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'Homeland' recap: Stakes grow higher as CIA battles Taliban

'Homeland' recap: Stakes grow higher as CIA battles Taliban
Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) thinks she's in the arms of her former lover Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) on "Homeland." (David Bloomer / Showtime)

For a few minutes, it almost seemed possible.

Was the CIA’s Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) truly in the arms of Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), the father of her infant daughter? Could he somehow have survived a public execution in Iran and escaped to Pakistan?

Sadly for Carrie, Brody’s revival was nothing more than a drug-induced hallucination on “Redux,” Episode 407 of Showtime’s “Homeland.”

Turns out that a medication Carrie takes to control her bipolar disorder was swapped for a drug that caused a psychotic breakdown. Switching the meds was treasonous professor Dennis Boyd (Mark Moses), who’s being blackmailed by a pro-Taliban faction within Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.

Carrie is actually in the arms of Lt. Col. Aasar Khan (Raza Jaffrey), an ISI officer striving to defeat the Taliban insurgents. Aasar’s men rescued Carrie after she flipped out in the middle of an Islamabad street and was taken into police custody.

“You’ve come back to punish me for what I’ve done,” Carrie says to the man she thinks is Brody. “I was willing to let you die,” she adds, still grief-stricken for sending her lover on a suicide mission to assassinate Iran’s top spymaster.

Confused at Carrie’s strange behavior, Aasar assures her that he’s alive and well.

“I’m here. I’m right in front of you,” Aasar tenderly says. “You’re safe!”

Carrie may be safe but former CIA Director Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) is definitely in harm’s way. He’s been kidnapped by ISI thugs and handed over to Taliban commander Haissam Haqqani (Numan Acar).

“You realize I’m of no intelligence value to you whatsoever,” Saul says to Haqqani as they speed toward his compound. Saul’s knowledge of CIA activities is out of date because now he works for a private security firm.

“You have already proved yourself to be of great value,” Haqqani responds. With Saul by his side, Haqqani can visit his wife and children for the first time in three years without fear of dying in a drone strike.

“Praise God for sending me a human shield,” the terrorist exclaims.

After reuniting with his family, Haqqani lets Saul sit beside him at a celebratory dinner. They engage in a war of words about who’s on the right side of history. Is it America or the Taliban?

“America despises what it cannot understand,” Haqqani asserts.

“Your version of Islam is regressive and backward,” counters Saul, pointing to the Taliban’s slaughter of nonbelievers and other atrocities. “You have taught an entire generation to live with one foot in the afterlife.”

Before the U.S. can launch a rescue mission, Saul is driven across the border to a tribal region of Afghanistan. He’s chained inside a room and told to wait. Saul asks: “For what?”

“For me to take back Afghanistan, just as we did from the British and the Russians before you,” Haqqani boldly proclaims.

And Saul will supposedly play a key role by being exchanged for a high-value prisoner who will further the Taliban's violent cause.

In Islamabad attempting to secure Saul's release is current CIA Director Andrew Lockhart (Tracy Letts), who's probably doing more harm than good by trying to coerce the Pakistani government to intervene. He threatens to withhold $2 billion in annual foreign aid if Saul isn't freed immediately.

"Money always talks," Lockhart says with a sneer.

Strenuously opposing this heavy-handed approach is the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, Martha Boyd (Laila Robins), who accuses Lockhart of jeopardizing four years of careful diplomacy.

By working through back channels, however, Martha may have found a solution to the hostage crisis.

"But this time we're going to do it my way," she angrily insists.

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