Stateside once more following an assignment in Pakistan that went tragically wrong, the CIA’s Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) reassesses her dark and complicated life on “Long Time Coming,” the Season 4 finale of Showtime’s “Homeland.”
Recent events have overwhelmed Carrie, particularly during her stint as CIA station chief in Islamabad. That post ended when Taliban commander Haissam Haqqani (Numan Acar) overran the U.S. Embassy and slaughtered 36 Americans.
Now Carrie’s father Frank (James Rebhorn) has died of a stroke. Then her estranged mother Ellen (Victoria Clark) arrives unexpectedly to attend the funeral. Then Carrie discovers she has a 15-year-old half-brother named Tim (Callan McAuliffe).
And then CIA comrade Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) reveals his romantic feelings for Carrie and asks her to leave the agency with him. Does this mean Peter, Carrie and her infant daughter Franny could morph into a happy family?
“I know how this goes,” Carrie warns Peter after they kiss. “It ends badly.” That’s because Carrie is bipolar, just like her late father. And that debilitating ailment forced her mom to flee in despair. Right?
Wrong, Carrie learns when she heatedly confronts Ellen at her home in Missouri. Frank’s psychological disorder didn’t destroy the marriage. It was her promiscuity.
“He’d forgive me and then I’d go out and do it all over again -- until it ruined us,” Ellen tearfully confesses. “I got pregnant and couldn’t face up to what I’d done.”
“I’ve always thought that being bipolar meant you couldn’t be with people -- not for the long haul because they’ll up and leave you soon enough,” Carrie says with a look of surprise.
“It’s not true,” her mother insists. “Please believe that.”
Buoyed by this revelation, Carrie is suddenly open to the idea of starting a new life with Peter.
But he’s just embarked on a dangerous mission to assassinate three high-value terrorists in Syria. And according to CIA black ops leader Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham), there’s no way to contact Peter and his team.
“They went dark a little over an hour ago,” Dar claims. Carrie doesn’t believe him, however, and threatens to reveal the fact that Dar was with Haqqani when he triumphantly rode through the streets of Islamabad following the embassy massacre.
“I will leave here and go straight to the Washington Post,” Carrie threatens. “You make a deal with Haqqani, you dishonor every officer, every soldier at the embassy who died at his hand!”
Before Carrie turns into a whistleblower, Dar cautions, she should speak with her mentor, Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin), the former CIA director who desperately wants to rejoin the spy agency and resume the war on terror.
“Saul would spit in your face,” Carrie angrily retorts.
Well, probably not.
Saul thought his CIA days were over, describing his current status as “two torpedoes in my side, taking on water.” Consequently, he wouldn’t be approved for a station chief assignment, let alone regain the CIA’s top job after current director Andrew Lockhart (Tracy Letts) submits his resignation.
Saul’s problem is a damning videotape recorded after he was taken hostage by Haqqani with help from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency. Saul was eventually released in a prisoner swap that liberated five Taliban leaders.
Dar secretly obtained the tape from Haqqani, however. Now Haqqani is off America’s kill list -- as long as he keeps his promise to not harbor terrorists in Afghanistan. It was an old-school CIA “deal with the devil.”
“Not every choice we make is blessed with moral clarity -- especially in our business,” Dar tells Saul.
“Come back. Lead us. The agency is waiting for you with open arms!”