As has happened to us a lot this month, we fell behind on our Homeland recaps, but we decided to at least do the finale in a more timely fashion because, well, there’s a lot to talk about. You know what I mean.
Previously on Homeland…
Laura asked Numan if he got the documents from Carrie’s laptop, and he did; she announced on TV that she would release all of the documents if she didn’t get to talk to Marwan who, unfortunately, had already jumped out a window after being threatened by Saul and Astrid; Bibi and his loyal band of terrorists plotted to release sarin gas in the train station and let the train’s draft disperse it; Quinn was in a coma but had vital information so Saul and Carrie woke him up despite the risk of a giant seizure, so he vomited weird black stuff all over everyone; Allison was told to let the attack happen, so she shot her guard, shot a contact who was in on the attack, then shot herself in the shoulder so she could lie about the attack; Carrie didn’t believe Allison’s lie, so she went to the train station and found Qasim (who rather endearingly failed at being a terrorist by letting an Arab woman and a baby escape and then realizing that he didn’t want anyone to die); Carrie went running off into the tunnel; and Allison escaped from her hospital bed.
Get ready, because the coming scene is the only exciting part of the episode.
Carrie is speeding down the ill-lit train tunnel, gun in hand, until Qasim tackles her, pins her against the wall, and tells her, in Arabic, “Quiet or we’re both dead.” Carrie tells him the federal police are on their way. She tells him that the doctor told her his name.
He lets her go and tells her she should get out of here, but she won’t. She tells him she can tell he’s having second thoughts and demands to know where he weapon is. Qasim tells her Bibi has it and it will be released at the next train. Carrie says that’s in four minutes, and peers down the tunnel. They can see a man bending over, presumably the weapons.
“Does he have a gun?” demands Carrie. Qasim says yes, and Carrie says Qasim’ll have to stop him, because he’ll activate the weapon if he sees Carrie. She gives him her gun—a pretty trusting move, all things considered, since she has little more than gut instinct telling her he’s on her side—and directs him on how to use it. Qasim says he can’t, that Bibi is his cousin. But Carrie gets wild-eyed and teary and tells him there are thousands of people about to have sarin gas pushed on them by the trains. He looks upset and says, “All I can do is try to talk him out of it.”
“What, talk him out of it, how is that going to work,” Carrie says scornfully. Qasim says Allah will help him. Carrie accepts this, because what choice does she have? But also because she’s now going to follow him with a gun while Bibi’s distracted by Qasim. She approaches carefully as Qasim tries to tell him that they should run and join the others. Bibi tells him to hurry and save himself. “I can’t let you do this,” Qasim says in Arabic. “You’re going to have to kill me first.”
Bibi stares at him and shoots him in the chest twice. Then he puts on his mask and climbs up to the weapon, but Qasim rises up and weakly pulls him down. As they grapple, Carrie shoots at them both a dozen times and then steps to the side just as the train goes by. She approaches the pair, both down now, and hears weak coughs from one of them. The weapon’s screen says “System on standby.”
She bends over Qasim and tells him, “Qasim, it’s over. We stopped him,” which, it’s five minutes into a season finale. “It’s over,” spoken on a show like this, almost always means something bigger and badder is about to pop out at you, and saying it in the first five minutes is just laughable. But—it is over. This is the last terrorist threat of the episode, which breaks expectations but not in a way that I think I enjoyed.
Anyway. Carrie sits with Qasim and tells him, “Help is on the way.” As she shushes him, he stares up at her, convulsing. She starts to cry and nod and asks if he was the one who saved her friend. She thanks him, as his breathing slows and his head falls to the side. She murmurs something over him that I didn’t understand, but believe was a Muslim prayer. Then we fade to black.
Outside the train station, there’s a bustle of official activity. Carrie sits by herself in the back of an ambulance, looking wrecked. Saul rushes over and asks Carrie if she’s OK. She tells him what Qasim did for everyone, and tries to stop herself from crying. Saul gives her the update on the rest of the terrorists—federal police have dropped a net on the city—and Allison, Saul doesn’t want to admit, is not in custody. Carrie cries again. “I want to go home now.” Saul says he’ll get someone to drive her, and she thanks him.
In her quiet apartment—I tensed up again here, expecting something to pop out at her—Carrie calls out for Jonas, but no one answers. I guess they were living together? She wanders through the giant, minimalist apartment, looks at Franny’s abandoned room, and finally collapses into bed as quiet music plays. And still nothing pops out at her.
Saul storms down the hall and finds Ivan in an interrogation room. “The charade is over, “ he says, turning off the cameras. “Mind telling me whose idea it was for her to come on to me? On second thought, don’t answer that. I’d rather not know.” He tells Ivan that the chemical attack’s been thwarted and that “your girlfriend” is on the run. She was ordered to let the attack go forward, but failed—and she’s disappeared. Ivan says, “If you’re telling the truth, she has been, uh, busy.” Saul says, also, you’re left holding the bag. But Ivan isn’t thrown. “If you’re telling the truth,” he says again. Saul says he’s not that clever: “A story with this many moving parts would’ve taken weeks to dream up.” Giving yourself a little pat on the back there, Homeland writers?
Ivan starts to give in, and Saul says he wants to know where Allison is. He gives a creepy speech about how well he knows his agents: “When to scold, when to forgive, when to laugh at her jokes.” He tells Ivan he’s playing a bad hand, then offers him witness protection. He points out that Ivan devoted his life to the SVR and they have turned their back on him: “The last illusion of the illusionless man.” He tells Ivan he came close to painting a masterpiece, and then brings out the sales tactics, saying the offer will expire soon. Ivan bends his head, then looks up—but says nothing. Saul starts to get up, and only then does Ivan start talking. “It wasn’t my idea,” he says. “You were an easy target, Saul. Middle-aged, recently divorced.” Ouch. Saul comes back to sit with him again and demands to know where Allison is.
A tan car arrives at an isolated house with a pile of firewood outside it. Allison, obviously in pain, exits and is brought inside the house, with two guards accompanying her. Scantily clad women wander the main part of the house, but Allison is brought into a back room, with smoke rising from abandoned tables. As she stares at more almost-naked ladies, a man comes and shuts the door to the room.
A doctor starts examining Allison—the same one, I believe, that was in the room right before she disappeared from under Saul’s nose—in the kitchen. He makes conversation, promising first-class care and saying she must be important. Allison, because she’s an obnoxious dingbat, is like, “I am important. So fuck up my shoulder and I’ll see to it you never practice medicine again.”
I mean. Was that necessary?
Otto runs into Laura’s office warning her she’s about to be arrested. She’s trying to get her computer out of a safe, but Astrid herself has shown up to announce that Laura has documents threatening to Germany’s safety. She’s violated the Foreign Residency Act. Otto says he’ll call Jonas, but Laura’s too busy calling some lackey of Astrid’s a piece-of-shit hacker to worry about lawyers. “There will be consequences,” Otto says.
“Out,” says Astrid calmly, shutting him out of Laura’s office. She and the POS hacker get out Laura’s computer and try to trace Numan.
It’s dark. A tender hand reaches out and smoothes Carrie’s hair as she sleeps. “Carrie,” Jonas whispers. She wakes and asks how long she’s slept, as if he’d know. He updates her on Laura, but Carrie would like to talk about herself some more, and says she didn’t know where else to go. Jonas tells her about the terrorist attack that was foiled, and Carrie acts like she wasn’t part of it. Their eyes meet, and she pulls him down to her. He’s into it, barely even stopping to ask what’s up with her bandaged wrist.
A train zips safely by a station as Numan sits on a bench where, presumably, he’s waiting for Laura. He looks around curiously at female passersby, but ominous music thrums in the background as we can see his paranoia growing. Finally he stands, hitches up his messenger bag, and starts to walk away, only to be quickly surrounded by police officers. It’s not a particularly tense scene, by the way—none of this has been, since Carrie knocked out Bibi—it lasts about thirty seconds and he barely tries to escape arrest, other than the time-honored “turn and walk in the other direction” gambit, which buys him an extra two and a half seconds.
Carrie’s hanging out pantsless on the couch, examining some children’s books, and Jonas, fully dressed, joins her. He tells her how to read one of them so that Franny likes it, a book about animal noises. Their eyes meet and she says she wanted to take some of them back with her. He asks if she’s safe, and she says “We’re safe.” When he asks what happened, about the mysterious blonde woman who’s been mentioned on the internet in the tunnels, she confirms it was her. Then she tries to walk away, and he tells her to take his shirt, which she’s wearing. “It’ll make me happy knowing you’re wearing it.”
Carrie’s face changes. “So that’s it? We’re just gonna say good-bye like none of this ever happened?” She pleads that they were all happy. And I guess she thought the sex was make-up sex, while Jonas thought it was more of a nice bonus. But really, Jonas shouldn’t have to explain what he does: he loves her, but she can’t put things back. “I can’t unhear things I’ve heard, unsee things I’ve seen…” and he doesn’t want his kids to be unsafe. Carrie acts super insulted, as if her other suitor didn’t kidnap Jonas’s kid. She says it was crazy that she opened herself up to him, and loved him. A classic resentful speech, nonsensical as it is that she’s making it instead of poor Jonas.
Next we see Carrie she’s stomping down the halls of the hospital. But when she gets to Quinn’s room it’s empty, full of the detritus of emergency surgical procedures. A nearby nurse tells her, after confirming Carrie’s not family and getting sworn at for her pains, that Quinn’s in the OR with a brain hemorrhage. So much for confidentiality then. The hemorrhage was severe, and he’ll be in surgery for awhile. Carrie asks for a chapel. There, she sits, in front of some modernist stained glass windows, watching a woman with her arm around her daughter. The daughter turns to see Carrie, and they hold eye contact till Carrie bends down to cry more. She grabs her injured wrist, pushing down on it savagely. Ouch.
Then we fade to white.
Carrie’s now alone in the chapel—and a doctor comes to find her. He asks to join her and sits with her. Quinn had a large hematoma and had to have a craniotomy. Carrie asks if he’ll recover, and after some hedging the doctor says that even if he does, the brain damage will be significant. I mean, sure, but he’s already been shot two separate times, kicked and beaten while healing from the gunshots, beaten up again and kidnapped in the back of a terrorist truck, dosed with sarin gas, and left for dead in an abandoned terrorist hideout, so. The fact that his brain was alive enough to even have a hematoma indicates that he’s basically the magically-healing cheerleader from Heroes.
Carrie asks to see him, and the doctor brings her to post-op. She’s backlit, so you can barely see her face, and Quinn too is in darkness. She advances slowly on him, almost disbelievingly, blinking away tears. You can see him breathing, but he’s intubated. “Oh, dear God,” Carrie whispers, grabbing the side of the bed. “You all right?” the doctor says in an incongruously loud voice. “Did I do this to him?” she whispers. A little late to worry about that now, methinks.
At this point, the friend I’d been watching with—who was also hyperventilatingly convinced that Bibi was going to rise from the dead in the tunnel, What Lies Beneath-style, and attack Carrie as she checked on the weapon, announced confidently that Carrie was going to kill Quinn. “Smother him with a pillow,” she clarified, almost gleefully. I told her she’d been watching too many romantic melodramas and I’d give her a thousand dollars if that happened. So if Adversion can’t afford our domain hosting fees in the fall, now you’ll know why.
Titles tell us it’s four days later. Carrie’s in a white sweater, sitting on a porch somewhere, staring out at the trees.
Astrid walks down the hall and opens a cell to find Laura in there, still in her tank top and jeans. She pulls a chair up and ignores Laura’s first sally. “I’m going to tell you three things, all true,” she says calmly. Then she tells Laura about Marwan’s suicide. “You mean you threw him out the window,” Laura says. Astrid is not particularly bothered by this. “No,” she says coolly. “We made a mistake leaving him alone, but we did not kill him. Still, it leaves us with a problem. How to explain his death to the German people?” God, I love Astrid. She’s the only cool customer in this cast of hotheads.
The second thing she tells Laura is that they have Numan in the next cell, and they have his laptop, and she’s lost her leverage. Laura gets mad and asks what she’s still doing here. “Believe me,” Astrid hisses, “there are plenty of my colleagues not far from where we’re sitting who would like nothing better than to see you rot in a supermax prison.” Laura says she doesn’t care what they do to her, but Astrid says it’s not Laura—it’s what they’ll do to Numan. His asylum status is temporary and is up for review. Laura says that Numan’s an enemy of the Turkish state and that he’ll be executed if he’s deported. Astrid says it’s up to Laura: She has to do exactly as she’s told. Laura’s clearly defeated.
This was by far my favorite scene of the episode. The power struggle is real, and there was at least some suspense as to how it would turn out; pitting Saul against Ivan didn’t lead to fireworks, but this pairing really does. You have to admire Laura for caring so deeply about freedom and about her sources, to whom she feels a serious responsibility. But that doesn’t mean watching the smart, ice-cold, business-like Astrid take down her whiny enemy isn’t satisfying.
Quinn lies in his hospital bed, with—surprisingly—Dar Adal snoring beside him. The camera angle doesn’t show Dar at first, so it sounds like Quinn is snoring, which is a kind of amusing touch.
Carrie comes in, still in her white sweater, the angel of death. She takes out some balm and rubs Quinn’s lips with it, then pulls up a chair and does the same for his hands. It would be sweet, if it didn’t turn out later that this was less the massage of a devoted caretaker, and more an Administration of the Last Rites. Dar asks her what the prognosis is, and mentions it’s not a good sign he hasn’t woken up. Very helpful, Dar. “No,” Carrie says, a little sharply. “Pity,” Dar says calmly. Carrie says they’re going to change his status to minimally conscious—it means the odds of recovering cognitive function are close to zero. “Poor Peter,” says Dar. “It’s his worst nightmare.” The wheels start turning in Carrie’s head.
Dar says he found Quinn when he was sixteen. A foster home in Baltimore. They wanted a street kid—someone “real, but also pretty enough to turn the head of a Hong Kong paymaster,” whatever that is. Dar says Quinn was a natural from the start. He sponsored him for training—“youngest guy ever.”
Dar gives Carrie Quinn’s letter, finally: the letter from the end of last season, when he went to Syria and left a letter in case something happened to him. Dar says he might as well give it to her now, that there’s no telling when they might see each other again. Maybe he considers Quinn dead now—or maybe he sees what Carrie is thinking of doing. Carrie, teary-eyed, looks at Quinn’s unconscious face and opens the letter.
“Carrie,” Quinn’s voice narrates. “I guess I’m done. And we never happened. I’m not one for words, but they’re coming now. I don’t believe in fate, or destiny, or…”
But just then Saul throws open the door and asks to talk to Carrie. Out in the hall, he asks perfunctorily after Quinn, but the real reason he’s here is to ask whether Carrie will come back to the CIA. Carrie says more thinking won’t change her mind. Saul offers her complete autonomy, but she’s not interested. Saul says, “I think I deserve an explanation.” Carrie says she’s not that person anymore, and she got lucky when she stopped the attack.
“You’re being selfish,” Saul says. Carrie is shocked at this accusation. Shocked! As are we all, I’m sure. She says she has no idea how to fight the terrorists, and Saul asks her to help him come up with a new paradigm, but Carrie insists on going back in. “I need you,” Saul says. “And I told you, I’m not that person anymore,” she says. She leaves him alone in the hall.
Allison is sitting alone, still in the Russian safe house, when the woman from the bathroom (who told her to let the attack go forward) knocks and tells her it’s time to go. “This house is a transit site for human trafficking,” Allison says angrily. “Yes. What is your point?” the woman says. Allison realizes that she hasn’t exactly got a moral leg to stand on, and allows herself to be led outside, where the woman puts her in the trunk of a car. “What if I need to pee?” Allison says. “You hold it in,” the woman says with a smirk. Allison lies down, and the trunk shuts over her. “Next time you see sky, it will be Russian,” says the woman before closing the trunk.
Back on the same talk show is Laura, looking a little nauseous but determined. Astrid is waiting in the shadows, watching intently. Laura says, “As a reporter I’ve always valued the truth above all else.” Oh, shut up. She says she hasn’t stepped foot in the US in three and a half years. OK, that is one of my biggest pet peeves. How do you “step” a “foot”? You can SET a foot. But you step WITH a foot. Your foot is the one DOING the stepping. That is why the expression is not “step foot,” it’s “set foot.” The fact that Laura would use the bastardized, ungrammatical version of the expression despite, supposedly, being a writer is probably the most annoying thing she’s ever done, and that is saying a lot. Anyway, Laura goes on to say that Germany has given her the freedom to do her work. “I have tried to demonstrate my profound gratitude by championing the rights of the German people, and speaking the truth to power.” Even defeated, she’s not going to give up a chance to make herself out as a hero, is she?
Astrid, getting nervous, steps closer. But Laura is ready to sell out now. She reminds everyone about the allegations she made earlier this week on the talk show, that Marwan was arrested on bogus charges. She says that she has been given new evidence, and that it is now clear to her that he was part of the terrorist cell that plotted this attack for years. “Are you at all worried about the damage to your credibility?” asks the host. Laura says she’s going to learn from her mistake and put it behind her.
In Otto’s kitchen, Otto is cleaning up in a dimly lit kitchen after, I guess, feeding Carrie dinner (and from the look of it at least half a bottle of wine). He asks if Carrie is considering Saul’s offer. Carrie procrastinates to pour more wine. Then she says it was painful turning Saul down, that she was always a team with him, but that that chapter of her life is over. He asks if she’d like to hear another offer, but she wants to take some time and be a mom again for awhile. “I understand, but I’m not talking about your old job,” he says. He gives a weird little speech about the extraordinary people he’s hired, and how none of them were like her, he saw it from her application, and that he was “waiting for you to walk through the door.” She gets nervous. Otto drives it home: he says he wants a partner. “Someone who knows the world for what it is but also knows it must be made better. Someone to share my life with.”
Well, that escalated.
Carrie looks nervous, and Otto tells her that she doesn’t have to answer now, but that she should think about it. She says she doesn’t know what to say. So he suggests she think about the “scope and scale of what I’m proposing.” He puts his hand on hers, and then suggests they talk later on. The fact that Carrie didn’t turn him down right away is, well, very Carrie-like. She’s always susceptible to the siren song of the worst possible choice. And there’s something very worst-possible-choice about Otto’s proposal—it’s very Portrait of a Lady. Very, “You’re the best thing in the shop, what is your price?”
On a dark street, Numan calls Laura and asks what’s going on. He’s free. She says she can’t talk to him. “It’s a condition of the deal I made. I can’t talk to you ever again.” He asks what deal, but she hangs up. He looks perturbed, and stares around him at a world that looks suddenly very foreign and threatening. Then he takes the sim card out of his phone, tosses it, and heads off into the darkness.
Speaking of darkness, here’s the Policia at a barricade as the car carrying Allison slows to a stop. The Policia tell them to go around on a detour, so they turn to the side. As soon as they’re gone, the barricade gets folded right up. How did they know that was the right car? So confused. Anyway, the car goes driving in the heavy rain through the forest, and runs over some sort of trap that pierces their tires. Then they’re blasted with machine-gun fire for about fifteen seconds. Silence falls, with their hazard lights still blinking. The shooters advance: The men in the front are dead. Now here’s Saul, moving around the back and ordering the trunk open. He stares coldly down at Allison, who’s covered in trails of blood from about fifty bullet holes.
“Carrie,” says Quinn again as Carrie walks down the halls of the hospital. (I’m going to transcribe this whole thing, as painfully cliched as much of it is.) “I guess I’m done, and we never happened. I’m not one for words, but they’re coming now. I don’t believe in fate or destiny or horoscopes” (you don’t say!) “but I can’t say I’m surprised things turned out this way. I always felt there was something kind of pulling me back to darkness. Does that make sense? But I wasn’t allowed a real life, or a real love. That was for normal people.” As he says this, Carrie shuts the door of his hospital room behind her. It’s painted black, and Carrie, too, is wearing black. The avenging angel. She barricades the door with a chair.
“With you I thought, maybe, just maybe,” Quinn continues. “But I know now that was a false glimmer. I’m used to those, they happen all the time in the desert, but this one got to me. And here’s the thing, this death, this end of me, is exactly what should have happened. I wanted the darkness. I fuckin’ asked for it. It has me now. So don’t put a star on the wall for me. Don’t say some dumb speech.” (Well, no. You’re taking care of that for her.) “Just think of me as a light on the headlamps, a beacon, steering you clear of the rocks.” Carrie picks up his pulseox and puts it on her own finger. Quinn lies still. She breathes out, her forehead wrinkled, and leans forward as if to kiss him. Then a glimmer of light comes from the window behind her, and she looks back. The light has fallen across his forehead. His voice comes again: “I loved you. Yours, for always now, Quinn.”
The episode ends.
So far, Quinn is still alive. And I hope he remains that way—not only because he provides an excellent foil to Carrie for reasons I discuss more below, not only because I personally would like to have seen his relationship with Carrie explored further, but also because ending his life by having Carrie euthanize him in this way, would be preposterous and utterly unearned.
Peter Quinn: A Note
According to some reviews I’ve seen, the story given by Dar Adal is inconsistent with some other backstory we’ve gotten on Quinn (the Homeland wikia has him with a son and a Harvard degree). I wouldn’t have noticed this on my own, since Quinn was always presented as a blank slate, or rather, as someone whose traumatic history was also a history of the crimes he had committed—not someone carrying around a trauma for what others had done to him. His backstory mattered little; it was only the people he’d harmed.
But this whole season has been about turning Quinn into a magical martyr, under constant physical torture, suffering for Carrie sometimes, other times for nothing—and this episode turns that strain up to full blast. A Harvard-educated guy with a son he didn’t raise, who joins the CIA because of an inner darkness he may not have recognized before, is a more complicated picture than this version, remade for maximum fannish heartbreak, in which he is a foundling snatched from the innocence of childhood by a sinister Dar Adal and prostituted to a Hong Kong criminal.
Also nakedly aiming for maximum fannish heartbreak is this letter, which, though it had one or two good moments (the metaphor of the false glimmer in the desert, the simple sweetness of ending with “I loved you” in its past tense), was also clearly intended to wring the heartstrings of people invested in the Quinn/Carrie relationship, and went about it, in my opinion, all wrong. It turned Quinn into a victim (“I wasn’t allowed a real life”), turned a possible love between them into something as fantasy-based as anything Carrie and Brody could have concocted, and ignored the many, many complications of both of their characters in favor of a pretty letter shot through with cheap cynicism (“I don’t believe in fate”—oreally?) and silly turns of phrase (“I’m not one for words, but they’re coming now”).
Nevertheless, for a long time I found that relationship very compelling, precisely because in fact Carrie’s capacity for love is much less strong and more tinged with darkness than Quinn’s. The fact that his conscience is so tortured makes him seem darker, but was in fact evidence that there still remained much that was soft inside him. She, on the other hand, would sell him, and herself, and pretty much anything else for the sake of her mission. She’s telling herself she’s gone to the light now, and she’s going to just spend a few years building block towers with Franny (I’m so sure), but she’ll live partly because she was willing to sacrifice Quinn, Jonas, even Qasim in order to find the truth and defeat the supposed enemy. Conversely, he’s telling himself he’s chosen the darkness, but in fact he died mostly trying to save her, and there’s nothing more idealistic, no greater evidence that the light still survives in his soul, than that.
So if someone’s truly dark, who is it? I don’t think it’s Quinn.