Morgan Spector
Photo: Antony Platt (Showtime)

Homeland has never shied away from wild plot twists, and when doled out properly over the course of a season, they’re often quite entertaining. If too many of them are piled up within one hour, however, discerning viewers such as yourselves and your humble reviewer can’t help but feel jerked around. “Lies, Amplifiers, Fucking Twitter” is such an hour, but before delving into some of the less credible developments, let’s revisit last week’s thoughts about Carrie’s parenting.

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Is there anyone remaining on Carrie’s side in this matter? (Please, sound off in the comments if you are.) After the traumatic events at the end of last episode, Franny barely slept, which doesn’t stop Carrie from dropping her off at school with her favorite teacher and beating a hasty retreat. The kid can’t even look at her anymore, and matters don’t improve later in the episode when both the school and Maggie are trying to get in touch with Carrie while she’s busy interrogating a suspect. Sure enough, the sisters have their 937th blowout of the season, this time with Maggie insisting that Carrie check herself into a hospital if she doesn’t want Maggie and her husband petitioning for custody. JUST DO IT ALREADY. Carrie tries to defend herself, but there’s no defense here. Carrie is objectively bad for this child, and this child is objectively bad for this show. This can’t end any other way than with Carrie losing custody of Franny, and it’s at least a season too late for that now.

We know what Carrie really lives for anyway, and it sure isn’t parenting. Now that Saul has Dante in custody, Carrie is itching to get in on the interrogation, insisting she’s the only one who can get through to him. Saul has his doubts, mainly because the last time he saw Carrie, she was engaged in coitus with the suspect. “I don’t trust you,” he tells her, which should be the understatement of the year given all the water under this particular bridge. Yet she’s still able to win him over, and on some level it makes sense: their talents don’t really overlap that much. She’s fire and he’s ice; his unflappable rationality is complemented by her impulsive intuitiveness. This is nothing new under the sun, but getting Danes and Patinkin back on the same playing field can only be a good thing.

Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin
Photo: Antony Platt (Showtime)

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That’s not to say they can sell all of this week’s eyebrow-raising plot developments, however. Carrie’s first round of interrogation goes nowhere, with Dante stonewalling and playing innocent while painting Carrie as the unstable self-medicating rogue who lured him into this situation. (Not a hard sell, really.) She’s ineffective but leaves a card unplayed as she never mentions what she learned from his ex-wife: that he was fueled by his resentment toward her when he pulled her into his scheme. Who knows if that would have rattled him, but Dante calls for his lawyer and this is where things get sketchy.

We know there’s something off with the lawyer, and you would think Dante would be a little suspicious that he’s never met the guy before. (Come on, man, ask for a business card at least.) When he gets ink on his hand after signing a motion to dismiss and realizes he’s been poisoned, his instinct is that the Russians have gotten to him and dosed him with the same stuff that killed McClendon. That’s what Carrie and Saul want him to think, but I find the notion that getting him to say this out loud is sufficient cause for a warrant for Simone’s arrest to be more than a bit of a stretch. And although they’ve never shied away from extreme tactics (they’re both ex-CIA, after all), it’s still hard to swallow that Carrie and Saul would go as far as poisoning their key witness and hoping they’ve given him just the right dosage (through smeared ink?) to incapacitate but not kill him. Whoops! His heart stops, and though the paramedic is able to get it going again, Dante is hospitalized in critical condition by episode’s end.

It gets worse. Senator Paley and his committee members inform Keane that she needs to resign if she wants to avoid being implicated in McClendon’s murder. Keane sends Wellington to tell the Russian ambassador that the fun is over and that the United States will treat Simone’s perjury as a hostile act by Russia if she testifies. They don’t run this plan past Saul until it’s too late and he’s already on his way to arrest her. The plot contorts like so: the Russian ambassador meets with Yevgeny and tells him to make Simone go away. Yevgeny happens to have blackmail goods on Simone’s lawyer, who is able to find out the location of the safe house where the witness is being stashed in time for Yevgeny and his armed goons to arrive just before Saul. Yevgeny doesn’t kill Simone, though; he kisses her and they make their getaway.

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Where has this convoluted series of events gotten us? The threat to Keane appears neutralized now that Simone is off the board, but it’s always possible (probable, even) that Paley will try to pin the disappearance of his star witness on the administration. It’s hard to say where things will go from here, especially considering that this season has already undergone several mutations. (Remember all that time we spent with the white supremacists? O’Keefe has gone from prominence to nonexistence.) I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but next week’s episode description includes the line “Carrie has problems at home.” Anything but an extended custody battle over Franny, please.

Stray observations

  • “I was working him.” “Oh. That’s what you call it.” Mandy Patinkin has Saul’s deadpan perfectly in tune at this point.
  • I’m so primed for a twist regarding Senator Paley, I was half-expecting him to beat Simone to death with the fireplace poker. But come on, you don’t cast Dylan Baker to play a straightforward, by-the-book senator, do you?

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