What's Haqqani's Master Plan on 'Homeland'?

by Rosie Narasaki

After spending an entire week biting our nails off, worrying about Saul on Homeland, it turns out he's safe. Well, maybe that's not entirely true — but as a beyond-valuable bargaining chip, it looks like Haqqani's going to keep him as safe as possible; even if it means handcuffing Saul up while he... er, "reunites" with his wife. Awkward. But what is Haqqani's plan on Homeland ?

Awkwardness aside, Haqqani did make it pretty clear right off the bat that Saul was under his protection — when his oldest son threw a sandal at Saul, he took him aside and reprimanded him. Even at dinner, Saul sat by his side as Haqqani acted the part of the best host ever, going so far as to serve his food. They had quite the meeting of the minds over said dinner, as they discussed everything from 9/11 and the Taliban vs. Al Qaeda to Islam vs. Christianity, in one of the best scenes of the episode.

And on the CIA side of things, Saul's a lot more valuable than he thinks he is: He tells Haqqani time and time again, that's he's no use for information as ex-Director — but ex-Director or not, the President of the United States sent over Senator Lockhart (ugh) on his behalf, armed with a lot of metaphorical firepower. Yep, in a delicate meeting with the ISI (where we get to see all our old friends, including Boyd's contact Tasleem Qureshi, and lieutenant-colonel Aasar Khan) Lockhart— in his characteristically bull-in-a-china-shop way— declared that Pakistan could kiss its $2 billion aid package away if Saul wasn't returned safely.

So, all in all, a lot hangs in the balance — but what, exactly? Saul's right, he's not exactly the best guy for intel these days, and a lifetime as a "human shield" (as Haqqani so fondly calls him) hardly seems worth the fanfare. Well, as Haqqani carts him over the border to Afghanistan and shackles him up in an honest-to-god cave, we find out that he's about to be a part of a very beneficial (beneficial for Pakistan, that is) prisoner exchange. Ruh-roh.

In an argument with Quinn earlier in the episode, Carrie defended her willingness to kill Saul by saying he would have done the same thing — she says "He'd put a bullet in his own head if he could." That's her opinion, and it's hard to know what Saul himself would think — but when he finds out that he's going to be part of a very dangerous prisoner exchange... by the look on his face, it would seem that Carrie might just have been right. As horrible as it would be, Homeland may use this as an opportunity to draw a parallel between Saul and former prisoner Aileen Morgan, who ended her own life while in prison.

I'll just leave that possibility there for you to worry about for the next week.

Image: Ilze Kitshoff/SHOWTIME