Homeland recap: season 7, episode 8 – Useful Idiot

Homeland recap: season 7, episode 8 – Useful Idiot

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She needs stability or else she’ll end up like you’

Dante shrugs off the poisoning like a Skripal and wakes up to Carrie assuring him he was nobbled by the Russians. He gives her a response code for social media that will tell the Russian operation to disassemble and disperse. When they deploy the code, it flushes out the entire network – multiple social amplifiers get their tickets pulled. It is a huge win.

Meanwhile, Yevgeny and Simone have a private jet to take them back home. They are just feet from boarding when Yevgeny gets the call that Dante is missing. Protocol demands he return to the motherland and lets the Americans deal with the chaos he wrought so effectively, but leaving loose ends is not his style. A cannonball run across the country ensues; he hooks up with Clayton, who tells him that there is no way he is getting to Dante. Yevgeny’s witty riposte is to shoot him in the guts and drag him into the ER. Nabbing a medic’s swipe card, he makes his way up the floors for a heart-to-heart with Dante. He tells him – truthfully – that the Russians had nothing to do with the poisoning. Dante is given pause. Sure, she will wipe out the occasional wedding party, but would Carrie really lie to a traitor to protect the president? There are lines.

While that is going on, Carrie pops into Maggie’s to see if there is some emotional stability she can disrupt. When she learns that Maggie is with a lawyer pursuing the custody case, she rushes to school to take Franny out early. She is delighted. At last! Mommy is putting her needs first. With Carrie, though, national security trumps family security every time. One call from Dante and she drops Maggie like a sack of spuds. She does just enough to convince Dante she wasn’t behind the poisoning and he tells her to lock down the hospital. A deeply disappointed Yevgeny decides it is time he had some face time with a hospital pillow.

Back at the school, Carrie reverses out of there so fast that she nearly flattens Franny. It is one thing to ruin your daughter’s life, but the thought of ending it sends her into a tailspin that delivers her to the hospital, where she is told Dante did not make it. Yet another of the men in her life is dead. She flashes back to Brody dangling from a crane, Quinn’s martyrdom and Aayan’s execution. Kiss the boys and make them die.

Worse follows. Former CIA agent Carrie Mathison approaches in scrubs, shouting “What did you do?!” right in Carrie’s face. It is epic, it is horrifying, it is … all a bit daft. The rumours were true. Manic Carrie is back. Run for your lives.

Claire Danes as Carrie and Mack Austin as Bill



Run for your lives … Claire Danes as Carrie and Mack Austin as Bill. Photograph: Antony Platt/Showtime

‘You realise the longer this goes on, the more I become the leader my enemies say I am’

We have gazed in awe at President Keane’s iron fist this season, but what of the velvet glove? Finessing the bullish Senator Paley into keeping his yap shut and toning down his hourly calls for impeachment is no easy task. She delegates it to David and Saul and their skilful PowerPoint presentation on the Russian operation does the trick. The story it tells is so absurd it has to be true – not even the worst Brett O’Keefe caricature of Elizabeth would tell a lie this large. Paley is forced to confront that he is the titular useful idiot, an unwitting rube for the Russian bear. His high horse sermonising drops dramatically. “I am the tip of the spear of one of the most insidious attacks ever perpetrated on the institution of American democracy,” he says. Now you’re getting it, Senator!

Notes and observations

  • Safe house, protected witness, enhanced security – they are all just words in the Homeland universe. If they want you burnt, you are toast.
  • The consensus in the comments is that Franny is an unwelcome distraction. You will get no argument from me there. It will be good for the show when Carrie admits that this whole parenting thing just hasn’t worked out.
  • “Build a narrative about unity in the face of adversity – some crap like that.” Paley tries to jumpstart his spin machine but his heart is really not in it.
  • “I protect my people.” Sure, Yevgeny – when you are not drowning them, suffocating them or shooting them in the guts.
  • Before that flashback, I had quite forgotten about Carrie seducing Aayan for her country. “It looks like you’re fucking a child,” said Quinn at the time. Not her finest hour.



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