‘Our Man In Damascus’
Last night’s penultimate episode of this fifth season of Homeland continued just where the show left off last week: tackling Peter Quinn’s dire situation. He only had that one opening scene, but it will have left a grim impression on viewers, and one suspects that his will be far from a happy ending. Has he escaped death for the last time?
Any fans of 24 will remember countless episodes that involved the big man Jack Bauer storming into hospital wards and nearly killing both enemies and friends as a means to finding the truth. So in a season that has at times displayed the kind of dodgy dialogue and questionable plot developments that sent that show off the boil, it was satisfying to see Carrie and Saul’s gung-ho approach have genuine consequences, as opposed to the blind faith in immoral aggression that goes unquestioned too often in mainstream political drama.Homeland may have chickened out a bit when it came to the WikiLeaks/Anonymous plotline – though it returned this episode it only really depicted Laura Sutton as a threat to the CIA and therefore big baddie – but the serious consequences of the West’s reckless actions came into full effect in ‘Our Man In Damascus’, proving it to still be a show with a far more progressive attitude to the practices of intelligence agencies than many give it credit for. Quinn’s arrogance and inability to understand the band of Syrian terrorists led him, and Berlin, to the events of this episode, whilst Dar Adal’s naïve trusting of Allison Carr only caused more bloodshed.
So, Americans make mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes have catastrophic consequences. Who knew?!
This episode did utilise the Laura Sutton narrative well in some aspects, even if a more pro-Snowden angle would have been a little more daring. It brought back the theme of the individual against the state, and depicted further the lack of power that comes with isolation in a narrative that has poignantly explored the opposing concepts of allegiance and individualism. Just as Carrie struggled (as she has all season) to do what she needed to without the influence of the CIA, and America as a whole, behind her, Laura is now equally powerless and alone; I think she’ll be joining Carrie in receiving her P45 from the Düring Foundation at the end of the season.Laura’s ultimatum also importantly reinforced an idea that had been missing for a number of episodes, in that going into the season finale we can expect the simple click of a computer mouse to have an effect on the CIA and BND that is equally as disastrous as the imminent attack at the train station. As Homeland’s opening titles have informed us every week: “Soldiers are hackers, the battlefield is online”.
Leaving us with a painful cliff-hanger as Saul sought to pursue Allison and the attack loomed closer than ever, Homeland’s penultimate episode did exactly what it needed to. There was a palpable sense of danger and immediacy that should ensure that next week’s episode will not be the kind of ‘aftermath’ set-up of last season’s finale. Expect sparks of a literal, political and emotional nature to fly.