She's back. And so's the show.
Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) reported for duty on a newly-refocused, post-Brody "Homeland," which debuted Sunday night with a two-episode season premiere.
Picking up six months after the events of season 3, the show began with Carrie now the station chief in Kabul, Afghanistan, where she's in her element and doing well at her job -- and that job is being in charge of drone strikes. She's so good at it that her colleagues have nicknamed her "The Drone Queen."
She greenlights a targeted strike on a farmhouse deep in rural Pakistan based on intel from the Islamabad station chief, Sandy Bachman ("House of Cards" star Corey Stoll) that Taliban leader Haissam Haqqani was inside. There's no time to get independent confirmation, but Sandy's information has been good before, so...
Except this time, it isn't -- Haqqani is dead, yes, but the strike also took out 40 civilians at a wedding celebration. Among the dead are the mother and sister of Aayan Ibrahim (Suraj Sharma, of "Life of Pi"), a Pakistani medical student who survived the blast and happened to be recording video on his iPhone the moment it happened. And while Aayan doesn't want to put the video online, his roommate steals his phone and does it anyway and the footage soon goes viral. Bad news for the CIA.
The video sparks angry protests in Pakistan, and Sandy goes to try and rendezvous with the "dark asset" who supplied him with the disastrous information. Except the lock on the door at their meeting point has been changed and, Carrie and Quinn (Rupert Friend) realize, his cover's been blown and his face is now plastered all over the news. They rush to rescue him just as locals recognize him and an angry mob begins to form. They get him into their car, but the locals break the windows and drag him out into the street. Carrie tries to go after him but Quinn stops her - it's already too late. (Note: Here's where the first episode ended, so if you didn't stay awake for both this is where you should stop reading)
Carrie and Quinn get sent back to the States as the CIA scrambles to get ahead of the scandal. It's here that Carrie deals with something worse (for her, at least) than fighting terrorists -- Frannie, the daughter she had with Brody. Carrie left the baby girl with her sister when she went off to Kabul, and now that's she's back in the U.S. her sister wants her to start taking responsibility for her daughter, who has red hair and looks a lot like her dad (well done, "Homeland" casting department).
But we know Carrie, and she's anything but maternal. Left alone with the girl for a day, she fumbles through caring for the infant -- including driving over to Brody's old house with Frannie strapped into a carrier in the front seat of the car -- and then, horrifyingly, almost allows the baby to slip under the water while giving her a bath. Would she really let her daughter drown? Carrie grabs her out of the tub at the last second, but it's clear to her, and the audience, that she should stay as far away from the little girl as humanly possible.
Quinn, meanwhile, is dealing with his emotions over Sandy's brutal death by having sex with his overweight motel manager and then beating up two guys who later made fun of her. And Saul (Mandy Patinkin), now working in the private sector and noticeably uncomfortable with his new job and life in New York with his wife, heads down to D.C. for Sandy's funeral, where Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham) hints that folks in the city aren't too pleased with Lockhart's (Tracy Letts) performance as CIA director. Maybe someone needs to step in, and that person will clearly be Saul.
But Saul is the least of Lockhart's problems right now. Carrie shows up at the funeral armed with some damning information she got by tracking down a former (now disgraced) Islamabad station chief -- that Sandy was getting his intel by trading state secrets in return, and Lockhart was aware of it. That's called treason, Carrie points out, and she leverages that information to get herself a new overseas posting as station chief in Islamabad. It's a job she wants, she'll certainly be needing some guidance from Saul and, as her sister angrily points out, it gets far away from Frannie.
And speaking of Islamabad, the episode spent a little more time back with Aayan -- who, unhappy with the media attention the video is giving him, packs up some mysterious bottles, heads to his girlfriend's house and asks her to hold onto the duffle bag he stashed them in. What could those bottles be? What are his motives? Showtime has said his path will cross with Carrie's this season, but when that happens remains to be seen.
Tell us: What did you think of the "Homeland" premiere?