SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details of tonight’s Season 5 finale of Homeland.
If you thought Hitman: Agent 47 was the worst thing that could happen to actor Rupert Friend onscreen, you obviously didn’t watch tonight’s Season 5 finale of Homeland and learn the apparent fate of Peter Quinn.
After a revitalizing Berlin-set season that cut unnervingly close to real-life terror attacks in Paris and the Syrian refugee crisis, tonight’s “A False Glimmer” episode was a case study in loose ends and lost souls for the Showtime series – which has been an award winner for much of its run and is up for three SAG Awards this year.
There was loss, breaking of old ties and an unanswered offer of wealth and power that could change everything for Claire Danes’ Carrie Mathison next season. And we saw what seemed to be the end of Friend’s now nearly brain-dead Quinn – or did we, in this age of Jon Snow dead/not dead on Game Of Thrones?
Beginning with the ex-CIA operative living in Berlin as the head of security for a philanthropic German billionaire Otto Düring (Sebastian Koch), this season had hackers, revelations of surveillance and betrayal as the Berlin CIA Chief of Station Allison Carr (Miranda Otto) worked for the Russians and slept with Agency vet Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) as a part of the larger plan. With arms connecting to the real world, it also had ISIS running rabid in the Middle East and terror in and under the streets of Europe. Along with onscreen art attack and charge of being racist by a hired graffiti artist, Homeland additionally saw Mathison dealing with her mental heath issue and back in the fold at the Agency alongside a cuckolded Berenson, and longtime fellow operative Quinn.
Tonight’s episode of the series created by Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon picked up fast with Mathison down in the Berlin subway and meeting up with reluctant jihadi Qasim (Alireza Bayram), who helps her stopping the sarin gas release that was intended to kill potentially thousands. In the process, Qasim is killed by another member of the cell. Outside afterward, Bersenson tells Mathieson that Carr is on the run after the duo discuss that she provided them with the wrong target. The “I want to go home now” from Danes could have in many ways summed up the season and the series tone in a time of such anxieties — until that offer from Düring to Mathieson for her to become the “partner” he had “been waiting for.”
EP Lesli Linka Glatter, who directed tonight’s finale, had said that the end of Season 5 would be very different that the more low-key Season 4 finale – which she also helmed. The producer wasn’t messing around. Last year Homeland ended with then-drone queen Mathison learning hard lessons about the realpolitik of international intelligence. That was a departure from the bombing of the CIA HQ in Season 2’s finale and the Season 3-ending hanging in Tehran of Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), the co-star of the series. Tonight, very much like Season 3, was about love, loss, a future glimpsed and, seemingly, death. Early on, the finale penned by Liz Flahive, Ron Nyswaner and Gansa saw black ops operative Quinn barely making it through a brain hemorrhage that came as a result of his harsh treatment earlier in the season at the hands of the jihadists. Mentored by the CIA since age 16, Quinn now is virtually at zero on the cognitive function chart. That didn’t stop Quinn movingly communicating with Mathison with a letter given to her by CIA boss Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham). Not that she had much time to start the forlorn correspondence as Berenson came in with an offer to have her back at the Agency with complete autonomy – an offer she refused.
Later in the highly emotional episode, Mathison reads the rest of Quinn’s letter, which the conflicted assassin declares his long love for her and his acceptance of the “darkness” of the spy world. Then, in the scene that fans will play over again and again undoubtedly in the minds and on their DVRs, she also moves in to disconnect him from the medicine and equipment keeping him alive. Light suddenly spiritually filled the room with a sign of Quinn perhaps finding peace.
— Homeland (@SHO_Homeland) December 21, 2015
In many ways, with the death of a major character, the Era of Terror series never had higher dramatic stakes as well a feeling of rubbing up against reality even more than before. “Civilization is facing an existential threat, the West needs a wake-up call,” Carr’s Russian handler (Mark Ivanir) told the duplicitous CIA officer in last week’s “Our Man in Damascus” episode about a looming chemical attack. The Russian told Carr that if she wanted her millions and her dacha, she would make sure the attack went forward. “Radical Islam must be eradicated.”
As Western intelligence agencies try to find the cell designated to conduct the attack threatened if the U.N. doesn’t recognize the Islamic State, the December 13 penultimate episode had Carr killing a CIA agent and an Islamic scholar who told her what the target was. Carr then shot herself in the shoulder to make it look like she was engaged in a shoot-out. After misinforming Bersenson of what the real target was, any attempt to find out what really happened from Carr in the shooting is interrupted by hospital staff. On the path of the terror cell, Mathison followed a bystander report that a man was seen jumping on to the subway tracks. Last week’s episode ended with a text from Mathison telling Bersenson what was going on in the subway and the former interim CIA director discovering that Carr is suddenly missing from the hospital. Bersenson ensured her bloody fatal fate after he stopped the Russian car carrying her in the trunk with a hail of bullets.
Last season of Homeland hinted at this year in Berlin — what will Season 6 bring? Will Mathison take on Düring’s offer? Did Quinn live, perhaps even recover? What did you think of tonight’s season finale?
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