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‘Homeland’ Recap: A Tale of Two Spies (SPOILERS)

Spoiler alert: Do not read until you’ve watched episode six of this season’s “Homeland,” titled “Parabiosis.”

This week we got to watch two spies show off their craft: one an old master, dusting off some clever sleight-of-hand; the other a young gun, grievously injured but still cunning enough to outwit his captors. Yep, they’ve both still got it.

This taut, 46-minute long episode of “Homeland” — written by Chip Johannessen and Ted Mann and directed by Alex Graves — was essentially a game of chess, putting players in position for showdowns ostensibly yet to come.

Let’s start with Carrie and Saul. We finally get the mentor/mentee reunion we’ve been waiting for, and it goes… badly. Guess we shouldn’t have been surprised. She wants him to be shocked that someone’s been trying to kill her, and he’s ice cold.

“There’s a line between us that you drew,” he seethes. “Forget it. It’s a f–king wall.”

Carrie tries to convince Saul that it’s the Russians that are after her, but Saul’s having none of it. He can’t see past his distrust of her to realize the spy is in his own camp — much less his own bed.

But the suspicion she’s planted begins to take root, and he realizes it as soon as he gets back to his hotel and realizes he’s being tailed. Allison naturally points the finger at Dar. She’s so good at double-crossing and the art of self-preservation. Oh, Saul, why don’t you suspect her?

Saul insists on a sweep of the station — which infuriates Dar, who has lost faith in his old friend. Hilariously, Allison tries eavesdropping on their conversation (Really? The doors at a CIA station aren’t soundproof?). Hard to believe the two paranoid spies don’t even suspect the woman they were both ready to ship back to the U.S. just a few weeks ago. But they’re so blind with fury they just can’t see past it.

Then there’s our other spy: Quinn. His rescuers turn out to be a squabbling group of jihadists — whose leader just got released from jail. Quinn might not be in top fighting shape, but he knows how to play mind games to save his life. “The real jihad is in Syria, but there you’d have to fight,” he taunts them. He foments just enough dissent in their ranks to make sure that when his inevitable face-off comes with their leader, no one lines up behind the ex-con. Freedom is his.

One can’t help but be disappointed in Carrie, who’s hard to recognize in this episode — and I’m not just talking about that horrible wig. Shot down by Saul, rejected by Jonas, she turns to During in desperation, who agrees to help her escape. “I had no idea how much (Saul) hates me,” she tells her boss. “I am the problem. I bring down everyone around me.”

She’s given up the fight — indeed, her existence. She accepts Quinn’s supposed death, just because Jonas says so. We never see her even mourn for the man who saved her life. Instead she paces pathetically outside Jonas’ window for one last glance of that lost love. Mission aborted, photos of her beloved daughter deleted, she’s ready to disappear.

But… that paranoid part of Saul’s brain fires up just in time. The spymaster proves he’s still got some slick moves of his own. When he realizes he’s been locked out of the computer system, he uses the bug sweepers as a cover to steal the files Carrie needs. He stages a meeting with During, and knowing he’ll be searched, he plants the files in During’s coat. Never has a coat check been so useful. Game, set, coat check.

“I didn’t believe her,” he concedes to During. “Now I do.” During dutifully delivers the files to Carrie, just as she’s about to board the plane to oblivion.

Parabiosis means “the experimental or natural union of two individuals with exchange of blood.” There was a literal one, of course: Quinn’s life was saved by his tranfusion — his rescuer gave him his own blood. 

Yet showrunner Alex Gansa has said this series has always been about the complicated love story of Saul and Carrie. Bitterly divided all season, by episode’s end they’re finally united. The exchange of files may not have been blood, literally — but it might as well be, given the troubling fate that awaits Saul. 

The stakes are set for next week. Carrie’s finally got the intel she needs, and Saul… here’s hoping we haven’t seen the last of him.

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