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‘Parabiosis’

We might be used to Carrie’s fluctuating mental state and constant (often justified) paranoia, but this week we saw one of Homeland’s most level-headed characters descend almost into madness as Saul Berenson, once a CIA director, found himself followed and eventually captured by the same organisation he has served so loyally. And all at the hands of the woman he’s sleeping with, you couldn’t make this shit up!

In an episode that very much centred around Saul, we saw Carrie unsuccessfully attempt to get information from her former boss, the “fucking wall” built between the two of them over the last two years seeming to reach higher with every episode. And yet, after a confrontation with Dal Adar and an unnervingly tense scene in Saul’s hotel room, it would appear that even if they are not friends, Berenson knows when Carrie’s on to something.homeland-season-5-episode-6-3With Peter Quinn M.I.A. and nobody to turn to but her current boss Otto Düring, Carrie saw escape as the only viable course of action. Just as Saul’s previous mistakes have been exploited this season, Carrie knew that her own past would only cause more problems for those she loves: “I bring down everyone around me.” As his former colleagues fretted over the past, a barely alive Quinn had some very urgent problems to deal with, as he found himself conveniently holed up in the same building as a Syrian terrorist group planning an attack.

It’s probably fair to say that Homeland doesn’t put as much emphasis on visual prowess as some of its other big budget American counterparts do, nor does it employ a particularly stylised approach as other films and shows of the spy genre go for. This isn’t a criticism by any means, a show of such narrative complexity has far more to deal with than fancy camerawork, but it does mean that a particularly smooth piece of cinematography does not go unnoticed when it makes an appearance.

Director Alex Graves will be very happy with the finished product of Saul’s mini mission to obtain information for Carrie, filmed using two minute-long handheld shots that followed him through the offices of the CIA and cleverly depicted his distraction techniques. The tension was palpable as the camera moved from person to person and Saul barely escaped in a bold scene that evoked classic spy fiction. In a very wordy episode it was an inspired visual flourish that required little dialogue or incidental music to convey its effect.homeland-season-5-episode-6-2If Quinn thought that after dicing with death his troubles would soon be over he was sadly mistaken, as listening in on the plans of a group of Muslim extremists got him into a spot of bother; perhaps “I’m gonna cut your prick and shove it down your throat” qualifies as a little more than ‘a spot of bother’. Anyway, he’s alive, and all the bullet holes and stab wounds in the world won’t stop him from being Homeland’s staple badass.

Mr Düring managed to squeeze in a moment of badassery of his own as the CIA bods tried to search him in his own club. It wasn’t exactly killing a guy by punching him in the throat, but forcing the agents to apologise before they left with Saul was a minor victory for a character that has struggled to no end with agency intervention. Can’t a guy with a dodgy family history and ambiguous objective run his controversial charity in peace?!

The evil Alisson looks no closer to being caught than when we first discovered her true allegiance, and Saul is well and truly without a paddle. However episode six left us wondering where is next for Carrie and of course what exactly the information the Russians don’t want her to see is. After a season that has thus far conveyed little outside of sheer hopelessness, we might soon see a turnaround in our protagonist’s fortunes.

★★★★

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