‘Homeland’ recap: Prisoner exchange part of far bigger plot

“Homeland” Episode 409
Former CIA Director Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) is the centerpiece of a prisoner exchange with the Pakistani Taliban on “Homeland.”
(David Bloomer / Showtime)

A nerve-racking prisoner exchange turns out to be a small piece in a much larger Taliban plot against Americans in “There’s Something Else Going On,” Episode 409 of Showtime’s espionage thriller “Homeland.”

Taliban commander Haissam Haqqani (Numan Acar) has agreed to release his battered hostage, former CIA Director Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin), if the U.S. frees five high-value terrorists held at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.

But Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), CIA station chief in Islamabad, correctly senses there’s greater treachery afoot. What she doesn’t know is that Haqqani’s primary goal is attacking the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan.

By the episode’s conclusion, Haqqani and his thugs are poised to do just that as they rapidly make their way through a tunnel leading into the compound.


The tunnel’s existence was revealed by Dennis Boyd (Mark Moses), the treasonous husband of U.S. Ambassador Martha Boyd (Laila Robins).

Dennis surrendered this critical information because he’s being blackmailed by Tasneem Qureshi (Nimrat Kaur), a Taliban sympathizer with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.

Dennis also switched Carrie’s prescription meds with a hallucinogen twice as powerful as LSD. The drug triggered a violent psychotic reaction that landed Carrie in jail. Fortunately, she was rescued by men working for Lt. Colonel Aasar Khan (Raza Jaffrey), a trustworthy ISI official.

“You poisoned me,” Carrie yells at Dennis during his interrogation. “I could have died out there!”


When Dennis refuses to admit he’s collaborating with the ISI, Carrie shows him a graphic video of previous CIA Station Chief Sandy Bachman (Corey Stoll) as he’s stomped to death by an ISI-controlled mob. Look quick, she says, for Sandy is about to lose his face.

“These are the people you’re spying for,” Carrie exclaims, pointing out that Sandy was murdered to protect a far-reaching Taliban/ISI operation.

“It means almost certainly American lives are at stake,” Carrie emphasizes, “either here or in Afghanistan or back at home.”

Dennis finally confesses his traitorous actions to Martha when he realizes his life’s in danger.

Taliban fighters have just launched rocket-propelled grenades at a U.S. convoy returning from the prisoner exchange. And CIA Director Andrew Lockhart (Tracy Letts) has deployed Marines to the attack site, thus leaving the embassy vulnerable to invasion via the tunnel.

Carrie and Saul barely survive the Taliban ambush, which occurs as Saul starts speaking on the phone to his wife Mira (Sarita Choudhury). Mira had earlier pleaded with Carrie to protect Saul.

“I know what the CIA’s like. People are expendable – even their own people,” Mira said. “I am begging you. Don’t let him die!”

If Saul had his way, however, he would have died rather than be swapped for terrorists likely to slaughter additional victims. That’s why Saul tries to sabotage the complicated prisoner exchange by sitting down next to a young boy wearing a suicide vest and refusing to move.


“Tell Haqqani,” Carrie informs Tasneem by walkie-talkie, “anything happens to Saul, we execute the prisoners – right here, right now!”

Soon Carrie risks her own life by walking over to Saul and imploring him to get up.

“I’m not leaving without you,” Carrie insists.

“Then we both die here,” Saul stoically replies.

In a last-ditch effort, Carrie appeals to Saul’s sense of humanity. If he doesn’t cooperate in the prisoner exchange, one of Haqqani’s men will kill the boy and anyone near him by detonating the suicide vest. But Saul claims he doesn’t care.

“Do you know who you sound like? Them,” Carrie says to her father-like mentor. “This is not who you are!”

Then they weep in each other’s arms.

“No more dying,” Carrie says, wiping away her tears.


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