Homeland: “All About Allison” Season 5 Episode 8 Review

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Watch your back, Carrie.

The first rule of espionage is to never reveal all your cards at once, no matter how much you trust someone. Such is the case with Carrie Mathison, who, at the end of this week’s episode, seemingly spills all of the beans to Allison about the attempts on her life and finding Nazari still alive.

The whole scene made me nervous for Carrie’s fate—especially with Allison’s severely on-the-nose “watch your back” comment—since she’s clearly still blind to the betrayal that’s been happening. Yet, there’s one card Carrie never played, and it’s a damn important one.

Carrie is smart not to reveal that she has Nazari’s laptop with her. It’s likely that Allison will find this out on her own since Otto knows about it, and she’s been told to contact Otto with any information she can find. Still, this move buys Carrie sometime, especially once the laptop allows her to piece the rest of the puzzle together and discover what her former colleague has been up to.

The revelation is thrilling, but it’s the parts leading up to this moment that are the most interesting. Carrie’s journey to a remote town to meet Allison gives way to several flashbacks so we see just how well the two of them know each other. These scenes are a necessity, as we’re finally able to put some motive behind Allison’s efforts as a double agent.

Miranda Otto’s performance feels more informed than ever now that we know Allison didn’t exactly sign up for this job willingly. Even more interesting is that Nazari, a supposed CIA asset, is the reason that she got roped in with the Russians in the first place. The flashback scenes work well to establish her character as more than just a cipher, and allow us to see what a pre-Brody Carrie looks like in the field.

Unfortunately, the rest of the episode is a big stinking mess. Homeland is never not compelling, but it’s main issue this season has been its inability to fire on all cylinders. Where one plot wholly succeeds, several others often suffer.

“All About Allison” really should’ve been just that. Instead, we got the most boring Quinn plotline yet where he does a lot of driving and then eventually gets hit over the head by one of the refugees and they turn around and go back to Berlin. Does anyone even care who he’s with anymore? I sure don’t.

Then we got another subplot where Saul is hiding out with Etai and tries to stop a potential rift between the US and Israel. Mostly, though, he just takes a lot of naps. I wish that last sentence were a joke, but his plot thread is literally him napping, saying a few words to an Israeli government official, and then being taken by Etai to another location. Really riveting stuff, you guys.

Homeland is zeroing in on its big finish, and “All About Allison” is certainly a major push in that direction. I’m glad that the show has finally given different shades to her character, but I wish it were able to do so in a more focused way or, at the very least, with more interesting scenes in between the main plot. With four episodes left in the season, I’m hoping for a lot more action and a lot less filler. Grade: B-

 

Some Other Notes:

  • Is it just me, or is “Banana Joe’s” the worst name for a bar in St. Lucia? Like, no one could think of anything more exotic sounding?
  • Shout out to the Homeland writers for not having Numan actually hack into Nazari’s computer in 30 seconds. That is not, and has never been, a realistic hacker trope.
  • Update on “I’m very suspicious now of Otto Düring”: No mention of not renewing Carrie’s contract this week. Is he trying to tear Carrie and Jonas apart (not that that would take much extra effort on his part)?
  • It was a nice touch to see a picture of Brody amongst other POWs in the flashback scenes.

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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