Well, I’m not gonna lie, I’m a little let down at this week’s lack of bizarro Alex Jones but this week’s episode does at least hit us with a healthy dose of suspense and a few jaw dropping WTF moments. “The Return” opens with Carrie trying to find Quinn in jail and having a real “nightmare at the DMV” moment with a sarcastic police officer who informs her that Quinn is most likely in the mental hospital and on lockdown for 72 hours. She eventually finds him and bribes a prison guard into letting her speak alone with Quinn, who is a nationally famous hostage taking terrorist at this point. She also is starting to believe his theory about the “man across the street” after seeing the pictures in his mysteriously unlocked phone. I’m finding it really hard to believe that a drug addicted PTSD addled paranoid Rear Window styled Alex Jones listening conspiracy theorist doesn’t have a password on his cell phone. I also feel like this may have been a missed opportunity to fictionalize that whole thing last year where Apple refused to unlock the iPhone found on that mass shooter. Come on, Homeland! It was right there! There’s a saying that goes “if you want to hear the song, don’t dissect the bird,” meaning if you pick something apart too much, you’ll lose the magic of fictionalized storytelling. I’m having to remind myself not to dissect Homeland. But seriously, what man in 2017 just leaves his phone open like that?
To be fair, Quinn is in pretty rough shape and has been making some strange choices. His face is bruised up and he’s furious when Carrie tells him that she’s showed his pictures to FBI Agent Ray Conlan. He’s so furious that he bites her. Ok maybe he’s crazy enough to leave his phone unlocked. Conlan takes the photos and uses them to do what he does best, he yells at his old informant, Saad. Ray Conlan loves yelling at Saad. He does this thing in this scene where he says “you know who the man in this picture is!” and then Saad says “no i don’t” to which he replies “that was a question!” I watched this scene three times, that was not a question.
Anyways Ray starts to figure out that neither Saad nor Sekou seem to know who this mysterious man is and he actually wises up and starts to look into his identity. He runs the guy’s face through some sort of FBI snapchat face scan database and comes up with nothing, and he tracks the van’s license plate to a group of shell companies, and when he can’t find anything else out about him, he comes to Carrie and decides to work with her instead of against her for once. In wrestling this is referred to as “turning babyface.” He reaches out to Carrie the same way everyone on Homeland delivers news to her, by appearing alarmingly out of the shadows while she’s walking around in Brooklyn with her daughter, Franny. First Dar Adal and now Ray Conlan. You can probably just like, email her, right? Do all of these guys have to keep terrifying Franny like this? Yikes.
Meanwhile Saul is up to some serious spy cliches. He meets a young fan who vaguely informs him that he’s being watched, before meeting an old ally by doing that thing where you both sit on a park bench facing different directions and talk to each other while staring straight ahead at a 90 degree angle so no one can tell you’re communicating. Saul’s regails us with a sort of Werner Herzog esque metaphor about a squirrel in a Russian circus that runs on a metal wheel and will break it’s paws if it stops running. Then he passes Saul some photographs of Dar meeting with a woman who I’m only relatively certain is Madame President Elect Keane, while still doing the staring straight forward while talking thing. The point here is supposed to be that Saul should be weary of his famous friend Dar and that his relationship with these other foreign bodies are becoming strained, but the bench thing is all I can think about. If you ever see two old men in trench coats sitting like that at Coney Island, they are for sure up to something.
This episode really gets moving, though, when Ray Conlan tracks the man across the street’s van to a mysterious company and goes on a road trip to sneak around in it’s headquarters. He gets busted immediately and, for and FBI agent, covers his ass horribly. It’s like he’s never lied before. He needs some George Costanza lessons or SOMETHING. He tells Carrie to meet him at his house in the suburbs so they can dish, and Carrie heads that way. Around the same time, Keane is getting fed up with being sequestered from the world in her safe house compound and Remy hacks through red tape while trying to get access to her. Not having a phone sucks. You kind of feel like you’re missing a limb when you don’t have one, so I can relate to Keane here. She convinces an old political adversary to drive her back to New York and they have a fun frenemy road trip where they throw barbs about the Iraq war and talk about their dead sons, all the while the secret service is chasing them and radioing them to pull over. They totally Thelma and Louise it though, and just keep going. When she gets to New York she’s approached by a massive press crowd and she responds by giving one of those “fictional president’ Independence Day speeches about how she’s not going to give in to the sitting president’s urge to beef up the Patriot Act in response to the Sekou bombing and also she mentions her dead son again a few times because why the hell not.
Carrie then gets to Ray’s house and finds Ray’s DEAD BODY, just as we were starting to like him. He looks like he’s been shot in the head like, recently, since he’s laying there in a pool of blood with his gun still in his hand. For once, Carrie’s training kicks in and she decides to grab his gun and then get into a sort of Halloween esque hide and seek match with the shooter, who is still in the house. She catches a glimpse of him before running outside and tripping over nothing while getting into her car and driving away, and that’s when we learn that the shooter is of course, the man from across the street. Hoo boy. I am so obsessed with the man across the street that I’m turning into a Peter Quinn.
Speaking of whom, the final stinger of “The Return” throws us for a pretty tasty loop in regards to his character. The episode ends with a spooky cinematic sequence of him being extracted from his nightmare psych ward, drugged up, put on a stretcher and carried into a black van (of course) before waking up to the face of his ex lover, Astrid. Quinn’s having a weird week.