THE UPSHOT
Saul manages to delay an imminent war. Carrie tries to unearth Saul’s supposed Russian asset, and is faced with a tough choice.

Director: Michael Cuesta
Writers: Gideon Raff (original Israeli series Prisoners Of War), Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, Nick Leith Baker, Jonathan Redding
Cast: Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin, Andrea Deck, Costa Ronin, Nimrat Kaur
Streaming on: Hotstar Premium
Seasons: 8
Episode: 11 – The English Teacher

Spoilers ahead!

The Americans get Jalal

Things have gone south rapidly in the middle east. Jalal Haqqani’s (Elham Ehsas) suicide attack on the American special ops team has escalated the already brewing tensions between the United States and Pakistan. President Ben Hayes (Sam Trammell) and his favourite advisor John Zabel’s (Hugh Dancy) unwillingness to approach the situation pragmatically isn’t helping. Saul’s (Mandy Patinkin) suggestion to initiate back channel talks with Islamabad and launch a surgical operation against the Taliban is met with derision by the obnoxious Zabel. Going to war with a fellow nuclear power that has promised to retaliate isn’t the brightest of ideas, Saul reasons. But his plea falls on deaf ears.

Saul secretly reaches out to Tasneem (Nimrat Kaur) in Islamabad, and tells her that if Pakistan is to reveal Jalal’s location in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region to the US, it could help in diffusing the matter to an extent. This is a two birds one stone situation for Pakistan; they can buy temporary peace with the Americans as well as get rid of Jalal, who has gone out of their control. Sure enough, the White House gets a call from Islamabad with a location, and the Americans waste no time in carrying out a drone strike.

Funnily enough, the disillusioned Zabel thinks it is he who made this happen, that putting constant pressure on Islamabad with war threats compelled them to share Jalal’s location.

Carrie must do Yevgeny’s bidding

Meanwhile, Carrie is bailed out of prison by Saul. We know that Yevgeny (Costa Ronin) has tasked Carrie with finding out about Saul’s Russian asset in exchange for the flight recorder. Chris Bauer makes his first appearance on Homeland as Carrie’s lawyer, but gets very little screen time in this episode. However, the fact that the makers have brought on board an actor of his caliber at the fag end of the show indicates that he will play a crucial role in the final episode.

Carrie isn’t yet convinced that Saul has an asset in the Kremlin. When asked, he denies it categorically. Yevgeny, however, is convinced there is a traitor in their camp. The flight recorder is the only way to prevent an outbreak of war, and for that Carrie must dig deeper. Her investigation, with some help from Jenna Bragg (Andrea Deck) who is back on American soil, reveals that Saul did recruit an asset during his time in Berlin in 1986.

Mandy Patinkin is clearly the star of this episode, giving us two brilliant moments. The first is Saul’s meeting with Jenna, in which he convinces her to delay her testimony against Carrie in front of the tribunal and help her out. With Carrie there are always some mistakes, he tells her, but she never loses sight of what’s important. Good old Saul, sticking up for Carrie no matter what.

The second moment is when Saul creates a scene at the UN council meeting, directing a barrage of F-words at the Russian ambassador. The meltdown is a ruse to pass a message to the Russian translator present at the meeting, who is later revealed to be Saul’s asset.

Yevgeny’s ultimatum

Carrie has discovered that Saul does have an asset in the Kremlin, but has failed to unravel his identity. She tells Yevgeny everything she knows, but this information isn’t enough for the flight recorder. Yevgeny comes up with a solution: if Saul is dead, the asset is neutralised.

This was Yevgeny’s play all along. He knew Carrie would never find the asset’s identity. The final episode of Homeland will probably center around the show’s two main characters. If Carrie wants to prevent world war III, she must kill the man who has been a father-figure to her and has stood by her through thick and thin. Will she go ahead with it, or will she miraculously find a way stop the war as well as keep Saul alive? There is also the possibility that Saul may choose to give himself up. He has been informed about Yevgeny’s design by his asset.

The series finale of Homeland will be released on Monday, April 27.

For recaps of previous episodes, see here.