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'Homeland' recap: 'The Litvinov Ruse'

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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

Like Carrie and Saul, the CIA and BND don’t always see eye to eye. But when they do, they can pull off some spectacular spy work. Case in point: Tonight’s cat-and-mouse game with Allison had Saul carrying out a middle-of-the-night bugging of Allison’s purse and cell phone, Astrid attempting a last-ditch push, and Carrie — the Drone Queen herself — using the BND’s sophisticated surveillance to follow Allison’s flight from Berlin. 

All of it worked right up until Allison opened her mouth in the interrogation room and spun a whole new web of lies that stumped even Dar Adal. Before we get to that, though, at least Carrie finally, properly reunited with Saul in a scene that looked nothing like the last one these two shared. Carrie, touched that he sacrificed his standing in the CIA to get the documents to her even after his harsh words earlier, cries when she sees him. And Saul, instead of dismissing Carrie’s concerns, embraces her. 

Later, Carrie explains all about Allison — and “All About Allison” — but Saul’s skeptical about how she connected a screensaver to the CIA Berlin Station chief. He hears her out, admitting that he doesn’t want to be convinced, and eventually agrees to bring the BND on board. In a meeting with Astrid and Adler, who back in the season premiere had cut off ties with the agency following the documents leak, the BND realizes that if Allison is a Russian spy, then they have as much to lose as the CIA. So, despite Carrie and Saul not having any input from Langley, as they’re both still wanted by the agency for being “disloyal,” the BND decides to help.

The one problem: To get Allison, they’ll need someone to plant a bug on her and get access to her phone. Saul volunteers and manages to play the part when he heads to her apartment. He tells her Carrie never reached out, that Israel is offering him political asylum (a fact she’s clearly suspicious of but ends up accepting), and that he came over to say goodbye. She says he’s guilty, but Saul wins himself a night with her when he tells her he’ll miss her after he leaves. Ah, the romance angle — considering how Ahmed pulled a similar stunt all those years ago, that has to be Allison’s biggest weakness.

Later that night, while Allison’s asleep, Saul creeps downstairs, dons his glasses, props up a light, and gets to work with his Super Spy ToolkitTM. He uses a thumb drive to download her cell phone’s data, cuts the lining of her purse using a handy Super Spy ScalpelTM, and inserts a tiny Super Spy BugTM inside before sealing it with Super Spy GlueTM. (None of this stuff is high-tech, but that ominous music that kicked in made things feel extra-suspenseful, like Saul was carrying out a 007 mission instead of a practical CIA one.) Afterward, he heads back upstairs, crawls into bed, and tells Allison he was just getting a glass of water. Mission accomplished!

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So far, anyway. The next step involves Astrid and Adler convincing the CIA there’s a Russian defector who the BND will hand over within a week. In a meeting with Dar and Allison, Astrid carefully outlines the plan: She lies, telling them there’s a senior Moscow Center chief with a “deep knowledge” of double agents who wants asylum in the U.S. — Boca Raton, to be specific, a nice detail that adds to the ruse — in exchange for the information he has. The bait looks like it works: Allison doesn’t have a panic attack but does appear distracted, striding away from the meeting as quickly as possible. But instead of contacting her handler, as Carrie and Saul want her to do, she shoots off some innocuous texts to a mystery contact, who promises to bring Italian for dinner. A BND officer wonders if it’s code, but as Carrie points out, a devil emoji is a “strange” code for a spy agency to use. (But it is blatant symbolism, Homeland!)

Six hours later, Allison’s still going about her business “like it’s another day at the f—ing office,” Carrie says. And as Astrid quips, Allison’s doing so “literally” as she, uh, gets intimate with the civilian she invited over for dinner. Unfortunately, Saul’s watching the monitors as Allison gets it on. He rushes out of the room, disturbed. Carrie, who had no idea he was involved with Allison until Astrid tells her, goes to check on him in the hallway. “I don’t know what the f— to believe anymore,” Saul says, but Carrie keeps them on track, telling him that Allison is clearly not going to her handler, which means they’ll have to act. It’s a rare case of Carrie acting the mentor to Saul, but it’s effective. 

And so the CIA and BND come up with a new game plan: They send Astrid to meet with Allison and to deliver even more threatening bait. Astrid says that the defector wants to be brought in sooner but not to Berlin because the CIA station there has been penetrated. Allison pretends to be shocked at the news and then insists that the defector is bluffing so he can get a sweeter deal. When Astrid says he has proof in the form of copies of materials the double agent in Berlin passed to the SVR, Allison begins to look agitated. She whips out her phone after Astrid leaves and immediately has her assistant arrange for a trip to get her to Copenhagen that afternoon. After that call, she dials a mystery number and hears a series of beeps. A BND officer points out that it must be a call code, a signal usually prearranged between an asset and the base. After listening, Allison packs up and hurries into a cab, now officially on the run.

NEXT: Allison can run, Allison can hide — but not from drones

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Allison does everything she can to prevent getting tracked, from dismantling her cell phone to weaving through subway lines and cars to throw off anyone tailing her. But she misses the bug in her purse, and with that on her, the BND’s drones manage to follow her out of the city, all the way to the Nikolassee station, just southwest of Berlin (thanks, Google Maps!). 

Carrie and Saul watch as she drives through the wooded areas and makes her way to an isolated, gated complex. There, they hit a snag: As soon as Allison drives past the gates, several screens go blank, and the audio they had access to is ruined. The entire compound, the BND realizes, must be a dead zone, not allowing any signal to come through, save for the visual from the lone drone they have left. 

With all this sophisticated protection and Allison’s suspicious movements in play, Carrie says it’s clear she’s guilty and begs Saul to arrest her. Saul hesitates, saying this isn’t conclusive evidence. And just as Carrie begins to lose her wits and go against his wishes, they see a man waiting outside for Allison. When they zoom in (these are excellent drones, BND), they see that it’s Ivan Krupin, SVR Berlin Station chief, Allison’s contact, and the conclusive evidence Saul needs to send in the arrest team. 

Allison has no idea any of this is happening as she races up the steps to meet Krupin. She explains that she’s been burned and needs a way out of Germany before it’s too late, but Krupin, as unhelpful as ever, hugs her and tells her she’s shaking. But when she tells him there’s a defector from Moscow with materials proving her involvement with the SVR, he’s incredulous, explaining that the only chiefs who know of her existence are on a fishing trip.

As soon as the words come out of his mouth, he realizes what’s happened. “S—. You’ve been played,” he cries as the alarms sound, warning them of the federal police storming the grounds. Krupin instructs his fellow SVR agents to crash the hard drives and then shouts at Allison. “How the f— could you be so careless?” he screams, until she slaps him to calm him down. It only makes him angry, but Allison tells him to calm down. At this moment, she has a plan.

The police arrive and take the two of them away, but Allison doesn’t look shaken anymore. The camera lingers on Saul as he watches and then looks over at Carrie, who closes her eyes. They’ve succeeded, but they’re not done. Back at the CIA Berlin Station, they brief Dar on what they’ve done. “That’s quite a story,” he says, looking indignant until he reveals he’s pleased with their success. “You’ve made your case, both of you. I just don’t know who to be more disgusted with, her or us.” (Us? Dar, how about just you?) Everything seems wrapped up, but Allison has one more card to play.

When Dar goes to talk to her, she claims Krupin has been passing her valuable intel on Moscow for a decade. She’s simply a CIA agent who’s been using Krupin as an asset. It’s a spin that leaves Dar reeling because she backs it with experience, if not evidence: She says Krupin is the reason why she knows about what’s happening in Eastern Ukraine and any of the goings-on in the region. Dar points out that everything she did to escape the CIA and BND, from the call code to the safe house, made her look guilty, but she has an answer for him on that one, too. She says she had feared for Krupin’s safety, and that she was only doing what Dar would have done, as someone who has also had to handle valuable agents in the field. Dar, who’s so used to getting the last word, is left speechless. And Saul, in the next room, hangs his head.

And so Carrie and Saul ultimately failed — or have they? Allison’s story can’t possibly hold up under scrutiny, can it? Because if Krupin has been her valuable asset all along, shouldn’t he have been noted in some records somewhere, under a code name? And when will Saul remember the time she had a panic attack in his hotel bathroom when she learned Carrie was still alive? But even so, seeing as Carrie’s been out of the game for two years and Saul’s a would-be defector, maybe Dar’s not so inclined to believe them over Allison after all.

Yet, with all that said, there’s still one player in this game who’s involved in a more lethal threat headed everyone’s way: Quinn. 

NEXT: The opposite of #Quinning

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Quinn, duct-tape bound and looking worse for wear, gets led out of the van he had been unceremoniously thrown into — and then gets unceremoniously tossed into a dingy room a few doors down from a room in which he spies a row of gas tanks. And though Bibi turned out not to be a good Samaritan, his cousin Kasim — who brought Quinn food at their last pit stop — turns out to be. Kasim tries to offer Quinn water, but the American captive wants to talk to him about sarin gas first. 

See, Quinn has put two and two together, between the biohazard-labeled barrel in the truck and the gas tanks he saw. Quinn tells Kasim that the ingredients they moved to the site will help Bibi make sarin gas, which is, well, a “f—ed up way to die,” as it makes victims expel everything in their organs quickly and painfully. Later, Kasim Googles the effects at Quinn’s urging and looks horrified at what the gas can do and then goes to investigate Bibi’s plan for himself. In the room Quinn had noticed on his way in, Kasim meets Dr. Aziz, who walks him through what they’ve built: In the room is a sealed glass chamber they’re going to use to test the gas on Quinn, whose death they’ll capture on camera. And in case the gas leaks, the doctor says, they’ll be okay, because they have Atropine, a drug that limits the effects of nerve gases like this one. 

Noticeably rattled by the news that Bibi’s plan is to effectively kill a man and tape the whole thing, Kasim visits Quinn again, this time with food and some soul-searching conversation. He tells Quinn that they’re filming this as a demonstration, because they want Assad out of Syria and recognition by the UN of the Islamic State — conditions Quinn says will never happen, even if they release the video of him being tortured and killed by the gas. Quinn coaxes Kasim into admitting he’s uncomfortable with the plan and tells him that it might be Allah’s will to stop them from using the gas on him, not the other way around. “Even if I wanted to stop it, how could I?” Kasim says. “I can’t betray my brothers.”

Still, he tries. At night, he shuffles into the chamber and tries to dump the ingredients in the barrels, only to find that they’ve already been emptied and used to make the gas. (Oh no.) He then tries to enter the chamber himself to get the gas tanks out, only to find the room locked. (Oh nooo.) It’s a dead end, but Kasim has one more move to help Quinn. The next day, as Quinn’s being led to the chamber at gunpoint, he tells Quinn to try to escape. In the ensuing scuffle, he injects Quinn with a hefty dose of Atropine. “Maybe you will live,” he whispers to Quinn before the latter gets dragged into the sealed chamber. With nothing left to try, Quinn simply stands inside and begins to feel the effects of the gas. 

It’s painful to watch. As his lungs close up, Quinn begins foaming at the mouth and starts to retch…and retch…and retch. Thankfully, the episode cuts to black before the extra-nasty effects begin to show — but we’re forced yet again to wait another episode to see if Quinn will survive. Not cool, Homeland. Why can’t our ridiculously good-looking favorite terrorism janitor ever catch a break? And when will he get back in the spy game with the recently reunited Carrie and Saul?

Not anytime soon, at this rate. If Quinn manages to live, he’ll need to find a way to escape Bibi and return to Berlin to prevent the men from spreading sarin gas into a crowd of innocent people. And Carrie and Saul will need to wrestle the truth from Allison before they can be fully accepted into the CIA’s fray again. All of our heroes, then, are nowhere near the positions they should be in, and without more help, they won’t be able to stop Allison and Krupin or Bibi and his brothers. 

Of course, Laura, Jonas, Numan, and Otto are still running around free in Berlin and might be convinced to help matters. Even then, though, Otto doesn’t seem trustworthy, Jonas would rather not be involved with spies, Numan’s only weapon is hacktivism, and Laura — well, Laura would probably want to get her hands dirty, but the less we see of her, the better. (This isn’t a knock against actress Sarah Sokolovic, who’s been doing what she can with an annoyingly static character.) So in other words: Please live, Quinn. There’s no one else who can save Berlin but you.

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