Homeland “A False Glimmer” Review (Season 5 Episode 12)

Episode 503

In my review last week of the “Fargo” season finale, I mentioned how it went out with a whimper instead of a bang, but in that show’s case, it was actually a good thing, as the penultimate episode had been such a blow-out literally and figuratively, we kind of needed a slow come down on the last one, kind of like an epilogue to the story. On “Homeland,” we went out with a whimper, alright, but in this case, it wasn’t necessary a good thing, in “A False Glimmer.”

We began right where we left off last week; with a frantic Carrie (Claire Danes) rushing to the subway location a group of terrorists had planted a bomb in, with the capacity to kill thousands of people, in hopes of stopping it before it was too late. Would she make it in time? What do you think?

In a true deus ex machina if ever there was one, she just so happened to run into Quasim (relative newcomer Alireza Bayram, reasonably solid in a somewhat thankless role), aka the “not-so-bad” terrorist who did his best to save Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) when the ringleader Bibi (Rene Ifrah, Nurse Jackie”) decided to test out the sarin gas on him, which he filmed and was aired on television in a previous episode.

In short order, Carrie talked him into stopping the action about to be in progress, but he insisted on trying to talk his cousin down from setting off the bomb, rather than outright killing him. That went over just about as well as you might think, and Bibi shot him where he stood. Carrie, in the meantime, snuck up on the two as this was going down, and shot blindly in their general direction, hoping against hope she’d hit her chosen target of Bibi.


Well, perhaps needless to say, she got him, or we wouldn’t really have a show. That was all she wrote: crisis averted, and within a relatively stealth five minutes or so. You’d think they’d have at least gone for a good old fashioned bomb defusing, a la on show co-creator Howard Gordon’s former day job “24,” but no such luck. Although, to be fair, that would have been pretty clichéd, I suppose, and I think they’ve done it before anyway, so there you go.

Regardless, aside from a brief scene towards the end, that was about it for action this episode, so it’s no wonder they quit while they were ahead on the last episode. After all, if it wasn’t for that, there wouldn’t have been much action at all. Not that there necessarily has to be, I guess, but it just felt like the entire episode was a bit muted, if not the entire season.

I mean, don’t get me wrong- it was an okay season overall. As typical of the show, it took several episodes to figure out what was really going on and how the various disparate elements were connected, but once it got going, it was fairly interesting. You had Carrie vs. Quinn at one point, and that was pretty eye-opening, and on the other end, you had baddie Allison (Miranda Otto, of “Lord of the Rings” fame), a double-agent for the Russians, ostensibly working for the Americans and Germans in Berlin, while essentially playing both against one another.

Definitely a set-up with a lot of potential, least of all when it turned out Allison had tried to have Carrie killed via Saul’s drop-box for Quinn, thus framing him for it in the process. It was just her misfortune that Quinn happened to be still carrying a torch for Carrie, thus causing him to default on that particular hit, but leaving Carrie unsure as to who in the world would want to kill her and why. This led to Carrie eventually having to go off her meds and into “Crazy Carrie” mode, which unfortunately did not involve telekinetic powers, or we might have had something this season.


Maybe if Jonas (Alexander Fehling, “Inglourious Basterds) had taunted her with “Crazy Carrie, Crazy Carrie!” things might have gone down, but instead, it led to her figuring out just enough to get her right back into hot water by driving her to go to the very source of her issues, Allison, for a meet. While at first clueless, eventually Carrie and Saul put the pieces together and Allison was forced to throw a Hail Mary pass by claiming that her handler/co-conspirator Ivan (Mark Ivanir, “Royal Pains”) was actually her informant, which worked for a spell.

Unfortunately for her, in this episode, that scheme backfired, as Saul was able to turn Ivan against her with a promise of a cushy-ish relocation to Wyoming in exchange for information on Allison’s whereabouts, who, by then, had gotten out of dodge, as well she needed to. Alas, hell hath no fury like a Saul scorned, who assembled an interception that cut off her ride out of town and riddled her transport vehicle with bullets, killing her in the process.

Granted, this was somewhat satisfying, and Lord knows she had a comeuppance coming, but I would have enjoyed it a lot more if it hadn’t been so impersonal. Like most of the episode, this payoff, too, was oddly muted. Not to sound all bloodthirsty, mind you, but I wouldn’t have hated there being at least a verbal showdown between her and Saul one last time before her unceremonious send-off. Oh well. I suppose it’s somewhat befitting that someone so cold-blooded would suffer such an impersonal takedown, but still, it was unsatisfying to me.

After all, we’re talking about someone who flat-out assassinated her bodyguard shortly after he said he believed in her and didn’t pay any mind to all the rumors going around about her, then shot that professor unhesitatingly, followed by herself! Now THAT’S some gangster shiz, am I right? I suppose one could argue she got a similarly gangster sendoff, but I don’t know, it could have been better, IMHO.

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Also going out with a whimper was Carrie’s relationship with Jonas, who apparently had just about all the crazy he could handle during his brief tête-à-tête with the aforementioned Crazy Carrie and broke things off for good. Carrie did the same with Saul, who once again implored her to rejoin the CIA gang, offering to let her form her own team, et al. She turned him down flat, which makes you wonder what they’re going to do next season to drag her back in again, after jumping through hoops to do so this season.

We got a vague sense of what that might be, when, in a pseudo-proposal about as romantic as a business deal or that contract silliness in “50 Shades of Grey,” Otto (Sebastian Koch, “Bridge of Spies”) propositioned Carrie to “team up” with him instead. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t he just say a few episodes ago that she was a little too nuts for him and he was going to distance himself from her altogether?

I suppose he’s up to something, but I can’t imagine what, given the fact that, if he knows she gets things done under the most extreme of circumstances, then why in the world would he open up to putting himself under her scrutiny? Maybe it’s something to do with the whole husband/wife privilege thing, I don’t know. Seems a bit sketchy to me, both in intention, and as a potential set-up, for that matter, but maybe I’m over-thinking it. It was no more perplexing that a lot of the writing decisions made in this episode, I suppose.

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However, far and away the most damning of occurrences in this episode was the whimper with which Quinn went out. Quinn was far and away my favorite character of the show in recent years, and he deserved a better send-off than what he got here. I mean, if they were going to kill him off, why not simply do it when they gave him the gas, instead of prolonging the inevitable and giving us hope that he might make it? Instead, we got a maudlin, fairly out-of-character letter (with a false start the first time around, no less) telling Carrie how much he loved her and so forth. Meh. (I did like the aside that Quinn was essentially recruited at 16!)

So, yeah, I’m sorry but this was a bit of a letdown all around, especially since this season had its moments. Last season was better in every way, true, and this wasn’t nearly as bad as Brody’s final year, Season 3, admittedly, which took way too long getting going, but even that one gave Brody the appropriately epic sendoff he deserved after everything that had gone down. So, maybe not the worst season, but not the greatest overall, either.

Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t given up on the show altogether. It’s not that dire. It still boasts one of the more solid, dependable ensemble casts on TV, even if it’s going to come up a little short next season in that department with the departing Friend. But its par for the course for the show to take someone out each season, so I suppose that sort of thing is to be expected.


My advice would be for the show to wrap up next season, and to go big or go home. I hate it when shows overstay their welcome, and this one is treading awfully close to it, so better to shoot the works for one more season and go out on top than peter out like…well, Peter Quinn. But before they can quit while they’re ahead, they have to be ahead first, and this season just wasn’t memorable enough for all that. Hopefully, next season will be the one in which the magic happens again. If not, well, maybe Carrie’s not the only one who should retire.

So, what did you think of the latest season of “Homeland”? Were you also disappointed? Or did you like it more than I did? What was your favorite moment? (Mine was absolutely the jaw-dropping scene I mentioned with Allison killing everyone and shooting herself- boy, does Otto ever deserve the MVP of the season award, let me tell you.) How about your least favorite? (For me, it was obviously Peter’s death.) What direction do you think the next season should go in? Do you think that bizarre bit with Otto was a hint at what’s to come next season? Sound off on this and more down below, and thanks for reading!