I liked this episode a lot. Very exciting and funny, too. I also felt it really provides a nice rebuttal of the whole “Carrie is the worst spy evah” theorem that so frequently floats around the internet, by having Quinn do even more absurd things.
Previously: Carrie had become head of security for philanthropist Otto During, and they were going to a war zone in Lebanon. Carrie asked some dude for safe passage, and later the Council (Hezbollah) invited him to visit as an honored guest. Carrie had a new, awful coworker named Laura who thought Carrie was still working for the CIA, and discovered documents accidentally downloaded by two hackers that prove Germany was “doing an end-run around its privacy laws” by having the CIA do its spying instead. Carrie loves hanging out with her new red-headed boyfriend Jonas and Frannie. Saul hired Quinn to kill a bunch of people whose names he leaves in a PO Box.
After the most spoiler-y credits in the world, we see Carrie in the car with During and two other white men, looking out at a quiet, dusty, yellowy scene. The car gets to the camp and they are let in past a high wire gate after men in blue helmets check under their car for bombs with a mirror. Philip Becker, one of the coworkers, quietly discusses “the other meeting,” with Hezbollah, with Carrie, then introduces himself as the person in charge of foreign aid. There’s a random reference to Angelina… Jolie, presumably.
They enter a trailer where they explain to an official that refugees will be increasing and that During can help, but he needs the TV crews to get the message out. Carrie asks about the “security situation.” “You mean, is it safe?” the official asks. Her face is like, duh. So he duhs back at her that the only area that’s safe is a teeny-tiny square on the map: the UN compound. Philip Becker says they’ll need to go further than that. Then a man with a dark beard comes in for Carrie.
“You want to get that message out too?” asks the official, judging them for their dealings with Hezbollah. Carrie says a conversation is not a deal, and that Otto needs to be able to move safely. She throws on her blue scarf and follows the man out into a really bleak, depressing camp with refugees sitting around small fires and high, bare buildings.
Carrie tells the hijab-clad woman who pats her down that she has a gun, and it’s removed posthaste. Then she and Philip enter a large, almost-empty room where there’s a man watching soccer on a little TV. Carrie enters and tries to speak Arabic, but he says his English is better than her Arabic. He accuses her of being CIA, but she insists she’s a private citizen with safe passage granted by the Council. “Ameen thinks I can’t run my own camp?” he says touchily. Carrie says no, and that she has negotiated a substantial payment. He commands one of his minions to take her away, but she assures him it’ll be worth his time: she has forty thousand dollars in her backpack. Cash plops loudly onto his desk. He says yes, they have an agreement, but: “The camp is overrun. Every day it gets worse. All kind of scum from across the border… Stay no more than one hour. Even I can’t guarantee Mr. During’s safety for longer than that.” Carrie agrees.
Laura Sutton’s appearing on a talk show, where the host speaks of the document that suggests German intelligence is working with the CIA, and introduces her as a “dissident American journalist.” She immediately acts like an asshole, correcting his wording about “suggesting,” saying it proves the relationship and is “quite shocking.”
Watching this, Allison and Saul agree it’s a clusterfuck. There’s a team on Laura Sutton—and they caught her conference with Carrie from last week. Saul asks if Carrie’s involved, but Allison can’t see it. “But they do both work for During.” Saul looks dubious, but sort of sad in his gruff way.
Laura, meanwhile, is telling the host that she’s sure “they’re searching my apartment right now.” She’s used to it – as long as they don’t let the cat out! In a rare moment of cheesy humor, there’s a quick cut to several top-ranking German intelligence officers doing the dirty work of searching Sutton’s apartment. “Did you see a cat?” wonders Astrid in German. Laura then mentions her safe (leading the searchers to find it) and humblebrags that she’s “one of those annoying people who gets angry whenever they see hard-won rights being ignored or abused.” Oh my god, yes, you’re a freaking hero, Laura. Here’s a Purple Heart. She refers to Germany’s past surveillance state and their current privacy rights. I’m sure everyone loves being reminded of the fact that their country used to be populated by Nazis. Astrid, irritated, tells her colleague to arrest Laura. “Don’t we need a warrant?” he says. She rolls her eyes elaborately, like, are you effing kidding me you amateur?
Smart Hacker (Numan) and Slacker Hacker (Korzenik) are watching too, as Laura stares into the camera and says she’s honored. Smart Hacker is like, she’s asking for the rest of it! Slacker Hacker points out that they will be easily traced. Smart Hacker is going to go to the TV station and give it to her. This guy really doesn’t watch enough spy shows if he thinks that’s safe. Meanwhile, Slacker Hacker wants to make money off this, just like Laura. Smart Hacker lectures him, “Make money off of sex, not of information. Information’s for free.” What an… enlightened policy you’ve got there, mister possibly-a-sex-trafficker.
A sweet-faced young girl is talking to the recruiter that Quinn has been assigned to kill, Fatima, saying she’s scared and doesn’t want to leave home. Fatima argues that Allah saved the girl from trying to kill herself with booze and drugs, and she owes him allegiance. Fatima’s very charming and has a beautiful, kind smile. Becoming a crazy suicide bomber seems like a totally reasonable, gentle choice when she talks about it.
Meanwhile, Quinn and his Kardashian-level contouring makeup are doing a terrible job at tracking. He’s just standing by his car directing his extremely intense gaze at these two women from approximately twenty yards away. They hug good-bye, and Quinn follows Fatima down the street.
Smart Hacker strides right up to the TV building and stares at Laura as she says goodbye to someone from the station. Then a giant black SUV screeches up. “You’ve got to be kidding me, get off me, what’s the charge?” Laura demands and then she’s shoved into the car and it screeches away. Smart Hacker is like, oh OK, maybe I should walk this other way then.
Carrie’s car arrives at a super fancy hotel. “Mr. During arrived safely. Top two floors are secured,” someone informs her. He certainly travels in style. The contrast between the camp and the quarters in which the UN and the donors are staying is crazy: the hotel is all golden light, polished wood, modern marble columns.
Carrie runs into an old friend from the CIA. He’s incredulous about her new gig. “Come on, Carrie, it’s a play, right? Classic Trojan horse. Something you and Saul cooked up to get you inside the foundation?” First of all, is that true? I’m wondering now. Second of all, how did no one else wonder this—how did she win Otto’s trust, given her background? She obviously never won Laura’s, so, points for Laura I guess. The friend tries to probe Carrie for information about how compromised the Hezbollah guy’s control of the camp is. “I can’t be perceived to be helping the Agency in any way,” she insists, and he doesn’t take her seriously until she walks away.
Carrie walks into an elegant party, with clinking champagne and men in suits. She gestures During out onto the balcony, looking tense and conspicuous. He finds her standing and looking out at the landscape on a beautiful, plant-decorated balcony. They clink. He advocates the wine—she explains she’s sober nine months. She looks at him, and he apologizes. Apparently the party was being thrown by him in the massive two floors that he has secured for himself. She says she’d like to have been consulted, and to have seen the guest list. But he reminds her he knows these people. “And yes, I’ll be honest, coming all this way I thought I’d do some business too.” He has a gravelly voice that makes him sound kind of sketchy.
He asks if they’re all set for the next day. “Hezbollah is cooperating… Well, the situation on the ground is unpredictable to say the least.” She gives him the one-hour deadline. He says it’ll be tight: “Introductions, handshakes, speeches.” Carrie gives him another look and he capitulates, smiling affectionately. Whattttt. This seems flirtatious, as does the setting. I dislike everything about that concept. However, as a warm working relationship, I do like these guys together. Then there’s gunfire that Carrie says is probably a wedding. “Of course, a wedding,” and Otto laughs nervously. They have awkward, smiling eye contact. He asks if she’s comfortable there, and she says “hardly,” but explains her history with it.
“What was it like?” he asks. The lights are all blurry behind them. It seriously seems like they’re going to make out. I can’t deal, you guys. Carrie says it was scary; Otto says, “Let me guess, you were not scared.” She says no, but she was different: she had no one waiting for her. More gunfire—or wedding noises. They smile.
Astrid walks through a bare industrial hallway and swipes into a room where Laura is waiting. She apologizes for the delay, but Sutton is enraged and bellows about her rights, finishing up with, “Did you hear me? I want my lawyer.” “I heard you, you have a loud voice,” Astrid says coolly. I heart you, Astrid. Astrid reads from a law “relating to foreign nationals who endanger the security of the Republic of Germany.” They can hold Laura for eighteen months and then deport her, but they just want the name of her source. Laura says that journalists protect their sources.
Astrid sighs and says, “Laura, do you understand the situation we’re in here?” She explains that there are German citizens leaving to the Islamic State, but that’s not the big worry: “It’s what happens when they come back.” The people they’ve arrested will be released, the people they’ve tracked are lost. “How will you feel when bombs start going off in Berlin, Paris, Brussels?” Laura insists there are legal ways to track these people and points out that it took five men to arrest her.
Allison is watching this with a smirk. Saul comes in slowly, as Laura is lecturing Astrid about “the fucking law.” Allison says, “That woman. She’d let the country burn if she got a Pulitzer Prize.” Saul, preoccupied, chuckles. He has to explain that he’s had a meeting with the top brass, that the chancellor’s on the warpath, and that they want a scalp. Allison blithely hopes it’s not Astrid. It’s not. It’s Allison. They’re giving her twenty-four hours to leave the country. She wants Saul to fight for her, but he doesn’t seem all that enthused.
Carrie calls Jonas. He says Franny’s asleep. She says she’ll be home tomorrow, and pauses, then thanks him for looking after her. He says, “Don’t be silly,” in a cagey way that makes me think he’s going to turn out to be a baddie, especially because the camera stays so tight on him, like there’s something going on just out of frame that will turn out to be sketchy. He asks how Carrie is; she says the big day is tomorrow, and that she’s being careful: “I’m hiding behind a team of hunky ex-special forces guys.”
Under a bridge, Quinn is still openly and obviously tracking Fatima. She greets two young girls, and they have passports, and she gives them money “till they get there.” They practice cover stories. The fearful little girl from before shows up late. The recruiter lady puts them in a van, and drives off with them. Quinn gets into his car to follow.
Jonas shows up and says to Laura, “I’m so sorry for this.” He threatens Astrid with repercussions. Astrid explains patiently that Laura endangered national security, with an “oh well, can’t reason with these people,” smirk. (To be clear, I believe in the doctrine of suppressing speech only when there’s a clear and present danger, which it’s pretty obvious that this document might be. But really, it’s just that I support anyone who’s enemies with Laura.) They’ll deport her if she publishes any more documents.
During’s speech. Carrie looking on with a headpiece, her eyes intent as she looks around. She starts walking. During is promising safety, food, training and education, etc. There are guards everywhere. Cameras clicking. Everything’s washed out. Carrie’s motions speed up. During shows a check for ten million dollars. He wants them to be able to go home and rebuild when it’s all over. Carrie checks her watch and orders the vehicles brought.
But During is enjoying the spotlight too much, shaking hands with people, waving. The music gets tenser. “How was I? I can never tell,” he asks, fishing for compliments, as he comes offstage. Carrie could not be less interested in this and tries to usher him to safety, but he protests, “The cameras! Ten minutes, then I’m all yours.” She gives in because, well, he signs her paycheck, but she has those deep frown grooves that show she’s worried.
Allison informs Saul Laura’s released, and they’re all over her. She wants to talk to him, so he ushers her aside. She says she heard the Danetsk assets are being relocated, and reminds him that Ukraine is in danger of war, and that she is the best to replace the agents who were burned. “I’m the best goddamn person to fix it,” she declares, not very convincingly. He says his hands are tied. “If I were Carrie Mathison, what would you be doing right now?” she demands. Bold move, Allison. Most mere mortals don’t want to be compared to Carrie Mathison. Saul’s pretty offended and says he’d treat Carrie the same. Allison says he’d be protecting Carrie at all costs, and that he should start showing allegiance to those who stuck around. Then she stalks away, planning her dastardly revenge.
Otto still doing his photo ops. Carrie is whipping her hair around wildly looking for threats, and Philip is motioning at his watch. Finally During takes his leave and is thanking people, but just then a woman begs him for attention for her eight-year-old who’s never been to school and needs it just as much as food. A sketchy guy in a black ski jacket is approaching, his hand under one side of his jacket. Otto keeps talking to the woman, explaining their priorities, as the guy gets closer and closer. It’s incredibly fucking tense.
Finally Philip pulls out his gun, and Carrie pushes Otto to the side. The ski jacket guy takes a woman hostage, brandishing a detonator. “Take him,” Carrie says and the guy falls to Philip’s gunshots; the woman is fine. Carrie hustles Otto into the vehicle and they drive off, frantic. As they come up to the walls, they see piles of rubble. I’m not sure exactly what it means. “What the fuck? Where is everybody?” Carrie asks. They stop the car, at Carrie’s insistence, just before a bomb goes off. The driver runs off, so Carrie gets in his seat and drives off, with a terrified Otto ducking in the back.
She barrels out of the gates and drives up to a hangar with a waiting plane. The tires screech. Carrie pushes Otto, saying to get him out of here. He’s asking to make calls to the government—oh, so completely oblivious and secure in his own privileged safety, like there aren’t a whole bunch of armed men, probably, chasing him at this very moment. It’s very amusing, like the snooty rich guys in Titanic. Carrie tells him she wants to stay behind “to get a sense of what happened here today.” Otto says it’s because they stayed too long, but she can tell it was carefully planned. Otto says, coming closer, “You saved my life. I won’t forget.” She nods, and he goes into the plane.
Next up, Carrie’s in the bathroom having a good old-fashioned ugly-cry, and begging God for help. In case you’re wondering, Claire Danes has not lost her gift for ugly-crying. I think Carrie’s basically afraid that she’s going to fall apart if she gets into another high-stress situation, and that’s why she left the CIA world, so that she could hang onto her sobriety and her happiness and her stable little bougie relationship. But she gathers herself, breathes in—and she’s going to be fine.
Fatima stops at a gas station. Again, Quinn gets out of the car. I think maybe he has an invisibility cloak, because he’s the only other person in the parking lot and he’s just openly watching and NO ONE CARES. The girls get into another car. Quinn calls it in to the police, presumably, and watches Fatima slip into the gas station bathroom. It’s one of those whose entrance adjoins the parking lot and not the store. (Worst fear: being shot as you emerge from a gas station bathroom. Discuss.) He follows her out—she’s dressed in traditional clothing now—and she turns around. He pulls down her face covering and shoots her point-blank in the head. Then he takes a picture and stalks grimly back across the dark parking lot.
Allison is on the phone with Dar Adal. He tells her not to overdramatize, wisely. And that taking one for the team is a badge of honor. But she argues she’s valuable. Dar Adal says the Germans want a head—an important head. “So give them Saul’s,” she says. Nice allegiance, Allison. Dar is like, …no, thank you? Allison explains that she doesn’t want Saul recalled, just stopped from going to Berlin. I don’t think that would really count as “his head on a stake,” Allison. She argues that he’d understand: “He always puts the agency first.” Wow. Another bold move. Dar is about as convinced by this argument as I am.
Berlin. Quinn enters the post office. It’s still very dark. I think he has an invisibility cloak and a giant fog of gloom that just follows him around, causing it to be cloudy and/or nighttime wherever he goes. The Quinn Filter, let’s call it (as opposed to the high-contrast, washed-out, yellowish Desert Filter being used for Lebanon scenes). Because of the Quinn Filter, it took me several watches to realize the man who then enters the car is not Quinn (I failed to notice, apparently, that Quinn comes out to his car again in a later scene).
Carrie enters her room at the fancy hotel only to find someone in there—the same bearded man who brought her to her Hezbollah meeting earlier. He is returning the money. “We gave our word to protect you. We failed.” Uh, I don’t really buy this, but Carrie lowers her gun and asks what happened. “Waleed betrayed us,” he says and makes her watch a horrible torture video of this guy getting beat up—luckily it doesn’t last the entire six hours that he says it took to get the information. Finally the tortured man admits that “it was the CIA woman. She was the target.” This is so not going to help Carrie with her megalomania problem. The bearded man explains, “Whoever paid him, he was more afraid of them than of dying.” Either for the sake of the promo people, or because he thinks Carrie might have been hit on the head with a blunt object and lost her ability to put two and two together, he concludes with, “Someone wants you dead.”
Quinn leaves the burner phone in the PO box with the pictures on it, and comes out with his new instructions. In a painstakingly long scene, Quinn starts using some code to circle letters from a newspaper that, way before he figures it out, are clearly going to spell Mathison. He starts to get nervous around the “O.” Ominous music cranks up. Quinn fires up his car and drives away.
The end – see you next week! (Or, last weekend, because this recap is so late there’s already been another episode.)