For the past few weeks, Showtime’s Homeland hyped the potential danger of armed right-wingers. Now that danger has finally spilled over, and innocent lives are lost. In an interesting twist, however, Homeland just introduced a new enemy behind the lunatic fringe. Less interesting is that it involves Russia, election interference, and the words “fake news.”
The March 11 episode “Active Measures” follows the escalating conflict between the FBI and the armed civilians in a rural town. After a false report of a civilian's death circulates, the standoff quickly turns lethal with a fight that leaves nineteen people dead, five of them FBI agents.
However, after examining the situation, Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) believes there may be a different source besides instigator Brett O’Keefe (Jake Weber) that leaked the fake news to stir up controversy. I’ll give you three guesses what that source is and the first two don't count.
Saul: Talk to me about Slovyansk. 2014.
Ivan: What about it?
Saul: Russian state TV reports Ukrainian soldiers crucified a boy in the town square.
Ivan: Yeah. Nailed him to a board for the alleged crimes of his separatist parents.
Saul: That was bullshit. Never happened.
Ivan: Of course not. Directorate Six made it up.
Saul: You see the story about J.J. Elkins dying unattended in the hospital?
Saul: One couldn't help notice a similar operational signature.
Ivan: You think it was us?
Saul: Fake death of one boy stirred up enough anti-Ukrainian sentiment in Russia to justify an invasion. Fake death of the other sparked a massacre that might topple the presidency.
Ivan: Yeah. Sure. But...two events, years apart. No, you give us a lot of credit.
Saul: Par for the fucking course. I read your debrief on active measures. If anything, you ran up enough efforts to undermine democracies all over the world.
Ivan: Yeah, this was different.
Saul: How so?
Ivan: It's too dangerous, and too soon after we were caught with our hands in your elections.
Those darn Russians. Everywhere we go, they seem to be fooling us ignorant right-wingers into stupid and/or violent actions with fake news, like voting for Donald Trump or killing FBI agents. As a bonus, we even have a stark confession that Russia interfered with our elections. That may feel good to the Trump-hater writing or watching the show, but it sure adds another curious layer to the Hillary-turned-Trump first female president character if this surprise tidbit becomes a part of the storyline going forward. Then again, the previous season banked on people blaming right-wingers for sock puppet accounts and mobs, so they’ve already established an alternate liberal universe for this show.
Of course, as of now, Saul has nothing but his suspicions and distrust of Russian agents to go on for an investigation into the FBI-civilian battle. Still, by that logic, we can carry on for a good eighteen months and counting for news material. Good thing this is the last season of Homeland.