Sitting down to watch “Homeland” Episode 406 “From A to B and Back Again,” I was hopeful that the title meant we would be “back again” from the seedy statutory rapey version of Carrie Mathison that we’re getting this season. Instead, it meant“back again” to a what“Homeland” does best, which is a sense of“Woah! Didn't see that coming!”
But we do open up on that aforementioned statutory rapey plot, with Carrie and Aayan canoodling and going over questions that he will face when he tries to go to England, though she’s totally never going to give him that opportunity. We know this in the moment, though the writers do flirt a little bit with our expectations. And with Carrie, a change of heart is always possible. Remember, she did fall in love and have a baby with a terrorist, so falling in love with the nephew of a terrorist and deciding to really help him might not be totally out of character.
Speaking of that baby, is this the third straight episode without her talking to or expressing any sort of interest in her child?
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She presents Aayan with an envelope. In it are a thousand pounds and a passport.
“We leave tonight,” she tells him.
He wants to go back to his school to collect stuff.
When he does return, he is bumbling and obvious like Saul was in the airport. This is one frustration with this season. The producers are really hitting us over the head with stuff like people's erratic behavior. Seriously, why is Professor Dennis Boyd outright referring to Carrie as a nut-job to her colleagues? Does he really think that just because he saw her medication that her colleagues are going to be like, "Dude! I totally agree with you!"
Another thing we're being hit over the head with is the tension between Carrie and Quinn. She asks Quinn to help her with something regarding Aayan and he gives her the third degree.
Quinn quips, “I’m guessing clothing is optional,” and later says, “Fine. whatever you say, Carrie. You’re the boss.”
This sexual tension just seems too fabricated. We can only hope the writers turn it on its head and do something unexpected with it, but what?
Anyway, Carrie goes to Redmond for the favor.
Meanwhile, Aayan’s girlfriend/friend who is a girl asks where he’s going. He spills the beans that he’s going to London.
“So you were just going to leave without saying goodbye?” s he asks, before insisting, “Take me with you.”
She then asks if Aayan loves Carrie.
He can’t really answer aside from “I’ve only known her a short while.”
Wait, is her name is Karen? Please tell me her name is not Quran! Naming an Islamic character Quran would be the same as naming a Christian character Bible.
So when Aayan leaves the dorm, there’s a dude waiting outside for him . Is he ISI ? Is he CIA? Aayan doesn't care to find out and runs away, effectively ditching the guy.
It's not too hard for viewers to figure out that this is the CIA, acting upon the favor that Carrie requested of Redmond.
Then Professor Boyd pops into Quinn's office. He wants to give Redmond a bottle as an apology. It's got to be bugged, right?
He asks Quinn if Carrie Mathison is a “Crazy-ass ball-breaker.”
Quinn is not one to suffer fools like Dennis Boyd, and in the meantime he is informed that Farhad Ghazi didn’t land in Johanessburg . Peter eyes the bottle of booze like he might suspect it’s a bug. It's got to be a bug, right?
When Aayan returns to the safe house, he tells Carrie that he did spill the beans to Quran, and that she was indeed more than just a friend.
“There’s no safe way to get you out of here,” Carrie says, baiting Aayan to bring up his uncle.
We learn that Haqqani paid for Aayan’s college, and he might actually help his nephew escape.
Then the CIA guy "breaks in" with a bunch of other goons and they rough up Aayan but he "escapes." Carrie is not so fortunate. She is taken captive. As soon as she's in the van we learn that our hunches were right. She chides her co-workers for giving her a bloody nose. There's a slightly comic moment of, "hey, you said you wanted it to look convincing."
Poor Aayan looks on in terror as the woman he loves is stuffed into a van.
Upon returning to the embassy, it's made apparent that the guys who roughed up Aayan put a tracker on him. Carrie encountersFara, which yields one of the most intense interactions between two characters that we've seen so far this season. Nice work, Claire Danes! Nice work,NazaninBoniadi! Let's just include thedialogueright here...
Carrie:Hey, I need you to do something for me?
Fara:What do you mean by "tracking"? What's going on?
Carrie:Aayan's passport has a signal with an antenna. We're following him to the border.
Fara:You mean, to his uncle?
Carrie:Well, that's the hope.
[Fara at this point looks to be disappointed in her mentor.]
Carrie:Why? Do you have some kind of problem with that?Becausehe’s right at the top of our kill list.
Fara:The uncle is, not the boy.
Carrie:Well, we’re targeting the uncle.
Fara:With a 50-pound warhead? I wouldn’t want to be standing nearby.
Carrie:You know what I’d like to hear from you, for once? I’d like to hear you ask how you can help our effort— our collective f—ingeffort — to make our country safe. Do you think you can manage that?
Fara:All I asked was what was happening withAayan.
Carrie:No, you said, “the boy!” like he’s some kindergartner instead of a grown adult who has been smuggling drugs toJihadists. You know what else, actually, since we’re on the subject? If you or Quinn or youandQuinn have got problems with this, with what I’ve done with “the boy,” none of it would have been necessary if you had just done your job. You were supposed to recruit him. I had to go in after you f—edthat up. And so now, if it doesn’t offend your sense of right and wrong, this is what I’d like you to do. I’d like you to go to the safe house, bag anything that points to him or us, and remove it in case somebody notices there was an incident there this morning that was poking around. … think you could do that? Think you could work a Hefty bag in the service of our country so this whole operation doesn’t go bust?
Fara:There wouldn’t be an operation if it weren’t for me. I followedAayan. I found out thatHaqqaniwas alive, so don’t treat me like I’m the enemy.
Carrie:[aftera long silence] There’s a car waiting for you out front. Text me when you’re done.
Would Fara ever fake being in love with somebody and screw them over for the good of her country? Maybe not, but she was pretty helpful in this operation. MeanwhileAayan has embarked upon another ofthose damn long bus rides.
About halfway into what we learn is a six-hour ride, everybody is forced off the bus by militants and lined up. They’re checking papers. Will Aayan's London passport work? He says a prayer. When questioned, he insists that he is who his passport says he is,BadarJalali. The guy doesn't believe him, so hebribes him with the Britishpounds that Carrie has given him.
Faracleans up the safe house and seesAayan’sphotos and looks at them angrily, like Carrie is a jerk for messing up this situation. Then we see Professor Dennis Boyd is spying on her. Of course. He will sneak in after she leaves.
Aayan’sbus arrives at its destination and he makes a call from a payphone.
Carrie yells at Max for not tapping that line as soon as possible. How would Max be able to tap a pay phone within seconds? Is that technology really available?
In Carrie's new role as station chief, she is having trouble being taken seriously by co-workers who used to be peers, but are now underlings. Aayan calls his uncle. Then ...
He just wants to talk with her.
“I had a long ride, and I had a lot of time to think. And all i thought about was you. You saved me. Not once, but many times. And I want you to know that I love you.”
And everybody in the CIA situation room heard that! Oops.
Now you’ve done it, Carrie. Everybody knows you are officially evil/a patriot. If it wasn’t official before, it’s official now, and all of those people who work for you know that you’ll do anything for the safety of your country, even if it means earning people’s trust and totally screwing them over.
She tells Aayan she loves him too, because, why not? She’s already as evil as evil can be.
Is she carrying his baby? Is Carrie a two-time black widow?
She looks like she's either embarrassed or just ashamed that she gained this much trust from Aayan. She asks Redmond’s opinion. He says, “I think you don’t care what anyone thinks.”
AayanandHaqqaniare scheduled to meet at a place they remembered when from when he was a boy, which is kind a funny, because, really, he still is a boy.
He kneels to pray on his way there.
How doesAayannot see the drone camera? He saw it pretty clearly when he was looking at the havoc that Carrie’s team wreaked before.
Then we see Professor Dennis meet withNasneem. He shows her the photo of the meds she’s on.
“I’d say that the new station chief is at least bipolar,” he divulges with something that's almost glee, before discolsing, "That building is a CIA safe house set up by the same nut-birder station chief."
A "nut-birder"? Would a professor really use that type of language? Damn, if only Dennis Boyd had come clean with Redmond he could have become a double-freakin'-agent badass!
He reveals toNasneemthatAayanis now going under the alias ofBadarJilali. She is grateful for the intel, but has to put it to use as soon as possible. Is Dennis Boyd the one who's really responsible for SPOILER ALERT* Aayan's death?
*=Are you really reading this as you watch, and was that spoiler alert really necessary? Probably not. If you are, sorry!
Anyway, asAayanis reclining on a flat stone, four men approach with guns.
“If the target appears, we will take him out,” Carrieinforms her team.
Quinn learns from Hendsley that Saul never got off the plane. Automatically we assume that he will be in the car with Haqqani.
Haqaniapproaches his nephew and tells him he shouldn’t have ever come. They take Saul out of the car.
"This was the director of theCIA, the snake that bombed us," Haqqani tells Aayan. "Your friend that sent you here. She’s his friend, his child basically."
Aayan starts to put the pieces together when Haqqani tells him that there is a drone overhead that was sent to kill everybody present.
"You saved my life," he tells Aayan. "Don’t think I’m not grateful."
And with that the uncle kisses his nephew's head and shoots him wherehislips made the imprint.
Carrie's reaction? She instructs her team, “Take the shot!”
This is where the episode gets really riveting, prompting this viewer to say "woah, woah, woah, woah" out loud.
“Wipe that f—er out,” she says, clearly because she is overcome with grief that
Haqqani killed a boy she loved. She would feel OK bombing the kid herself, but when it's outside of Carrie Mathison's control, that's when she doesn't like it. Luckily Quinn is in the room appealing to reason and telling the men at the controls not to shoot.
"That's the former director of the CIA," he yells.
The guys obey him and this action is definitely going to bite him in the ass when Carrie inevitably chews him out. But seriously, she was going to get Saul — her mentor — killed, just because some dude killed a kid she lied to and had sex with a few times? Maybe Dennis Boyd is right. A real "nut-birder" indeed!
Then the terrorists get into their three identical cars and after a patch of trees, they go three separate ways. Nobody can tell, from the vantage point of the drone, which car has Saul, which car has Haqqani and which car has other inconsequential bad guys.
Carrie is livid and is acting like crazy Carrie again, understandably. But it's a weird moment for the viewer, because we find ourselves kind of applauding the smart moves of the enemy.
This episode is definitely A-list "Homeland," mostly because they remind us so clearly that they aren’t afraid to kill off any character at any time.