Homeland recap: Better Call Saul
Carrie finds friends in unexpected places, while Quinn struggles to survive.
A Cold War is brewing between Saul and Dar Adal, and it’s all Allison’s fault. The woman we met early in the season begging to keep her job showed just how ruthless she could be tonight by pushing the two CIA men just enough to create conflict between them. But at the same time, new allegiances are forming: Carrie, who has a knack for forging questionable alliances when faced with impossible tasks — remember Hezbollah in the premiere? — has turned to Quinn, Jonas, Astrid, Laura, and finally Saul, because of her kill order. Numan, reeling from the murder of Korzenik’s girlfriend, Katja, and the disappearance of Korzie himself, calls on the help of hacktivists embedded in Berlin. The only player not looking for a helping hand? Quinn — poor, poor Quinn. But we’ll get to that.
The hour begins at the tarmac in Switzerland, where Allison carefully shapes the conversation about who could be behind the explosive murder of the general. Those of you who picked up on her answering her phone in Russian last week were right: Allison is secretly working with Russian intelligence to… Well, this part isn’t clear yet. What is clear is that Allison has put on a solid front so far. While Saul’s still in shock, she gets right down to business. “Somebody betrayed us,” she says, planting the (obvious, as Dar points out) seed of suspicion in both men’s heads while diverting the attention away from herself. Later, as she drives Saul home, she nurtures that seed by suggesting that Israel could be the culprit because Üter had brought up the government’s disapproval of the general during the seder.
That same night, Allison drives and meets with Ivan Krupin, the Russian intelligence officer who last week had been pontificating about the merits of being cynical instead of trusting to poor Korzenik. Here, the needle’s shifted to trusting, as he warmly greets Allison and assures her that she’s doing well. She’s worried, though, about the call she took right before the plane exploded and whether her kill order on Carrie can be traced to her. (So Allison pulled the strings with that,orchestrated the plane explosion, and has Saul wrapped around her little finger? She’s a spy extraordinaire/femme fatale straight out of a Bond film.) “You better f—ing relax, Allison,” Krupin says, promising her that anyone tracing the dead shooter’s steps will find out first about the Russians, not her.
Allison’s not satisfied with the answer, even after seeing the “proof” of Carrie’s death. “My nerves are shot,” she admits, but just as Krupin is about to leave, she asks him to stay. He does and reminds her to make sure to use Saul’s close relationship with Üter against him, and only after Dar’s suspicions are raised, should she give Saul the passenger manifest to seal the deal. Lips trembling, Allison thinks it over and agrees. It’s worth noting that Allison is clearly not 100 percent comfortable with this plan. She’s shaken at what she believes she’s done to Carrie, and she’s not sure if she can succeed. Just look at Miranda Otto’s glazed eyes in the scene…
… which makes me wonder whether Allison will pull through with the plan beyond this episode. For now, she continues her mission without hesitation. When Dar Adal stops by her office in Berlin — as Krupin predicted he would — she feigns surprise at his intel that the plane’s bomb was identical to the type of bomb Israeli forces have been using. She even lightly defends Saul as Dar thinks out loud about whether Saul’s relationship with Üter could have made Saul the leak. And with those moves, she gets what she wants: Dar asks her to tail Saul.
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With that, she goes ahead and prints the plane manifest, but it’s not of the plane that exploded. Instead, she has highlighted one passenger who took a plane from Berlin to Geneva the day before the general’s death: Üter, who flew under one of his aliases. Allison robotically grabs the manifest and heads to Saul. She plays him, offering the “evidence” and acting worried about what it means. Saul gets upset and asks Allison not to go to Dar with the information — which, of course, is exactly what she intended; this way, Saul’s already keeping secrets from Dar, and he’s invested enough in his friendship with Üter to go straight to the source.
And he does, but tensions flare between him and Üter. Both sides have committed wrongs, after all: Saul is accusing the Israeli government of having something to do with bringing down the plane; Üter reminds Saul that he had said the other day there was no coup, no interest in the general in the first place. As he told Allison earlier, Saul believes the simplest answer is usually the correct one, and in this case, he sees the coincidences as proof of his friend’s betrayal. Little does he know he’s offering proof of his own betrayal as he speaks: The surveillance Dar ordered has snapped damning photos of his meeting with Üter, and as Dar looks them over with Allison, he fully believes Saul has been planning something with the Israelis. Saul is losing each of his allies, it seems, except for…
NEXT: Carrie, who refuses to get the hell outta Dodge
Carrie’s ratty brown wig has become her most dependable accessory. (After her messenger bag, anyway.) She corners Astrid with it on her way to work — “Nice wig, very retro,” Astrid quips — and gets her to agree to help identify the sedan shooter after Carrie tells her Quinn’s in trouble. “This is not a joke,” Carrie says. “I’m literally putting my life in your hands.”
And Quinn’s life, as well. Back at the Quinncave, his gunshot wound has festered, leaving him feverish. Even though he’s collapsing everywhere, he refuses to be taken to the hospital, so Carrie does the only thing she can: She calls up Jonas, who can bring supplies and convince his sister, a doctor, to help.
Jonas does only the former. He gets agitated as soon as he finds out that it’s not Carrie who’s dying. “Why should I do anything for you?” Jonas asks, still annoyed at the time Carrie ran off into the woods with a rifle and, you know, hid from him. The two argue over how much they can help Quinn now, until Jonas reveals that he doesn’t want to involve more people because Carrie’s already in too much danger. “I don’t want to lose you,” he tells her. Carrie doesn’t have anything to say back.
Besides, they’ll have way more to worry about soon enough, thanks to Numan, who’s ready to go public with what’s happened to Korzie and Katja. He seeks out help from another sex worker at the club who knew the deceased couple, and she works with him to identify the Russian embassy officer Korzie had tried to bribe. Thanks to his frequent visits, she has no trouble spotting him in their recorded surveillance tapes (including ones inside guest rooms, which is disturbing but useful in this case), and Numan nabs the file.
The pair then set up their own version of Mr. Robot: Numan dons a mask, sits in front of a wall covered by a nondescript sheet, and states his terms. “Hello, citizens of the world, I am Gabe H. Coud,” he says. “The following video shows a man, a pig, who works at the Russian embassy.” With that scathing intro, he moves on to instruct the viewers to show up at the Russian embassy in Berlin and take up arms against an organization that would silence his friends through violent acts. It’s a bold move — and it works.
The next day, the protest has begun in earnest at the embassy, and it’s rowdy enough to alert the BND, where Astrid’s looking into Carrie’s request. She gets caught by her supervisor as she scrolls through images of known assassins, but manages to spin a tale about doing the investigation for her friend in the LKA (the Landeskriminalamt, or the State Criminal Police Office, which, fine, I had to Google). Her supervisor identifies the shooter as a gangster-turned-paid-assassin named Vasily Kovas.
Carrie, after watching a news report on the protest, calls Astrid, who fills her in on the intel. They link the events of the season so far through Vasily: Because he was a known contract killer for Russian organized crime in Berlin, the SVR (Russian Foreign Intelligence Service) must be the ones after Carrie and Quinn. And the reason they’re so intent on quieting Carrie is because she was in contact with Laura Sutton, who reached out to her after receiving one of the leaked documents from Numan. And going further, the rest of Numan’s documents must have had damning intel on Russia, which is why the rest of the copies of Korzie’s documents had to disappear.
That’s where Carrie hits a snag. She heads to the Russian embassy, despite Quinn’s advice to her to get “the hell outta Dodge” (oh, Quinn, you dying jokester), to track down Laura and get the rest of the documents. Luckily, Laura’s easy to spot: With a cameraman following her, she’s having a ball interviewing the protesters as they get increasingly disorderly. “Je suis Gabe H. Coud,” they chant, honoring Numan and his moniker. (Given that it is “douchebag” spelled backwards, it doesn’t make for the greatest slogan, does it? Oh well, not every fictional hacktivist movement can have as badass a name as fsociety.)
There, Carrie gets her Rami Malek on, paying 50 (!) Euros for a mask and whipping up her black hoodie to slip by Laura and drop a burner phone into the pocket of her trusty leather jacket. Laura picks up when Carrie calls and gets away just in time to meet Carrie at the nearby subway station. During their meeting, Carrie learns the worst: Laura can’t get her the rest of the documents because of Korzie’s recklessness. Instead, as Laura proposes, Carrie’s going to have to go through the CIA to get the original documents on the server — an option Carrie’s not to happy with, considering her frosty relationship with her former employer. “I’m poison to them,” Carrie says, rattled. But there is one way in…
NEXT: Saul Berenson, at your service
While Carrie moves on in her mission, Jonas becomes frantic cooped up inside the Quinncave with the dying man. Actually, make that a stubborn dying man: Quinn (instead of listening to every Homeland fan watching) refuses to get professional treatment at a hospital. “If I’m found like this in a hospital or a morgue, Carrie will never be free,” he says. And Jonas (instead of also listening to every Homeland fan watching) fails to call his sister. “You people are out of your f—ing minds,” he says instead, thinking he’s taking the high ground. Quinn just laughs, pointing out that he’s already gotten himself tangled inside the rough life of spy work.
At that, Jonas calls Carrie, but Carrie can’t help from where she is. She advises Jonas to just take Quinn to the hospital, but by the time Jonas hangs up, Quinn has left the Quinncave for… where? (Oh, come on, Jonas. This is the second time you’ve lost a spy under your watch!)
After hanging up, Carrie spots Saul inside his hotel and gets a message to him by slipping a stick of Black Jack gum under his door. (I don’t think we’ve ever seen the two exchange messages this way, but I’m assuming it was Carrie who did it.) Saul, suspicious of his surroundings at this point, heads down to the lobby by taking the very long way through the hotel building, snaking past the kitchens to avoid a tail. He runs outside and quickly hops into a cab with Carrie. “You’re a runner now, huh?” Carrie says, smiling at him. (Ah, mentor and mentee, together again. It’s a nice sight to see — despite the presence of the wig.)
Meanwhile, Quinn is in terrible shape. He’s gotten his hands on some zip ties and stumbled his way to a river, where he’s hesitating before he tossing himself in. Just as he’s about to bound his wrists together, a man approaches out of nowhere. “Only God is permitted to give life and to take life,” he says to Quinn, to which Quinn responds in the only Quinn can. “Un-f—ing-believable,” he snarls back at the man. It’s not clear whether Quinn knows the man — he seemed like a normal passerby, but his language and the way he then follows Quinn makes him seem like one of those avenging angels Carrie had been ranting about two episodes ago. Or maybe he’s an old acquaintance of Quinn’s, which would explain Quinn’s next move: He painfully makes his way back through the darkness and to a dumpster. As he tries to pry it open, he falls and the man approaches him, watching his face as Quinn closes his eyes.
But is Quinn okay? That might be a futile question at this point — Quinn’s never going to be, well, okay-okay. He spent the past two years in the depths of Syria, and he had been happy to dedicate his life to simply killing whomever he was ordered to kill. Maybe this near death will change him into someone else, as long as it also brings him back inside Carrie’s orbit.
Speaking of Carrie’s orbit, she’s now involved almost every player this season into what’s going on, getting aid from people who admittedly are not her best friends. Saul is the most unexpected of the bunch, but if the show had kept him away from Carrie, it wouldn’t be like Saul, would it? The only thing is, Carrie’s clearly counting on him (just look at the episode title), but Saul’s not in the best position to help get her the documents. If he does squirrel them away to her, he’ll only look more suspicious.
Perhaps the character that deserves the most attention now isn’t Carrie or Saul or even Quinn (sorry, Quinn). It’s Allison. Is she really going to go through with everything she and Krupin have planned? Is she going to break? Whatever happens, Miranda Otto’s brilliant performance has been fun to watch so far, and the show’s turn to pitting the U.S. against the Russian intelligence is a fascinating move. Homeland has always been about who the real terrorists are, and Allison certainly isn’t the first morally complex character who may or may not go through with being the villain, but it is different for the show to involve such a European-centric plot after seasons of avoiding any territory other than the Middle East. And sure, the show’s simply keeping up with the headlines, but between Carrie’s wig and the CIA/SVR divide, this season feels reminiscent of another spy drama. (Now, excuse me as I dream up what it would be like if Philip and Elizabeth Jennings somehow operated in the world of Homeland…)