After sticking with its Brody storyline for three seasons — well beyond its natural expiration date, if you ask some fans — Showtime's Homeland finally began to reinvent itself with Season 4, literally leaving its past behind to head from D.C. to the Middle East, and then from the Middle East to Germany in Season 5… and now the show has uprooted itself once again. Homeland Season 6 takes place in New York City in that narrow window of months between the Presidential election and the Inauguration as the presumptive nominee (a woman!) assembles her transition team. If you feel like you've slipped into the Twilight Zone, you're not alone; between the show's just-off parallel version of reality and its sudden move back to the States, viewers may have found themselves disoriented when they tuned into the sixth season premiere last weekend. So here's a Homeland Season 5 recap to help make sense of what's going on before you tune back in to Season 6 this Sunday.
The fifth season picked up two years after the events of the fourth, which culminated in both a dramatic hostage exchange involving Saul, and a devastating terrorist attack on the American embassy in Pakistan. In the end, Dar Adal negotiated a deal with the perpetrator of the attack — Haqqani — agreeing to take him off the CIA's "kill list" if Haqqani agreed to stop harboring terrorists in Afghanistan. Carrie was devastated to learn that Saul had supported this deal, leaving the former mentor/protégée duo in a strained relationship.
Here's what went down in Season 5:
Carrie Mathison Must Die
When the season began after the two-year time jump, Carrie was living in Berlin, raising her daughter Frannie with her boyfriend Jonas and working for a philanthropist named Otto Düring. When she accompanied Otto to a Lebanese refugee camp as a member of his security team, they were attacked in what appeared to be an attempt on the millionaire's life. However, Carrie soon learned that she was the real target of the ambush; and whoever had tried to kill her wasn't done, assigning her former CIA colleague Peter Quinn to take her out.
Fortunately, Quinn defied his orders and helped Carrie fake her death so she could figure out who was behind the attempts on her life. But just as he provided "proof of death," he was almost taken out as well and badly injured; someone was working hard to cover their tracks.
Allison The Traitor
It turned out that the real villain of the season was Allison Carr, the Berlin CIA station chief, who had a former working relationship with Carrie and was currently in a romantic relationship with Saul. Unbeknownst to her colleagues, Allison had been turned by the Russians 10 years earlier and had been working as a spy ever since. At the beginning of the season, two computer hackers accidentally downloaded a cache of top-secret CIA files, and Carrie had been targeted for death by the Russians because she was the only agent with sufficient knowledge to trace details in those documents back to Allison and uncover her treachery.
Indeed, Carrie did eventually realize Allison's true allegiance and when the traitor was being whisked away to asylum in Russia, her convoy was ambushed by the CIA and the car was riddled with bullets. When Saul popped the car's trunk, he found Allison's dead body inside; she had been caught in the crossfire of the shootout.
Quinn Gets Gassed
A severely injured Quinn, determined to protect Carrie by severing his connection to her, slipped away from their safe house and attempted to take his own life. But he was stopped in the act by a passerby and ended up falling in with a group of jihadists, who were allegedly planning to carry out a terrorist attack in Syria. Quinn pretended to go along with the plan while informing Dar Adal about the group's movements, but he eventually learned that their real target wasn't Syria, but was right there in Berlin.
The jihadists decided to test the effectiveness of their recently-acquired sarin gas by exposing Quinn to it, but a sympathetic member of the group injected the agent with an antidote beforehand. Although the effects of the gas were lessened, Quinn was still grievously sick — made even worse when Carrie ordered doctors to wake him up in order to extract information from him. At the end of the season, Quinn was still in a coma with no signs of recovery.
Saul can't ever catch a break, can he? Not only was his lover a traitor to their country and attempting to murder his beloved protégée, but Allison attempted to cover her own tracks by pinning her betrayal on Saul. This led to nasty complications between the CIA and Mossad, and to Saul once again being taken hostage by hostile forces. Fortunately, everything was smoothed over when Carrie realized that Allison herself was the real mole. (Although that likely came as small consolation to Saul, who had been sleeping with a spy.)
At the end of the season, he had to suffer yet another indignity, when he asked Carrie to rejoin him at the CIA… and she brusquely turned him down.
A Crisis Averted
Of course, Carrie was able to thwart the jihadists' attack on Berlin at the last moment, with the help of the same man who gave Quinn the antidote. But it wasn't all a happy ending, since she and Jonas broke up. And not only did she turn down Saul's offer, she had to turn down another offer as well — a surprise proposal from Otto himself. So Season 5 drew to a close with a crisis averted, with Quinn on the verge of death, and with Carrie untethered from both her job in Berlin and her former ties with the CIA.
Naturally, this being Homeland, we know Carrie's move to the Big Apple won't be a smooth transition. Hopefully her Season 6 shenanigans will be just as exciting as Season 5's complicated web of spycraft and betrayal!