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‘Homeland’ Review: Season 6 Premiere Answers the Quinn Question and Poses Many More

The "Homeland" premiere quickly addressed Quinn's fate and dug into Carrie's new life in New York.

Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in HOMELAND Season 6, Episode 1

Jo Jo Whilden/SHOWTIME

[Editor’s Note: The following review of “Homeland” Season 6, Episode 1, “Fair Game,” contains spoilers.]

Immediate Reaction

Quinn is alive! …and boy is he in trouble. Our immediate elation over Rupert Friend’s return to “Homeland” (following a cliffhanger ending in Season 5 that left his well-being very much in doubt) was slowly reined in over the course of the hour-long premiere. Severely inhibited mentally and physically restricted, Quinn has all but given up at this point in his journey. He’s throwing his money away on prostitutes and drugs, searching for any kind of reprieve from the agony plaguing his mind and body. By episode’s end, Carrie takes pity on his living situation, but it will likely be a long road to back to proper health for the fan favorite.

READ MORE: ‘Homeland’ Review: Season 6 Makes You Wait for the Big Moments, But There’s Reason to Believe in Carrie Again

Such a scenario would be fitting given how relatively quiet things were in this episode compared to the typically pulse-pounding “Homeland” premieres. Granted, since Brody left, things have slowed down a bit as each new season has attempted to set up fresh arcs, but Season 4 unveiled “The Drone Queen” (when Carrie ordered a military strike on a wedding reception) and Season 5 started with a two-year time jump that found Carrie living in Germany with her daughter.

Now she’s in New York, renting an AirBnB(!) and trying her best to take care of a man who doesn’t want her around. She’s also ended everything but her professional relationship with Otto During (Sebastian Koch), for whom she’s running a legal aide team that’s trying to fight back against religious and racial profiling by the United States government. That leads her to Sekou Bah (newcomer J. Mallory McCree), who’s been arrested for inciting violence through a series of angry videos chronicling various terrorist attacks in New York, and thus the fuse has been lit for Season 6.

That fuse is likely to be long and slow-burning, and the meticulous layout of the premiere — including a fascinating early portrait of Quinn’s plight — promises the journey getting there will be at least as satisfying as the climax.

Classic “Homeland” Twist

HOMELAND Season 6 F. Murray Abraham Mandy Patinkin

Setting aside what we found out about Quinn, the biggest twist in “Fair Game” came when Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham) shut Saul out of a secret meeting to end the episode. The two have always shared a bond built on a thread; a thread so thin it breaks and must be re-tied over and over again. Suspicion alone seems to have split the two up this time, as Dar’s belief that the President-Elect (Elizabeth Marvel) harbors a long-standing grudge against the military and CIA was met with healthy skepticism by Saul. He wanted to learn a bit more on his own, seeking out the advice of a Senator, but Dar decided to protect the intelligence agency’s assets quickly. How that affects the agency’s relationship with the President-Elect as well as that of its two senior agents will certainly be key to the upcoming season.

READ MORE: ‘Billions’ Season 2: New Trailer, Plus Paul Giamatti and Damian Lewis Tease One-on-One Showdowns

Crazy Carrie Level: 2/10

Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in HOMELAND Season 6, Episode 2

Carrie looked to be in as good a form as ever in the opening episode, rationally reasoning her way through challenging situations, happily engaging with her daughter’s life, and helping out a friend in need (without, you know, sleeping with him).

That being said, it is a little crazy to bring a man — who you just found naked, assaulted, and drugged up in a whorehouse — back to the home where your daughter sleeps. Yes, she locked the door, and yes, it’s hard to imagine Quinn doing anything to hurt little Frannie. But it’s still not something your typical Manhattan mom would do.

Is it a little crazy? You bet. Is it still the right thing to do? Absolutely.

MVP (Most Valuable Performer)

Homeland Season 6 F. Murray Abraham Elizabeth Marvel

Considering the secrecy surrounding Rupert Friend’s return, it should come as no surprise that the Showtime press site had no images of him available when Episode 1 premiered (even though the episode was released early online for avid subscribers). So ignore the above image (until we can swap it out) and trust us when we say: The Rupert Friend Emmy campaign begins here.

Precise and minimal in his movements, but effectively emotive in his outbursts and contemplative silence, Friend has been given quite the gift by showrunner Alex Gansa. The role has become extremely demanding and will likely continue to be for the rest of Season 6. It’s a good thing we’ve always known Friend was up for the challenge. We can’t wait to see him dig deeper into the character in coming episodes, but he’s off to a gripping start already.

Quote of the Week

Homeland Patrick Sabongui as Reda Kazem, Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison and Sebastian Koch as Otto During Season 6, Episode 1

“You think you’re better off alone. You think your sins require it.
You couldn’t be more wrong.” – Otto During

While I can’t remember if Carrie was raised Catholic, she may as well have been, given the amount of guilt she’s carrying around. By no means should she continue a romantic relationship with the wooden board that is Otto During (a rich wooden board, but still lifeless), yet blaming herself for what happened to Quinn, even if it brings back memories of what happened to her first love, Brody, is equally fruitless. Both men were drawn into her wild world, and both men died or nearly died because of it. But Brody brought it on himself as a would-be terrorist, and Quinn’s choice to distance himself from Carrie was one he made on his own. Her involvement may have contributed to their choices, but they remain independent decisions. It’s high time she let herself be happy by being with someone, anyone, she truly wants to be with.

And, for the first time ever, we’re hoping that’s Quinn — you know, once he gets better. Over the last two seasons, we’ve been hesitant to embrace the coupling, seeing him as too obvious and too quick a replacement for her first love interest. But “Homeland” put in the work, allowing the two of them to develop and grow on their own before reuniting them in the emotionally raw state they find themselves in now. Obviously, any romantic feelings must be prefaced by Quinn’s recovery and how he addresses his complicated feelings toward Carrie, but Season 6 feels ripe with potential for the pairing — and overall.

Grade: B+

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Watch IndieWire’s Awards Editor Anne Thompson’s interview with “Homeland” showrunning director and executive producer Lesli Linka Glatter below. 

READ MORE: ‘Homeland’ Director Lesli Linka Glatter is Fearless (Video)

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