America’s turned upside down since Margaret Keane became president. Saul’s incarcerated, along with hundreds of others, thanks to Keane’s paranoid crackdown after the assassination attempt last season. Carrie’s out of a job, but her frustration at Keane’s regime combined with her inability to do anything about it probably has her feeling like she’s running in place — which is exactly what she’s doing when we meet her in the season’s very first scene. Nice one, show!
You can’t blame Carrie. While she’s stuck at her sister’s house with her government-employee brother-in-law, struggling to keep working her sources, Keane is storming into General McClendon’s sentencing hearing brusquely demanding he be executed for his crimes. Keane’s not even listening to her chief of staff, David Wellington (Linus Roache), who advises her to pull back on her iron fist. After all, the jury chose to dishonorably discharge McClendon, strip him of his rank, and put him in prison for the rest of his life. Isn’t that enough? No, of course not, not to Keane. She glares as Wellington as she demands he “fix” the sentence.
These scenes paint her as the clear megalomaniacal villain of the season, so much so it makes you almost understand why Brett O’Keefe (Jake Weber) keeps ranting to his camera despite being on the run. Homeland‘s answer to Alex Jones returns this season as a regular character, and he’s not starting off too hot: His daily anti-Keane broadcast’s gone underground since the events of the season finale — the warrant for his arrest came the day after he called the assassination attempt on Keane a hoax — and he’s scrambling to make his next one. Luckily, he and his assistant’s driver find a small town with a mattress store amenable to the Second Amendment, and soon enough, they’ve set up shop.
Brett gets on the air, sweats through his shirt, starts spewing his thoughts about what he and “the resistance” (I see what you’re doing, Homeland) must do to keep Keane at bay, and reports about Keane’s eventful morning trying to have McClendon executed. Well, of course, Brett embellishes things a bit, saying she called for a firing squad, but the sentiment’s there: Keane overstepped and didn’t act all too professional calling for the head of a once-respected member of the military.
Later that night, Brett and his assistant Sharon eat and ruminate over fast food, but Sharon tells Brett she’s done being on the run. It’s been a month, she’s tired, and even his attempt to plant a kiss on her won’t work this time, she says. Just then, the cops arrive, and the two hustle to run away with all of their gear. But when they’re cornered behind the mattress store, Brett’s saved — and by the cops themselves. They tell him the feds are on their way, and they’re there to make sure he gets away. And he does, after convincing Sharon to stay.
But if Brett’s safe, Carrie’s getting herself in big trouble again, and it’ll be hard for her to get out. She’s told Maggie she’s off for a job interview with the think tank Brookings, but instead she spends the day trying to set up a meeting between her source — who would rather not be named, given how he’s a federal employee who’s been helping to interrogate the suspects Keane has rounded up — and a senator (Dylan Baker, a.k.a. that guy you know from every other prestige show you’ve ever seen), who desperately needs someone on the record in order to push forward actions against Keane and to implicate Wellington as well, so the administration will stop jailing federal employees.
Needless to say, this doesn’t end well for anyone.
At the restaurant where she meets with Senator Paley, Carrie checks in a backpack at the front desk, but then leaves her pickup number pinned to a public bulletin board. Chekhov’s pickup number is then grabbed by trusty Max (Maury Sterling), who takes the backpack and sets off on his own mission — which we’ll get to in a bit.
Carrie then continues making moves. At a hotel, she makes some small talk to leave an impression with the front desk, before heading to her room and disguising herself in new clothing and a brown wig. At an extra-posh, different (I think, given how she drove around?) hotel, she readies a suite, then parks herself in the lobby to look out for her source. In time, he arrives, and makes his way up the suite — but Carrie notices he has a tail. She manages to shake him off by accusing the guy of exposing himself to her outside the ladies’ room (gross), but rushes up to the suite to whisk her source away as soon as she can.
By the time Carrie convinces him to get into the trunk of her car, her paranoia’s at full power. She watches the elevator to the parking garage carefully, warily, second-guessing what she should do. She calls her niece, Maggie’s daughter, who hands her the key’s to Maggie’s office and promises not to speak a word of what Aunt Carrie’s up to. (And Aunt Carrie just so happens to open up the trunk and let her source out — a move her niece sees.)1 of 1