The fifth season premiere of Homeland, “Separation Anxiety,” represents a deeper, grayer look at the line between Us and Them, especially since the audience surrogate, Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), is no longer working for the CIA, but for a German billionaire philanthropist. The theme is familiar, with sympathy for both the so-called terrorists and idealistic spies, but because it's now presented from a neutral standpoint, America is no longer the default hero.
It's a startling and effective shift in perspective, with Carrie serving as the outside arbiter to every player in “Separation Anxiety.” She now comes across as level-headed and adjusted (motherhood suits her well, now that she's actually raising her daughter), which makes it easier to spot how insane some of her former acquaintances are. Take her former mentor, Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin): He believes so fervently in what he's doing with the CIA that he brusquely bristles at the idea that Carrie might feel the need for forgiveness. “What are you atoning for?” he asks her. “Keeping America safe?” Any view aside from his own extremes is written off as naïve, and there's an especially savage bit of irony when he and Allison Carr (Miranda Otto), the Berlin Chief of Station, lament that their German allies no longer “fight like hell,” as if Nazi determination was a good thing.