Let’s get the hard part out of the way first: Quinn is alive, having survived the 27th fake-death of his run on Homeland. Sarin gas couldn’t kill him, but he has been reduced to a ball of ticks and twitches. Living in a V.A. Hospital, he’s eschewing physical therapy for a drug den, where blow jobs and heroin offer some brief respite from the never-ending pain of his life. Quinn is a mess, and the glimmer of hope that he would snap out of it and return to his former self was snuffed out when he couldn’t even reach for a wad of money in his pocket before a thief knocked him unconscious and took it from him. He’s also having weird, golden-hued visions, perhaps a side effect of the sarin gas.
Meanwhile, Carrie is out of the spy game. She’s living in a Brooklyn brownstone with Frannie and her nanny. She’s also taken a new job on the other side of the equation, providing legal defense for accused terrorists. Sekou Bah is a particularly compelling client, an American Muslim who uses his freedom of speech and a website to voice opposition to the American government. He’s done nothing wrong — in fact, he seems to be opposed to personally committing violent acts of terror — but he associates with the wrong people, which is enough to get him arrested in the current climate. There’s shades of Brody here: A charming likable character who has some legitimate grievances with the United States.
Carrie is still in the orbit of Otto Düring, though it’s hard to make sense of their relationship. She declined his marriage proposal and they’re not together, but Carrie also seems steamed that Düring has met someone else. Carrie, however, has other priorities, primarily looking after Quinn, who she decides to bring to live with her and Frannie, which is probably not the best idea, given Quinn’s current state.
The more interesting storyline in the season six premiere, however, concerns the new President-elect, Elizabeth Keane (Elizabeth Marvel, who also played a character who made a run at the Presidency in House of Cards). She’s a female President-elect (this season of Homeland takes place during the transition), but there are echoes of Trump here, too, because she seems uninterested — in fact, hostile — to the intelligence community. She’s already pit Saul — who wants to give her the benefit of the doubt — against Dar Adal, who is scheming to push some covert operation through before the new President is sworn in. Keane’s mistrust of intelligence comes about honestly: She lost a son in Iraq or Afghanistan and, according to Dar Adal, holds the intelligence community responsible. She’s looking for payback.
How all of these storylines weave together is still uncertain. Saul and Dar Adal will almost certainly make a play for Carrie, who is trying to exorcise her guilt by defending the kind of people she used to have killed. Based on the bit of footage we’ve seen in the season preview, it appears that Quinn may have a Rear Window plotline, keeping an eye out for Carrie’s interest from his bedroom window. Meanwhile, Dar Adal and Saul will continue to be at odds, divided by the President-elect’s unknown motivations. We also know that “fake news” will ultimately end up playing a role in the season.
The premiere was fairly typical for Homeland: The show takes its sweet time setting up its storylines, but it’s managed more times than not to pay them off in gripping and satisfying ways (last season may have been the series’ best since its freshman year). There’s more than enough here to keep the Showtime drama on our DVRs for at least another season.