This recap contains spoilers for Homeland Season 6, episode 5, “Casus Belli.” Refresh your memory with our recap of episode 604.
After a slow start, the Homeland we know and love is back with Season 6’s fifth episode, “Casus Belli,” which means “an act or situation provoking or justifying war.”
The act in question is the bomb in Sekou’s (J. Mallory Cree) van, whose detonation in midtown Manhattan miraculously left only two people dead, Sekou being one of them. It seems the bomb went off so early that not very many people were at work yet though the episode’s assertion that the bomb decimated three blocks really makes it seem like more people should have died, even if it was early in the morning, but that’s a small quibble in the world of TV dramas.
The point is, there was a bombing in Manhattan and so in this post-9/11 world, everyone is losing their collective sh*t.
The FBI agent (Dominic Fumosa) who was railroading Sekou is livid with Carrie (Claire Danes) for using that recording of him telling his informant to destroy evidence to get Sekou released, blaming her for the bombing and demanding to know who from the NSA gave her said recording.
Carrie won’t give up her source, but she does go to Roger (Ian Kahn) to give him a heads up that heat might be coming his way because people know they’re friends but it turns out her source isn’t her source at all.
He chose not to help her, instead filing a report about Carrie contacting him and sending it up the chain of command. Which means someone else possibly inside the NSA, though not necessarily wanted Sekou released, the obvious implication being that it was done in order to frame Sekou as the terrorist who hated America and blew up a bomb in Manhattan.
Meanwhile, Saul (Mandy Patinkin) arrives home from his visit to the Middle East and informs Dar (F. Murray Abraham) that he thinks Mossad, the national Israeli intelligence agency, coached Nafisi (Bernard White) before Saul’s interview with him, based on the pack of Nafisi’s cigarettes he found in a trash can in a room used solely for surveillance.
The implication of this is that Israel wants the United States to think Iran is violating the nuclear deal by developing nuclear weapons with North Korea on the sly. Dar seems fairly surprised at all of this, but he definitely is not above suspicion in being a part of it.
Not only is Dar not in favor of the nuclear deal and very distrustful of Iran in general, but he strongly objects to President-elect Keane’s (Elizabeth Marvel) international policies and attitude toward the CIA.
He’d clearly love nothing more than to strong-arm her into warring with Iran, as evidenced by him telling her that Sekou’s bomb was probably meant for her Sekou was apparently driving in the direction of Keane’s hotel and since he supposedly hated the U.S., the only logical conclusion is that he was trying to blow up the face of the U.S. government who was currently residing in New York.
Now, there’s certainly a chance that Dar’s comments to Keane are the only play he’s making to make the bombing seem like more than it is (or maybe he genuinely thinks it’s more than it is) in order to get Keane to fall in line. But doing that could also be entirely separate from whomever is behind the ruse to make Saul think Iran is breaking the nuclear deal.
The conspiracy could run very deep, or there could be two different factions in play here. With Homeland, one never knows and that’s why this season has finally gotten interesting, because we trust the show to weave its mystery as the main players try to figure out just what the hell is going on.
And speaking of main players, Quinn (Rupert Friend) is obviously someone the government should be talking to, but in typical Homeland fashion, he appears crazy and only Carrie knows that he’s not (he has some serious problems, but he’s not crazy in regards to what he’s piecing together about the bomb).
Then Carrie leaves him home alone with Frannie, which on any normal day would have been totally fine we truly believe that. But an angry mob of reporters continually harassing a soldier with serious PTSD is a powder keg waiting to blow.
The episode’s writer, Chip Johannessen, does an excellent job of escalating this situation in a very organic way Quinn is feeling trapped, the mob won’t let up, he gets a little overzealous in telling one reporter to leave him alone, that riles up the crowd more, the crowd begins throwing rocks at Carrie’s house, managing to break a window, and Quinn responds by shooting the rock-thrower in the shoulder.
As Carrie says later, Quinn wasn’t trying to kill him. If he had wanted to kill him, the guy would be dead. But the situation snowballs into a “hostage situation” and ends with Quinn in handcuffs and Carrie as the only person who realizes that the man watching her house is somehow connected to the delivery company Sekou worked for.
It’s frustrating as a viewer to watch the police act like such a-holes when we know that Quinn and Carrie are in the right here, but on the flip side, imagine what this scenario must look like to the police if they have no knowledge of the underlying situation with Quinn. It probably seems exactly like a hostage situation, where a seemingly crazy man is firing a gun into a crowd of reporters. The police respond in a completely appropriate way, yet it still makes me mad as a viewer that they won’t just listen to Carrie.
Either way, it’s a solid B-plot to give Quinn something to do while the events of the bombing day unfold around the characters who are more directly involved and it serves the convenient purpose of helping Carrie find out that Quinn actually might know something about the bombing, so hopefully the band is back together next episode (if Carrie can get Quinn out of police custody).
The only real annoyance of the episode is the framing device of the talk radio blowhard going off on Keane’s policies and criticizing her response to the bombing. We get that this pundit is indicative of a certain kind of media personality that our present-day politicians face, and that he’s voicing Keane’s own fears about what half the country feels toward her. But it feels very ham-fisted. It isn’t woven into the story in any kind of organic way and really takes us out of the action when seen side-by-side with the rest of the episode’s plotlines.
Hopefully that’s the last we’ve seen of Faux Limbaugh, because the other parts of the episode set up a solid rest of the season.
Homeland airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on Showtime.