Okay, okay, okay. Yes, Quinn has just been given his ex-lover as the top target on his kill list, even though there’s someone already out there trying to kill Carrie. Troublesome? You bet. But what still has my jaw on the floor after an excellent hour of “Homeland” is the fact Carrie is nine months sober. Let me say that again: Carrie Mathison — the same Carrie who got drunk with suspected terrorists and washed down a handful of pills with a bottle of wine — is nine months sober. Some expressed surprise when she found religion in the season premiere, but Carrie was raised Catholic and faith always resurfaces in times of crisis. Just with Carrie, usually a case of Pinot does, too. Cheers to you, Ms. Mathison. If you can make it through two assassination attempts without going back to the bottle, it would be the biggest “Homeland” surprise ever.
Best “Homeland” Twist
As perfectly-placed as the final revelation remains — more on Quinn’s new mission shortly — it’s important we don’t overlook the fact that Carrie Mathison is being hunted by an unknown assassin carrying quite a big stick. What went down at the Lebanon/Syrian border showed careful planning, access to powerful weaponry and knowledge of the foundation’s plans. Whoever is after Carrie wants her badly enough and is strong enough to overwhelm the protection of Hezbollah; a notable drive considering Carrie’s biggest worry going in was the unexpected. She couldn’t predict what would happen with her boss under the spotlight, but she didn’t assume anyone would be crazy enough to target them with such ferocity. Hiring protection seemed like a necessary measure given the volatility in the region, not because someone was expected to seek out and destroy a charitable organization. To make matters worse, even after everything she survived in this episode, it didn’t feel like the most danger Carrie could have faced. The attack at the camp could very well be a warning; a cat teasing a mouse just enough to frighten it. Stay sharp, Carrie. And get the hell out of town.
Crazy Carrie Level: 0/10
A sober Carrie makes this question tough to tackle: Is she far less crazy for not drinking anymore, or more crazy for giving up the only consistent therapy she’s ever had? Considering her effectiveness under pressure, I’m leaning toward the former. Religion and motherhood may have (temporarily) filled the hole in her life that booze was plugging, making for another week of Carrie at her peak. Sure, she had a miniature breakdown in a bathroom after the assault, but that’s actually a sign of health. Asking God for help under trying times is what good Catholics are supposed to do. She even said she was scared of leaving her family in the first place; another sign of health for someone who’s been fearless to the point of stupidity in the past. With the aforementioned two assassins after her, we’ll see how she handles things next week. But for now, Carrie has shown remarkable growth.
MVP (Most Valuable Performer)
Rather than give Claire Danes yet another trophy for her full mantle, let’s take a few minutes to focus on Nina Hoss’ Astrid. Introduced last year as someone once close to Quinn, Astrid has been elevated to lead investigator of the CIA’s information leak. The fire and grit she displayed in Season 4’s “Krieg Nicht Lieb” — going toe-to-toe with Carrie — was amplified as she raided Laura Sutton’s (Sarah Sokolovic) apartment before bringing her in for “questioning.” “That woman. She’d let the country burn as long as she got her Pulitzer Prize,” Astrid said. It’s the kind of declaration we’ve heard from Saul and Carrie in the past, and a pro-government position that’s been brought into question numerous times. Where, exactly, Sutton stands as a pillar of journalistic integrity remains in doubt — her motivations are murky, at best — but the clash between these two women is as much about ideals as action. Where it leads should be fascinating to track.
Quote of the Night
Okay, time for a show of hands: Who thinks Quinn will actually try to kill Carrie? No one? Really? Yeah, you’re probably right. But bringing these two back together under the most dire of circumstances seems like a great idea anyway — no matter the tease. Quinn has gone down the rabbit hole again (remember: it was Astrid who once pointed out to Carrie how Quinn’s allegiance to the CIA would shift drastically from time to time), and Carrie has moved on with her life. She seems happy with her new man and growing child. What will Quinn have to say about that when the two meet up for the first time since they nearly ran away together? How will Carrie respond? Will those reactions determine Quinn’s mission status? And who ordered him to kill Carrie in the first place? “Homeland” has set up a gripping premise for its new season, and I can’t wait to see how it plays out.