Reeling from an airstrike gone horribly wrong and a murdered station chief in Pakistan, CIA Director Andrew Lockhart (Tracy Letts) unfairly tries to make Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) the scapegoat on Showtime's "Homeland."
Episode 402's ironic title, "Trylon and Perisphere," refers to modernistic structures at the 1939 New York World's Fair and their promise of a utopian future.
War-torn Islamabad, by contrast, is far from utopian. But Carrie fervently wants to head the CIA station there and kill as many insurgents as possible. And by threatening to expose Lockhart's criminal behavior, she gets her wish.
Carrie and shell-shocked CIA agent Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) have flown to Washington with the battered corpse of Sandy Bachman (Corey Stoll), who ordered a bombing raid in Pakistan that blew up a terrorist along with 40 innocent victims at a wedding party.
After news reports identified Sandy as the CIA station chief in Islamabad, he was stomped to death by a mob – despite Carrie and Peter's rescue attempt. Now Carrie must answer to her panicked, unethical boss.
"I'm under attack here," Lockhart fumes, fearing the outcome of a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing. This means Carrie can forget about returning to a frontline position in the war on terror, Lockhart says, because she's being demoted and stationed at CIA headquarters in Langley.
"And just so we're clear," Lockhart adds, "the word is 'accountability.' You're being recalled. Look at it this way. You'll be able to spend more time with your kid."
But caring for her infant daughter, Franny, is what Carrie dreads, which is why she passed up a safe assignment in Turkey to serve as station chief in Kabul. CIA jobs in Afghanistan are hardship posts, meaning employees are not allowed to bring their children.
Carrie is reluctant to bond with Franny because she evokes painful memories of the child's late father, Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), a POW-turned-terrorist-turned-hero who assassinated Iran's top spymaster.
Carrie persuaded Brody to undertake that mission, which ended with his public hanging in Tehran. Now she's overcome with guilt, suffering from a bipolar disorder and afraid of being alone with her daughter.
"He would have been a terrible father," Carrie says to her baby. "You think I'm a terrible mom? I am. But he would have been even worse."
When Carrie forcibly interviews Jordan Harris (Adam Godley), a former CIA case officer reassigned to the archives, she discovers why Sandy was so successful at locating terrorists. He was revealing state secrets "to god knows who" in exchange for targeting information used in airstrikes.
"You knew what was going on there," Carrie tells Lockhart in an accusatory tone. "That makes you complicit. It's called treason. There are laws against it and they apply to everyone – even the director of the CIA."
"What do you want?" Lockhart nervously asks, knowing Carrie could send him to prison. Name her station chief in Islamabad, Carrie demands. It's another hardship post with no children allowed.
Now Carrie must face her older sister, Maggie (Amy Hargreaves), who's reluctantly caring for Franny and might end up doing so for years.
"I know you manipulated this somehow," Maggie says furiously. "There's not even a diagnosis for what's wrong with you!" And as a psychiatrist, she's an expert in such matters.
"You say 'bye' to her before you leave," Maggie insists. "At least have that much courage!"
So Carrie cautiously approaches her smiling, red-haired daughter.
"I am so sorry," Carrie says, choking back tears.
On the long flight to Islamabad, a crewman asks Carrie if she needs anything.