Homeland: “The Tradition of Hospitality” Season 5 Episode 2 Review

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A sharply focused, tension-filled second episode kicks season 5 into high gear.

Homeland is still a wildly different show than it was a year ago, but the second episode of the season is proof that a new location does not mean the writers aren’t up to their old tricks.

Don’t worry, I don’t mean tricks in a negative way whatsoever. “The Tradition of Hospitality” does not try to pull one over on us with a crazy, inexplicable plot twist or an extreme deviation of character. Instead, it presents an expertly paced hour, filled with the perfect mixture of explosive action, cunning spy intrigue, and nuanced character moments. In short, it’s Homeland at its best, and when the show is firing on all cylinders as it is here, it’s an absolute thrill to watch.

The plot of this week’s episode largely focuses on Carrie’s trip to the Syria-Lebanon border with Otto During. Right from the get-go, Carrie is told she’ll have one hour of security when they reach the refugee camp, so disaster seems pretty inevitable. It arrives, of course, in the form of a suicide bomber and then additional explosives at the exit gate. The escape sequence is tense and exciting, as Carrie masterfully maneuvers Otto and his crew back to safety. What’s really fascinating, however, are the later ramifications of the attack.

Carrie tells Otto that she needs to stay behind and assess the situation. This attack was planned before they entered the camp, and she needs to know why. It’s unsurprising to see Carrie bury herself in her work, but what’s most interesting about this decision is the moment afterward in which she quietly cries for help in the bathroom.

Carrie is different now than she was before. After her revelatory experience with her own mother in the season 4 finale, she has chosen to prioritize her family. Her work will always be important to her, but this is perhaps the first time she’s truly scared of what will happen if she doesn’t make it back in one piece. Carrie isn’t running from anything anymore because she has something to run home to, which raises the stakes for this season to entirely new heights.

Though this episode is mostly Carrie-centric, there are other subplots that run alongside the main thread. At first, it seems like these stories will just be ancillary to the main action at hand, but the show makes the smart move of weaving them all together by the episode’s end. Again, there’s no out-of-left-field twists that force these narratives into a cohesive unit. Instead, there’s careful layering, making every moment in the episode feel all the more important.

Laura’s leak of the CIA document seems like a self-contained conflict between her, the German government, and the CIA. Meanwhile, Quinn feels like he’s operating in a separate universe as he tracks down his next target: a woman brainwashing young girls into being martyrs for Allah. Yet, a picture of Laura talking with Carrie outside her home brings everything full circle.

At the episode’s end, we discover that Carrie is Quinn’s next hit. On top of this, the attack on the refugee camp was meant to target her as well. Basically, everyone wants Carrie Mathison dead.

The specifics behind each of these discoveries will likely be the driving force for the episodes to come. Who, exactly, at the CIA ordered the hit on Carrie? Saul and her have all but severed their ties to each other, but is he really capable of such a thing? Is this his response to Allison’s insistence that he gave Carrie special treatment while she was at the agency? More importantly, will Quinn actually go through with this? There didn’t seem to be a moment of shock or hesitation after he deciphered her name.

Then, there’s the attack at the camp. Who else wants to kill Carrie? Is something or someone from per past coming back to haunt her? What allies does she have while she’s on the ground in Beirut?

All of these questions will likely drive me nuts until they’re answered, but when it comes to Homeland, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I admit that I was a bit skeptical of the way the show rebooted itself for this season, but it’s still as captivating as ever. Grade: A-

 

Some Other Notes:

  • The most intriguing part of the CIA plotline was the way Allison went over Saul’s head to confront Dar Adal directly about her forced resignation. Miranda Otto is already proving herself to be a badass, and I’m excited for whatever conflicts arise within the agency because of this.
  • Along with being a more attentive mother, Carrie is also nine months sober, which just goes to show how drastically her life has changed since she left the CIA.
  • Speaking of which, this episode featured another scene in which an operative couldn’t believe Carrie had officially left the agency behind. I have a feeling that her allegiances will play a major part in this season.
  • I think what was most terrifying about Quinn’s target before Carrie was how kind and empathetic she seemed. Homeland has a habit of showing the normalcy in experiences that we find completely foreign, and this was no exception.

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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