TV Show Review

TV Review: HOMELAND: Season 5, Episode 11: Our Man in Damascus [Showtime]

Claire Danes Homeland Our Man in Damascus

Showtime‘s Homeland Our Man in Damascus TV Show Review. Homeland: Season 5, Episode 11: Our Man in Damascus was a frustrating episode to watch. The main problem with the episode was the CIA’s response to Allison after she was caught with her Russian handler. I’m not in law enforcement or CIA so I don’t know what the protocols are for guard duty of a suspected spy but one of them most be redundancy. One bodyguard for a suspected Master Spy was nonsense. There should have been at least two people on Allison Carr (Miranda Otto) at all times. With two agents, one agent could have been with Allison at all times, while the other checked out rooms or situations before Allison entered them. If only one agent, than that one should have been a female CIA agent, so that she could accompany Allison everywhere, including the bathroom.

Allison’s surveillance package in Our Man in Damascus was made up of a lone, solitary fool. Why didn’t CIA assign someone to watch Allison that had never worked with her, someone that would not be taken in by her guile? Instead, they assigned someone that had worked with her for years, possibly a friend. Is that the best bodyguard for a suspected traitor? It was an egregiously bad decision, a blunder that would cause the person who made it to be fired.

These decisions were so bad that I don’t believe the real CIA would ever make them. TV CIA on the other hand, that is another organism all together. TV CIA would let a suspected spy go to the bathroom alone without checking out that bathroom first. They would let uncleared personnel into that bathroom after that suspected spy had entered. They would also let that same suspected spy take a ‘meter maid ticket’ from under her windshield wiper, not take the ‘ticket’ from her, and not examine it.

One plot hole I could forgive but there was an extraordinary convergence of numerous plot holes in Our Man in Damascus. Writer Gideon Raff really expected the viewer to believe that the apex spy agency in the world would be that sloppy, in so many instances, around the same suspected spy and traitor in a two day period? It was insane to believe that no one would notice the uber-blackouts of logic and basic common sense in Our Man in Damascus. It was Dexter‘s last three seasons all over again i.e. terrible writing.

The good writing in Our Man in Damascus showed up when Allison was told that she was on her last mission, why it would be her last mission, and the reason behind the mission. It was clear logic, clean, and to the point.

Our Man in Damascus‘ commentary of the United States’ position on ISIS and the world’s response to terrorism was another high point of the episode. It examined the cause and effect of terrorism on a civilized society and the loosening of restrictions and morals in the fight against terror. Whether to remain steadfast or to stoop to the level of those we fight. Whether to suspend laws because it’s convenient and expeditious or to show our adversaries that we are unshakable. It was a quite, powerful moment in the episode, one that will have ramifications for CIA and German Intelligence (following the death of the sole member of a televised ultimatum).

Allison Carr shooting herself in the shoulder was one of the highlights of Our Man in Damascus: well-acted, the viewer could sense and feel Allison’s pain as she eventually knelled in agony. The scenario had one flaw though, a flaw that a real CIA agent would have known beforehand. Powder burns. When a gun is pressed up against something, like what Allison did to herself, it causes powder burns, scorching on what it is pressed up against. When Allison’s gunshot wound was examined, these tell-tale marks would have been evident. Her examiners would know that it had been self-inflicted. If she had been shot from some feet away, her claim, and not point blank, which the evidence would have shown, there would not have been gunpowder burns around the wound or scorching. I know this because I have watched hundreds of hours of police, spy, and CSI TV shows and films. Homeland hopes the average viewer has not. A good doctor would have seen the aforementioned self-inflicted gunshot wound signs, a suspicious CIA or German Intelligence aka Federal Intelligence Service aka Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) doctor would have definitely seen them. Allison was taken to neither. Instead, she was taken to a blind, TV doctor.

Another positive moment in the episode was when ‘the doctor’ showed up to exfiltrate Allison. He had his medical jargon down cold and was ice under pressure. No one suspected him (he may have actually been a doctor). Even though this moment in the episode was good, it produced nagging questions, questions Homeland and Mr. Raff probably hope you don’t ask yourself: 1.) Why was there no guard on Allison’s hospital room door? She was a suspected spy who was still under investigation. 2.) Where was her new bodyguard (s)? CIA has its own doctors and medical facilities as do BND. 3.) Why wasn’t Allison taken to one of them in lieu of a public facility? 4.) Why would CIA or BND take Allison to an unsecured building manned by people that had not been vetted? Like I said before, inept, unrealistic writing in this episode.

Then there was the icing on the bizarro cake: the person suspected of spying, of being a traitor, was given a loaded gun by the person guarding them (and where did the second gun come from, the one Allison used to frame the teacher?).

Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), always suspicious, never taking something at face value, is the type of agent (s) that should (and would have been assigned to watch Allison in the real world) have been assigned to watch Allison. Even when told the Sarin gas threat had been located, Carrie still chased down her own intelligence just to make sure. Jihadist Qasim (Alireza Bayram) has extreme beliefs but he is not soulless. My guess is that it is he whom Carrie catches up to and comforts in the next episode, resulting in him making an enlightened decision.

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About the author

Rollo Tomasi

A Political Science and MBA grad who started FilmBook during an eCommerce B-School course in 2008. Cinema and TV addict. Former writer at Empire Movies, Blogcritics, and Alternative Film Guide. In addition to writing for FilmBook, he also edits the copy published on the website, manages its writing staff, manages the back-end operations, site finances, its social network accounts, and works with publicists, actors, and companies on press coverage and promotions. He has also created and Trending

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