Homeland: “Better Call Saul” Season 5 Episode 5 Review

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Just as Carrie begins to solve her biggest mystery, several new ones emerge.

A far lesser show, or even a good show that’s gone astray—cough, cough looking at you Masters of Sex—would have used this episode to mount the #TeamQuinn vs. #TeamJonas campaign to carry through to the season finale. True, “Better Call Saul” puts Carrie in a rather compromising position with both men. Jonas, understandably still upset with her from the events of “Super Powers,” can quickly deduce that Quinn isn’t just her workplace friend. Quinn, on the other hand, is privy to the necessity of Jonas in this situation, and sees why he’s the one she tried to have a new life with.

But Homeland isn’t solely about who Carrie ends up with, and it hasn’t been as heavily involved in her love life since Brody was offed. The show’s decision to have this aspect creep up slowly in the background, rather than take center stage, has been a smart one. It adds shades to Carrie’s decision making, but it isn’t an ultimate influence. Sure, she’s human and she falls in love. But she’s got a job to do, dammit, and her boy problems aren’t going to slow her down.

Season 5 started with the central characters in such a state of separation, and this is the first episode that truly brings everyone closer together. The seeds have been planted in each of the subplots to connect them to the main action at hand, and for the first time I have a sense of the overall narrative arc.

Of course, this being Homeland, there are still so many unanswered questions. Using Astrid’s help, Carrie is able to figure out that it’s Russian intelligence who wanted her dead, for fear that she’d see something else within the hacked documents. What that is remains be seen, but now we have a clear antagonist leading the charge, which is personified in a haunting scene with Allison where she meets with her confidant—and secret lover?—from the SVR.

The Russians were behind both the attack on Carrie and the plane that blew up General Youssef and his family, and Allison is deep into her double-crossing. Yet, what’s so interesting about her character, and Miranda Otto’s performance, is how anxious she seems about everything she does. She’s nervous about pitting Dar Adal and Saul against each other, though she does so easily, and she’s visibly shocked when she sees Carrie’s proof-of-death photo. It may be too late for her to go back on whatever promise she made to the Russians, but Allison isn’t a stone cold villain, which is something that could be of great use to Carrie later on.

Unfortunately, the show decided not to give the same amount of depth to some of its other questionable characters. A large part of the season has shown how the hackers who are supposedly fighting for our freedom are actually doing more harm then good. I guess their supposedly righteous cause is supposed to give them some nuance, but really they just seem like a bunch of idiots. Korezenick got greedy, and paid with this life. Laura is so f*cking cocky, that she’s likely going to be brought down because of her blind ambition. Numan is the most stable of everyone, but even he is starting to take drastic measures by causing a public riot in front of the Russian embassy. I get that these characters are merely pieces of the puzzle for this season, but they’re in way too many scenes to just be ignored completely, which is frustrating.

I was immediately reminded of Haqqani and his conversation with Saul in last season’s “Redux.” Even in this brief scene, the show was able to shade him as more complex than just being pure evil. Sure, his actions were still monstrous and totally unjustifiable, but he was a human being. I don’t feel that any of these hackers or truth-seeking journalists are human beings. They’re just pawns in whatever the season’s ultimate game is. If that’s the case, why should we care about them at all?

The good news is that, aside from this nonsense, everything else on the show is fantastic. Carrie’s hunt for the rest of the classified documents leads her back to—who else?—Saul, meaning next week’s episode should be electric from the start. Allison’s wrench that was thrown into the Saul-Dar Adal friendship was powerful, so he could be in just as much trouble as Carrie is.

Then there are the documents themselves. What is it that the Russian’s don’t want Carrie to see? What, from her time with the CIA, could be so terrible that they’re willing to kill her for it? I don’t know about all of you, but I have to know, and, for now, I’m willing to deal with annoying hackers and arrogant journalists in order to find out. Grade: B

 

Some Other Notes:

  • I didn’t talk much about Quinn’s escape from the hideout because of how dumb it was. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a classic Quinn move, but it was super, super dumb on his part. I don’t think we can trust this mysterious savior that found him. I’m a bit worried it’s the assassin who missed his mark in last week’s episode.
  • Did anyone else find the rioters chants of “Je suis gabehcuod” to be absolutely ridiculous? Gabehcuod, Numan’s hacker name, is douchebag backwards, so everyone is essentially chanting “I am a douchebag.” Like…none of the writers thought twice about this?
  • In Saul’s love life news, he and Mira are divorced, so the thing with him and Allison is not an affair. Mira is now with a much older man.
  • Laura is officially the new Dana, and we’re all just going to have to deal with it.

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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