‘Homeland’ Season 8 Episode 3 Recap: Let the Back-Stabbing Begin

If you’re a fan of Homeland, you got used to not taking things at face value long ago. In each of its eight seasons on Showtime, we’ve watched characters change sides so often (sometimes, only to rejoin their original side) that you expect alliances to shift quickly in this world.

Three episodes into this final season, we’ve begun getting used to the odd rapport between Carrie Mathison (Clare Danes) and her Russian captor, Yevgeny (Costa Ronin). Whether you recall Yevgeny smashing Carrie’s face or withholding her meds in prison, you understand her hesitance about him.

Carrie certainly doesn’t see Yevgeny as a friend, and she’s requested approval to deliver payback against him at least twice. (She can’t make a move, per a prisoner-exchange deal with the Russians.) But from the moment Carrie dove back into the fray, Yevgeny’s acted like her ally.

That continued into episode three, aptly titled “False Friends.” Carrie’s not the only one wondering about her alliances. Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin), his negotiating partner in the Taliban, and President Warner (Beau Bridges) all harbor doubts about those in their inner circle.

Yevgeny’s words plunged Carrie into deeper confusion

Costa Ronin as Yevgeny and Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in HOMELAND, “False Friends” | Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME

Since Carrie failed a polygraph test post-captivity, folks inside the CIA have wondered whether she compromised assets in Afghanistan. (She got the third degree in Episode One.) And Carrie has joined those with doubts about her interactions with Yevgeny in Russia.

In her blurry recollections, Carrie remembers begging Yevgeny to stay with her (for whatever reason) at the jail. She realizes something changed during her stay in Russia. In “False Friends,” Yevgeny meets up with Carrie claiming he saved her life. (Carrie tried to hang herself, Yevgeny says.)

Carrie doesn’t know what to make of that information. (A blurry flashback scene doesn’t help viewers much either way.) But she’s clearly coming to terms with the fact that she might have made arrangements with Yevgeny. (She tells CIA personnel in Kabul he may want to work with the U.S.)

As Carrie plays with the truth when discussing things with the Kabul CIA station, she knows she has cause for concern. After all, Yevgeny seems sincere in their interactions. Meanwhile, he proves Carrie opened up to him with a revealing detail about her daughter’s potential drowning.

The ‘false friends’ of President Warner and Haqqani

Numan Acar as Haissam Haqqani and Elham Ehsas as Jalal “False Friends” | Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME

It doesn’t feel like so long ago when Haissam Haqqani (Numan Acar) seemed like the most evil man alive. (An embassy massacre will do that to a person’s reputation.) But Homeland writers clearly didn’t want to let his story end there.

Many years later, Haqqani has become a weary Taliban leader hoping to bring peace to his land after two decades in battle. However, he faces plenty of resistance within his own ranks. It starts with his son Jalal (Elham Ehsas) and extends to Jalal’s contacts in Pakistani intelligence (the ISI).

So while Saul and Haqqani wrap their heads around peace terms, the Taliban leader has to mete out punishment to a son who nearly took Haqqani’s life. (Jalal would have ascended up the Taliban’s ranks.) Instead of death, Haqqani banishes Jalal.

Back in D.C., President Warner and his chief of staff (same as the old chief of staff) David Wellington (Linus Roache) discuss whether the vice president (bizarrely, a “unity” pick from the opposing party) is maneuvering against Warner in order to mount a challenge against him in the next election.

Looking at the big picture, things are progressing in an unsettling way. Saul got his peace pact with Haqqani and Warner seems ready to grab the opportunity. But Jalal and the ISI are going to mobilize against Haqqani and the Americans. Meanwhile, Carrie will have to deal with her own demons. In a word, Homeland is looking good thus far in Season Eight.

Also see‘Homeland’ Season 8 Episode 2 Recap: Carrie Deals as Saul Walks the Tightrope