F. Murray Abraham is very good at being very bad as the second half of “Homeland’s” sixth season begins with episode 7, “Imminent Risk.”
SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not see the March 5 episode of “Homeland.”
Abraham’s CIA honcho Dar Adal is an evil whirling dervish in the episode written by Ron Nyswaner and directed by Tucker Gates.
By “Homeland” standards, the set-up of Adal is the man behind all of the menace that Carrie is facing is so on the nose that it raises the prospect of another story twist to come to possibly redeem Adal’s actions against his current and former CIA colleagues. The search for evidence of Iran’s suspected “parallel program” of nuclear weaponry development in North Korea has been the key storyline in season six to date. This episode seeks to convince viewers that the only real parallel program is the one being run by Adal to serve his agenda of thwarting President-elect Keane’s plan to dial back the war on terror, and as such, resources funneled to the intelligence community.
Adal’s hell-bent determination to prevail at any cost is reinforced when he watches President-elect Keane in a TV interview with another CIA crony (“Prison Break” star Robert Knepper) who calls Keane the C-word. It was impossible to miss that Keane donned a Hillary Clinton-esque white pantsuit in the scene, further enhanced by a cameo from the great Martha Raddatz of ABC News.
Adal does a whole lot of dastardly things in this episode, but nothing is creepier than the revelation that he had a sexual encounter with a young Peter Quinn. We learned some seasons ago that Adal found Quinn as a teenager in dire straits and trained him to become a crack CIA assassin. But only at the end of this episode did Quinn, visibly struggling with mental and emotional anguish, confront his one-time mentor about being a “f—-ing dirty old man.”
Adal’s response is nauseating. “We’re all beautiful when we’re young,” followed by: “Fair enough. … For the record, I never forced myself on anyone.”
Quinn learns that it was Adal who arranged for his one-time lover Astrid, the German spy, to parachute in to the U.S. to take him out of the psych ward where he landed after the previous week’s escapade in Carrie’s home. Adal made a deal, somehow, with the local cops to let Quinn go as long as he stays out of the city. At first glance, the cabin in the woods where he finds himself with Astrid was reminiscent of Carrie’s family cabin where she and Brody connected back in season one, which suggested that Carrie summoned Astrid.
Adal also makes a point of telling Quinn the part about his rescue in Germany last season that Carrie left out — namely her decision to risk his long-term health by rousing him from a coma to pump him from information about the planned chemical weapons attack. As Adal snickers about the “sway” that Carrie holds over Quinn and Saul, the truth of this news sinks in for Quinn. The wounded warrior’s instinct is to battle his physical limitations to get back to New York City to help Carrie, but maybe Adal’s nasty-gram will curb that enthusiasm.
As if that weren’t enough, we now know beyond a shadow of doubt that Adal is in cahoots with the husky guy who has been watching Carrie and is suspected of planting the bomb in Sekou’s delivery van, also to fuel Adal’s anti-Keane agenda.
Furthermore, in the closing moments of the episode, we also learn that Adal was behind the city’s Administration of Children’s Services investigation of Franny’s well-being, following the quasi-hostage incident with Quinn in the previous episode. And Adal is also throwing up all kinds of covert blockades to Saul’s effort to find the truth about the status of Iran’s nuclear ambitions through the straight dope from the Iranian double agent Majid Javadi, played so well by Shaun Toub.
Adal’s nefarious actions lead to the tense sequence where Claire Danes’ Carrie and Mandy Patinkin’s Saul find themselves in separate interrogations. Their actions are justifiable at the core, but hard to explain to dispassionate third parties in the cold light of day, or in a family courtroom, in Carrie’s case. Carrie loses custody of her young daughter, Franny, as a judge agrees with a social worker that Franny is facing “imminent risk,” making the kid’s observation that Adal “scared Mommy” a few episodes back all the more ominous.
Carrie’s heartbreak is compounded by the fact that in her desperation, her yearlong run of sobriety ends when she breaks into a gift bottle of wine that she stupidly kept in her fridge. And her other old habits as a CIA spook die hard. She tries to find a way of wriggle out of her Franny problem by calling none other than President-elect Keane to see if she can bring some muscle into the legal process that has taken Franny away.
In Keane, however, Carrie has met her ramrod-straight match. “It’s unethical,” Keane says, leaving no wiggle room. “I’m surprised you would even ask me.” The exchange leaves us to wonder how badly Carrie’s relationship with Keane has been damaged by the late-night phone call. Keane’s no fool — she knew Carrie had been drinking.
Meanwhile, Saul’s suspicion of Adal grows as he learns from Javadi that the Iranian operative Saul debriefed a few episodes back in Abu Dhabi has been working for Mossad. Once Saul gives you that half-smile with a slight cock of his head, it’s all over. Adal probably knows that, too.
And Saul’s twisted relationship with Javadi grows even twistier when the pair succeed in bucking Adal’s effort to stop them from meeting while Javadi is in New York City, to keep Saul from learning the truth about Iran’s lack of nuclear activity in North Korea. Once they finally do meet in secret — by way of a New York Islanders
Rangers game — Javadi wants political asylum and access to the $45 million stash that made him vulnerable to being turned by Saul and Carrie in the first place. Once he has Saul’s assurance, Javadi turns the gun on the Iranian loyalist Amir, who helped Javadi escape the clutches of Iranian security in the U.S., the hard-liners who gave Javadi a manicure he won’t soon forget.
The fact that Saul and Javadi go back many decades — to a pre-revolutionary Iran — is underscored by Saul’s reaction to Javadi’s murder of Amir as he waits in the car that ferried Saul from Barclays Center
Madison Square Garden to his rendezvous with Javadi.
“Majid, for chrissake,” Saul says after his head whips around at the sound of the gun going off.
“No loose ends,” Javadi replies. “You taught me that, Saul. C’mon, help me put him in the trunk.”
With friends like these…