Homeland 5.09: The Litvinov Ruse

 Posted by on November 30, 2015 at 12:29 am  Homeland
Nov 302015
Homeland © Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.

Homeland © Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.

I don’t know what the title of Homeland episode 5.09 means. The Litvinov Ruse? I got nothing. I’d ask you Basketcases, but you let me down on “Orser” last week. Regardless, this week was edge of your seat stuff all the way.

This episode cut back and forth between two very tense situations. The entire play with Allison, leaving bait, waiting for her to take it, watching her run, was extraordinary. I had my eyes on the staircase behind Saul the entire time he was working. Which reminds me, Saul Berenson is still an idiot. Why not turn around and face the stairs, just in case? I’m just saying. Despite this misstep, I thought everything having to do with Allison this episode was remarkable and worthy payoff to all these weeks of setup. 

There was relatively little Carrie this week, but her reunion with Saul, the tears, the hug–that was gorgeous. Also, we finally learn what the rift between them was–she didn’t support his bid to be made head of the CIA. Well, that’s gotta hurt.

Is Allison going to pull off her double-back double-down? Maybe. The thing is, she really was getting that information from her Russian handler. As they discussed last week, they have been feeding each other information in order to be able to rise through their respective ranks. In fact, the information she gave to Dar Adal—where do you think I got it from? etc., was info they’d discussed in the “previously on” scene where they admire each other so very much. As the German spy remarked, her coolness is really something. By turning the tables on the entire scenario, she creates legitimate doubt.

I have trepidation about the portrayal of Allison’s sluttiness. I always lean towards admiring sluttiness. But I’m not pleased with the way we get to see Saul devastated by it, as though betraying their sexual relationship and betraying her country are equivalent. There’s something very right about her blowing off steam by having a dirty relationship with some hedge fund manager—I’d say “good for her” except she’s a villain. However, If it’s meant to turn the audience away from her, I despise that particular bit of writerly shorthand. It’s pure misogyny, a classic case of “okay if a man did it”. On the other hand, season 1 showed Carrie Mathison screwing around for entertainment, and I think it’s a sane way of blowing off steam in very tense situations. There’s a reason James Bond does it. We’ll see if it’s addressed again.

The other very tense situation, obviously, is Quinn’s. At the end of last episode, I thought I saw a “poison” sign and Professor Spouse thought it was a “radioactive” sign, and I believed her, because she’s so smart, and wrote “nuclear material” in last week’s review. I was wrong. BUT IT WASN’T ME IT WAS PROFESSOR SPOUSE. These things are important. The point is, poison. As in, sarin gas. And Quinn was right, there is online footage.

I have very little to say about the situation. Quinn was played for a fool—he thought he’d convinced the German Arabs that he would help them, but they were never fooled. They were looking for a not-so-innocent bystander to murder on film, and he walked into their hands. Quinn’s story was good enough to fool the audience, I guess, but it’s frustrating how often our heroes are completely wrong. Now there are ISIL terrorists with sarin gas they intend to release in Berlin, and Quinn is their canary in a gas mine.

He looks good doing it. The icy blue stare as they march him to his death is captivating. I didn’t expect his wussy captor to have a Plan B once he learned the gas had already been mixed, but the injection was ballsy and smart. I guess it gives Quinn a chance to survive more torture, as if the guy isn’t damaged enough.

Somehow, all this has to come together. Allison, Quinn, the gas, and Otto During are all meeting in some kind of grand finale that I have no predictions about whatsoever.

So, Basketcases, what did you think?


  5 Responses to “Homeland 5.09: The Litvinov Ruse”

  1. I think that Carrie was just going by Carrie Orser in the flashback last week to protect her real identity. The judge called Alison “Miss Stephens”, implying that all the CIA employees were using fake surnames

  2. Great episode; great recap!

    As to the title, I can only imagine the “Litvinov Ruse” refers to important WWII-era Soviet diplomat Maxim Litvinov, with the “ruse” part referring to the purely fabricated “important Russian diplomat who wants to defect and who has US intel” that the CIA and the BND invented out of whole cloth in order to trap Allison, one they called “Calico” (real name to be divulged soon, they told her).

    I agree that it’s disappointing when modern-day television moralizes about women having healthy sexual appetites. I don’t think Saul was doing that, however–moralizing about Allison being “slutty”. I think it was more a case of his being wounded because he had obviously (and wrongly) assumed their physical relationship was exclusive, when it wasn’t, as well as wounded because it began to dawn on him that someone he thought he knew was actually someone he did not know very well–at all. Which only strengthened Carrie’s case against her in his mind. It was the same expression of dawning realization and horror he had on his face when he watched the Brody confessional video (on the memory card hidden in the knapsack) and realized Carrie had been right all along, and had been humiliated, fired, and consigned to the psychiatric ward for shock treatments because no-one believed her.

    I also agree with you that Rupert Friend is an amazing actor–very internal and controlled. His Quinn may literally tear up the scenery and every actor standing around him along with it, but he doesn’t metaphorically do it by screaming and shouting. It’s all about those eyes.

  3. Oh boy…it very hard to watch Quinn in pain…again. Clearly Quinn was in a weakened state physically and emotionally when he went along with the gang to what he thought was the Syrian border. It’s hard to see him when he is not in complete control. Meanwhile, the CIA group seems so flibbertyjibbit to me. Sauls a spy…no Allisons a spy…no Allisons not a spy. No one knows what the heck is going on, perhaps that is the way it is but it rings a little hollow if no one is in control. I kind of feel like Jaws’s first victim being pulled this way and then that a way. Not entirely unpleasant but unsettling just the same.

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