Homeland Season 6 Episode 2 Review: “The Man in the Basement”

Homeland Season 6 Episode 2 Review: “The Man in the Basement”


After a slow but solid start to Season 6 with last week’s premiereHomeland takes a lot of the interesting characters and ideas introduced in the season opener and begins to connect them in exciting ways in tonight’s episode, “The Man in the Basement.” Similar to the premiere, there’s a lot that’s familiar about this week’s installment, from Carrie lying to Saul to Carrie’s erratic behavior with her job (even when she switches careers, she’s the same old Carrie) to Max’s welcome reappearance. However, unlike last week, which felt like a bunch of strong concepts held together by a very thin story thread, “The Man in the Basement” shows the major links between Season 6’s disparate storylines and perhaps no development is more important than the reveal that Carrie is working with President-elect Keane and her team as the first female president prepares to take office.

One of the main questions I had heading into Homeland Season 6 is how Carrie and Saul’s seemingly separate stories would be woven together. There’s still a good chance that Carrie could end up working with the CIA again this season (we’re only two episodes in), but even if she doesn’t rejoin in some capacity, her involvement with Keane’s foreign policy plans puts her in direct opposition of not only Saul but also Dar, who we know is scheming up something with his cohorts behind-the-scenes. Adding even more fuel to the fire is that Carrie lies to Saul about her work with the President-elect, laughing off his suggestions that she could be advising her; there’s no doubt that Saul will soon discover what Carrie is up to (it appears that Dar has photos of Carrie coming to visit Keane, but he doesn’t show them to Saul, at least not right now), and when he does find out, it won’t just be embarrassing for the CIA–it will also be incredibly damaging to his and Carrie’s friendship. There’s only so many times the two of them can lie to each other before their entire relationship crumbles, which is scary thought since so much of Homeland relies on their connection.

So does Carrie working with Keane make sense? On many levels, it does, even though I have to question why Keane would want Carrie’s insight since she hasn’t been the most ethical CIA operative in the past. For Carrie, though, it completely fits with her character that she would still want to be a part of the action, even if it’s from the sidelines. As fulfilling as the work she’s doing in Brooklyn is, she clearly recognizes that, like Otto said last week, it’s small potatoes to what she could be doing, and by working alongside Keane’s administration, Carrie guarantees that she not only possesses power over potential CIA operations but that she can also have a major impact on American society as a whole.

However, just because Carrie might have her eyes on a bigger prize with Keane doesn’t mean that she’s forgetting about Sekou and his case. In fact, Carrie acts like the wild, determined, and rebellious fighter she’s been in the past in her attempts to help her client, especially after she discovers that the FBI essentially entrapped him, using his friend, Saud, who is actually an FBI informant. Working with Sekou’s sister, Simone, Carrie ignores a court order and tracks down Saud so that she can learn all the details of the FBI’s operation, and while there’s no response from Conlin by episode’s end, you can bet that there will be hell to pay in next week’s episode, as Carrie’s well-meaning but unorthodox behavior always lands her in hot water.

But what makes “The Man in the Basement” a better episode than the Season 6 premiere has less to do with intriguing plot developments and much more to do with powerful emotion, something that I feel like I haven’t seen much of from Homeland since Saul’s life was in serious danger back in Season 4. I’m talking, of course, about that gut punch of a final scene between Carrie and Quinn, in which he asks her to show him the video of the terrorists attacking him with the sarin gas from last season and then, after he finishes watching it, asks her why she saved him. There have been a lot of (justified) jokes made about Claire Danes’s cry face over Homleand‘s five-plus seasons on the air, but she absolutely kills it in this scene, as Carrie comes so close to breaking down before somehow managing to regain her composure. “Why?” Carrie says to Quinn repeatedly, as he stares blankly at her while does her best to hold in all the pain and loss that she’s feeling.

While the Homeland Season 6 premiere shows what Quinn lost after almost dying last season, this week’s episode illustrates what Carrie lost when he was infected by the sarin gas. His questioning of why she saved him, along with her memories of how Quinn used to be with Frannie, causes Carrie to reflect back on the possibility that she and Quinn could have had a life together, maybe even a family, and in that short scene, Claire Danes amazingly portrays Carrie mourning the death of that dream, her acknowledgement that her life with Quinn can and will now only be a fantasy, never something that will ever actually be real. What a sad but satisfying way to end this episode, a promising hour that indicates that Homeland Season 6 may have a lot more to say about these characters than I initially thought.

Other thoughts:

  • So it looks like Saul will be leaving the U.S. and heading to Abu Dhabi, after Carrie suggests that President-elect Keane make him her “man on the ground” there. Saul has a vested interest in this issue since he’s the one who helped orchestrate the deal with Iran.
  • As I mentioned briefly in the review, it was a pleasure having Max back on the show this week, and I hope it’s not the last time we see his character this season. Now, maybe next time, he could bring Virgil with him (I know that won’t happen, guys, but I can dream, right? I still miss Virgil).
  • Such a sweet and sad moment when Carrie finds the drawing of Quinn that Frannie made for her. I really love how they’re handling Carrie as a mother this season; she’s certainly not perfect, but you can tell how strong of a connection there is between her and her daughter.
  • Dar lying about that 9/11 story is so perfectly in character for him. The guy has no morals or boundaries.

What did everyone else think about this week’s episode of Homeland? Comment below and let me know.

[Photo credit: Jo Jo Whilden/Showtime]

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