Sunday, November 15, 2015

REVIEW: 'Homeland' - Carrie Looks Through the Leaked Documents in Order to Find a New Lead in 'Oriole'

Showtime's Homeland - Episode 5.07 "Oriole"

Carrie reconnects with old friends. Saul opens up to Allison.

A lot has been made out of the leaked government documents this season. That action was the thing that put the narrative of the season in motion. At first, they were just to uncover the fact that the United States was spying on German citizens for Germany in order to stop terrorist attacks. That was a crucial and relevant detail to throw into this season. But it didn't connect that well with the rest of the stories currently happening in this universe. Now it has been made known that there was something else in those documents. Something that if Carrie saw could destroy everything the Russian government and Allison have been working for. That answer needed to come in "Oriole" now that Carrie has all of the documents. But this hour enjoys the mysterious nature of things a little bit too much to be all that forthcoming with details.

First of all, Carrie has to go through 1300 pages of documents to find the one thing she is suppose to see. That takes a bit of time. That time is used by Allison and her comrade to worry about what Saul actually did when he downloaded those documents to another flash drive. Eventually Carrie does find a suspicious lead. A lead that is later proven to be the thing Allison and her friends were trying to avoid because they start openly taking about it. That's the only reason why the audience should trust that this piece of intel is the thing Carrie was searching for in these documents. She notices that an old asset reached out to her after she left the CIA. He wanted to tell her that a person they thought was dead is in fact still alive. That's it. Carrie spends the rest of this hour trying to find this person and learn how he is connected to the people who want her dead. It's a journey that forces her to team up with Laura and Numan and to travel to Amsterdam.

It's in Amsterdam where the episode becomes a bit more problematic. It's there where Carrie teams up with a former friend who was able to escape a tumultuous country because of Carrie. As she gets into his taxi, he is excited to see her. He has information for her on where to find her target and he's happy to show her the way. He's a friend who is willing to do anything for her. He has a life because of Carrie. He's happy to do it. And yet, learning about how great his life is at the moment makes it so inevitable that he will be killed by the end of the episode. That's exactly what happens too. It was such a formulaic and expected twist of the show. It re-establishes that this is a very dangerous situation for Carrie. It just does that in such an unoriginal way. He helps her and dies as a result of that. It's horrifying when she returns to see his body. It will make her even more paranoid than usual. And all she got out of this trip was a computer. She didn't get the documents from inside the safe and she didn't get to talk to the man. It always felt like Carrie was walking into trouble because the hour made sure Allison's organization made plans to cover themselves from Carrie in Amsterdam. So, the pending sense of doom and tension was the only thing to make this episode's concluding sequence worth it. It just went about in a way that may produce results in the future but isn't all that exciting in the moment.

It's all building to that moment where Carrie calls Allison on the road wanting to talk with her. She makes sure she doesn't give herself away that she knows that Allison isn't working for the CIA. Allison has been freaking out over what Saul did with the documents he had stolen. She started to worry about Carrie still being alive and then got that confirmation from Saul. It was devastating to her. And yet, she still pulled herself together enough to continue with the mission. But now, Carrie wants to speak with her. She lets it known that she has questions about Allison's time in Baghdad and that she is coming back from Amsterdam. Carrie doesn't want Allison to tell anyone about this. But that's not going to happen. Carrie is forcing a confrontation with the people who want her dead. It will give her the time to address why Allison is doing all of this. That will make for one exciting episode next week.

Also in "Oriole," Saul finds himself out of CIA custody. It first happens in order for him to open up to Allison. Saul never would have revealed that he gave the information to Carrie while in that holding cell at the agency. Allison is able to exploit their personal connection in order to get the answers she desperately needs. Saul is very paranoid that the agency is listening in on this conversation. But Allison is even more paranoid over what this could mean for her future. With Saul, he's trying to escape a life either deemed a traitor or crippled by suspicion of being a traitor. Even after all of this is done, this action could still be very damaging to his career. He gave classified documents to someone who doesn't have the clearance to see them. That will have consequences no matter what. In order to deal with that, Saul orchestrates his escape from the CIA. He does so by reaching out to his German counterpart - aka the man so furious about the leaked documents exposing their operation in the first place. Saul wanting to defect to Germany is an interesting prospect for the character. It's one of the only options he has left in life. So, he's taking it and will deal with the consequences later. Plus, it's highly unlikely that he is done helping Carrie as she tries to get to the bottom of this conspiracy.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Oriole" was written by Alex Gansa & Patrick Harbinson and directed by Lesli Linka Glatter.
  • Quinn is able to escape his Syrian friends for a little bit. He reaches out to Dar Adal instead of Carrie - likely because he's easier to get in contact with. He has a new opportunity to take out a new target of interest to the agency. So now, that's what he is going to do. It's a somewhat boring subplot that better go someone exciting soon. If Quinn is leaving the country, it better have a purpose.
  • Laura helps Carrie by bringing Numan to her in the hopes of getting her hands on the rest of the leaked documents. That's something that Otto wants as well. But Carrie is much more adamant about protecting the confidence of Saul. He did this only for the documents to be seen by Carrie not the entire world.
  • Meanwhile, Numan is only helpful to Carrie because he wants to know what happened to his friend. Carrie bluntly tells him that his friend is very likely dead - which the audience knows to be true.
  • Despite being very helpful to Carrie as she goes through this incredulous and dangerous mission, Otto doesn't plan on renewing her contract with the company because of just how erratic she has been. I guess he's not as nice as he wants to be seen as. It's also a really boring and unnecessary development.