The fifth season of Homeland picks up two years after the gritty, action-packed last episodes of season four. After the horrors she went through in Islamabad, Carrie Mathison finds herself in a surprisingly domestic environment.
Now living in Berlin, Carrie is actually taking care of her daughter after dumping her off at her sister’s home for the entirety of season four. She also has an attractive new beau whose limited dialogue gives us little time to worry about the lack of intrigue surrounding him. Quinn, after his hasty, unnecessary departure at the end of season four, seems to have been deeply involved in the CIA’s dirty work in the past two years. His experiences have left him more jaded and cynical than ever.
Carrie’s new job as the head of security for a German billionaire leaves her caught in a power struggle. Her new coworkers don’t believe she left the agency and if her tense, heated conversation with Saul says anything, the CIA seems to regard her as a traitor. A refugee crisis provides a relatable and sobering subplot, but the main storyline is the leak regarding a secret pact between Germany and the United States which allows Germany to spy on its own people.
Carrie seems to be standing on the sidelines at first (and maybe this is what she wants, with her departure from the CIA and all), but she is soon back to the Carrie we know and love—getting kidnapped, making shady deals with dangerous people who hate her, and increasing her list of enemies. She reluctantly agrees to travel to the refugee camp at the Syria-Lebanon border under pressure from her new boss. Unsure of how else to guarantee his safety, Carrie makes a deal with the terrorist organization, the Hezbollah. Carrie is back in her element at the end of the episode when she decides to stay at the camp to determine the who orchestrated an attack during her boss’s visit. Carrie’s discovery will leave her wheeling but I am unsurprised considering all the things she has had to do to survive and for the security of the agency.
Although I still miss Brody two seasons later and I am already impatient for a Carrie/Quinn reunion, the foundation for a twisted, intense season has been set. But at its heart, Homeland grapples with the main issues it always has: the ruthlessness of the CIA in dealing with not only terrorists but also its own people, the sacrifices those who combat terrorism make, and the moral culpability that comes with the job.
Now, Carrie will have to confront all the tragedy she has brought about during her time at the CIA, but she will also have to face her decision to leave the agency. Although Homeland has taken a different course than its critically acclaimed first season, it continues to be a thrilling drama that is unafraid to challenge viewers to focus on the details.