of Franny’s school shed some light on this:
CARRIE: I’m an ex-spy, Dar. I don’t pretend to be anything more than that.
DAR: I came to you as a friend, Carrie. An admirer, even. And I’m telling you this in the same spirit, stand down.
CARRIE: No, you stand down! You had your turn, fifty fucking years of it, and look where we are now. You stand down!
Why 50 years? Well, 50 years is roughly the amount of time the CIA has been in the paramilitary business (go Google “Laos”).
Dar and Carrie represent the inherent tension between the CIA’s covert-action mission and its more traditional intelligence-gathering mission.
Carrie, in fact, left the CIA out of disillusion with its growing militarization.
Ironically, it was black-ops agent extraordinaire Peter Quinn who first planted the seed of doubt in Carrie’s ear regarding the efficacy and morality of covert operations.
When, in Homeland Season 4, Quinn called himself a “bad guy” for having spent his life “checking names off a kill list,” Drone Queen Carrie dutifully fed him the party line on CIA paramilitary methods: “You took the fight to the enemy and saved lives in the process.”
“Or just made more enemies,” Quinn replied.
Carrie Mathison, defender of Muslims?
Fast-forward three years in Homeland time and we find Carrie hell-bent on defending the embattled Muslim community in America. What is up with that?
Well, Carrie has not done a 180, as some have decried (an interesting critique given that pretty much the first thing she did on the show was fall in love with a bona fide Muslim terrorist, LOL).
What she has done is taken Quinn’s warning to heart.
Sekou’s case is very personal for Carrie – as is almost everything. Perhaps she sees in him the innocence she saw, and exploited, in Aayan – whose death still weighs heavily on her conscience.
It was her one-on-one scene with Sekou that gave us the clearest view of what is going on in Carrie’s mind in this respect:
CARRIE: Why do you do it? Why do you post all that ugliness up online? […] Photos of fallen American soldiers. Links to suicide bombers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why do you do that?
SEKOU: It’s meant to shock people. Wake them up to what’s happening in the Middle East. If someone breaks in your home, logic dictates you do whatever it takes to get them out.
CARRIE: Would it surprise you that I sympathize with what you just said about defending your home?
SEKOU: Except for when that home is in a Muslim land and the invader is the U.S. military. Then it’s terrorists killing Americans.
CARRIE: No, I get that argument, too. But I also have friends who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, so those images you say are meant to shock, they deeply offend me.
You got the sense from this exchange that Carrie was working Sekou like an asset.
Essentially, she was doing what she does best – making a personal connection by demonstrating empathy for his point of view while trying to elicit his empathy for hers (and, by extension, for America’s).
She wanted to convince Sekou to stop his reckless online behavior before it was too late.
Would her intervention have worked if, you know, Sekou hadn’t been blown to bits in the oh-so-mysterious explosion that closed the hour? Food for thought.
Carrie gets a tempting offer
Carrie may be working at a grassroots law firm, but she clearly has her eye on a bigger prize.
It seems President-elect Keane has offered Carrie the chance to reform the CIA to her liking after the inauguration. But Carrie discovered that this opportunity comes at a price she may not be willing to pay:
EMMONS: Anything we can use to leverage [Dar Adal]?
CARRIE: Leverage him?
EMMONS: You said he ran black ops at the Agency for over two decades; there must be something.
KEANE: It’s a big ask, I know.
CARRIE: It’s more than that. It opens me up to prosecution for breach of the agreements I signed when I left the Agency. […] I was an intelligence officer for over ten years; even Dar Adal had my back sometimes.
KEANE: You’re loyal to people. I get that. I admire it. Nobody wants to be a whistleblower. […] Look at the stakes here, Carrie. We’re talking wholesale reform of the CIA, not for the faint of heart. […] Your reforms, Carrie. Your ideas.
CARRIE: I know.
KEANE: What is the use of being in power if you can’t correct things that are demonstrably bad for America and wrong for the world?
Now Carrie finally has the chance to change the face of the CIA. To take the agency in a new direction, perhaps one focusing more on intelligence gathering than covert action. Will she deal Dar Adal a deadly blow for the opportunity?
Personally, I say no way in hell Carrie is falling for the tricks of a smarmy politician.
In the intelligence world, loyalty and the ability to keep secrets is pretty much the only currency. Carrie would never in a million years betray her agreement with the CIA, even if it meant taking down Dar once and for all.
Saul and Quinn follow their hunches
We found out why Saul decided to pay a visit to his sister in the West Bank after a dozen years.
Something (could it be a certain golden cigarette box he found in the trash bin?) suddenly had him doubting whether the Iranians were cheating on the nuclear deal at all.
He called on his ultimate Iranian asset, Majid Javadi, to help get to the bottom of it:
SAUL: God damn it, Majid. You cheating on the [nuclear] deal or not?
JAVADI: You sound convinced already, so why are you here asking me?
SAUL: We started something, Majid, three years ago, you and I did, together. Something between our two countries that succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.
JAVADI: We didn’t start anything together. You put a gun to my head and threatened to expose me to my own service, I went along because I had no choice, do you remember that?
I love how Saul romanticizes the relationship with Javadi in hindsight. This is the guy who stabbed his ex-wife in the neck with a broken bottle about a million times. Oh Saul.
It was great to see Javadi again, though. His cynicism is the prefect contrast to Saul’s rose-colored worldview. Fingers crossed for more Javadi this season!
Quinn, for his part, continued to investigate the mystery stalker from across the street. His depression has lifted, now that he has some protecting of Carrie to do; he’s even using his disability as an asset to throw the bad guys off his scent.
Carrie reluctantly humors his off-book spy adventures because it’s clearly doing him good. But, alas, it’s hard to take Quinn seriously these days, with his stuttering and his awkward turn of phrase.
As I mentioned in my review for Homeland Season 6 Episode 3, he’s become the unreliable narrator that was Carrie in early seasons.
But Quinn, like Carrie, is smart as heck. And the Medina Medley delivery vans from the lot he followed stalker guy to were the same as the van that blew up with poor Sekou in it. So...
All in all, this was a strong episode setting up what promises to be a more action-heavy middle of the season. Not only did we get some insight into Carrie’s inner journey, but we also got a long-overdue explosion and the return of Javadi, my favorite baddie from Homeland’s olden days.
What did you think? Be sure to watch Homeland online and leave your comments below!