If there’s one thing we learned tonight — other than the fact that Otto Düring’s super-secure WiFi password is “Pope Francis” — is that this season is not about hacktivism or the post-Snowden era, it’s not about ISIS and its terrifying impact on the Western world, and it’s not even about the slowly healing rift between Carrie and Saul.
It’s about Carrie and Allison (and Carrie versus Allison, except Carrie doesn’t know yet), whose stories dovetail nicely together at the end of tonight’s hour. Miranda Otto has been knocking her performance out of the park, but Allison, as a character, has also proved a fascinating foil to Carrie. She’s straddling two worlds and trying to keep her head straight, just as Carrie continues to think she can eventually have a nice life with her daughter. Both women not only share close ties with Saul (though Allison obviously has more of an, uh, intimate connection there), but also share a penchant for danger. As Krupin points out to Allison, she may hate the risks, but she loves being a double agent. Like Otto tells Carrie, some people are better at being “Earth-bound,” and as much as Carrie can half-hope the entire fiasco with the documents is a misunderstanding, she’s not one of those Earth-bound people. She and Allison will continue working in this agonizing world of secrets and spies because both, for better worse, like it.
Even if it means looking over their shoulders every other step, as Allison does when she goes to meet Krupin. She’s more worried than ever when she reports Saul’s rogue mission to take the documents out of the CIA Berlin Station. Krupin, as usual, thinks she’s overreacting and jumping to conclusions. But he entertains the idea that Saul took the files to give to a still-alive Carrie when Allison raises her voice, so he instructs her to talk to Saul and get more intel first.
To do this, Allison has to get close enough to Saul without raising suspicion from Dar Adal. This proves a bit tricky: She transfers all of the documents in question onto a USB and tries to fool Dar into believing that the thumb drive must be the one Saul had tried to smuggle out. Dar doesn’t believe a word of it, though, and is too preoccupied with insulting Saul to care. “He’s being completely uncooperative,” he says, watching a detained Saul on the monitor. “It’s all too stupid and theatrical for words.” Luckily for Allison, she convinces Dar she’ll get Saul to talk, as long as she takes him back to the hotel so he feels comfortable. Dar reluctantly allows it.
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With that accomplished, all Allison has to do is get Saul to spill — a step that turns out to be easier than she thought. Saul’s already furious at Dar, and he’s ready to burst. When Allison asks him why he needs to stay in Berlin for 72 more hours instead of getting shipped back to Langley, he can’t keep the secret any longer. After masking their voices from any hidden mics, he tells her what’s really going on: Carrie’s alive, and he brought the documents to Otto to give to her, so he’s hoping Carrie reaches out before he leaves Berlin.
At this, Allison looks like she’s about to vomit, and Saul notices. Instead of wondering why the CIA Berlin Station chief is getting awfully sick at the news of Carrie seeing the documents, Saul figures she just needs a minute to take in his rebellion. Alone in the bathroom, Allison crouches, presses her forehead, and breaks down. Eventually, she composes herself — and quickly makes her way to Krupin to report her findings.
Krupin is surprised Carrie is alive, but again, he’s not too worried, a reaction that sets Allison off. “Will you stop underestimating her?” she shouts at him. “I don’t care how f—ing brilliant she is,” Krupin dismisses. “She’s not a magician.” Allison isn’t comforted by this comparison. She tells Krupin the world is about to end, but Krupin reminds her of how good of a spy she is, as she represents “the greatest penetration in f—ing history” of the CIA by Russian intelligence. He also tells her to stop protesting — after all, she loves this job, and without it, she’d be “beached fish.” (Krupin is a master at colorful language, isn’t he?) But because she’s still worried, Krupin assures her they’ll be ready for Carrie when she figures out that she needs to follow what she finds in the documents to Amsterdam.
NEXT: Carrie follows the paper trail all the way to Amsterdam[pagebreak]
Carrie may not be a magician, but she’s a damn good spy. She sets up shop in Otto’s house and is reading through the documents when Otto enters to offer coffee. “I’m half-hoping I don’t find anything at all,” Carrie says. “Then this can all still be a mistake, some big misunderstanding.” She almost smiles at the thought that she was nearly killed for nothing and even brings up the cabin (of “The Weekend” fame) as a place to go if she gets away from this mess, but Otto clearly doesn’t buy it. He listens as she talks about breaking up with Jonas and then reminds her that she’s not like Jonas. Grounded, “Earth-bound” people like him wouldn’t be able to and wouldn’t want to pursue the risks she’s pursuing.
And that half-hope quickly gets tossed out the window when Carrie spots a suspicious file in the documents, a report from Baghdad that reads “Touchstone seeks Oriole.” An asset named “Touchstone” had activated an emergency signal and requested a meeting with “Oriole.” Carrie looks perturbed as she reads the file and immediately calls a woman in Baghdad, trying to track down a man she tells the woman she knew. But after the woman hangs up on her, Carrie again seeks help from Otto. This time, she finds him inside a small building on his sprawling complex, a mini-church where Otto tells her about growing up Catholic. It’s a quiet scene, but the significance is clear — Carrie may not be tied much to her faith, but she’s been trying to ground herself, to be virtuous, ever since we saw her in that opening shot this season.
But she can’t succeed on that front because everything’s still going on around her. She gets a call during her contemplative conversation with Otto: It’s Samir, the man she had been trying to reach, who turns out to be an asset she once developed in Baghdad. He calls her “Oriole” and, aha, that’s when the pieces fall into place. He’s the asset who had requested the meeting, and he chides her for never getting in touch. Carrie apologizes. “Oriole’s on the shelf,” she says sadly. “Oriole had flown the coop.”
Well, Oriole’s now back, and Touchstone has intel. He tells her that Ahmed Nuzari (if anyone has closed captioning, please let me know if this is the right spelling? Also, the way he pronounces it made the name sound like “Abu Nazir” and made my heart stop for a second), a lawyer they thought had died in a bombing at the Ministry of Justice, isn’t dead. Samir had spotted the man five months ago in the street, and he’s sure it was him. The news distresses Carrie, and she enlists the help of Laura Sutton to track Ahmed down.
Laura conveniently brings along Numan, who finally learns of Korzie’s death from Carrie. Numan gets about two milliseconds to hang his head and gather himself before Carrie tells them she needs to find the lawyer by locating his widow, who left Iraq after the bombing. Laura’s gleeful at the chance to ask Carrie if she can see the documents now that Carrie got her hands on them. Carrie grows exasperated, promising Laura they can talk about it with Otto later. When Otto arrives, they argue about the importance of transparency, but before they reach a decision, Numan walks in and reveals that the lawyer’s widow is in Amsterdam, so Carrie, without missing a beat, cuts the tedious debate with Laura short to drive to the Netherlands.
Carrie and her wig make it to Amsterdam, where she makes contact with Esam, a former asset of hers who greets her kindly and tells her all about how thankful he is that she gave him a second chance and how he’s now pursuing an MBA and moving forward with his life and yada yada yada — clearly, this guy makes Carrie happy, and because Carrie’s happy, he’s probably going to die at the end of this episode…right?
Right. But before we get to that sad (inevitable) ending, we first see Esam helping Carrie find the widow, who’s living in a tony house in the city. Esam reports that the lawyer is alive and inside, and when the lawyer finally leaves his house, Carrie tells Esam to follow him while she goes and pokes around for clues. Carrie’s barely gone through the man’s drawers before Esam calls and tells her he can’t tail the man any further because he was just taken by some burly, presumably Krupin-sent men. Carrie tells him to wait for her — and we all know what happens when characters are told to wait — while she grabs a laptop she found and tries to leave.
Just as she’s about to go, the same presumably Krupin-sent men have entered the premises and noticed the pane of glass Carrie had smashed to get inside. They track her to the second floor, and she manages to slip out, avoiding their bullets at the last second. When she gets to Esam’s cab, she hops in, only to realize — oh nooooo — his throat’s been slit. And so Carrie bolts and begins to drive back to Berlin. In the car, she calls Allison, of all people, because she needs more answers to the documents and still has no idea what Allison is doing. Allison cordially agrees to meet with Carrie, and Carrie’s relieved. Little does she know she’s headed straight for danger…
…and for unemployment. In a quick scene, Jonas visits Otto’s humongous estate and talks to the billionaire about Carrie. Otto calmly tells him that Carrie ran off to Amsterdam and that he’s made up his mind about whether they should extend Carrie’s contract. “She’s unbalanced,” Otto says, adding that he’s going to terminate their professional relationship. “Of course, don’t let that influence your personal relationship with her. That’s your business.” So…Otto’s no longer going to have Carrie as his head of security, but was there something more than just her “mental state” that convinced him to do this to her? Or is he simply realizing that she wants to go back to the CIA world and that it would be in her best interest not to be tied to this job? It didn’t seem like he was telling Jonas the full story, and Jonas knows it.
NEXT: Quinn accepts a dangerous new mission — and so does Saul[pagebreak]
I’ve saved Quinn for last because a) he’s the best and b) I’m still quite confused by what Homeland is trying to do with him. Seemingly fully healed after last week’s vicious knife fight with Hajik Zayd, Quinn is about to leave again when the man who had talked to him in the hallway (IMDb tells me his name is “Bibi”) offers to pay him handsomely in exchange for his help in their next mission. They won’t be blowing anything up in Berlin, Bibi says, because of Quinn’s advice. Instead, they’re heading to Turkey and need to cross the border to Syria. Bibi says his uncle is a deputy emir, and that catches Quinn’s attention.
Quinn tracks down Dar Adal and reports what he learned to him instead of Saul because, well, Saul’s out of commission and should have told Dar about Quinn being in Berlin in the first place. Dar grumbles. “You and Saul,” Quinn muses, “the perfect marriage ending badly.” He tells Dar he got lucky and that “it’s a long story” but he fell in with some jihadists released from prison. (It is a long story, but at least you’re alive, Quinn!) Not only can Quinn help escort them across the Syrian border, but they can also get him close to the deputy emir, which would certainly help the CIA. Dar is very pleased with this development and gives Quinn the green light to pursue the mission.
Back with the jihadists, Quinn joins after reviewing the men’s passports and kicking one off the team. The rabble-rousing helps Quinn establish his authority, and Bibi is more than happy to have him instead of the man with the incriminating passport stamp. Quinn jumps into the van, and off they go — to a story line that takes Quinn even farther away from what’s happening with Carrie, Allison, and Saul. Could the deputy emir related to Bibi have ties to what Dar and Saul had wanted to do with Syria? Could this help them overthrow Assad? As much of a fan as I am of Quinn, this piece of the puzzle feels a bit too isolated at the moment, and I’ll admit that after a run of episodes reuniting Quinn with Carrie, it’s a bit jarring to see Quinn revert back into killing-machine mode so quickly.
But elsewhere in Berlin, the Saul-Carrie-Allison story is barreling ahead. Allison spends a night with Saul (it’s unclear if this is something she’s doing to comfort herself or if it’s another double agent move), and in the morning, Saul and Dar argue as Saul’s prepped to leave for Langley. “Is this really how you want to go out?” Dar spits at Saul. “Like one of those poor old actors you have to drag off the stage?” (Hey Dar, you’re talking to Mandy Patinkin here! Never mind.) Dar, as the resident dramatic Homeland peacock, continues to toss words into Saul’s inscrutable face, accusing him of being brought down by Carrie and saying that there’s nothing else he could have done for him. Saul responds the only way he can, with an apt two words: “F— off.”
Saul then curiously calls for his laundry — or rather, the agent guarding him does it because everyone’s too suspicious of Saul now. He reports that the hotel couldn’t find his laundry, and Saul nods. Agents escort Saul into an elevator, and all is quiet until they reach their floor and wham! Gunmen fend off Saul’s escorts and take him away to…
Üter Etai (so, uh, actor Allan Corduner had been listed under that incorrect character name on IMDb and elsewhere at the start of the season, and I apologize for inundating these recaps with extra umlauts). “You scared the s— out of me,” Saul says, greeting his Israeli friend. When Etai asks him what he’ll do next, Saul almost smiles. “I don’t know,” he says. “I’ve never defected before.”
So by the end of tonight, the players have again been shuffled on the board. Saul’s officially gone rogue, and Dar can’t do anything about it. Quinn is headed off to danger with men who may help him reach a worthy target, if they don’t screw things up first. Carrie could use some magic to get her target, and maybe a little bird (perhaps an oriole?) can tell her ASAP what’s really going on with Allison. Hmm, given Allison’s bathroom breakdown, maybe she’ll end up cracking first…