Thank God! Carrie (Claire Danes), after spending most of this season plodding around in the dark, finally saw the light thanks to a random picture and a random story from years past. It’s not so much that the moment when everything clicked for our heroine was exciting. It was more a relief. We’ve been watching Carrie and Saul (Mandy Patinkin) dance around discovering Allison (Miranda Otto) so much that it’s felt more like her show than theirs. She’s getting the screentime while they plod along, slowly putting the pieces together in what by now I’m hoping is stalling for one helluva finale.
This slow burn (from an optimist’s viewpoint) was best illustrated by Saul’s story in “All About Allison,” as the former CIA director considered defection, took a meeting with an Israeli official, said he needed to keep waiting and then was woken up to flee being turned over to Dar Adal — an act we didn’t even get to witness. It was all waiting and no action. Almost as much could be said for Carrie, who at least got a tense, emotional confrontation with Allison. Yet even that was marred by Allison’s illogical decision to keep Carrie alive. If the Russians don’t want her to see the documents — or turn them over to someone else, or find some way to connect them to the assassination, et all — why not kill her? It’s an odd mentality for a group unafraid of adding bodies to the death toll.
With Saul waiting in the wings and Carrie finally in the know, now’s the time for action. Allison has to come down, but — as we saw via flashback in this episode — she won’t be going down easily. Nor will her boss, and, of course, neither will Carrie and Saul. Let’s get to it already!
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The best twist of the episode came during Quinn’s journey to… Berlin? Hussein (Mehdi Nebbou) seemed like a pretty straight shooter up until his buddy knocked Quinn unconscious, making the surprise destination swap — Syria to Berlin — resonate even more. It also served as a necessary means to connect our separate stories. Who knows? By season’s end, we could have Quinn, Carrie and Saul fighting on the same side for the first time in three years (or, one season).
Carrie has been largely sane in Season 5 — so much so, I’m starting to believe her theory that going off her meds actually makes her smarter (or at least a more effective agent). Maybe she needs to be a little crazy to put the puzzle pieces together, as it took her longer than usual to crack the case this go ’round. Allison has been the one person so far asking all the questions, demanding favors and remaining at the center of the story — in the shit, basically. Which should have made her more suspicious to Carrie, long before she had the time to reflect on their shared history.
The flashback structure of “All About Allison” worked pretty well, if mainly to hush the above complaint (one I’ve made in the past) as to why Carrie trusts this agent so much. Granted, Allison and Carrie didn’t exactly bond as they tried to swap places with Ahmed Nazari (Darwin Shaw), but they worked well together and connected ever so slightly. It’s not much, but it helps — especially when they met up in present day and Carrie had a minor meltdown. At first, I thought Carrie was working an angle with Allison; trying to be more vulnerable than necessary in order to expose something about her. (After all, Carrie did seem suspicious right before she sat down after remembering how Allison only told her Ahmed had died, rather than showing her). But that was really Carrie — she’s changed. We’ll find out soon enough if she can get back to her daughter, but I’m guessing it would only be for the short term anyway.
We’ve paid just about every compliment imaginable to Miranda Otto, but there’s really no one else to highlight in “All About Allison” because, well, it’s in the title. “Homeland” really has started to become more of her show than Carrie’s, and that makes us wonder if she’s more than a one-season-wonder. Could Allison become some sort of big bad? She’s got an emotional connection with Saul and an impressive number of contacts. Plus, her survival skills are well-honed, meaning she might be able to duck Saul and Carrie’s upcoming (wo)manhunt. It would be great to keep her around — as long as they give her supporting players more to do, as well.
“Homeland” is going to great lengths to illustrate that Carrie and Saul are good buddies again. Part of this has to be for what’s to come — when the two will team up in the best America vs. Russia showdown since “Rocky IV” – but it also feels a bit like placating. These last four episodes have been a bit slow, to say the least, and largely lacking in a lot of great moments for die-hard “Homeland” fans and casual viewers alike. Reuniting Carrie and Saul feels a bit like fan service when it’s done on separate screens — Carrie and Saul aren’t sharing a lot of scenes — but there is the chance we’re being set up for a fall. The Israeli dictator’s representative followed up the above exchange by warning Saul that “trust” may not always be a good thing in the spy world. For those of us who know Carrie, though, it’s impossible to imagine her letting him down.
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