'Homeland' recap: On the hunt for Quinn in 'New Normal'

For The Baltimore Sun
A new threat emerges on "Homeland" Season 5, Episode 10, "New Normal."

"You've made your point, but your part in this play is over. You need to go," Dar tells Carrie after they go back and forth over the validity of Allison's story.

As they banter, Saul looks on in silence. Carrie looks to Saul for backup, but he only says that he'll call her later and Dar ushers her out.

I'm thinking she owned us, Dar. Allison did," Saul clarifies. Dar tells Saul that may be true, but that they should consider the political ramifications of admitting to Allison's breach.

He tells him that Ivan admitted that it was Russia that brought down that plane, meaning that Saul and Etai are off the hook. Dar suggests that they pass Allison off to an investigative unit back in the States and be done with the whole mess.

"I want one more shot at her first," Saul says.

He suggests that if he can wrangle a confession from Allison they could use her to gather intelligence on the Russians. Dar agrees to allow Saul one more chance to break Allison.

Carrie and Astrid have a walk and talk session and they agree that they don't buy Allison's story. Carrie says that she'd almost have to take her hat off to Allison if she weren't so devious. "Or your wig, as the case may be," Astrid says.

"At least I won't be wearing that anymore," Carrie says.

Any bit of humor on this show is like an oasis. It should be enjoyed. I enjoyed the wig joke.

Carrie tells Astrid that her next priority is finding out what happened to Quinn since she hasn't seen him in nine days.

It seems to me that there could have been a smoother way to work that into the dialogue here, as Carrie just rather casually tosses off that the last she saw Quinn, he was badly hurt.

Astrid agrees to check security camera footage from near Quinn's last known location. We get a cutaway to the bad guy's compound, where Qasim looks on as his comrades edit a video showing the effects of the Sarin on Quinn. We see Quinn foaming at the mouth, writhing in pain but still alive.

Saul goes in to interrogate Allison, but she's ready for him and tries to employ some psychological warfare. She tells Saul that she's the aggrieved party and that he is angry, not her. She tells him that he's one of the angriest men she's ever met. "It's one of the things that made me curious about you. All that rage," she says.

When questioned, Allison says that she did report that she recruited an asset in Baghdad to David Estes, the CIA's former deputy director. Estes died in the headquarters bombing in an earlier season so he isn't around to confirm this, Saul notes.

Saul looks as though he's about to leave the room and Allison is surprised. "That's it? That was easy," she says.

"I can guarantee you this, not one moment of your life from this point forward will be easy. I will personally see to that," Saul vows.

He presses Allison on trying to have Carrie killed, which she denies. He brings up other agents that may have died as a result of Allison's treason, but she maintains her poker face.

Saul loses it at this point and grabs Allison, slamming her up against a wall. He pushes her into the wall repeatedly and screams in her face, "You are a f---ing sociopath," before agents rush to the room to escort him out.

Meanwhile, Jonas and Otto are going over a list of potential replacements for Carrie when Laura interrupts them. She tells Jonas that she has brought in Faisal Marwan, a local business owner, who found himself detained for two years after cell phones that he sold were used to coordinate a terrorist attack.

The Düring Foundation will represent him in a case against the German government, pay for his legal expenses and help him financially in other ways, at Laura's behest and with Otto's blessing.

As Faisal gives his deposition, Jonas questions him as to a specific connection he had with a known jihadist. The man bought phones from him on several occasions and ended up with him in the same prison, where Faisal says they stuck together for protection. As Laura and Jonas continue questioning him, Faisal admits that he heard of a planned attack on Berlin while in jail. He doesn't know any more than that and tries to downplay it in case it could damage his case.

After he leaves, Laura and Jonas debate what to do with their information. "An attack on Berlin? We can't just sit on that," Jonas says.

"It was just jailhouse chatter," Laura argues, but she seems less that confident. They agree to run this past Otto when he returns the next day.

Elsewhere, Carrie visits the warehouse where she last saw Quinn. She sees a bag of zip ties, and guns strewn about the scene, and tries to piece together what might have happened. A text from Astrid interrupts her and urges her to get to a television.

Carrie runs to a cafe where she sees Quinn's captors on a TV screen, masked, delivering their demands. They say that the United Nations has 24 hours to recognize their Islamic State or else they will attack a major European city.

"Many will die by an invisible and merciless poison," the masked figure says before throwing to the footage of Quinn. Carrie collapses at the sight, but quickly gets to her feet and scampers off.

A visibly shaken Dar meets with Saul, and they decide that they have no choice but to tell the Germans of Quinn's identity and begin coordinating a plan to counter the pending attack. Dar tells the BND operation chief about Quinn infiltrating a terrorist cell and gives him a clue as to the possible identity of one of the men in the video.

Dar then reluctantly confers with Allison and Ivan, trying to ascertain how credible the threat is and whether or not terrorists could have gotten their hands on the Sarin from Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons. Ivan confirms that they could, after some prodding from Allison, and Allison and Dar head back to the operation control center.

"Am I under arrest?" Allison asks as they walk. "It's something of an open question," Dar says.

"This is my backyard, Dar. I can help stop this thing," Allison says, lobbying for a seat at the table.

As Dar and Allison climb into a car together, Carrie pulls up in a cab and spots Astrid and Saul on the street. She tells them that she needs to see the full video of Quinn because she knows him and can tell if he was trying to send any coded messages. She wants back in, desperately, and Astrid agrees that she can help.

And so Astrid shows Carrie the full video of Quinn's apparent demise. Carrie fights back tears as she sees Quinn drop to his knees and Astrid takes her hand for support. Carrie asks her to play the video again, as she searches for clues.

Saul and Dar have a video conference with Washington, meanwhile, where they learn that the German and American governments aren't going to warn that Berlin is the likely target of the planned attack. After their call, Allison enters, much to Saul's displeasure, to inform Dar that she tracked down a likely suspect from Quinn's information.

At Düring, Laura and Jonas debate what to do with their information in front of Otto. Laura argues that they shouldn't turn Faisal back over to the same police that detained him when he hasn't done anything wrong. She says that her country was attacked years ago and that it started two wars in response.

"And for what? We're still killing them, they're still coming after us, and on and on," she says.

She says that Germany has already started rounding up Muslim men outside of mosques in the area in response to the attack threat and that she doesn't want to be a party to that. She says that she got Faisal out of a mosque just in time,and brought him to the foundation's building, "... which I assume is a safe place," she says, making her case to Otto.

Otto hears her, but sides with Jonas and he calls Saul to tell him about Faisal. He makes Saul promise to treat Faisal fairly and to only question him with a lawyer present. "Please, Mr. Berenson, you owe me this," Otto says. Saul agrees, and Otto says that he will bring Faisal in for questioning.

At the compound, one of the men approaches the leader, Bibi Hamid, and shows him that Quinn is still alive, blinking ever so slightly. He shows him the empty antidote cartridge,and tells him that one of their own tried to save Quinn. They agree to postpone the attack until they can determine who the traitor in their midst is.

Things aren't looking good for Qasim.

Bibi calls a group meeting and has every man lay out his belongings in front of him, looking to see which of them is missing their sarin antidote. Through some strange twist, Qasim still has his and the man next to him has none in his kit. Qasim starts to speak up but Bibi ignores him, shooting the man in the head. The attack is back on.

As Carrie and Astrid commiserate, they get a hit on the floor tiles in Quinn's video and are able to triangulate 39 possible locations where Quinn is held, based on information from Bibi's credit card activity. Astrid begins to assemble search teams to check the locations.

At the Düring building, Otto is escorting Faisal to a car where he will be taken to meet Saul in spite of Laura's protests. Otto assures her that he trusts Saul, if not the CIA, and that he's confident that Faisal will be treated fairly. As soon as he says that, the BND pulls up and arrests Faisal, as Laura looks on in anger.

Allison steps outside to have a smoke, with her CIA babysitter at her side. The man tells her that no one in the station believes the charges against her. Allison calmly drops her cigarette and puts it out, while a woman walking a dog looks on intently across the street. Was that a signal of some kind?

Carrie and Astrid have reached Bibi's compound and begin searching the place. Astrid notes the blood on the floor from where Bibi shot the man and calls for backup. Carrie finds the man's corpse and knows that they've found the right place. "They're gone," she tells Astrid, before taking off to find Quinn.

Carrie finds the enclosure where Quinn's body lays. She presses up against the glass and cries. Quinn twitches his finger and Carrie jumps. "Astrid, I saw him move," she says. "He's alive!" Astrid calls for a hazardous materials team and a medical unit.

We see Qasim and Bibi driving a van with more men and the barrels of sarin in the back. Bibi asks Qasim if he has something to confess. Qasim stammers and Bibi jumps in.

"You were always so studious. I thought your faith would make you strong, but I was wrong and Zaheer had to pay for my mistake," he says. "You switched my kit?" Qasim asks. "Because you're blood and Zaheer is not," Bibi explains. He threatens Qasim not to speak or do anything without his knowledge again.

Carrie sits at Quinn's hospital bedside, keeping vigil. Saul enters and pulls up a chair next to her as they look at their friend.  Final thoughtsAfter weeks of cliffhangers and continually upping the ante, "New Normal" was something of a letdown. And how couldn't it be? There are only so many hats to pull rabbits out of, and "Homeland" sure used a lot of hats and rabbits in the season's first nine episodes.

My rabbit and hat analogy was only slightly clunkier than some of the plot devices used to allow Carrie and Astrid to find Quinn so quickly.

"New Normal" set the stage for the final episodes of the season, but I can't help but feel underwhelmed by the Berlin attack as the season's climax. It feels small to me compared to the other events of the season.

All is not lost, though, as the journey to this point has been exciting and I always enjoy when "Homeland" raises the kinds of moral and ethical questions that Laura's character did about the war on terror ("And for what?").

For better or worse, "Homeland" has the reputation of being sympathetic to political conservatives, and they did little in "New Normal" to change that perception. Of course Otto was going to turn Faisal in for questioning, because "Homeland" as an entity seems to believe that civil liberties are an ideal, not a reality.

A common criticism of the show is that it presents Middle Eastern Muslims as one-dimensional characters, all too often only written in to serve as the bad guys. I think that's fair. How is it that we didn't even know the name of Qasim's character until the ninth episode of the season? How is it that before this week, Bidi's name was mentioned only once, in passing, in a scene between Quinn and Dar several episodes ago? Because they were stereotypical, one-dimensional characters.

Do better, "Homeland."

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