A Not-So-Brief History Of Carrie Mathison's Career At The CIA (So Far)

Her so-called life of espionage hurts our heads.
*Jazz music playing*
*Jazz music playing*

WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Seasons 1 through 4 of "Homeland." 

Showtime's "Homeland" presents us with a great deal of mysteries. Is Nicholas Brody part of some covert terrorist plot? Who planted the bomb at Langley? Why is Dar Adal such a sketchball? The biggest mystery, however, is how Carrie Mathison has managed to keep one foot in the door at the CIA (almost) this entire time, through breakdowns and betrayals. And a baby.

Now, we know that when Season 5 starts off, she's not working at the agency. Carrie's at a German humanitarian foundation. She's in a relationship. She's being a mom. Really, she's thriving. That is, for "about five minutes," director Lesli Linka Glatter told Deadline in August. "Poor thing," Gratter added, probably with a smile.

Here's a quick look at the ups and downs of Carrie's long, strange, and not terribly accurate (but definitely entertaining) career at the intelligence agency.

Season 1

No one believes CIA officer Carrie Mathison's suspicions that Nicholas Brody, a recently freed POW, has been turned to the dark side, so she goes rogue. 

Supervisor Saul Berenson shuts down Carrie's theory that Brody is sympathetic to al Qaeda and the terrorist Abu Nazir, so she installs illegal surveillance in his home. Saul is mad when he finds out, and fires her helps her obtain a shady warrant to keep spying. But after Carrie, who recently returned from Iraq, gets caught trailing Brody, the two flirt and realize how much they have in common: the Middle East, war, PTSD -- all the things long-term relationships are usually based on.

A few episodes later, Carrie and Brody start hooking up.

Even though she thinks she has video evidence that Brody passed a razor blade to a CIA prisoner (who then killed himself), Carrie whisks Brody off to her family's woodland cabin, seeking answers using her sexualité. When Saul informs her that Tom Walker, another American POW, had been turned -- in other words, that Brody was innocent -- she backs off, admitting her relationship. Saul fires her is annoyed.

An operation to capture the other ex-POW ends with the death of five people.

Carrie expects to capture Tom Walker in a public space, but someone tipped him off, so Walker sent a decoy in his place -- rigged with a bomb. The explosion lands Carrie in the hospital, where she has a manic bipolar episode and begins rapidly working on The Case Of The Naughty Soldier. 

Carrie calls Brody for help, but he cries to CIA director David Estes, pretending Carrie's obsessed with him. Estes fires her.

Carrie's brilliantly scrambled mind puts all the pieces together. When Walker opens fire at a crowded event, she realizes it's just a diversion for the real attack -- inside the bunker the Vice President is ushered into. Carrie attempts to warn Saul, who sends security after her, and eventually she's arrested while trying to communicate through Brody's daughter, Dana.

(Part of) Carrie's theory is finally validated once Saul realizes the VP is a terrible human.

Turns out the Veep authorized an airstrike to take out Abu Nazir that killed a bunch of kids, written off as "collateral damage," and didn't even nail its target. Saul tells Carrie she was wrong about Brody, but right to warn the CIA about the attack. (Of course, we know the whole time that Brody was indeed turned and did plan to murder the Veep -- he just failed.) In a medicated haze, Carrie makes the final connection between Brody and Nazir's son Issa, who was killed in the strike, right before going under for a psychological treatment that promises to squash her short-term memory, making us wait a whole extra season for her to realize she was right about Brody's ill intentions all along. Ugh.

Season 2 

So done with covert ops, Carrie starts teaching ESL classes. 

Surely, she's happier this way. 

But soon, she's called back to Langley because there's an informant who refuses to talk to anyone but her.

Dammit. Even when Carrie plays nice and goes to meet with the source, no one trusts her judgment. UNTIL SAUL FINDS BRODY'S CONFESSION TAPE. Finally! Redemption! Carrie, having just previously attempted suicide in secret, is brought onto The Case Of Nailing Nicholas Brody's Ass To The Wall in top-secret fashion. Together with Saul, agent Quinn and Estes, they set off on their super-secret mission.

Back in the saddle, sort of, Carrie helps spook Brody into revealing his al Qaeda handler. It goes badly. 

Saul, Quinn and Estes were happy with Carrie and Brody's chummy meetup at a hotel bar. Carrie, though, thinks that Brody is onto her suspicions, even though she plainly told him she had no suspicions, and he told her he did not suspect she had suspicions. (Espionage!) So instead of leaving, she barges into his hotel room and tells him she knows everything, forcing her CIA friends to fire her move their guys in, placing Brody in secret CIA custody. 

Nevertheless, Carrie strikes a deal with Brody ...

Playing Good Cop to Quinn's stabby Bad Cop, Carrie convinces Brody to help the CIA capture al Qaeda operatives in exchange for some kind of freedom. In their first operation, however, seven CIA operatives are killed in a shootout with al Qaeda guys. Quinn is badly injured.

... And continues to sleep with him. 

After convincing Brody to stick to the original plan to draw out his al Qaeda contact, Roya Hammad, Carrie and Brody have sex as her work colleagues awkwardly listen in. She is not fired for this. Then, Roya takes Brody to a field in the dead of night, where he's nabbed by a helicopter before Carrie can do anything to save him from that uncertain fate. The al Qaeda gang releases him later.

The CIA's secret squad scores a win when Brody's intel leads them to capture some terrorists. Then Carrie gets kidnapped by Abu Nazir.

Using Carrie as leverage, Nazir convinces Brody to make a daring attempt at assassinating the Veep, which he does -- almost gleefully. (The Veep still killed his buddy Nazir's son.) Carrie escapes and and alerts the CIA, and Nazir is eventually cornered, and shot.

Just when everything seems to be winding down, someone bombs Langley. And frames Brody.

Carrie is about to turn down a promotion to station chief in order to be with her soulmate, Brody, when a bomb goes off at the Veep's funeral. A bunch of important people die, including Estes. When it looks like all fingers are pointing to Brody, Carrie whisks him across the border to safety, to the bittersweet melodies of Sarah McLachlan. He really wasn't to blame for this one.

 Season 3

Soon, Carrie's affairs with Brody are leaked to the press.

By ... SAUL! After Carrie suggests at a congressional hearing about the bombing that she didn't believe Brody was the culprit, Saul testifies that someone at the CIA with bipolar disorder was involved with the missing man. Oh, the betrayal. She retaliates by going to the press herself with news that Brody is innocent. 

And the CIA forces her into psychiatric care.

Dar Adal, who handles the agency's sketchiest operations, lands Carrie in the psych ward for 24 hours. This understandably upsets her -- to the point where she can't prove herself stable enough for release. And so she's stuck. 

Until some Iranian lawyers help her to freedom.

Back on lithium and suddenly freed from the hospital, Carrie agrees to meet with her saviors: some lawyers with ties to the Langley bombing. Afterward, Saul pats her on the head and says she's been a very good doggie, because her terrible hospital ordeal was all part of his plan to get in with the Iranians. Now they're closer to the Langley bombing mastermind, Majid Javadi, who may actually be in the U.S.

And then Javadi's guys kidnap her. 

"Maybe" in the U.S. turns out to be "definitely" when Javadi has Carrie nabbed from her apartment, and she uses the opportunity to arrange a meeting between him and Saul. Javadi agrees, but takes a detour to murder his family, whom Saul helped escape to the U.S. years prior. Saul & Co. realize too late that Javadi might want a little reunion, and arrive only to find their bodies. 

And then Carrie and Quinn kidnap Javadi!

It's not called "kidnapping" when the CIA does it, but whatever. They bring Javadi in for questioning, and find out that the guy who planted the bomb at Langley is still in the country. If they find him, Carrie can clear darling Brody's name! 

Carrie's mission to prove Brody's innocence, however, ultimately fails.

Someone murders the bomber guy. Carrie tries to stop it, but Quinn shoots her in the arm to keep her from interfering with the broader anti-terrorism operation. You know. Public safety. The greater good. Blah blah.

But soon, she and Brody find their way back into each other's arms.

When Saul retrieves a heroin-addicted Brody from his Caracas hiding place, Carrie is charged with recruiting him on an undercover mission. He's to "request asylum" in Iran as the "Langley bomber," and somehow kill the leader of the Revolutionary Guard so the agency can replace him with their guy, Javadi. (Whom the CIA is blackmailing.)

Until the CIA's mission to use Brody to infiltrate the Iranian government fails, too.

Well, part of it. Brody kills the Revolutionary Guard leader, paving the way for Javadi, but doesn't escape in time to avoid a public hanging. Carrie is sad. And pregnant. 

Season 4 

Later, though, Carrie is named Drone Queen of a CIA station in the Middle East, where she orders an attack against the terrorist Haissam Haqqani. 

Based on intelligence from a guy named Sandy Bachman -- known for good intel -- Carrie ends up unknowingly bombing a wedding, killing 40 innocent people. Some kid's video of the incident goes viral on YouTube. 

People are not happy about the botched U.S. airstrike, and Carrie is fired from her post. Again!

Also, when Sandy's name made Pakistani news, he's beaten to death by an angry mob before Carrie and Quinn can rescue him. It's a down-but-not-quite-defeated Carrie that returns to the states. At home, she uses newfound knowledge that Sandy had been trading state secrets for terrorist intel -- and the CIA's Director Andrew Lockhart knew about it -- to land herself Sandy's old job in Pakistan. She's never gone for long, folks.

Back in Pakistan, Carrie gains favor with the kid whose video proved her drones killed innocent people.  

He thinks she's an independent journalist. She thinks he's still in touch with his uncle Haqqani. Surely this will end well. After seeing him deliver medicine to his terrorist (and very alive) relative, Carrie spirits him away to a safe house. Using her sexualité, she extracts information on Haqqani's whereabouts, and concocts a fake CIA break-in to force the kid into his only other safe harbor: Uncle Terrorist.

When she learns Haqqani has captured Saul, she nearly aims a drone attack at them both. 

Quinn talks her down. Haqqani kills his nephew. Everything is the worst. And then the U.S. ambassador's dick husband screws with Carrie's meds.

Having unknowingly taken the mystery meds, Carrie goes on a rampage around town.

She ends up hugging Pakistani intelligence officer Asar Khan in his home. Hallucinating, she sees him as Brody. Carrie wakes up with no memory of getting there -- but with a potential ally in Khan, who thinks someone on his side went too far. He warns her the ambassador's dick husband has been helping the Pakistani government.

Then after Saul escapes, Carrie lets him get captured again instead of ordering a drone strike against the terrorists he's fleeing. Eventually, she negotiates his release.

The drone would have also killed Saul. Instead, some CIA prisoners go free in exchange for his life. Saul is upset. Then, on their way back to the U.S. Embassy, Carrie's envoy is hit with missiles. But it turns out that was just a diversion for the real attack on the U.S. Embassy! Haqqani & Co. enter through a secret tunnel -- the ambassador's dick husband just can't keep his mouth shut -- and kill a lot of the staff. Including one of Carrie's favorite analysts.

Distraught, yet determined, Carrie stays in Pakistan to prevent Quinn's certain death by retaliation.

The Embassy is evacuated, but Quinn goes rogue on a mission to take down Haqqani. Knowing that people would see Quinn take his deadly shot on a public street and make his escape next to impossible, Carrie gets in the way. She's about to shoot Haqqani herself until her Pakistani intelligence buddy Khan gets in her way. "Look," he says, "It's your CIA guy Dar Adal, canoodling with a known terrorist. Crazy, right?" 

And, later, Carrie and Quinn share a kiss.

They also agree that Dar Adal is an a**hole for striking a deal with the guy who just murdered a bunch of innocent Americans. 

But she leaves on very bad terms with Saul, who wants back into the agency.

Saul, it turns out, is more willing to forgive Dar Adal. Once Carrie realizes that, she storms out. She's done. But that's all we know for now.

"Homeland" returns to Showtime at 9 p.m. on Oct. 4. The network will also re-air Season 4 beginning at 11 a.m.


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