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Homeland Review: Season Six, Episode 8

Peter Quinn has a very bad day.

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These elements, inside our own government...do they include Dar Adal? - Carrie Mathison

It was a bad day for Peter Quinn, yet even as suspenseful as the final few minutes of last night's episode was, his story still managed to bore me more than excite me. As much as I can get down with the weirdness of him crouching behind standees in a shady grocery store and doing a solo stakeout at a seedy motel, Homeland telegraphed something big was coming with Quinn at the end of the hour. We spent so much time with him in paranoid mode that it was impossible not to see it coming. Sadly, paranoid mode isn't particularly fun to watch.

From the minute Peter drilled the "innocent" with the tire iron, you knew he was right. You knew he had seen the man who set up shop across the street from Carrie Mathison's home, and the man responsible for the bomb that killed Sekou Bah. It was classic misdirection, but maybe I've just seen too much TV and predicted it. Correction: I've definitely seen too much TV.

Did that make the ending less impressive? Not necessarily, but for a series in Homeland that often chooses realism over action television, the set of circumstances that led to Astrid's death and Quinn's near-death were pure TV constructs. When he emptied the gun clip in the rental car, it was clear the weapon would be needed later and wouldn't be there. When Peter felt he made a mistake and came back to the house, the minute he called Astrid a friend and the two shared that moment, we knew doom was on the way. As a result, the gunshot wasn't as startling; because of course they were in danger. They were ALMOST happy for a split second.

Even though he socked her in the breadbasket after saying he only fucked her because he was lonely. That was cold-blooded, and it hurt worse than the fist to the gut.

Drama often arrives from abruptly spoiled moments of sentimentality and love, whether platonic or otherwise. How many times have you watched a great show, and the thing that stunned you came just after something that felt simplistic, pure, and easy? Quinn and Astrid came together just in time for the bullet to scream through the window. As soon as it did, you think back to the gun, and you remember that Quinn never told her he turned the firearm into a giant paperweight. Thus, we say goodbye to Nina Hoss, and put Peter into an even grander downward spiral than ever before. He has to think Dar Adal is at least tied to what took place, even though there's nothing concrete to back that assertion up.

Last week, a few of you wrote me to ask how I "missed" Dar's connection to the bomber. I didn't miss it, but I overlooked it to some extent because I didn't believe Adal was actively involved in an act of domestic terrorism and the murder of an FBI agent. I responded by saying if Dar indeed was that guy, it would instantly be time to shut the garage on Homeland forever. Some things simply don't wash, and as much as they've tried to make Adal the villain he's subtly or sometimes overtly been throughout F. Murray Abraham's run on the series, this one felt like too big of a stretch. However, Homeland has done some completely asinine stuff in the past.

I still am not willing to make the leap, even after the heavy showed up at the house and took Astrid out. I feel like Dar is associated with the guy, because he obviously is, but I don't think he knows just how much of a "patriot" this man is. If he does, man is this joint off the tracks.

But, I'll admit watching Dar with Brett O'Keefe, viewing clearly doctored footage to cast aspersions on the character of Captain Andrew Keane, it's obvious Adal is much more nefarious than at any point previously. It's not just meeting with Mossad, it's not just opposing the Iran deal, it's blatant deception and real evil. O'Keefe looks like Steve Bannon, but hosts a show like Alex Jones of Infowars. This is not by accident. Further, Bannon's Breitbart website became a propaganda arm to the Trump campaign, a position that evolved after the death of Andrew Breitbart.

Bannon produced videos that strained credulity, to be kind, and O'Keefe's hit piece was straight out of Stephen K's playbook. So, he's a mixture of both boogeymen, and because we aren't seeing a non-crazy conservative countering or smoothing out the points, what we're left with is Alt-Right vs. Moderate Left. Keane sounds like she has a brain, and O'Keefe is some amalgam of Dracula and Satan.

Everything Brett has done, leading up to the footage, but also including the seduction of Rudy into saying things he didn't want to say, probably because he didn't actually believe them in the first place, ensures there's no one in America (or elsewhere) watching Homeland that can root or back O'Keefe. At least he kept his shirt on, though.

One thing I've heard in interviews with people who have at one point or another worked with Bannon is this, and if you apply it to Dar Adal, perhaps his movements will make much more sense to you. One of the damning critiques of Steve is that he has no principles, he only has interests. Whatever principles get him to those interests, be it power or actually destroying the current system, hoping to be standing atop the rubble as the rebuild begins, that's what he's willing to go to the mat to protect. Think of Dar in the same regard going forward.

Yes, "Alt.Truth" as an episode title certainly fits here, as it does when Quinn doubts what he actually saw, while in actuality being totally right. Saul thought one thing about Javadi but finds out something far different. Carrie as an "unfit mother"...well that's not entirely wrong.

Javadi, in the most important moment we've seen from him all season, puts a proverbial knife in Saul's back in the meeting with Keane, then steals the SUV after shoving Berenson to the ground. His murder of the man who saved him last week is more consistent with the character now than it was then, that's for sure. He's also contacted Dar, and he's "picked a winner." Here's the real point of all this, and it has nothing to do with the Iranian nuclear arrangement or alignment for alignment's sake. Franny's storyline from last week, coupled with Javadi's betrayal, has done the one thing Homeland knew it had to do sooner rather than later. It has put Saul Berenson and Carrie Mathison back in the same orbit, on the same side, and back in that father-daughter relationship that exists behind the scenes at all times on this show.

The series doesn't feel accurate or on point unless those two are working at least within each other's proximity. And here we are, finally. Saul takes Carrie to see her daughter's new home, but also keeps her from making a huge mistake in getting out of the car. Carrie plays go-between for Saul in his communications with Javadi, as well as the President-Elect.

Both of them now recognize Dar Adal as the reason their lives have become so much more difficult as of late. So the battle lines are effectively drawn. Dar Adal and his shadowy cabal of freedom fighting, power hungry sociopaths are standing on one side. Carrie, Saul, Keane, Rob, and the rational thinkers are on the other side. Everything else that's taken place this season, including wildcard Quinn, who is the ghost of the Mathison-Berenson army, has been purposed to place characters on the proper square of the Homeland chessboard.

I've said a few times this season that all the international minutiae of Season 6 has been ineffectual to me as a viewer. It still is, but now I realize why. It was never intended to put me on one side of the issue. It's intentionally muddy because it's MEANINGLESS. It's simply the backdrop, the "ripped from the headlines" issue that gets the actors in the right spot. There are many ways to describe the Iranian nuclear deal, the potential for parallel programs in authoritarian countries, and the contentious feelings on all sides, but thus far, we've seen very little of it on Homeland. This entire deal was a Trojan horse, used to shovel in the usual suspects and get them in the game. So, I'm going to continue not to care about that side of the story, and instead just focus on the people involved. I suggest you do the same, otherwise you're being bamboozled into following something that's almost assuredly not going to have an adequate conclusion.

Within last night's episode, Javadi went off-script and betrayed Saul, Dar Adal reticently backed Brett O'Keefe's smear job on the President-Elect's son, Carrie and Saul came back together, Quinn and Astrid had an argument, a fight, then a reconciliation, Astrid was shot and killed, and Quinn was almost murdered, only saved by the underwater cover of a lake. That's a lot of shit that went down. It wasn't what I would call a great episode, but it was pretty good as a TV show. It wasn't consistently believable or sometimes even plausible, but it was generally entertaining, and it moved everyone along to set up the main event for the final stretch of the season.

By no means will this go down as a good Homeland season, or a good season of television in general. Two of the last three have kept my interest, however, so there's that.

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I'm @JMartOutkick. There's a gun in the car. I'm going for it.