Homeland: “Why Is This Night Different?” Season 5 Episode 4 Review

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Homeland is back to its twisty self, but it’s being very careful.

The final scene of “Why Is This Night Different?” is a return to Homeland‘s signature last-minute twist; a surprise reveal that makes everyone gape in awe and question everything that has happened thus far.

Yet, the more I thought about it, the less Allison answering the assassin’s phone seemed like a surprise. Saul was the primary suspect behind the hit on Carrie up until this point, but why was he so insistent on getting her location from Otto in last week’s episode if he had ordered her to be killed? Moreover, Allison is the one who first discovered the connection between Carrie and the increasingly annoying Laura—more on that later—so it would make sense that she’d be behind the hit.

Grounding these twists within the narrative framework of the season is a good look for Homeland. Sure, it makes the scenes themselves a little less shocking, but adds to the show’s level of authenticity, and it also allows for the season’s greater mysteries to have more weight. Consider this: When General Youssef’s—the man that Allison and Saul have just pegged to usurp the current Syrian president—plane goes up in flames, Saul is visibly astounded. Allison is not. Now that we know just how deep into her ulterior motives she really is, it isn’t too far-fetched to think she’s behind this as well. There’s a lot we still need to learn about Allison, of course, but it’s clear her role here is bigger than previously perceived. If this also means more screen time for Miranda Otto, then it’s a good day for all of us.

Before we get to this end twist, however, the episode opens with another moment of relative uncertainty. Carrie awakes tied to a bedpost, and Quinn barely acknowledges her as she yells at him to untie her. There’s no way Quinn was going to kill her—at the very least, the show wouldn’t be able to continue without Carrie—yet there’s a brief moment of ambiguity that intensifies the entire sequence. All we’ve known of Quinn this season is that his time in Syria has left him a cold, heartless killer. Add this to the fact that his last interaction with Carrie was a total mishap, and it makes it seem like there’s really no telling what he was going to do.

What’s so interesting about Quinn and Carrie’s scenes together is the expert subtlety with which his feelings for her are still revealed. He’s stern and icily professional with her, but his gruffness emanates his true feelings. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do to protect Carrie, plain and simple. So when duty calls, he goes through the motions. It’s clear that he’s trying not to get too attached after their botched getaway plan last season—something Carrie is shut down on when she tries to bring up—but his ruthlessness in wanting her utmost safety is very telling.

Quinn being so straightforward proves to be a good support system for Carrie, who is forced to do something truly unpleasant in order to go fully undercover. The scene in which she’s forced to record a video in which she tells daughter her she’s been killed provides a heartbreaking piece of acting from Claire Danes, but Rupert Friend is equally as impressive. Notice his abrupt insistence on Carrie recording this video the right way. He knows this is painful, but he also knows it’s what has to be done.

There are certainly detractors of the Quinn-Carey romance on this show, and though I’ll admit that he’s no Nicholas Brody, there’s something exciting about how deserved they are of each other. Yes, this is another doomed romance, but it’s one that’s far less destructive than anything Brody was involved in, and it’s something that the writers seem to be handling quite delicately. There haven’t been any grand proclamations of love (yet…), and it looks as though the show is continuing to take this one step at a time. I’m fine with it unfolding in the background, as long as this season continues to focus on Carrie and her redemption from being “The Drone Queen.”

The one downside to this episode having such a magnetic presence amongst its core cast, is that everything else that happened proved to be of little to no interest. I’m talking primarily, of course, about Laura and her attempt to find the rest of the classified documents. Laura’s insistence that no one should be afraid and that she can protect everyone from any government involvement grew more than a little irksome. Equally as frustrating was watching Korezenik get killed by the Russians he had previously made a deal with. To say I saw it coming from a mile away would be an understatement.

Nevertheless, “Why is This Night Different?” proved to be an engrossing entry in Homeland‘s fifth season. Things are certainly heating up, and if this sort of calculated plotting continues, I think we have quite the thrill ride ahead of us. Grade: B+

 

Some Other Notes:

  • Laura, you need to calm yourself before you become this season’s Dana.
  • Did anyone else find the moment when Quinn smears blood on Carrie’s face to be strangely beautiful, or was that just me?
  • If this season is about Carrie’s redemption, then it’s also about Saul’s undoing. Seriously, how much of an asshole has he become? I think his new personality can be summed up by this exchange with Etai:Etai: You used to be a good friend to Israel
    Saul: I’m still a good friend
    Etai: You used to be a better one.
  • Allison may be the villain of the season, but I still think she’s a badass. Probably because I love Miranda Otto.
  • The opening scene made me both smile and cringe. I have had to recite the Four Questions at Passover one too many times.

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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