Homeland: Episode 05-11 – Our Man in Damascus / Recap and Analysis


Homeland raced toward its Season Finale with Episode 05-11 Sunday night. Next week, they’ll bring down the curtain on Season Five. In case you were wondering, Showtime has already announced that Homeland will return for a sixth season. Which is good news. The bad news, right now, is that some of the characters are already dangling from slim threads, some characters have become thoughtless dummies, the writers are lazy and/or inefficient, and that it will be left to Carrie, alone, to save Berlin from an impending cataclysmic event. Many spoilers ahead.

This episode was called Our Man in Damascus – and while that title has a certain strong hint or ring of espionage and derring-do to it, I’m not sure of either who that Man in Damascus might be, or more importantly, what it has to do with both this episode, and this season of Homeland (aside from sort of being snatched from the news events in Syria, Paris, and San Bernardino).

Now it is easy to award high points for the episode in the entertainment, excitement, suspense, stress, and tension categories. But this episode must get extreme low marks for plausibility, plus it lacked any semblance of being realistic, and to pound the nail of disdain in – this episode can serve as a horrendous example of lazy and poor writing.

Let me count the ways.

And I’ll start with Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend), who on paper, should be one of the strongest and most likeable and popular characters of the series. Yet Quinn’s role has been almost criminally wasted this year. He was brought back (from the Middle East) by Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) and tasked with performing off-the-books wet work. Meaning Quinn would be a hitman this season. He’d have no personal contact with anyone from the Company, and all of his assignments (target and kill instructions) as well as his pay would be handled via a dead drop in an out-of-the-way Berlin neighborhood post office. Which was fine, as Quinn is very capable. But things went south, when he received instructions to take out Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes).

But it didn’t happen. And Quinn now had to be considered a danger to those who wanted Carrie taken out. So they tried to have Quinn killed. They succeeded in shooting him at the post office (Episode 4 I believe),

Rupert Friend as Peter Quinn

Rupert Friend as Peter Quinn

but not killing him. Since then, he’s been basically useless. Carrie had Jonas watch him for a while as he was just shot. Quinn flew the coop, and was then helped by a kindly Middle Eastern Doctor who treated his wounds. But Quinn was reduced to lying on a cot and dealing with infections. Then the doctor introduced Quinn to a terrorist cell who happened to live in the same building who wanted/needed Quinn’s help in getting to and into Syria.

Quinn then went from either being laid up in bed, to unconscious, to being tied and gagged in the back of a truck,

to being a guinea pig for Sarin gas, to being unconscious and almost dead, to being in coma in a Berlin hospital after being found by Astrid and Carrie, and then more torture came his way –  attempts to revive him from his coma to get the info about the terrorist attack that would come within hours.

Basically what I am saying is that Quinn has been rendered useless for the last five weeks. The one good thing he did was to plant some measure of humanity into Qasim, who now has doubts about the purpose of his cell’s terrorist operation.

Next, let’s look at Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham) and Saul Berenson, who maybe should be called Dumb and Dumber for their unconscionable reactions to Allison (Miranda Otto) and her fabulist posturing.

To me, she’s played the honey-trap for sure on Saul, and possibly on Dar, as they’ve allowed her to come and go as she pleases, while under suspicion, basically with only agent Conrad as her keeper. The thing of that is that Conrad has already told Allison that he believes none of what they say she’s done.

But Saul and Dar are not so sure she’s all bad. So she walks around with cash, with a gun, and continues to spin one tale after another, as and when needed.

Now, for years we’ve all thought that Saul was a) a good guy, and b) a smart guy. But I’m not so sure now about Part b. He sets out to interview Faisal Marwan who they think might be able to help them. The interview is on the 10th floor of a hotel, not in some underground Lubyanka-styled bunker. Naturally, Saul tries to get on the good side of Marwan, especially since he’s promised Otto During, that Marwan would be treated fairly.

That means Saul will leave Marwan unguarded in the hotel room, that also includes windows that can be opened. I can see leaving the room to prepare Marwan’s favorite Moroccan styled tea – but at least call in a guard before you do.

That doesn’t happen and Marwan chooses to get down to the sidewalk in the quickest way possible.

Later a distraut Saul tells Astrid, that’s he cooked. He’s had enough bad news for the day. Only he hasn’t. He just doesn’t know it yet.

Meanwhile Bibi and his gang that couldn’t shoot straight have managed to plant a container of Sarin gas deep within the bowels of Berlin’s man train station – the Hauptbahnhof. After they’ve announced on TV (thank you social media) that Berlin will under go a calamity of imponderable  size and deadly impact, they give the authorities a deadline.

But their remote trigger to release the gas into a train tunnel is malfunctioning. So Qasim is dispatched to seek out the college professor, Dr. Aman Aziz with instructions to get the thing working and fast. For some reason, the Russian SVR knows about this plot, and in a secret meeting in a women’s lavatory, Allison is given her marching orders – if you want to get your millions and the dacha on the Black Sea coast, then help get this operation done. If you’d rather not be a part then it’s going to Federal prison or slogging away for life in some unimportant office in a Langley basement. And by the way, we are done with you. We don’t trust you, nor will we trust the info you give us.

The Russian controller makes mention that they want the Berlin thing accomplished because then – they’ll have every reason under the sun, and the Brandenburg Gate, to annihilate the Daesh – right down to every tree trunk and branch. She goes on to say that the Russian premier knows this. The Syrian ruler Assad knows this. Only your president doesn’t.

Allison, who has always been at her best when under pressure, quickly opts for what’s behind Door Number One – the millions and the beachfront dacha. Shortly after, she arrives at Dr. Aziz’s office. But he has managed to repair the trigger and has just barely gotten Qasim out a back door. Allison decides she still has a card to play to get back into good standing with the CIA as well as still getting her pay-day from the Russians.

She asks Conrad for his gun which he hands over immediately. And just as quickly as you can say WTF, Allison shoots and kills Conrad. Then she shoots and kills Aziz. The she shoots her self in the shoulder. Then she can say that Aziz shot her and Conrad but she was still able to kill him – AND she now knows where the attack will happen. At the airport. Which of course Saul buys into and issues orders to his German counterparts to get the Berlin airport evacuated.

Saul, are you sure it's the airport

Saul, are you sure it’s the airport…

Damn well better be....

Damn well better be….

Question arise don’t they. Why was Allison at Aziz’s office? Could her self-inflicted gun shot wound pass any kind of a forensic exam – the muzzle flash would have burned her clothes, no gun powder residue on Aziz’s hand. Besides that where is the proof that the attack will occur at the airport. That’s what any one of us would be thinking. But not Saul and Dar.

So Allison is taken to a hospital. Again Saul is questioning her, and again Saul has to leave the room. And again that is a serious mistake as Allison absconded.  How convenient for Allison, and for the rest of us – we are left to exclaim – really? Are you kidding me?

So Qasim and Bibi, shave off their beards and head for the Hauptbahnhof. Carrie can’t just sit and do nothing, so she abandons waiting for Peter to come out of his coma. At the train station, Qasim and Bibi begin to lock up some gates trapping travelers and commuters on the platform areas with no way to escape or to reach the street or the station’s Grand Concourse. They manage to lock multiple gates. There’s no outcry, no calling up the Berlin 911 equivalent, and not even one Polizei on the scene.

Carrie, who is alone is wandering through the station, the crowded and busy station. And she spots the now beardless Qasim (Carrie has only seen one photo of him and that with a beard) as he heads down on an escalator. Geez – what are the odds? She gives chase, and with her gun drawn, she enters a train tunnel. The target area is the popular 5:15 PM train to Potsdam platform at the height of the rush hour.

And the episode ends.

Problems – after the multiple gunshots in Aziz’s office at the university, there’s no immediate outcry. How does Allison bewitch and bamboozle Saul and Dar so often? Why have Saul and Dar left home without their thinking caps? Why was Peter basically unused for five weeks? How did the Russian handler know about Aziz? Why was Marwan left unguarded? How could Allison get out of the hospital so easily? Why would they allow Allison to have so much freedom while she was suspected of treason?

And we will get most of our answers next week.


5 thoughts on “Homeland: Episode 05-11 – Our Man in Damascus / Recap and Analysis

  1. Yeah, Homeland has the tendency to (especially since midway through season 2) craft really tense and engrossing sequences that are built on wildly implausible scenarios. Interested to see what they do next week, but I do really want this show to set an end date; that does wonders for many shows.

    • You’re right about the end date thing.

      I don’t expect to see Allison played beautifuly by the Australian Miranda Otto back for an encore. What I see for her is leg-irons and an orange jump suit.

      I’m also of the opinion that Quinn and Carrie won’t be a romantic item.

      And that the venue will change. Auf wiedersehen Berlin (meaning until next time or ‘later’) will be situationally inappropriate.

  2. How about having a female babysitter for Allison? No disappearing into the Ladies’ Room without the babysitter following and participating in a nice 3-way conversation? Ya’d think that Dar would have caught that one…

    • Hi – thanks for the dig at Dar. Dumb and Dumber right?

      By the way, in the years 2006-2008 I lived in Weekhawken. I lived at One Port Imperial Blvd, on the water front, and likely I was below the areas in the pictures. I worked in Lincoln Harbor, and picked up the Manhattan bound bus across the street. It was a three minute ride to Lincoln Harbor. And a three minute ride going home at night. I played softball on the field that sat atop the Lincoln Tunnel, and before Lincoln Harbor had such a huge parking lot, there was a softball field there as well.

      Now I live in Sarasota FL, and I’m happy to say that I don’t miss the ice and the snow at all.

      • Dar thinks he is so smart. Yeah, Dumb and Dumberer is perfect. Allison has made him a real Bozo. Capital B!

        Thanks for prowling around my site! It’s not really about Weehawken, but I sure have a lot of Weehawken content.
        There’s no ice and snow to miss now that global warming has socked the Northeast! LOL! Probably cooler down there than it is up here these daze!

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