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'Homeland' recap: Uncovering conspiracy is 'game changer'

'We may have a game changer here,' exclaims Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), Islamabad's new station chief

A terrorist supposedly assassinated in an airstrike turns out to be alive – and likely plotting an attack on Americans – in Episode 404 (“Iron in the Fire”) of Showtime’s espionage thriller “Homeland.”

A secret informant identified Taliban leader Haissam Haqqani (Numan Acar) as being inside a Pakistani farmhouse before U.S. missiles struck. But instead of eliminating Haqqani, the attack killed 40 people at a wedding party.

Along with igniting an international crisis, this tragedy prompted the brutal murder of Sandy Bachman (Corey Stoll), CIA station chief in Islamabad. A mob directed by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency stomped Sandy to death in the street.

CIA analyst Fara Sharazi (Nazanin Boniadi) spots Haqqani while tailing his nephew Aayan Ibrahim (Suraj Sharma), the airstrike’s lone survivor. Aayan hands over prescription medications to Haqqani as Fara records the scene on her cellphone.

“We may have a game changer here,” exclaims Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), Islamabad’s new station chief. “They played us from the very beginning!”

Why would the Taliban and ISI mount an elaborate conspiracy to convince America that Haqqani perished in the airstrike?

“Because that’s when we stop tracking terrorists – when we think they’re dead,” Carrie points out. This means Haqqani could pursue his lethal agenda undetected.

To learn more about Sandy’s murder, Carrie enlists the aid of former CIA director Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin). He reaches out to Bunran “Bunny” Latif (Art Malik), a retired Pakistani general, and asks to speak with a trustworthy ISI official.

“Now is not a time to be trusting anyone inside the intelligence directorate,” warns Bunny before putting Saul in touch with Lt. Colonel Aasar Khan (Raza Jaffrey).

Aasar maintains that Sandy was simply the victim of mob violence. But Saul contends there is “compelling evidence” that an ISI operative was involved.

“He was conducting the whole bloody orchestra,” Saul says, and also blew Sandy’s cover by releasing his photo to the news media.

“As a former official of the United States, you’re drawing some pretty damn unofficial conclusions,” Aasar says before angrily departing.

Meanwhile, it’s revealed that Professor Dennis Boyd (Mark Moses) stole top secret documents from his wife, U.S. Ambassador Martha Boyd (Laila Robins), and passed them to Sandy. Then Sandy shared those papers with a “dark asset” in exchange for terrorist targeting information.

A young woman, Nasneem (Nimrat Kaur), approaches Dennis and says she knew his partner Sandy.

“I’m someone who benefited greatly from your friendship. And I’m here to tell you that it’s not about to end now that he’s dead,” Nasneem demands.

In a panic, Dennis prepares to leave for America, telling Martha he’s been rehired for his previous teaching job. But Nasneem and two thugs forcibly block his exit.

If Dennis flees, he’s told, a package will arrive at FBI headquarters in Washington containing copies of the documents he stole from Martha’s computer.

“You’re arrested for treason and your wife’s career is destroyed by association,” Nasneem threatens. But comply with certain demands and Dennis will leave Islamabad as a free man, she promises.

Finally, Carrie launches a “stalking horse” strategy to track down Haqqani. She plans to hide behind his nephew Aayan, who naively believes he’ll receive asylum in England and admission to a prestigious medical school.

Aayan would never betray his uncle, Fara insists. But Carrie trusts her feminine charms will make the difference.

Sitting next to Aayan inside a safe house, Carrie shows some cleavage, rubs his knee and offers assurances that “the worst is over.” Then she gently kisses him.

“Is that OK?” she asks this college kid with raging hormones. That would be a definite “yes.”

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
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