7   +   5   =  

‘Super Powers’

“I’m not here as a statesman”, claimed Saul Berenson as he tried to track down his ex-colleague Carrie Mathison, “I’m here as a spy”. This quote was as good as any at summarising the crossing of lines between nationhood, personal crisis and duty that has thus far characterised Homeland’s most philosophical season yet.

Last night’s episode saw every character fighting for something, be it their country, their beliefs or their lives. Each strand of the narrative developed further, and audiences were treated to tastes of both old and new as Carrie recklessly delved into her past as a way to protect her future. There was plenty of moral dilemma, with characters and audiences alike forced to make some serious judgements. Were we led to make the right ones, though?homeland-season-5-episode-3-1The plot of this episode made it feel very much like a set up for the next. Journalist Laura Sutton finally met her source, though their relationship was left in an ambiguous state after he infected her laptop with a virus, whilst Quinn pursued Carrie via her boyfriend’s family and Saul made some serious executive decisions regarding the past and near future of American operations in Germany. Meanwhile Carrie and Jonas attempted to figure out who wanted her dead, with mixed results, as her theory of laying off the meds to find the answer didn’t go exactly to plan.

The main problem with the episode’s moral quandaries was the storyline revolving around Quinn, an arc that has already come close to crossing the line earlier in the series. It’s tough enough knowing that these former allies and perhaps once-potential lovers are now pitted against each other, but adding in the whole kidnapping element felt particularly uncomfortable. Though it served as a means to an end, it came across as a little gratuitous, and what was even more disturbing was how normal it all felt. In the same way Game of Thrones has desensitised its audience to sexual abuse and rape, Homeland appears to have disintegrated its viewers’ own moral boundaries, and I’m personally undecided on whether that is a good thing or not.

Mr Berenson was full of surprises this episode, ruthlessly defending the interests of himself and Allison by having another American in Berlin take the blame for the information leak, and turning out to be in deep with his colleague as she got nice and cosy with him in bed. And what do we think of his conversation with Dar Adal? “Just when you thought we’d lost our operational balls…” Now this sounds big.homeland-season-5-episode-3-2Claire Danes got to have another go at the Carrie-off-her-meds character, which despite being thrilling when first unleashed is beginning to feel a little tired. Her bipolar is a fundamental part of her character, not some ‘super power’, as the episode title suggests, that she can just whip out to solve the mystery and save the day. Nonetheless Danes killed those scenes, and seeing the comparatively normal and domestic Jonas (Alexander Fehlig) try to deal with becoming immersed in Carrie’s professional and personal life was truly compelling. This is another of the show’s relationships that currently hangs in the balance.

Though some elements of this episode felt a little lazy, perhaps even predictable, Super Powers looked like it was setting up an explosive instalment for next week. Carrie and Quinn are reunited, but where will their relationship go now? And whose side are either of them truly on?

★★★

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