Homeland episode 5.08 lives up to its title for the most part; All About Allison is all about Allison. I had her pegged as a native Russian mole with a flawless accent, so it was interesting to find the truth. Allison Carr was a burned out, embittered agent in desperate need of a vacation who was easily tempted by a handsome man with eight million dollars. Recruiting assets is easy! And of that moment of exhaustion and weakness, a ten year relationship of betrayal and deceit is born. And everyone is deceived.
Carrie Mathison, with her uncanny ability to put together disparate information, remembered Banana Joe’s in St. Lucia at just the right moment to make a vital connection. (As Carrie suggested, I Googled: There’s no such bar.)
At the end of last week’s episode, Oriole, I rethought my position that Saul Berenson has been a dope and a dupe. Allison, it seems, is so well-integrated, so well-trusted, so long-standing, that she is trusted by everyone. Still, Professor Spouse pointed out how refreshing it is that the men (Saul, Dar) are acting dumb, while the women are figuring everything out. (And I’ll add, the men also get wacked in the back of the head, but we’ll return to Quinn shortly.) Homeland has long worked as a commentary on sexism in Old Boy’s networks—the CIA, the military, and, in that meta way, television. Carrie is less trusted than she would be if she were male. Quinn is more trusted, and he gets, yes, wacked in the back of the head. So the woman who is sleeping with her superior outsmarting everyone, including that superior, is rather clever. And Saul and his Israeli compatriot struggle to outrun the maneuverings of yet another smarter woman—the Israeli Tovah.
But unless Saul really screws up next week, I’m not placing him back on the stupid train. Carrie remembered chance remarks (made before Allison made her fateful mistake, so naturally she was less guarded), saw a chance photo, and integrated that information. And she still trusted Allison right before that.
Saul may not be on the stupid train, but Dar Adal is, posturing when he should be thinking, maneuvering when he should be observing. His plan with Quinn is no plan at all.
But yay for nicely doubled-back writing, because I didn’t see the reverse twist of returning to Berlin—with nuclear material, no less—coming at all.
Was All About Allison a great episode? Not really. As I said last week, it’s a little too much about a character we don’t really care about. Allison is, after all, a mere chess piece designed to create drama for Carrie, so having sympathy for her is not on the table.
In the final scene, with Carrie remembering Allison’s description of Banana Joe’s, I couldn’t help but think: Matthew Weiner wouldn’t show us the scene again. Matt would trust us to remember something the character had just said, he’d trust the audience to make the connection. Either it was filler or it was an insult to my intelligence. And by the way? Worst wig ever. No, All About Allison was a little slow, a little clunky, a little too maneuver-y, but I think it sets up for a great next week
And by the way, does anyone know WTF is up with “Carrie Orser”? Mathison is Carrie’s only name, she’s never married, her father’s last name was Mathison (as confirmed on James Rebhorn’s IMDb page). Why Orser?
Four more episodes to the season. There’s a lot of room for changes, excitement, twists. We don’t know the real Otto During story yet, we don’t know what happens with the terrorists in Berlin, we don’t know the SVR’s real goals. For all we know, Allison could return to the side of the angels at the last minute (I’m guessing she will, and then die). Four episodes is also enough time for a carefully-constructed season to fall apart and betray our love for it. Let’s hope not.