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Homeland recap: The Litvinov Ruse

The CIA and BND combine forces to catch Allison. But do they succeed?

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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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