5   +   2   =  

‘Better Call Saul’

As was hinted in previous episodes of the fifth season of Homeland, Saul Barensen and his relationship with Israel is finally starting to cause him trouble. Quite like Carrie and Quinn, he looks set to be a most wanted man as, in a continued study of the CIA’s relationships with its friends, allies and employees, ‘Better Call Saul’ asked us to question just who we should consider on our side, and what exactly being a friend of the CIA means.

After a brief look into the aftermath of last week’s exploding plane, the episode kicked things off with a deliciously frosty dialogue between Carrie and Astrid, Quinn’s friend in German intelligence who was evidently a little more than a friend as we were led to believe a few weeks ago. Astrid made it as awkward as possible for Carrie as she asked her to look into the identity of Quinn’s would-be killer, and that final exchange (‘I’m not doing this for you’, ‘Yeah I think we’re clear on that’) was an absolute delight.homeland-season-5-episode-5-still-2This scene was a brief refresher on one of many compartments in the cobweb of relationships that has thus far characterised season five, and provided a much needed character-based breather after two episodes full of suspense and disaster. Perhaps it was a bit of a shame to see that tired old idea of two women linked by one man forced to interact amicably, but this was subverted later when the two men in Carrie’s life, Jonas and Quinn, were left together and forced to discuss the lives each of them had chosen by being involved with people like Carrie. That she was at the centre of such a scene is a testament to Homeland’s proudly Carrie-centric approach, as the show, part of a genre hardly known for its strong female roles, stands by its leading lady and uses her as such an essential driving force.

Speaking of strong females, that Alisson’s nothing but trouble, isn’t she?! Miranda Otto is putting in a fine run of performances as the treacherous agent in league with the Russians, and last night proved to be another superbly nuanced display as she seamlessly switched personas, agencies and even boyfriends throughout the episode. Her blank acting style conveyed her character’s control and composition throughout the events of the series, and yet in that scene depicting a meetup between her and a Russian man, she seemed so unnerved by the slightest disruption of what is evidently a carefully crafted plan. God knows what she’ll be like when she finds out Carrie’s still alive.

Now she has betrayed Saul more than ever, as she looked to frame him for the attack on General Yussef’s plane. He has no luck with the ladies, that man.homeland-season-5-episode-5-still-3The scenes later in the episode depicting an Anonymous-style protest orchestrated by our trusty hacker Numan were really well executed, and yet another triumphant step into the depiction of current affairs. Amidst issues surrounding ISIS, Russia and Syria, Homeland has repeatedly endeavoured to remind us that the enemies of the state are normal people – students, activists and hackers – as much as they are intelligence agencies and terrorists. This added element does away with the good vs evil dichotomy that pits America against the inherently evil baddies in so many other films and programmes of this nature. Once again it must be noted that Carrie’s departure from the CIA has allowed us to view events from a more objective point of view, and this time around it’s harder to take a side than in previous series.

There are plenty of questions to mull over as we wait for next week’s episode. The one most in need of answering of course will be this: was that the last we’ll ever see of Quinn? Let’s hope not; nobody wants to see a jobbing Rupert Friend do another Hitman movie.

★★★★

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