Sunday, October 25, 2015

REVIEW: 'Homeland' - Carrie Searches for the Truth About the Hit on Her Head in 'Why Is This Night Different?'

Showtime's Homeland - Episode 5.04 "Why Is This Night Different?"

Answers elude Carrie. Laura asks Jonas for help. Saul and Allison run an operation.

A powerful and mysterious force is at play this season on Homeland. That was apparent as soon as it was revealed that Carrie was the main target during her trip out of Germany. Last week's episode was a disaster as she tried to get to the bottom of the mystery and made no significant progress. And now, she is reunited with Quinn who is able to get the target off her back for a little bit while also pointing at a new suspect for all of these nefarious deeds. It's a complicated mystery. One that is more gripping now that Carrie is back to her regular self again. The pacing is more tense and the urgency feels more genuine. Sure, it doesn't lift all of the stories up in quality. There's still a few beats that seemed designed to keep the new supporting players busy until their stories become relevant to the overall narrative. But "Why Is This Night Different?" gets the season back on track.

Quinn does not kill Carrie like he was ordered to do. Instead he fakes her death and allows her to say goodbye to Frannie with a taped message. She is given the chance to leave the country still alive. She just has to change her identity completely and leave her old life (including her daughter) behind. That's a crippling emotional realization for Carrie. She wants to fight to get back to Frannie. She wants Frannie to know that she'll do whatever it takes to be reunited with her. But she can't do that. She needs to protect herself and her cover even though it may cause pain for her daughter. It's a complicated emotional situation that is so much more compelling than seeing her off her meds for the millionth time. She has formed a real attachment to her life in Berlin with Frannie. Now, the actions of her past are catching up to her and placing her in harm's way once more. She has something to lose now.

If Carrie is going to accept Quinn's proposition as her new life, she needs to make sure that Saul is the one who put the hit out on her. After all of their years together, she is astonished that Saul would do that to her. There is an animosity between them now. But she doesn't want to believe that Saul would be capable of doing that to her. She doesn't simply want to leave and take Quinn at his word. He may have no problem not asking questions of these orders but Carrie needs to. She needs to make some sense out of what is happening in her life right now. She's in the field trying to get answers. She's not just looking at pieces of paper in a cabin anymore. She is changing her appearance and visiting Saul and Quinn's drop site. Quinn can do this for her because he knows her. It's because of his connection to her that he doesn't kill her like he is ordered to. That makes him a much more active partner for her investigation. Jonas had some personality last week but he couldn't help Carrie get the answers in the way that she needed right now. He represents the life she has to lose. Quinn is the person who can bring this kind of change and answers to her.

Carrie was right to question Quinn's orders too. It appears the drop site has been comprised by the organization that wants Carrie dead. She was the first person who Quinn believed Saul put their name in the box. He had no reason to suspect otherwise. But now, he does. As soon as he returns to the site, he is targeted as well. A gun is pointed at him and the trigger is pulled. Of course, Quinn survives. He's a much better assassin than this guy was because the story needs him alive and of use to Carrie. The two of them working together in order to solve this mystery with no assistance from CIA is an enticing story for the season. It will probably lead to some big romantic reunion between the two. That's the worst thing the show could do with this story. It wasn't really present in this episode. Carrie did mention she looked for him for those two years where they weren't in contact. But that was the extent of it. The fear is still present that the story will go in that direction though. That's the most worrisome component of this story. If they stay platonic friends forced to take on this evil organization, it could work magnificently.

Carrie and Quinn already have a clue for where they should look next in their quest for answers. The dead assassin had a phone with one number on it. When Carrie calls it, Allison picks up. As a new character this season, anything could really happen - including the reveal that she is the big bad for the year. She's probably the most successful new character this season. That largely comes from being in such close proximity to the CIA action. That's a genre the show has always handled well. The personal dynamics can sometimes be a little sloppy. But the action is always great. Allison has been associated with that part of the story this season. In this episode, she's away in Switzerland with Saul trying to blackmail a Syrian general into agreeing with their violent regime change strategy for the region. In the end though, all of their hard work is useless because his plane explodes shortly after takeoff. Someone is greatly getting in the way of not only Carrie's life but the CIA's plans at the moment as well. That someone very well could be Allison. Again, not much is known about her. She could just be playing along with all of this knowing that it won't lead to anything. Or she could just be a red herring. Simply someone for Carrie and Quinn to investigate as the true mastermind is able to continue plotting their next move.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Why Is This Night Different?" was written by Ron Nyswaner and directed by John Coles.
  • Laura meets with a hacker friend of Jonas' in order to track down Newman and ask why he didn't give her the rest of the documents like he said he did. It's not that great. The show kinda shows the hacker world in a very one-note way.
  • Newman realizes that Laura doesn't have the documents because his friend switched flash drives and is actually selling the information to the Russians. That was a crucial mistake because both he and his girlfriend are now dead while the Russians have the truth. And yet, it's still not clear how any of this will tie into the rest of the show. Plus, these new characters are still just plot constructs. They aren't meaningful characters.
  • Claire Danes was fantastic as Carrie taped that message for Frannie but had to be aware of what she was saying so there wouldn't be any suspicion about her still being alive.
  • Quinn has been shot which could limit what he is able to do in the future. He has proven himself to be the best out in the field. How will this injury impact that?
  • Jonas saw the real Carrie last week. And now, he's wondering how anyone could afford to live like that? 
  • Carrie's wig really shouldn't fool anyone. I think that's the point but she should put a little bit more effort into her disguise.