It’s a long time – over 20 years – since I saw The Rolling Stones live. (Bear with me.) Apparently, though, these days Mick Jagger paces himself astutely on stage, only really busting out the moves for the last three or four songs, thus sending people home with the impression that they’ve seen him cavorting around the stage all night. Which is kind of what Homeland seems to be doing this season: as with the last two episodes, most of the memorable stuff is saved up for the end.
To start with, though, Saul has to take a little flak from the Israeli Ambassador to Germany about his “hypothetical” plan to replace President Assad. I must admit I was a little jolted by the use of a real life example: it’s one thing for America to meddle in the internal affairs of a sovereign state, quite another for a fictional TV show to presume to do so. Anyway, Saul’s chosen successor, one General Youssef, flies into Switzerland with his daughter, who needs a something-or-other transplant. Kidney? He’s met by Allison Carr from the Berlin outlet of the CIA, posing as the head of a clinic, and effecting what sounds a little like a South African eccent – explained away as Berliner – as part of her cover. Youssef can either become President or be arrested for war crimes, which tells you all you need to know about him, really.
The main action of the episode comes from Carrie and Quinn. Carrie wakes up from last week’s sedative to be told by Quinn that Saul issued him with a order to kill her. Like Saul, Quinn has a plan: in an oddly intimate gesture, he cuts the palm of his hand, smears blood on Carrie’s face, and then tells her to play dead for the camera. And, for that matter, for the rest of her life. “If you want Frannie to be safe, you have to be dead”, he tells her. Claire Danes then gets to do her Big Acting Scene for the week, when Carrie films a video to be shown to Frannie when she’s older. As it happens, though, although Danes gets plaudits for the crazy-eye and cry-face stuff I find her acting to be at least as persuasive when she’s working in a lower-key way with the other characters: her scenes with Rupert Quinn, like those with Damian Lewis, have a real weight to them. It’s chemistry, yes, but it’s more than that.
Carrie’s no more convinced than I am that Saul wants her dead, so she sticks a fright-wig on to disguise herself, and she and Quinn go to the post office boxes where Saul drops off his instructions. But someone there is working for the baddies (insofar as that word has any meaning in the world of Homeland) and Quinn is shot on his way out. Properly, this time. Someone forgot to put his Kevlar on. He survives, thanks to a little field medicine from Dr Carrie.
And back at the Düring Foundation, Carrie’s office nemesis Laura is taking advantage of her absence from the office to try and get her fired, on the flimsy grounds that she failed to protect Düring properly during their trip to Syria. Jonas loyally and a little wearily points out that Carrie advised against going at all, so lay off my girlfriend, eh, Laura? (Wonder if they were a couple before Carrie arrived on the scene?) She then visits some hacker friend of Numan in order to make contact with him, to complain about his apparent double-cross with the leaked documents. It’s the first Numan knew about it, though, and he works out that it’s all Korzenik’s doing. He, meantime, is now playing with the big boys, offering the documents to the Russians for cash.
Experienced Homeland watchers know that all of this is designed to get us to the point at which the action really starts. Korzenik is REDACTED by the Russians – incidentally, it now seems to be acceptable again to make them the enemy on TV and in films. Youssef seems to be coming to terms with being the American puppet president of Syria, and flies out of Switzerland, but his plane REDACTS into a million little pieces. And – best of all – Carrie has seized the phone of the man who shot Quinn, and she calls the only number in the directory, whereupon REDACTED answers. Ooh! Great ending; once again, though, I was left a little underwhelmed by the rest of the episode.