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'Homeland' recap: 'New Normal'

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Stephan Rabold/SHOWTIME

Homeland

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
tvpgr:
TV-MA
seasons:
5
run date:
10/02/11
performer:
Claire Danes, Damian Lewis, Morena Baccarin, Mandy Patinkin
broadcaster:
Showtime
genre:
Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Time to breathe a sigh of relief: Quinn is alive and gets to spend at least another episode in a hospital bed (thankfully, it’s not inside the headquarters of a terrorist cell). And though it would be great to see Homeland pull back on trying to off its one consistently tolerable lead character — no, really, the whole is-Quinn-going-to-die cliffhanger device is getting old — the results of having Quinn gassed led to an exciting hour: When Bibi releases the video of Quinn being gassed, it sets off a chain of events that involves every major player this season, pushes Carrie and Astrid to combine forces, and exposes a threat that puts the Allison situation on the back burner. 

Not that they were getting anywhere with her, anyway. Carrie scoffs at the idea that Allison could be telling the truth about using Krupin as an asset, but Dar says he can’t ignore Allison’s sterling record at the CIA or the “scandal” the agency would be mired in if she did turn out to be a double agent all along. He tells Carrie about Allison’s “carefully curated intel” and then asks her to leave. “Your part in this play is over,” Dar says. The man’s a fan of theater metaphors — remember when he told Saul he was an aging actor?

Speaking of Saul, he and Etai are finally off the hook for the general’s plane exploding, as Krupin confirmed the SVR did it. He doesn’t look relieved at the news, however: When Dar talks to him about Allison, Saul’s on Carrie’s side. Instead of handing her over to counterintelligence, Saul asks to talk to her alone to get her to confess. 

He tries, but Allison knows how to provoke him. As soon as Saul enters the room, she acts annoyed, saying he shouldn’t be the one who seems angry — even if his anger is something she found “curious” about him during their time together. “I’m the aggrieved party here,” she pouts. Allison explains that she had reported her recruitment of Krupin to David Estes, who, as Saul points out, is “conveniently” dead. (No, he’s just on Supergirl, Saul!) The he-said, she-said banter from there gets them nowhere: He says she should have gone up the chain past Estes. She says she kept the circle small because of Krupin’s importance. He says it’s strange she didn’t tell anyone else after Estes’ death. She says she was protecting a paranoid Krupin. When Saul gets up, she remarks that if that was all he wanted to ask, then the interrogation was too easy.

But Saul’s not done. “I guarantee you this: Not one thing about your life from this moment forward will be easy,” he says. “I will personally see to that.” And as he begins to question her about the innocent people she’s hurt — including Carrie — that rage Allison found so fascinating boils over. Saul pins her against the wall, throttling her neck and shouting at her until Dar has him taken away.

Before Dar and Saul get a chance to go over what happened, a new threat emerges: The video Bibi recorded of Quinn has been released. In it Bibi demands recognition for the Islamic State by the U.N. Security Council and threatens “a European city” with sarin gas if this isn’t achieved in 24 hours. The pair help the BND identify Bibi by revealing Quinn’s connection, but with so little time to contain the threat, Dar ends up bringing Allison out of her interrogation room and into the fold. She says she and Krupin can offer SVR intel, and Krupin abides, informing the CIA and BND that Syria does have enough chemical weapons to annihilate Berlin.

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Meanwhile, Carrie, who had just asked Astrid for help tracking Quinn down nine whole days after his disappearance — and was rightly reprimanded for waiting so long by her BND counterpart — and visited the Quinncave for clues, is horrified by the video. She pleads with Saul to let her see the entire video, in case Quinn tried to signal her, and Astrid allows her inside. The two women watch as Quinn foams at the mouth, falls to the ground, and shakes. Carrie cries, and Astrid holds her hand, before telling her the floor tiles in the corner of the screen could be a clue.

Yet, despite not getting a concrete clue from the video, this scene leads to more scenes between Carrie and Astrid, who have for so long been painted as mirrors of each other without ever sharing extended screen time together. As Sonia Saraiya over at Salon pointed outHomeland has surrounded Carrie with Carrie-like women this season, with Astrid, Laura, and Allison representing different sides of Carrie. All are intensely good at their jobs (yes, even Laura), and all have been painted in opposition to Carrie — until now, which is why I find Carrie and Astrid’s scenes in this episode particularly fascinating. Not only do they both have histories with Quinn, but also the dynamics the two bring emotionally to their mission makes their interactions pop. I may be wrong, but Carrie’s headed into an assignment with a female equal: Fara was a protege, Martha was a superior, and, well, Jessica Brody was never Carrie-like to begin with.

Anyway, this is all to say that it’s refreshing to see Carrie and Astrid working together and talking about Quinn. (Does it pass the Bechdel test? Of course not. But it was necessary.) And so, having Astrid and Carrie team up is a clever, long overdue move. Plus, they’re the ones saving Quinn, the damsel in distress.

NEXT: Can Quinn be saved by…a floor tile?

[pagebreak]

At the Düring Foundation, Otto’s minions Laura and Jonas are excited to bring in Faizad (if you had closed captioning and caught the right spelling, please let me know), a man who had been imprisoned along with Zayd (the guy who tried to defeat Quinn with a knife, remember?) after being illegally watched by the CIA and BND. He is now looking to file a civil suit against the government. The Foundation will cover his fees, and Laura and Jonas have him tell his story on camera about how he had unwittingly sold cell phones and SIM cards to radical Islamists and people with jihadi connections. 

It’s all very moving — until Jonas switches off the camera and asks Faizad to tell them everything he knows about his suspicious customers. He gets nervous but explains that Zayd had bought phones from him and they were in prison together. Laura urges him not to hide, and he finally admits that he talked to Zayd in prison but not about anything incriminating. One time, he said, he overheard Zayd talking about an attack in Berlin. 

Laura and Jonas are left speechless and quickly usher Faizad out. Jonas says that even though it could just be jailhouse chatter, they might have to turn him back in to the federal police. Laura, as stubborn as ever, says they have to protect him, not traumatize him all over again.

The next day, after Bibi’s video’s been released and Otto returns, the two continue the debate until Laura brings up 9/11. She says that giving Faizad up would be just as counterproductive as the wars that were started in retaliation for 9/11, and besides, Muslim men are already being rounded up by the BND and CIA over the video. It’s a stretch, but it doesn’t matter; Laura’s already brought Faizad to the Foundation, where she assured him they would continue representing his case. 

Unsure of what to do, Otto dismisses his minions and calls Saul. He asks him to promise not to arrest Faizad and to treat him fairly when he brings him in to talk about what he knows about the attack. Saul agrees to the deal, but when Otto, Laura, and Jonas leave the Foundation, the BND grabs Faizad and takes him away. Hey, it’s still the BND’s turf, but good try, Otto.

And yet, maybe the BND and CIA didn’t need Faizad’s intel. Back at the CIA Berlin Station, Saul and Dar report to the CIA director, only to be told that they can’t warn the people of Berlin of what’s happening, even though, as Saul points out, the threat is the biggest they’ve faced since 9/11. (Looks like Laura’s connection between the two was validated, in a way.) The director says they can’t initiate mass panic because that’s exactly what the terrorists want. “It’s the new normal, gentlemen,” he concludes, before signing off without a goodbye. 

Not all is lost, though: Allison walks in and tells the two the BND has identified Bibi and will be feeding his photo into CCTV facial recognition. Saul’s not too happy to see her working again and excuses himself — he and Carrie are both still appalled by Dar’s call to bring her on board — but Dar smiles at Allison and thanks her.

Over at the BND, Astrid comforts Carrie about Quinn, telling her he didn’t have time to send a signal and that it’s not her fault for keeping Quinn in Berlin to find out who placed her on a kill list. “Quinn never did anything he didn’t want to,” Astrid says. “He was a complete pain in the ass that way… Stubborn as a mule. Beautiful, too.” (Astrid gets the best lines.)

As Carrie wipes away her cryface tears, the BND manages to identify which buildings have the floor tiles. And Carrie, remembering an old algorithm the CIA used in Baghdad to track suspects, uses it to figure out where Bibi frequents in the city and which of the 1,500 buildings with the floor tiles are the most likely to be used by Bibi. With all that done in less than 30 seconds on a BND computer screen (thanks, German technology!), Carrie manages to narrow down the possibilities of where Bibi and Quinn might be. 

But while they’re moving forward with the Quinn case, the Allison situation may have gone awry. She’s tailed by a CIA agent wherever she goes, but when she heads outside for a smoke, she makes eye contact with an old woman who’s walking her dog. (Plus, the CIA agent tells her he doesn’t believe what they’re saying about her, helping her case just a little more.) It’s not clear whether Allison signaled the woman — she fiddles with her heel and stubs out her cigarette — or if the woman signaled something to her by stopping and patting her dog. The whole exchange could also be innocuous, but that seems unlikely: For now, my theories are a) the woman signaled to Allison about an extraction plan, b) Allison somehow reported her status with the investigation of her involvement with the SVR, or c) Allison actually signaled something not about herself but about the Berlin threat. Could the SVR be interested in the Quinn video, as well?

NEXT: Bibi’s plan hits a snag

[pagebreak]

While the BND and CIA work away on tracking Bibi’s cell, Bibi himself has been busy handing canisters of the lethal gas off to be placed around the subway. His plan, in the event that the U.N. doesn’t comply within 24 hours, is to have the gas released before the train pulls in, to use his men to block the entrances and exits, and to be there two hours ahead of schedule to ensure the, uhhh, terrorism goes smoothly. 

The one problem: Kasim Qasim, who Bibi notices seems anxious. He tells his cousin to feel more certain, because no matter what happens, people will blame the government for failing to prevent terror, not the terrorists themselves. “Denying us will cost them more than they’re willing to pay,” he says. 

And yet, his master plan is still flawed. When one of his men finds the empty atropine cartridge, he checks on Quinn and realizes their guest is still alive after the gas. When Bibi’s informed, he insists on weeding out the traitor in the group and has them all open their hazmat packs to find who used their atropine on Quinn. One by one, they open their packs, and Qasim realizes his pack still contains a full atropine. Instead, the empty pack has been switched, and a man named Zaheer takes the fall.

Bibi, too small fry of a villain to understand that it’s not really a great move to murder one of your own in front of the men you want to remain loyal, shoots and kills Zaheer. Later, on the way to the station, Bibi tells Qasim he switched the kits to protect him because he’s family. But, he warns Qasim, if he doesn’t follow instructions again, he’ll be killed just like Zaheer. Qasim looks rattled as he nods.

Good thing they didn’t bring Quinn along. For the entire episode, poor Rupert Friend has remained where he fell in the glass chamber, because the jihadists didn’t want to let the gas out and figured Quinn would die soon anyway. He doesn’t, of course, and stays alive just long enough for his two girlfriends Carrie and Astrid to make it to the building he’s in. When they spot blood on the floor, they fear the worst but find Zaheer’s body covered in plastic sheets. They figure out that the cell was here and had left before they arrived. While Astrid takes a photo of the body, Carrie searches the rest of the building and finds the chamber. 

Thinking he’s dead, she crouches and cries against the glass, until Quinn moves a finger. Quinn, officially saved by floor tiles, is taken to the hospital, where Carrie and Saul watch over him. Now that the kill order’s gone — along with the wig, as Astrid noted earlier in the episode — Carrie can help Quinn again. And as Carrie and Saul wait for Quinn to heal, they look stricken. It’s not hard to imagine what they’re thinking: With Allison getting into Dar’s good graces, Berlin about to be attacked, and their best terrorism janitor hurt in the hospital, it’s all just a bit, as Saul put it earlier, “unbelievable.” 

Actually, forget “unbelievable,” Saul. Instead, it’s more like:

After all, it’s Homeland‘s favorite word.

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