Homeland -- This Way to the Gas (S5 E9 Recap)

homeland logoLast week on Homeland, we saw Carrie’s mouth quiver as the truth about Allison sunk in, and she didn’t even need to go off her meds to get there. This week opens with Carrie being reminded of another truth, this time from Saul’s old friend, Etai, who tells her she broke Saul’s heart when she lobbied against him for the directorship. She doesn’t deny it, but didn’t she previously tell Saul she didn’t try to scuttle his promotion? Whatever happened, when Carrie meets Saul at what’s probably the world’s coolest Mossad safe house – an art filled loft space with Andy Warhol-like radical chic portraits of leftist leaders, they hug and all is forgiven. If only they could find a comfy chair in Dieter and Helmut’s old digs. Carrie tries to convince Saul that the Banana Joe’s screensaver is the definitive proof that Allison’s aim is not true, but he doesn’t want to believe it because the implications would be “catastrophic.” Carrie takes that to mean for national security, not for his ego because as usual she’s not clued in to stuff that isn’t about her, like Saul’s love life.

Wait, you're saying I'm sleeping with the enemy? But that's your thing.

Wait, you’re saying I’m sleeping with the enemy? But that’s your thing.

Meantime Peter Quinn is still bound and gagged with duct tape in the back of the terrorist van. If we’ve learned anything from The Maritain it’s that duct tape is the best invention on earth and other planets, so not even the mighty Quinn will be able to get out of this one. Poor Quinn! How many times has he been 95% killed this season? What horrible thing will happen to him next?

It gets worse.

It gets worse.

Without being able to rely on brute force, Quinn must appeal to the humanity and ambivalence of one of his captors, a random jihadi relatively new to the holy war, whom we’ll call Moon Shadow because we can’t remember whether or not they gave him a name, and between his beard and his embrace of the Islamic State he reminds us of young Cat Stevens. Also it looks like little Moon Shadow may be one of the kindly native types that winds up helping Quinn, and the moniker has that condescending orientalist feel. Moon Shadow is the guy what’s been in charge of bringing Quinn his food and water, and probably changing his pee bucket. This guy is so low on the totem pole that assigning him a suicide mission would be a promotion. Quinn starts talking to him about how dying from sarin gas is about the grossest way to go. You can look it up on the YouTube. We haven’t. But we’re sure Quinn is right about that. Later we see Moon Shadow has indeed looked it up and is experiencing some doubts about his mission. We also meet Dr. Mengele Aziz who has constructed a demonstration gas chamber in order to test out the sarin delivery system. Need we mention whom they plan to use as a test subject?

Astrid and her boss join Carrie and Saul in the loft to discuss the Allison situation. This is gut because Homeland is so dark this season, and nothing lightens the mood like that sardonic German humor. Maybe Astrid will ask Carrie if she’s heard from Peter lately, which will cause Carrie to go, “Oh shit! I knew I was forgetting about something.” Despite being previously burned by their joint ventures, the Germans get that if Allison is working both sides they need to know, so they sign on for this very off the books operation, which is going to require getting a microphone and tracking device into Allison’s purse. But doesn’t she have kind of a handbag fetish? Isn’t that what led to her downfall in the first place? So their entire plan is centered around her not changing bags?

No seriously, we love shlepping out to discuss how we can save your asses.

No seriously, we love shlepping out to discuss how we can save your asses.

Saul shows up at Allison’s very well appointed apartment. Have they ever discussed how she managed to afford the place or her designer duds on a government salary? Saul tells her he’s being offered asylum by Israel, which she questions, having been the one to put the bug in Dar’s ear about getting him back. He insists it’s true, and he just stopped by for a final booty call. Men being men, her potentially working for the Ruskies doesn’t make it more difficult for him to get the job done although we don’t actually see him doing the job, so maybe they just cuddle. Fortunately, she lets him stay the night, so while she’s sleeping, he sneaks downstairs and plants something on her phone and in her bag.

Honey, even if you are working for the Russians, that doesn't mean it wasn't real between us, right?

Honey, even if you are working for the Russians, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t real between us, right?

The next day, Dar and Allison meet Astrid and the Bald Guy. The story they are selling is that there is a senior Moscow center chief about to defect for five million dollars. Given that the SVR does a lot of freelancing for oligarchs, how likely is that sum? Don’t they get twice that just in tips? Allison seems distracted, but will she take the bait?

She goes into her office and texts someone. Dinner plans are made, and an emoji is involved. Spy code, or did Saul leave her less than satisfied the previous evening?

Moon Shadow brings Peter water plus grapes, dates and figs. Peter goes on about the thousands of innocents Moon Shadow will soon be complicit in slaughtering. Moon Shadow argues that maybe a “demonstration” like say showing the death of one guy via their little doomsday device will be enough to convince the West to recognize the Islamic State. Peter is like, “Seriously, dude?” Moon Shadow says whatever happens is God’s will. Peter suggests maybe it’s God’s will that he, Moon Shadow, stop the madness, which he can do by releasing the DF gas before it mixes with the ethyl alcohol to form the sarin gas.

Over at German spy headquarters, Astrid, Bald Guy, Saul, and Carrie are all watching Allison in her apartment. When exactly did they get in their with the cameras? Those Germans sure are efficient. Her dinner date, who’s brought the take out, is a civilian hedge fund guy who does business with the Russians. They start going at it on the kitchen counter. And by “it” I don’t mean the pasta. Saul has to leave the room, which confuses Carrie because isn’t watching people having sex, a part of the job? It’s Astrid who tells her that Allison and Saul have a thing going on. Carrie is naturally shocked and disgusted. Saul has always been like a father to her and the idea of your dad machen die heiberzeit with some traitor is kind of gross. You’re the one who gets to machen die heiberzeit with treacherous gingers.

Seriously? She told me she never did that.

Seriously? She told me she never did that.

But Carrie puts on her game face, and goes to commiserate with Saul, reminding him she’s been there. They both wonder what’s up. Is Allison on to them? Was her date, including sex on the kitchen counter a performance? After conferring with the Germans, it’s decided they better up the ante and see what happens.

Also that evening, Moon Shadow sneaks into the lab. Is he doing Peter’s bidding?

The next morning, Astrid and Allison meet at a cafe because what better place to discuss top-secret spy business? Astrid weaves her tale. Calico – the code name of the defector – put his wife and children on a plane. He’s scared and refusing to do the hand over in Berlin because he claims it’s been “compromised.” Allison says he’s making that up to exaggerate his value. Astrid says he’s promised to provide evidence, and they’re bringing him in that night. Astrid leaves. Allison makes a plane reservation for Copenhagen. But is she really on the run? Wouldn’t having her secretary book the ticket be kind of a tip off that she isn’t?

She gets into a taxi and sends a “call code” to someone. Then she takes apart her phone. The team is watching her GPS signal from the device Saul sewed into her handbag as a backup, plus through the miracle of drones they have eyes on her at all times because if Homeland has taught us anything, it’s taught us that the gobmint (any gobmint) is watching at all times and everywhere. She goes to a train station, and they figure out she’s heading toward a Russian safe house. (How safe is it, if they know where it is?) She gets into a car and drives to a gate, which leads to a GPS dead-zone. The German authorities are on their way with a warrant for her. There in a humongous house, Ivan is waiting for her and he is not happy to see her. He tells her there is no defector. She’s been played and he’s been ruined. He is no longer being all lovey-dovey toward her. In fact, he grabs her face in a most unfriendly manner, but she keeps her cool. As always, she’s got a plan.

Men are so emotional. Let me think our way out of it.

Men are so emotional. Let me think our way out of it.

Saul and Carrie are now filling Dar in. He doesn’t know whom to be more disgusted with – Allison or the CIA for not figuring this out. And here your humble recapper will admit she was wrong. The hamminess of Saul and Dar’s scenes together, the fact that Allison was always in earshot of their blow-ups, apparently all that was just designed to lead some viewers astray. There was less here than met the eye.

Allison’s play is to claim Ivan was her asset and the source of much of the intel for which she’s been praised. In a sense, this is no lie. She was always, as they say in some trashy novels, topping from the bottom. Give it up though for the sheer chutzpah of her execution!

Whether or not Dar laughs in her face is another matter. Wouldn’t be surprising if Ivan the Opportunist decided now would be a great time to defect and back up her story. But what kind of future would he have dodging his old SVR buddies?

Back at the lab, Peter Quinn, the non-voluntary guinea pig, is being marched into the gas chamber, and wow are they are playing this for all the ISIS equals Nazi visuals they can muster. Not saying that ISIS isn’t evil, but the holocaust-identical imagery in the German setting is a wee bit heavy-handed. Seriously, who’s writing this stuff? Bibi Netanyahu?

Moon Shadow signals Quinn to run though escape is impossible. Moon Shadow manages in subduing him to stab him with a needle. Did he just shoot him full of atropine, which we all know is a sarin-antidote because it was so deliberately mentioned by Dr. Evil Aziz earlier? Let’s hope so because the episode ends with Quinn foaming at the mouth and doing a great imitation of someone dying. If the show kills off the mighty Quinn I don’t know who I’ll be more disgusted with – them, or me for watching for so long.

Marion Stein

Marion writes television recaps and reviews for the Agony Booth, and books you can find over at Amazon.

TV Show: Homeland

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  • Good catch on the handbag thing, but it’s SARIN gas, not SARAN! That’s the plastic stuff that keeps foods fresh in the fridge!PS In the “next week’s episode” segment, Carrie FINALLY notices that Quinn has been missing for half the season!