Oh, come on, Carrie! What exactly about Allison (Miranda Otto) makes you think she’s trustworthy? Not only was it odd that Carrie would choose for the new addition to the cast — and only exposed Russian mole — to be her sudden confidant, but it’s even stranger that she was the panicked ex-CIA agent’s first call. What about Saul? Or Quinn? Or Jonas? Maybe the first two are a bit tricky to get ahold of right now, but an effort toward finding someone more trustworthy would have been welcome — even if Allison is the one she needs to interview.
The last moments of the episode encapsulated the whole situation rather nicely, even if neither was all that nice for viewers. Whatever was teased this hour — code word “Oriole” from the documents and Otto’s two-faced nature regarding Carrie — wasn’t made clear enough to add drama, and the episode itself felt like the first half of a two-parter: lots of developments, but nothing substantial right now. It’s too bad the last three episodes have all felt this way, marking an official slump for Season 5.
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“Oriole” only consisted of two major twists: one all too obvious and the other somewhat of a surprise, if only because we didn’t want to believe it would happen. First off was Saul’s defection. While it wasn’t abundantly clear who was coming to Saul’s rescue, we knew a plan was unfolding from the second Saul called down for his “laundry.” Does he look like a man who would worry about laundry? Moreover, how poorly trained are these CIA officers? Saul’s guard should know better than to let him make a phone call for any reason. I mean, he’s a spy! Of course he’s got code words — for everything.
The second twist was the unfortunate fate of Carrie’s friend Esam (Ori Yaniv). When he first appeared as her kind and thankful driver, hoes were high he might survive. “Homeland” could use a bit of levity from time to time, and Esam provided just that. But the longer he hung around, the more likely his demise became. As soon as he got out of the car, his fate was sealed as a target of these silent, lethal assassins. Ivan (Mark Ivanir) did say they’d be ready for Carrie in Amsterdam, and boy were they ever. Still, bringing in an innocent and likable new character only to kill him off for a cheap thrill (and slightly less cheap warning for Carrie) felt manipulative.
Carrie was pretty on point in “Oriole,” taking her time to scan the documents thoroughly and not wasting any in getting to Amsterdam to further the investigation. She was in her element — calling contacts, snooping through houses and ditching wigs — but she did say one thing that was absolutely nuts. When Otto asked what she would do if her hunch turned out to be false and everything was actually okay, Carrie said she’s go get Jonas and Frannie, and then retire to her family’s cabin in the wilderness. Oh, Carrie. It’s cute you think you could be happy leading such a simple life. Alison at least knows she’s addicted to the thrill of the job, even if it stresses her out almost as much as her enemy. Carrie is living in denial, chasing a dream she doesn’t even want.
I’ve sung Miranda Otto’s praises before for her silent portrayal of an emotional smorgasbord, but this week’s episode gave us an even better example of what she’s doing right and the writers are doing wrong. When Saul told her about Carrie being alive, Alison immediately faked a sickness, complaining about her stomach (I guess?) to get Saul out of the room so she could have her panic attack in peace. Otto nails the scene, showing just enough dread when Saul reveals the truth to let us know she’s feeling it, but not Saul. The panic attack itself was also well-played, but the issue is that what got the character there, not how Otto acted it out. Saul, a trained, experienced, oh-so-wise spy, just told his girlfriend/CIA sleepover buddy a shocking secret he’s hiding from literally everyone else, and her first reaction is…”I feel sick.” That doesn’t ring any bells? Nothing about that is suspicious to you, Saul? She had nothing to say about what you just told her — which is a pretty big deal — and instead needs a minute alone to fix herself up? I’m hoping Saul took note and now he and Carrie are planning some sort of ambush on Allison next week — explaining both the episode’s ending as well as this scene — but that feels like a long shot right now.
Okay, Otto is officially up to no good. We’ve suspected as much for weeks now, but if he thinks this version of Carrie Mathison is “unstable,” oh boy have we got some stories to tell him. His reversal of opinion regarding the woman he’s been helping and encouraging all season is completely baseless, and his sly comment to Jonas about how her getting fired shouldn’t affect his decision to date her was too on the nose: “Hey, so, this woman I think has a troubled mental state and is too unstable to work for us — go ahead and keep dating her. That’s obviously a good idea.”
So is he too a double agent working for the Russians? Or is he just the world’s best bad boss? Perhaps he wholeheartedly agrees with Laura’s extremely possessive nature regarding the documents, and this is his way of buttering up Carrie to get a copy of them before firing her outright. (How much do we all hate Laura, by the way? She’s now put her own interests in the leaked docs over Carrie’s life, her source’s life and his friend’s life.) I’m not sure where Otto will land, but I’m guessing he’s every bit the bad dude Saul always suspected.
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