Homeland: “The Litvinov Ruse” Season 5 Episode 9 Review

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My how the tables have turned.

“The Litvinov Ruse” is a refreshing change of pace for Homeland, as it’s the first in a while to provide continual thrills throughout the hour. Things pick up quickly as Carrie heads off to Saul to tell her about her Allison discovery, and they don’t slow down from there.

Actually, there is a poignant moment right before things kick off where Carrie asks for Saul to stop giving her the cold shoulder simply by giving him a look and saying his name. When the two embrace, it’s powerful, and a marker for how well this episode explores their fractured relationship. Little snippets from supporting players Etai and Astrid help fill in the blanks of what went wrong between Homeland‘s greatest dynamic duo, making their repairing all the more interesting.

One sequence is particularly compelling. When the two first start tailing Allison, Saul is unable to stomach watching her in bed with another man. Carrie, after realizing what’s going on, heads after him, but she doesn’t comfort him in the way you’d expect. Saul is in Carrie’s shoes now, and Allison is his Nicholas Brody.

This is a very intriguing position for the usually level-headed Saul to be in, and it’s one that the episode doesn’t take likely. Brody messed with Carrie’s mental stability more than anything else on the show, but he’s a character that she’s been suspicious about from the start. If Saul is able to discover the truth that Carrie, and we, already know, he’ll have discovered he’s fallen for a woman who’s deceived the agency—his agency—for over a decade. That’s not something that’s easy to come back from, and so when Saul says that he doesn’t want this all to be true, it’s more than believable.

Though this unnerving sense of dread hangs in the air throughout”The Litvinov Ruse,” the episode doesn’t give much room for breathers as it ceaselessly follows Carrie, Saul, and the BND as they attempt to back Allison into a corner. The majority of the episode is filled with Homeland‘s signature levels of suspense as we watch Allison sneakily retreat back to Ivan’s compound in Copenhagen when she thinks her cover is in trouble.

When Ivan commented that Allison lives for these type of close-encounter scenarios in “Oriole,” he wasn’t wrong. When she finally realizes what’s going on, she springs in to action almost simultaneously.

All season long, Ivan has been telling his asset to calm down and not worry so much. Now, in the second role reversal this week, it’s Allison who needs to keep her boss in check. Her plan to pretend that Ivan was her asset all along is a pretty genius one, and Miranda Otto really sells it. Though I’m nervous to see how Carrie will be treated after everyone buys this story—and it certainly seems like Dar Adal was buying it—I cannot wait to see what happens next.

The one downside to this episode is, once again, Peter Quinn and his not-so-merry band of terrorists. Honestly, the only thing that is connecting him to Carrie and the rest of the crew right now is the leaked documents that Laura found being the reason those terrorists were released in the first place (please let this sentence serve as your weekly reminder that Laura is the worst).

That’s a pretty thin line to hang on to, especially when the show seemed to be building up a romance between him and Carrie that is now all but defunct. Sure, it was a little nerve-wracking to see him start to foam at the mouth at the end of the episode, but these “Quinn gets in danger, talks or fights his way out of it, and then gets in danger again” subplots are getting more than a little stale. Until he reunites with the rest of his fellow agents, he might as well be on a different show.

Still, the power of Carrie and Saul’s reunion—or, at least, partial reunion—is more than enough to hold me over until next week. Things are coming down to the wire now, and I have a feeling that Homeland is going to end its fifth season with a big finish. Grade: A-


Some Other Notes:

  • One more note about Quinn. I just realized how weird it is that Carrie hasn’t bothered to look for him in 2 weeks. The last time she saw him, he was practically on his deathbed and then he disappeared. Shouldn’t she be a little more concerned?
  • The use of the devil emoji in this week’s episode was (unintentionally?) hilarious.
  • Astrid has become quite a welcome screen presence on this show, thanks in no small part to Nina Hoss’ lovely performance.


By Mike Papirmeister

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