‘Homeland’ Recap: The Spies Who Loved Her

'Homeland' Recap: The Spies Who Loved
Stephan Rabold/SHOWTIME

Spoiler alert: Do not read unless you’ve watched episode 507 of “Homeland,” titled “Oriole.”

There are shows where the characters know more than we, the viewers, do, and we strain to decipher the clues — and then there are shows where we’re privy to more information, and we wait for the characters to catch up.

Both approaches can be alternately thrilling and yet frustrating — and none ever more so than this season of “Homeland,” as we wait for our heroes to figure out that CIA Berlin station chief Allison Carr (Miranda Otto) is the Big Bad.

In this week’s action-packed episode (written by Alex Gansa and Patrick Harbinson and directed by Lesli Linka Glatter), all roads lead to the duplicitous station chief. We get to see the many faces of Allison, and she reveals each in turn to the men in her life.

She’s most herself with her Russian lover/handler Ivan, in the tense rendezvous that opens the episode. But he isn’t entirely convinced by her fear that Carrie (Claire Danes) might still be alive. “There’s only one person Saul would go so far out on a limb for,” she tells him. “I saw a photo, not a body.”

Perhaps, he allows, mollifying her with a shocking reveal for us: “You’ve been playing these men for years,” he says. Years? Just how long has this deception been going on? Turns out they’ve been playing a long, long con. “You represent the greatest operation in military intelligence in f—king history,” he divulges later in the episode. His SVR bosses want her to be director of the CIA, and it’s clear they’re not going to let anything derail it.

Next up on Allison’s target list is Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham). He doesn’t buy her clumsy pitch that Saul had left the thumb drive with the documents behind. Counters Allison, “Just because I’m sleeping with him doesn’t mean I’d perjure myself to protect him.” But perhaps Dar was never really meant to: Allison’s true goal was to get Saul back to the hotel, on their own turf so he would confess that Carrie was in fact still alive. 

Finally, there’s Saul (Mandy Patinkin): her main mission. It’s still a bit mind-blogging that he doesn’t suspect her at all — especially after that awkward conversation in the car back in episode 5, after the plane exploded. That seemed a clear signal that she had her own agenda (“Don’t forget your bag,” she said dismissively before delivering a cold, cold kiss) — and Saul had seemed to pick up on it.

After she tells him “I’m loyal, most of the time anyway” (oh, the irony!), she coaxes a confession out of him — and then has an immediate meltdown in front of him. Some spy she is. Still, nothing from Saul. Not a flicker. Just a offhand, “You, OK?” In his defense, he’s focused on self-preservation — as we’ll soon see — but his sharp brain has to be working overtime. He can’t have forgotten that he figured out last week there was a mole in the CIA and about Carrie’s warning that someone is trying to kill her. If he didn’t put her name in that kill box — and he knows he didn’t — then who did? That he doesn’t react at all when Allison breaks down in front of him simply strains credulity.

But Saul has his own agenda — and it isn’t to get his laundry delivered to Langley. After a final, epic confrontation with Dar — “She has finally brought you down like I always said she would” seethes Dar (just which “she” is well worth asking) — Saul sets his escape plan in motion. As he’s being escorted from the hotel, masked gunmen seize him, throw him in a van, and deliver him into the arms of his Israeli friend Etai. “So what exactly are we doing here?” asks Etai. “I don’t know, I’ve never defected before,” replies Saul. Cue gasps. We know this was a move of desperation for a man with no options — but Dar Adal will believe he was right all along about Saul secretly working for the Israelis.

Meanwhile, Carrie’s been busily digging through the files — and she’s found the smoking gun: the document the Russians wanted buried. It leads her to an old source in Baghdad who called her “Oriole” — who tried to warn her months ago that someone everyone thought was dead is indeed alive.

Inexplicably, she enlists journalist Laura Sutton — a known whistleblower — for help to track him down. Not only does Carrie famously loves constructing walls to solve mysteries, but the two women have never really gotten along. Indeed, the two soon face off when Laura demands to see all of the files. Laura appeals to their boss Otto for an overrule, but before they can come to any resolution, the hacker Laura brought along (our old pal Numan, who’s devastated to learn his buddy has been killed by the SVR) finds the missing man — and Carrie runs off in pursuit.

A pause here to reflect on Otto During. I was going to comment last week about how he almost seemed too good — too willing to do whatever Carrie asked without question. At last he finally revealed that he’s got something up his sleeve, though evidently it’s a knife to stab Carrie in the back. “We made a mistake hiring her,” he tells Jonas (who randomly shows up to check on Carrie), adding that she’s “unbalanced” and that they won’t be renewing her contract. No question During’s going to give the files to Laura. He certainly tipped his hand when Carrie said, “You seem pretty virtuous to me,” and he replied, “Oh, but I’m not.” Indeed. But does he have his own motive for betraying her? (And another question: Will the inevitable public release of files paint Carrie as a traitor, along with Saul?)

Carrie quickly tracks down her prey in Amsterdam, but before she can confront him, she runs into some mercenaries sent by Allison’s Russian friends. She barely escapes — her poor accomplice gets his throat slit in thanks — but she manages to grab a computer on the way out.

Rattled by the experience, with limited options of her own, Carrie places a call to Allison of all people. “I have to ask you some questions about your time (in Baghdad) before I arrived,” she tells her. If enlisting Laura was a questionable choice of allies, this certainly tops it. Carrie would have to suspect the leak was in the Baghdad bureau — and no one should be trusted.

Here’s a thought: What if this is all a set-up, a long con to trap Allison? “Homeland” has pulled season-long twists over on us before. It’s starting to feel too easy for Allison to get away with this deceit — too quick for Dar to let her talk to Saul; too pat for Saul to confess to her; too suspicious for Carrie to call her for help. Maybe they are all just self-involved — or maybe they are laying traps for her to lead them to the Russians. Allison herself warned us about Carrie in her conversation with Ivan: “Will you stop underestimating her?” We certainly won’t.

Either way, next week’s episode is titled “All About Allison” — so the chess match is about to get a lot more interesting, with the two queens, Carrie and Allison, about to face off.

A few notes:

•  Quinn’s back in the game: He may not be completely healed, but he’s still as mentally sharp as ever. He’s like a cat playing with mice, toying mercilessly with the jihadis who rescued him last week. Allison could take some poker face lessons from him. He’s got a new mission — and Dar couldn’t be more thrilled.

• During’s wifi password is “pope francis”: That can’t just be a throwaway line. During Otto and Carrie’s tete a tete, he says, “I always found it difficult being a Catholic.” 

• No one drops an F bomb better than Mandy Patinkin, and he lets them fly with a fury this week. That final “F— off” to Dar was a classic. Can’t wait to see their reunion.

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  2. EMJS says:

    Does anyone else think that Dar is Quinn’s father? He always has an almost parental pride in him.

  3. Nt says:

    I woke up annoyed by this episode and the scenes for next week. As mentioned by other posts…. Carrie has now let almost every character know she is alive. And why wouldn’t Quinn discuss the entire reason why he was shot to Dar!? The episode had me on the edge of my seat but the small details are making me feel like it’s going it so many different directions. And I feel like in the past there had been seasons that loose ends don’t get tied… And being they often do the YEARS SKIP between seasons they just start with a clean slate and not everything gets completely explained.

  4. cj Berk says:

    I’ve thought (all along) that Saul&Dar are onto Alison. Seemed clear in the car with that cold kiss. Saul is brilliant -how could he not suspect. I think he connected it when the plane blew up as Alison’s phone was answered.
    As for Carrie-she has to know as well. It better be a long con-otherwise their naivete is unacceptable for a show of this quality. Personally, I’d like to see Quinn back in the game and not peripheral. His chemistry with Carrie comes through loud and clear. Can’t wait for next week-I hope Alison gets caught in her own web.

  5. GVK says:

    I think Otto During has a crush on Carrie and wants her for himself. That’s why he undermined Jonas to Carrie calling him a lawyer and “of the earth” like his ex wife, and implied that he and Carrie were similar and that they had “wings.” So when he diminished Carrie to Jonas I think he was just trying to turn him off to her. I don’t think for a minute During really meant what he was saying about it being a mistake hiring her. During saying he wasn’t that virtuous to Carrie during that Catholicim conversation could also be read as flirtatious. I think he fell for her when she saved his life, and during their conversation on the balcony a few episodes ago. Why else would he be helping her like this?

  6. Monica G says:

    Agree with the previous comment—Quinn & Carrie were plenty concerned for each other to be suddenly off the other’s radar. There are open threads that are NOT okay to be ignoring, even for a payoff in the end. First, Otto During’s about face was too abrupt. He’s not a spy or one to be used to playing it close to the vest. Why would he be so sympathetic to Carrie, not to mention helpful, if he thought she were compromised? A spy with multiple agendas might do that, but not a straight-shooting philanthropist. Either there’s more to During or this is bad writing. Second, Jonas seemed pretty done when he broke up with Carrie, but I can believe he’s checking up on her. What I can’t believe is the way he replied to During’s questioning of Carrie’s mental state—indifferent. Makes no sense: either he’d jump to her defense as someone who loved her for 2+ years or he’d agree that she’s been swept up in the craziness and like he did, Otto should distance himself. But to just stand there and have no real reaction doesn’t add up. Third, Saul, Dar & Carrie could NOT be playing a long con because several details don’t add up, like the real estrangement between Saul & Carrie, Carrie’s lack of access to CIA files, etc. Fourth, we started this season wtih Quinn as dark as he’s ever been: an unapologetic assassin. He doesn’t hesitate or question as he did in the past. But the short time to reconnected with Carrie, we saw him vulnerable and willing to break CIA protocol for Carrie. She’s his soft spot and has been for a long time. But this time, she can save him for becoming a misanthropic killing machine—not pull him back in the game (like last season). That’s a great character arc for Quinn, but Homeland is ignoring it. IMHO, they need to tell even a little of that story every episode. Most of us agree that Carrie-Saul and Carrie-Quinn are now the heart of the show. It’s why we watch, however great the supporting cast are. I’m still a fan, but disappointed at some of the writing choices so far….

    • Alex W says:

      All Quinn knows is that the CIA operation is compromised and someone put Carrie’s name in the kill box. Maybe he doesn’t mention her to Dar cause he doesn’t know who to trust and he went to a lot of effort to make it seem as if she’s dead so why reveal that info to someone who works in the CIA and it could be leaked? Also Carrie thinks Quinn is dead so it makes sense she isn’t talking about him.

      With regards to Jonas he just saw Carrie off her meds, so that might be why he didn’t challenge During’s POV.

  7. Ric says:

    So let me get this straight Carrie has time to wax poetic about Jonas but couldn’t spare a moment of concern for Quinn. And Quinn doesn’t mention Carrie either? What is going on with this show? Is this out of sight, out of mind thing by Homeland? or is this done on purpose? Just very odd all around.

  8. Terry says:

    Episodes like this makes me miss the Carrie, Saul and Quinn all interacting together, those 3 are magic and the show is undercutting their true talent for characters I have no interest in.

  9. Noreen says:

    Otto During also talked about the chapel on his property and mentioned that during World War II the property was besieged by Red Army in 1945 and a monk said Mass there. Are those clues to a Vatican connection in the plot ?

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