“I’m not atoning. I’m just trying to do good work.” —Carrie Mathison
Over four seasons, Homeland‘s major players have always told themselves they were doing “good work,” despite the trail of bodies left in their wake from D.C. to Islamabad. And the drama, for better or worse, has done the same for its protagonist, careening (Carrie-ning?) between untenable highs and ludicrous lows, all in the service of the morally complex yet downright sloppy Carrie Mathison. We’ve seen Carrie become the Drone Queen, but we’ve also seen her nearly commit infanticide. We’ve seen her courageously pursue Big Bads Abu Nazir and Haqqani, but we’ve also seen her point finger guns at enemies she hallucinated in the middle of the street. Leave out the bipolarity and Carrie’s still a difficult sell, leaving Homeland veering from twist to twist fast enough to give even the inscrutable Dar Adal whiplash.
With all that said, the last time we saw Carrie was perhaps the most lost we’ve seen her, melancholic and driving aimlessly around the suburbs. She had turned down a life with Quinn, learned the truth about her mother’s serial infidelity, and been betrayed by Saul. All of those factors should have turned her into a ticking time bomb.
Instead, season 5 picks up two years later in Berlin, where our former Drone Queen now lives a life of domesticity. Carrie’s no longer working for the CIA, and she says she doesn’t want to be. Gone is the jazz music, the white wine chasers, the pills, and the Wall of Crazy™; in their places come a peaceful church hymn and the body of Christ, which Carrie accepts before grabbing a quiet moment in a pew. Later, she bikes the adorable Frannie to school and goes to work at the Düring Foundation, where she’s the head of security for the enigmatic Otto Düring (Sebastian Koch), a billionaire philanthropist. She’s also seeing her coworker, an attractive, redheaded (hey, old habits die hard) attorney named Jonas (Alexander Fehling).
It’s all too perfect, too quiet — for now. Elsewhere in Berlin, a seemingly innocuous Internet prank has gone terribly wrong. A man — let’s call him “Not Adam Goldberg” — exits the U-Bahn and makes his way to the seedy Club King George, a real-life brothel (link NSFW) in the city where, in Homeland-land, he and a fellow hacker — let’s call him “Not Dane Dehaan” — oversee an Internet porn business. The “gabehcuod” (“douchebag” backwards) pair have created a lewd video they’re planning to post on an ISIS recruitment site, and Not Adam Goldberg has figured out how to do so.
But before they can say “scheisse,” they’ve been alerted to another presence trying to access the site: the CIA. The Club’s servers end up overpowering the CIA’s (who knew an online sex forum could have so much server strength?), and the duo end up accessing hundreds of files while CIA Berlin Station Chief Allison Carr (Miranda Otto) helplessly looks on.
Several time zones away in Langley, tensions are running just as high. Quinn has returned stateside to brief the CIA — including Dar Adal and Saul, now the European Division Chief after failing to nab the top job — after two years in Syria running special ops against threats like the Islamic State. Quinn, after being told to speak up by (who else?) Dar Adal, answers questions with the dead-eyed look and tone of someone who’s seen too much. “Tell me what the strategy is,” he fires back at a suit asking if they’re getting anywhere. “I’ll tell you if it’s working.” Quinn and Saul have become close, professionally speaking: The former looks at the latter for approval before proposing the CIA “pound Raqqa into a parking lot.”
Whereas Quinn itches to go back to the region (or at least for the CIA to do so), Carrie’s perfectly fine with staying out of trouble. When Düring asks for her help coordinating safe passage into Lebanon so he can personally aid the refugees at the Lebanese-Syrian border, Carrie bristles. “Additional security is what we take to conferences in Geneva,” she tells him. “This is a war zone.”
At the moment, though, she faces a more pressing threat in the form of journalist Laura Sutton (Sarah Sokolovic), who shows up at Carrie’s festive doorstep (it’s Frannie’s birthday!) asking her to verify a document she received from the hackers that proves the CIA had been illegally spying on German citizens on Germany’s behalf to work around strict German privacy laws. Carrie, likely remembering the last time sensitive evidence went out in the open (RIP Aayan), warns Laura that people will get hurt if she publishes. The conversation leaves Carrie reeling. “It’s like my old life came back,” she later tells Jonas. And it has: The next day, Carrie visits the CIA Berlin Station.
NEXT: Regrets, Carrie has had a few