Sunday, October 11, 2015

REVIEW: 'Homeland' - Carrie and Otto Travel to Lebanon While Quinn Receives His New Target in 'The Tradition of Hospitality'

Showtime's Homeland - Episode 5.02 "The Tradition of Hospitality"

Carrie and Düring visit a refugee camp. Saul and Allison are at odds. Quinn stays on mission.

Carrie successful got out of the CIA. She left that life behind in order to live a happier one. Her life in Berlin was nice and stable. She had a strong relationship with her daughter as well as a hunky new boyfriend. Her new job as head of security for a philanthropist and his organization took her out of the dangerous lifestyle of the CIA. And yet, she couldn't escape that world completely because both the CIA and the Düring Foundation are interested in global events. Even though she desperately wants to be seen as a private citizen, Carrie's reputation as a CIA agent still impacts her greatly. Her past has consumed her entire identity in the present. She doesn't want to be associated with that job anymore. And yet, she is still in the same situation as she was before. It's just now she's actually afraid for many different reasons. That's a headspace that makes the character exciting this year. She's running away from the thing that has defined her for so long. That's a massive change that brings back some intrigue and stakes into the narrative.

Carrie and Otto take their big trip to Lebanon to help with the refugee crisis. It's a precarious situation where Carrie has done everything to ensure his safety - but even that can only keep the scene safe for a limited amount of time. Otto wants to have the most meaningful impact possible on this area. He wants to be seen helping and listening to these people who have fled from their home country in order to find safety. He wants to make sure that they have houses, food, water and education so that when they return they are much stronger and wiser than before. He wants to do good in the world. Carrie is the one worried with all the practical concerns of such a trip. She risks herself in order to protect Otto at all costs. She fully believes he is someone worth protecting - unlike the CIA who think his foundation stands in opposition to their goals in the area.

Every time Carrie interacts with someone in Lebanon, they assume she is still working for the CIA. The people in this region are distrustful of the organization and are wary of what she ultimately wants. Carrie is sincere with her plans to protect Otto. She doesn't have any secret agenda or double life - at least one hasn't been exposed yet. It wouldn't be all that surprising if the show wanted to throw in a twist saying that Carrie and Saul have actually been working together to expose Otto's organization this whole time. That doesn't seem likely though given Carrie's current mental state. Her sincerity does read as genuine. It may not to the people she's interacting with. They don't know her well enough to believe that she has made the switch to a private citizen. But the audience does have an understanding of her. One that makes it seem like this change is something she actually wants to stick to. It may not work out for her in the end. But it does feel like she is trying to avoid the CIA lifestyle at all costs.

This episode is very tense because it includes the big moment the season has been building to so far. Otto arrives in the country. The preparations have been made for him to speak to the refugees for one hour in an unsafe and unpredictable zone. It's anxious waiting for something to happen. All this planning and worrying means something is going to go wrong. That's what makes the situation dramatically satisfying and tense. In the end, something does. Carrie and her colleague scope out the crowd for any potential assassins. They make it until the end of his speech. He wants to continue to speak to people. He wants to listen to the concerns of the people living in these conditions. He's very invested in hearing their personal stories and what this community needs. For a moment, it seems as if he is put into harm's way because he stays in the area for more than a hour. And yet, that's not the case either.

As Carrie and her team attempt to get Otto to safety after fleeing the area where he gave his big speech, a coordinated attack almost takes them out. Carrie spots it before it happens in the nick of time. As much as she hates to admit it, her instincts for this kind of stuff are still very strong. But Otto wasn't the target in this attack. Carrie was. That's shocking. It also proves that the terrorists in this area are more distrustful of the CIA than they are of the Düring Foundation. That's crucial. Even though she has left that job, the people of this region still see her as an agent and nothing more. She was the target because of her actions in the past that created the current state of terrorism. She battled them in order to protect the world through the CIA. These people aren't going to forget that even though she has made a career change. But there's also a hint of a much bigger game at play here. The coordinator of the attack won't reveal who hired him to eliminate Carrie. That suggests that some big things are conspiring against her. And now, she's stuck in Lebanon with a target on her back and very few people to help her.

But trouble is brewing back in Germany for Carrie as well. Quinn is becoming very efficient with his new assignment of taking out terrorists in Berlin for the CIA. It's a use of his skills that is very appropriate. He works so well as an agent. He's able to handle this latest case with relative ease. He surveils the target and gets a good understanding of the job she is doing. He takes her out and makes sure the ramifications of her actions are dealt with as well. However, when he returns to the PO box, he discovers that his next target is Carrie. The two of them were bound to bump into each other again now that they are both stationed out of Berlin. But why would Saul and the CIA want to eliminate Carrie as a terrorist? Yes, she did make an agreement in order to get Otto safe passage into Lebanon. But that doesn't inherently make her a credible threat to national security. Something is amiss here. That means Quinn might have to question his orders. Though that's granted Carrie makes it back to Berlin following her troubles in Lebanon.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Tradition of Hospitality" was written by Patrick Harbinson and directed by Lesli Linka Glatter.
  • Laura went public with the document detailing the United States and Germany's alliance to spy on German citizens. That got her onto TV in order to talk about the issue. But it also got her in a holding room with German intelligence. This is a tricky legal situation where it's easy to understand both sides of the argument.
  • The hackers that got the information from the CIA are unsure of how to handle the rest of the documents after it seems Laura has been compromised and can no longer help them.
  • Saul breaks the bad news to Allison that she is being replaced as station chief because the hack happened under her watch. And yet, she proves herself to be a very valuable asset - not by calling out Saul's hypocrisy on the situation but by going behind his back to orchestrate his departure from Berlin. She's smart and could become an important character this season.
  • It's reassuring to know that Jonas is looking after Frannie for Carrie while she's away on this dangerous business assignment.