Homeland: Season Five Ends – Final Thoughts

Season Five of Showtime’Homeland has aired and is in the books. The season’s final episode, called A False Glimmer aired last night. To wrap the season, I thought I’d take a look at some of the major players for this season, and offer some analysis and some personal impressions. 

Please be advised that what follows are serious spoilers, so proceed only after seeing the episode yourself.

Carrie Mathison:

In the Homeland universe, there’s no doubt that Carrie Mathison was the sun around whom all the other major male characters orbited. While the list is not legion, there’s at least seven major players:

  1. Saul Berenson
  2. Nicholas Brody
  3. Peter Quinn
  4. Dar Adal
  5. Otto Düring
  6. Jonas Hollander
  7. Aayan Ibrahim

Of these, only one, Jonas Hollander (above), was outside of Carrie’s usual professional circles. However he did work for Otto Düring.

Carrie began this season as a mother and with her young daughter Frannie, was living nicely in Berlin. She worked for Otto’s humanitarian foundation (Otto is below), and was set up as a mother, and homemaker with Jonas.

As the finale for Season Five began, Carrie was entering a tunnel in the bowels of the Hauptbanhof – Berlin’s largest rail station. We knew what was at stake – she had to stop a pair of terrorists from releasing the deadly sarin gas.

Surprisingly, this event opened the episode, and it was less compelling than expected. But what it did was to release almost all of the tension that had built up. I’m not saying the placement of the scene was totally wrong. What I am saying, is that it kind of put the rest of the episode into a bit of a decompressed state.

From there, it was a matter of resolving the two still dangling story lines. One was the fate of Peter Quinn, who is now hospitalized and is in a critical state. He’s had brain surgery, is comatose, and the odds of him both recovering and recovering with all of his cognitive powers intact, is, according to the doctor, remote.

The second major plot line waiting for resolution is that of Allison Carr, who has absconded from the hospital as well.

And we will get to those, but for now let’s stick with the ephemeral Carrie. As this season began, Carrie would decide to go off her meds, survive an assassination attempt thought to be directed at Otto in a refugee camp, when in fact Carrie was the target, and then be placed on a kill list.

Carrie would have to go on the run for a while, and then follow a trail to Amsterdam. Then there was the stolen documents, and the circumstances of the ‘rogue’ reporter, Laura Sutton.

Not the kind of life, any one might dream of, but as always, Carrie embraced it.

After Peter Quinn decided that he could not kill Carrie, and they faked her death, that would squarely put him in the cross-hairs.

Then later, by season’s end, Carrie would feel guilty about Peter Quinn, be offered a new job with full autonomy by Saul Berenson, have Jonas break off their relationship, decide she needed time to once again take on the role of mother, save Berlin from a sarin gas attack, and lastly – hear an offer from Otto Düring, which was a job offer – become my partner – and a marriage offer rolled into one.

That decision will likely open the next season.

Saul Berenson:

Over the years, he’s been Carrie’s mentor, teacher, and trainer, her ally, her friend, co-conspirator, and part-time foe. While it is true that Carrie herself was in the main, the sun to the orbiting planets (the men in her life), it is also true that at times, she was the moon to Saul’s planet Earth.

Saul mostly did not have a good season – just in the previous episode he left Marwan alone in that hotel room, as well as leaving Allison alone in the hospital room. Each time there was a negative repercussion.

But Saul’s biggest failing this season was Allison Carr. As we would find out this week from Ivan Krupin, Saul was specifically targeted to be trapped in the folds of Allison’s duplicity. He was vulnerable as he was in a state of post-divorce, he was lonely, and would be easily tempted by Allison.

He far too easily accepted Allison’s versions of the events, and he, like Dar Adal, gave Allison, after he she was tracked and captured at the Russian SVR compound, deep in the woods outside of Berlin, only the slightest of watch dogs and tethering leashes. She was allowed to go about only under the eye of one agent, who just happened to be her loyal supporter. This was a serious mistake.

But then again, Saul was the one that had planted the tracking mechanism in Allison’s hand bag which lead to her capture. But following that he accepted (at least temporarily) the spin that Allison brought out which was that she was running Ivan Krupin as her spy. Then Saul would also believe what Allison told him was the target of the terrorists Berlin attack. Every one on the planet knew she was lying, except Saul and Dar.

The fact that Saul played Krupin to give up Allison in the finale was masterful. And I was surprised that Saul was a member of the kill squad that took Allison out. He gave no mercy. And that was a real tough guy moment for Saul. Something the character really needed.

Whether or not this event, the end of Allison will be a redemptive moment for Saul, or not, is something we will have to wait until next season to determine.

Allison Carr:

To me, even Allison herself knew that her self-inflicted gun shot wound to the shoulder would not hold up under any sort of forensic scrutiny. Hence she had to escape from the hospital. The show’s writers conveniently did not show us how this was accomplished, we only saw her arrive at some sort of Russian way station or halfway house in Berlin – which would later be described by Allison herself, as a hub in human trafficking.

What’s more, Allison surely knew that Ivan Krupin would ultimately have no choice but to throw her under the bus, in order to save his own skin.

Finally, and Allison did not consider this – why would the Russians simply hand over an obscene amount of money to her, and set her up for life. A life to be lived out in an elegant dacha on the Black Sea shoreline. And all the while, Allison would remain alive with too many Russian secrets in her head.

One would think that she would have thought that basic human greed and jealousy would have put her at risk. Not to mention that her Russian handlers would have no upside in keeping her awash in caviar and other baubles. And they had even told her that they were decommissioning her services – they could no longer trust her, or the intel she would provide.

When her new Russian handler told Allison to climb into the trunk of the car, we all knew her fate was sealed. But I expected her to be taken out and her body both burned and buried in the woods somewhere, by the very Russians who were driving her off into the night. But it didn’t go down quite that way.

Allison had used the honey pot to betray Saul Berenson, who the Russians correctly assumed would be vulnerable due to loneliness in the aftermath of his divorce. But Allison betrayed not only Saul, but her own country – and then she dies because she fell into a similar trap – one of greed and desire.

What was unexpected was that Allison met her fate, to die in an ambush, just like the one that befell Sonny Corleone in The Godfather, and even before that, the bank robbers Bonnie & Clyde, that was set up and executed by the Americans based on the info given to Saul by Krupin. The real shock was that Saul was on scene too.

Simply Allison would have to be dealt with this way – alive, she would prove to be an embarrassment for the CIA and the US State Department. So Saul gave Allison the easy way out – a brutal death – extrajudicial style.

While Miranda Otto was exemplary and superlative as Allison Carr, nobody will mourn the loss of Allison except those who were hoping for an explosive opener for next season – a recovered Peter Quinn executing Allison as the waves washed upon the beach of her fancy dacha on a Black Sea beach.

That won’t be happening.

Peter Quinn:

I think Peter is gone. While Carrie did not suffocate Peter with a pillow, nor did she disconnect a dripping IV as there wasn’t one in sight, and she did not turn off any life-support machines (those weren’t in evidence either) apparently all she did was remove his thumb from the oxi-pulse monitor.

And while we didn’t actually see or hear Peter’s monitor machines flat-lining – I think it is obvious, that he is gone for a number of reasons.

a) Dar hands over Quinn’s final note to Carrie. We’ve all seen this before and know it cold – If you’re reading this, then I’m gone. What was unusual was that he gave her this letter before Quinn had passed. One would think that the letter would have been stored in Dar’s safe, and he would have only given it to Carrie, if and when Quinn had died.

Then again, having Quinn’s last thoughts about Carrie, read into the record as it were, could be considered a dramatic ploy to make Carrie feel guilty.

A quote from Quinn’s letter to Carrie;

“This death, this end of me, is exactly what should’ve happened.
I wanted the darkness. I fucking asked for it.”

b) Carrie knew that Peter Quinn would not want to be left in a vegetative state, a definite possibility according to the doctor. As did Dar, who described that possibility as ‘Peter’s worst nightmare‘.

c) The flooding of the hospital room in white light. This is usually a signal of a soul just beginning its journey. But this is also a surmise that be argued from the opposite direction. That being that Carrie ‘saw the light‘ and she’s now ready to leave the dark side. After all, she did turn down Saul’s offer

d) The most obvious and clear-cut reason for us to at once think, realize, and accept that Peter is dead is this – they literally wrote him out 5 weeks ago. For most of the second half of this season, Peter Quinn has been rendered useless. He was shot, weakened by his wounds, unconscious, asleep, comatose, or bound and gagged, and that’s besides almost dying from sarin gas.

While he did appear in each of the last five weeks, in these states, there were no new story lines formed about Quinn, other than he making his way into Qasim’s head.

If there were any thoughts of having Quinn remain alive, and be in a meaningful role NEXT season, then they wouldn’t have basically written him out THIS season.

In closing, I am hoping that the story remains in Berlin, or another European location for the sixth season. Having Carrie set up in either Islamabad, or Kabul, or even Jordan, or another Middle Eastern location, would mean that every time Carrie stepped away from the embassy, she’d instantly be in harm’s way.

Whereas in Europe, she’d find it much easier to blend in, to appear as if she was a local and ordinary person. Her blonde hair would not be dead-giveway. But there’s another reason, I am hoping for a Berlin location for Season Six.

And that would be one of the surprise stars of Season Five – The German agent Astrid (above) played marvelously by Nina Hoss. Not only was she a kick-ass agent herself, she was tough, smart, and universally appreciated by the viewers. It would be a shame to not have her back next year.

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