‘Homeland’ Season 8 Episode 11 Recap: The Russia Angle Really Starts to Pay Off

Fans of Homeland have seen Showtime’s great spy series take countless twists across eight seasons. In the show’s first installment, it introduced viewers to the ultimate 21st-century double-agent: Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), an American soldier loyal to Al Qaeda.

From there, viewers watched as both foreign and domestic operatives worked to undermine U.S. interests — from CIA stations overseas to the White House itself. And in season 7, the arrival of Yevgeny Gromov (Costa Ronin) wove in the latest in strained Russia-U.S. relations.

[Spoiler alert: Plot details through ‘Homeland’ season 8 episode 11 follow.]

After some quasi-cooperation followed by a more familiar jockeying for position, Yevgeny and Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) have continued waging their war of information right into the penultimate (11th) episode of Homeland’s eighth and final season.

Following the surprise turn of episode 10 (a U.S. agent inside the Kremlin!) the Russian angle truly came alive. With the series finale looming, Homeland’s final push has involved a twist on classic Cold War spy fare.

Carrie Mathison will stop at nothing to prevent war with Pakistan

Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in HOMELAND, ‘The English Teacher’ | Erica Parise/SHOWTIME.

If it hasn’t been clear to this point in Homeland, Carrie has no limits when it comes to completing a mission. We’ve watched her order a drone-strike on a lover, poison an FBI agent, and (way back when) offer her body to Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) in order to keep things rolling smoothly.

In season 8, we watched her betray a U.S. Special Forces team so she could advance a chess piece. (After learning of the entire team’s demise in episode 11, Carrie barely spares a moment of silence.) So there’s little surprise when she sets about meeting Yevgeny’s demands for the flight recorder exchange.

Speaking on behalf of Moscow, Yevgeny previously informed Carrie that Russia will only accept the identity of an agent working for Saul and the U.S. since the 1980s. (In a dramatic flashback sequence, the audience sees Saul and “the English teacher” begin their mission together.)

When Carrie explains to Jenna Bragg (Andrea Deck) that Saul would never reveal the identity of his agent, Bragg immediately takes the traditional, moral view. “But you would [reveal it],” she tells Carrie. “I already have [agreed to it],” Carrie replies.

‘Homeland’s’ classic Cold War turn

Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson in HOMELAND, ‘The English Teacher’ | Erica Parise/SHOWTIME.

At the beginning of season 8, it would have been a stretch to imagine that a rehabbing Carrie would end up trying to trade the identity of a U.S. asset in Moscow for the means to prevent war in the Middle East. But we have Homeland’s writers to thank for this excellent twist.

Along the way, we’ve heard hints of where the show was headed. Earlier in season 8, Mike Dunne (Cliff Chamberlain) referenced Kim Philby, the British agent who worked for the Soviet Union in the early stages of the Cold War. And after hearing Yevgeny’s offer, Carrie made another classic spy reference.

“There is no such [agent],” she told Yevgeny. “Believe me, I would know.” That’s almost exactly what Alec Leamas (Richard Burton) tells Soviet agents in The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1965) after hearing the suggestion there’s a British asset working inside the KGB.

If you’re a fan of classic spy dramas, this latest, red-leather-bound twist in Homeland could hardly have been more appealing. And, with the series finale looming, the show arrived here at the perfect time. With “Kill Saul” ringing in viewers’ heads, we don’t blame you for expecting a conclusion for the ages.

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