We start ‘A False Glimmer’ where we left off last week, with Carrie heading into the railway tunnel in search of Qasim, Bibi, and a whole lot of trouble in the shape of a canister full of sarin. Which at least means that this episode will have more action than last season’s anti-climactic finale. Not very much more, though: Carrie catches up with Qasim, who indicates his intention to use the power of his rhetoric to stop Bibi from detonating the device. “Allah”, he insists to an unconvinced Carrie, “will help me find the words”. Bibi is so moved by the words that he shoots Qasim almost immediately, but not fatally, meaning that Qasim is still able to prevent Bibi from sarin-ing a passing train. Then he dies, but not before Carrie has worked out that he was also the atropine angel who saved Quinn’s life, kind of.
It’s all done and dusted in a few minutes, but with that taken care of Carrie is once again free to address her personal life. She starts by calling in to Jonas’s fabulous apartment: he’s not there, so she crawls into bed and goes to sleep. He wakens her with news that, offscreen, the jihadi cell was crushed, in what was presumably one shootout too many for the show’s budget. They have what looks like makeup sex, but afterwards Carrie realises it was breakup sex: Jonas – who, frankly, I didn’t think would make it to the end of the season in one piece – has come to the conclusion that Carrie’s world isn’t a place in which he, and just as importantly his son, can live safely and happily. Since this is an entirely reasonable position to take, he’s able to defend it with some force.
So with one door to romantic happiness closed, Carrie heads off to the hospital. Unfortunately Quinn has had a cerebral haemorrhage, and according to the surgeon who operates on him will have brain damage even if he recovers. “Did I do this to him?” Carrie wonders. Yes, Carrie, you did, and not for any usable intelligence either.
As it happens she’s not out of options yet, but we’ll come back to that. In the meantime, with Allison on the run, Saul has finally got the proof he needs that she and Ivan were Russian spies, so he wanders into Ivan’s interrogation room and puts the squeeze on him: provide some information which will help track Allison down, and Ivan can be resettled somewhere nice in the US. It’s a pretty good offer, in the circumstances, and it’s an excellent scene: Saul is courteous, respectful, almost affectionate to Ivan, “one professional to another”, as he puts it, although the veneer starts to thin a little when Ivan reveals why he and Allison targeted Saul: a divorced, middle-aged man, he was ripe for the picking.
We then move on four days, and start to tie up the loose plot threads. Allison is taken out of a safe house and put into the boot of a car – the next time she sees the sky, says her scary handler, it will be a Russian one. But it isn’t going to happen: presumably Ivan accepted Saul’s offer, and the car is stopped at the border and riddled with bullets. Farewell Allison, never the most convincing of super-spies anyway.
Laura has been backed into a corner by the wonderful Astrid (“you’ve overstayed your welcome”) and the BND: Numan has been arrested and will be deported to Turkey, unless Laura goes on TV and says that poor Marwan had been working with the terrorists, and that she was wrong about everything. Since Laura seems to be able to get onto TV just by making the call this is accomplished, with Astrid watching from within the studio. It’s odd: all other things being equal I would probably agree with Laura’s positions over Astrid’s every day of the week. But Laura was so phenomenally annoying – down to that loose strand of hair artfully framing her features – that it was very easy to side with Astrid, and I was left with the feeling that a brutal introduction to realpolitik was exactly what Laura needed, and that at least the German people might be spared her pious little lectures for a while.
Her employer, Düring, has plans of his own, mind you. Carrie’s over for a spot of supper – having, in the interim, knocked back a job offer from Saul on behalf of the Company – and Düring recalls when he interviewed her for a position with the Foundation, and offered her the job in like fifteen minutes. “I was waiting for you”, he murmurs to a startled-looking Carrie. But she doesn’t flee, so he doubles down, offering to make her a “partner”. In case there’s any ambiguity about what he’s getting at, he says that he sees Carrie as someone to share his life with, then takes her hand. Oh, Otto! As far back as episode 2 I was wondering whether there had been something going on between the two of them at some point, and I guess I’ve got my answer: no, but Düring would like to change that.
Carrie, though, has something else to think about: it doesn’t look as if Quinn’s going to recover, and when she visited him in hospital Dar Adal gave her the letter that Quinn asked him, at the end of season 4, to pass to Carrie in the event of his death in Syria. (Dar is, appropriately, dressed all in black. I don’t really see him as a Hawaiian shirt kind of dude.) She returns on her own, jams the door to Quinn’s room closed, and looks as if she’s about to euthanise Quinn.
Then a ray of sunlight shines through the window. I’m not sure what we’re supposed to make of this: the episode has been quite heavy on spirituality, starting with Carrie saying a prayer (I think) over the body of Qasim, and including a visit to the hospital chapel. So whether this is something which, to Carrie, has some significance, or whether it’s just sunlight, I don’t know; and whether Carrie actually goes through with it, we’ll presumably find out in season 6. It’s a moment of calm to end a busy, if hardly outstanding, episode. If the show does kill Quinn off it’ll be a courageous decision – always assuming, of course, that Rupert Friend hasn’t said that he wants out. And given how poorly-served the character of Quinn was this season, one couldn’t blame him if he didn’t want anything more to do with Homeland: stranded in ludicrous storylines, and kept away from the important characters. (Although of course the show has survived big deaths before.) I was never a Quinn/Carrie shipper, but I liked the character, and he’s definitely a fan favourite.
It certainly gives the writers a challenge for the next season; as for this one, I thought it good in parts, sluggish in others. I liked the way in which the relocation of the action to Europe gave the show a dimension which it had previously lacked, but some of the episodes dragged a bit. Homeland, though, continues to give me enough to keep watching, and I’d imagine that I’ll be back next year.