Has Allison ever been more infuriating and impressive at the same time? Bibi and his men might be the ones carrying out the lethal attack on Berlin, but it’s Allison who becomes the most threatening obstacle to the BND and CIA’s efforts to stop the terrorist cell. And there are two bodies to prove it.
We should have known — it’s all in the episode title: “Our Man in Damascus” is (most likely, anyway) a reference to the book Our Man in Damascus, which traces the life of Eli Cohen, an Israeli spy who managed to infiltrate the upper echelons of the Syrian government in the 1960s. It’s an obvious, pointed reference to Allison, who has infiltrated the CIA to an impossibly high level and has even managed to reinsert herself in the operations against Bibi.
Yet, on a broader scale, the reference could also be about the importance of the people who are recruited to help a cause and carry their tasks through, regardless of their beliefs. It’s not just Allison who doesn’t want to carry out what she’s asked to do in this episode but still does so because of the circumstances. Qasim helps Bibi with the remote problem, despite his reservations, because he’s cornered by his imposing cousin. Al-Amin helps Carrie, despite their volatile history and his connection to Hezbollah, because the Islamic State has made it tough for even Hezbollah to operate. Laura defies Otto’s instructions, despite knowing she could get herself arrested, because she had sworn to protect her client. Even the Afro-German woman (as she’s credited) in the subway helps Carrie, despite the weirdness and unbelievable manner of Carrie’s request, because, well, Carrie’s just that convincing when on the job.
Maybe that’s all a stretch, but Homeland makes a point to highlight each of these characters being cornered into doing what they’re asked, showing how almost every character is trapped except Carrie. It’s that suffocating space in spywork that causes Saul to put his face in his hands midway through the episode.
Still, the episode itself isn’t stifling. It unfolds over four interwoven threads, two pushing the CIA and BND forward in stopping Bibi’s plot and two following those who are helping Bibi advance it. The former begins with Carrie and Saul together at the hospital, where Quinn hasn’t woken up from his nerve gas-induced coma. They need him to share vital information about the terrorist cell’s plans, but, well, his vitals themselves (sorry) aren’t working just yet, even after Saul has the doctor try to drug him awake and Carrie tries her best to bring him to the surface.
Quinn comes close to speaking, but when he coughs up awful-looking black goo, Carrie and Saul know to try other leads. Carrie, who noticed how well Quinn had healed from the bullet wound he suffered at the post office, believes there must be a doctor who treated him and who might be able to share more of what Quinn went through to point her in the right direction.
But to find out who he is, she has to track down Al-Amin, who had kidnapped her for a meeting back in the premiere and placed the call that provided her Hezbollah’s protection in Lebanon. The Hezbollah leader based in Berlin isn’t too happy to see Carrie again when she shows up at his doorstep, scaring his family away to a safe location. With some coaxing and chin-quivering, Carrie convinces Al-Amin that she’s not looking to hurt him; all she wants is knowledge of medical professionals operating with unlicensed clinics who help people like Quinn. Al-Amin tells her of a doc named Hussein, and Carrie finds him busy with a long line of patients who can’t go to the hospital for help.
Hussein tells her “the world has totally gone mad,” and just as she did with Al-Amin, Carrie appeals to his generosity, asking him to tell her where Quinn had gone. He helps her find Qasim’s apartment, where she realizes Qasim had been engrossed in the Berlin Hauptbahnhof station and the 5:15 p.m. train. She immediately realizes the attack’s epicenter will be the station — but when she calls Saul, he says the CIA and BND have already traced the attack to the airport instead. Rattled, Carrie instead grabs a photo of Qasim and Bibi and then turns to leave.
NEXT: Allison leads the CIA and BND astray