Season 6 finds Carrie back in New York, now running (I think) a legal advocacy organisation for unrepresented Muslim-Americans. This brings her into contact with Sekou Bah (J. Mallory McCree), a young Muslim, who we first see making videos which amount to a sort of tour of the sites of terrorist attacks in New York City. (On my reading the show does a reasonable job of putting Sekou’s disdain for American foreign policy in context, but other opinions are probably available on that.) Sekou then gets picked up by the FBI for material support of terrorism: he has a website containing radical material; he’s planning to go to Nigeria; and he has $5000 in cash. All of which sounds a little thin, but there might be more to come, and Carrie’s organisation is going to represent him. It looks as if Homeland is going to address “radicalization” and “homegrown terrorists”, which will be a tricky landing to stick.
Also in town is Otto Düring, who throws a little money at Carrie’s organisation, asks her to dinner, then tells her that he’s met someone, all of which Carrie interprets as a series of hostile acts. “What is this? Some kind of ultimatum?” she snaps at him. Otto remains placid, and if he’s wondering why the hell he bothers he keeps it to himself.
Meantime the big news is that Quinn is alive, although God knows how after what happened to him in season 5. He’s in a veterans’ hospital going through rehab, although Carrie – providing further evidence that she, refreshingly, remains bracingly unlikeable – tells the hospital staff what they should be doing, tells Quinn what he should be doing, and is so damn intense about the whole thing that she’s encouraged to drop by a little less. Thing is, she’s not entirely wrong; at least one member of hospital staff is prepared to drop Quinn off in a drug den where he can be serviced by crack hos, one of whom will bring in a friend to rob Quinn. The upshot is that Quinn will be housed in Carrie’s basement for now.
I’m quite happy about this development: if season 5 had a major flaw, it was that Quinn was, for way too long, stranded in a ridiculous storyline which kept him apart from the show’s other main players. If being Carrie’s roomie means that the two of them get to share more screentime this season then I’m all for that. And, although I’m not best placed to judge, it should be said that Rupert Friend’s performance seemed to me to be wholly remarkable throughout; the moment when he was unable to remember the word “windshield”, for example, has haunted me ever since I first saw it.
The most interesting storyline thus far, though, probably belongs to Dar Adal and Saul Berenson, the Holmes and Watson of American intelligence, returning to save the Republic from its enemies. Whether President-elect Elizabeth Keane (Elizabeth Marvel) is one of those enemies is something on which they clearly disagree: PEOTUS lost a son in Iraq; wonders whether America should just bring its troops home; and whether the CIA might, generally, do a little less wet work in the future. Saul is remarkably relaxed about all of this, as it probably isn’t too far away from his private beliefs anyway; he regards the future President as “persuadable”. Dar, on the other hand, has always come across as someone who won’t shy away from the rough stuff if needs must. First of all he reaches out to a contact from the Mossad, to ensure that some covert operation or other is timetabled to be completed before the Inaguration; then he hosts a behind-closed-doors meetings with some like-minded military and political operatives, from which Saul is excluded.
I’m intrigued to see where this goes, and I wouldn’t for a second rule out a domestic black op or two: an assassination, even a coup? On the evidence so far, incidentally, it would be reductive and unfair to suggest that a female President is, as I suggested it might be, a spot of liberal wish-fulfilment on the part of the writers; a woman she might be, but on foreign policy at least her approach is markedly not that of Hillary Clinton. Also, Hill Harper appears fleetingly as a Keane staffer, but I’m assuming that we’ll see much more of him in the weeks to come.
Anyway, although ‘Fair Game’ was, for sure, something of a slow burner. I emerged at the end having enjoyed it quite a lot. (And having awarded the writers a couple of additional points for the West Wing shout-out when referring to the President-elect’s debate opponent.) We don’t need an ersatz 24, with the real thing returning shortly, so I’m quite happy to let Homeland be Homeland.