‘A False Glimmer’
Well looking back on last week’s review of ‘Our Man in Damascus’, the penultimate episode of the fifth season of Homeland, leaves this reviewer a little red-faced. The ‘sparks’ I predicted to fly in the finale kind of, well, didn’t. Many viewers were left disappointed after the seemingly imminent threat posed by the band of Islamist would-be terrorists was neutralised by Carrie within the episode’s first twenty minutes. What followed was a finale far less explosive and more character-driven than expected, one that neatly wrapped up the season, but left some of us wanting more.
The main talking point regarding this episode is undoubtedly the death of a beloved character. In what was a heart-breaking – but necessary to retain the show’s integrity – turn of events, the actions of Saul and Carrie in the hospital had serious repercussions, resulting in Peter Quinn’s apparent death as Carrie removed his pulse monitor and placed it on her own finger.
Did he really die? Some have debated the meaning of the ray of light that entered the room as Carrie committed the act. Was it a sign of Quinn’s spirit leaving his body and ascending to heaven (I’m not sure that’s where assassins go to when they die), or was it some kind of divine intervention, a moment of inspiration causing Carrie to change her mind and preserve her friend’s life?Either way, the Christian imagery would be easier to go along with had it actually been prevalent throughout the season. When season five began, its opening scene was of Carrie in a church. After that, we were given little to suggest that her relationship with God was becoming an important aspect of her life, or the series. Other than her irrational, psychosis-induced fear of being haunted by an angel mid-series, the theme of Christianity had been left relatively unexplored, and the preachy religious tone of this episode felt a little out of touch with that of the season as a whole.
The more compelling side to this finale was a plotline that had been seriously mistreated in the episodes leading up to it. As the latter half of the season reverted to straight forward espionage drama, the narrative surrounding Laura Sutton, Numan and The Düring Foundation, and its themes of hacking, government corruption and freedom of speech, had been left to rot. However, it gave us this final episode’s most interesting moments, as Sutton was forced to submit to the German government’s demands.Perhaps a journalist’s view of the episode was always going to be biased, but seeing the reporter give in to the BND after spending most of the season as a proud opposer of the state and upholder of freedom of the press was positively horrifying. One could almost call it Orwellian the way the overwhelming power of the state obliterated the liberty of a select few individuals. In an episode that otherwise focused on the spiritual and symbolic, this was a really powerful depiction of real-life issues.
Seeing Alisson degraded and eventually killed in most undignified circumstances was also very affecting, and the bittersweet conclusion to Saul’s journey this season was fitting for a character that has been through one hell of an emotional journey. Hearing Ivan call him an ‘easy target’ was highly saddening, knowing his track record with the ladies.
‘A False Glimmer’ was not the finale we were expecting, nor one that will have pleased everyone. Nonetheless, after proving to be the most topical and relevant in the show’s history, season five of Homeland can certainly be considered a success. It’s not been perfect, but it has well and truly put the Brody days behind it, as Carrie Mathison continues to be one of the most compelling characters on American television.