Homeland season premiere recap: The Woman Behind the Curtain

Carrie returns with the CIA under investigation, while Saul struggles to run the agency
Ep. 01 | Aired Sep 29, 2013

WHEN IN CARACAS... Peter Quinn once dubbed himself the "guy who kills bad guys," but his op in Venezuela goes awry. Though he only had a few lines this episode, I have a feeling the writers have more in store for him.

Kent Smith/Showtime

Back in front of the committee, Carrie’s lawyer is confirming what may be the most insecure alibi ever uttered on television: During the bombing, Carrie was in the ladies’ room and knocked unconscious, waking up 14 hours later. Oh, okay. She most definitely did not drive a certain former vice presidential candidate-slash-terrorist to the Great White North. And no, Senator, Carrie did not leave with said former vice presidential candidate-slash-terrorist. What television show CIA agent would be crazy enough to pull that off?

Come on, Carrie. You can do better than that. The alibi is weak, and Lockhart knows. “You are doing and have done great harm to this country,” he says, as she turns her face away from the committee’s prying eyes.

At least the situation in Caracas is going much more smoothly. Quinn is ready, eyeing his target and turning on his device. But just as he’s about to take him out, he spies a little boy with his target and backs down -- how Jason Bourne of him -- and his inaction forces Saul into action. Finally. The op needed all six targets taken out at the same time, and Saul decides to go forward with Quinn.

Hang on, did I say the situation in Caracas was going smoothly? Scratch that -- while the operation runs perfectly, Quinn accidentally shoots the child he was trying to avoid earlier. And this is when everything starts to fall apart, as a paralyzed Quinn, wide-eyed at the sight of the boy’s corpse, calls in his successful hit with the code “Tin Man Is Down” at the last minute.

Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but there’s a fascinating juxtaposition here, with Saul in mission control and Quinn speeding through Caracas. Saul’s been twiddling his thumbs, unsure of where to take the op, while Quinn has had no trouble piecing together his op and tracking his target. Saul spent days and nights deliberating his decision; Quinn had no problem following orders. In the end, though, Saul succeeds with the op, while Quinn, who’s supposed to be the unfeeling hitman -- the Tin Man without a heart, if you will -- almost fails because he acts too quickly.

So six “enemy combatants” dead, to use Saul’s phrasing, but it’s done at what cost? Saul’s heart, to continue my train of thought, ends up blackened at the committee review of the CIA. It already began shriveling earlier, when Carrie woke up to find a paper emblazoned with the headline, “CIA officer linked to Langley bomber.” First the DOD memo, now this. Carrie knows there’s a leak and while she accuses Dar Adal of planting the story, she has no way of knowing who to trust, thanks to a chilly Saul.

That same Saul then swears to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help him God in front of Lockhart and the committee. There, he (rightly) accuses the committee of doing a “witch hunt,” trying to place blame on the CIA so they don’t have to pick up the pieces from the attack. But when Lockhart tells him the op did nothing to reassure the committee the CIA’s back on its feet, Saul makes his final call: He tells the committee that the CIA agent tasked with Brody (Carrie) is “unstable,” bipolar, and had a sexual relationship with Brody.

Ouch.

At this point, I paused the episode, wrote the letters “WTF” in my notes, triple underlined it, circled it, and then pressed play again.

Because this is Saul -- Saul the mentor, the guide, the one man in the CIA who has always had Carrie’s back, now pulling back the curtain, betraying everything about her but her name. As he speaks, we see Carrie frozen on her couch, humiliated and unable to process what’s happening.

And that’s where we’re left at the end of “Tin Man is Down.” The characters are unmasked, the CIA is still in tatters, and Carrie’s in a much worse position than before. Will she escape the committee’s scrutiny? What’s Saul’s plan? And when will we see Brody again? The show has set up the government as the enemy so far (think back to those "Pledge Allegiance" promo posters), and the premise is promising, albeit being borderline absurd with the way the committee investigation is being handled.

Your turn, readers. What did you make of the premiere? Not enough Carrie cry faces? Did you buy Saul’s decision to betray Carrie? Are you just as wary of Dana’s selfie subplot as I am? What do you think Brody’s up to? Sound off in the comments below.

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