“Krieg Nicht Lieb,” which translate to “war, not love” in German, indeed depicts the multiplying conflicts that consume Carrie (Claire Danes), Quinn (Rupert Friend), the C.I.A., and the ISI after the attack on the U.S. embassy in Pakistan. Yet the episode, absent the pronounced attention to action-adventure set pieces that marked “There’s Something Else Going On” and “13 Hours in Islamabad,” forges its tension from the intimate, rather than the international. As the American presence in Pakistan comes to an end, with no indication of inroads made or missions accomplished, the War on Terror once again becomes a function of flawed, human choices, constrained by the fact that our departure isn’t “peace with honor.” It’s “the failure protocol.”
That list of prerequisites for closing the C.I.A. station in Islamabad effectively describes Carrie’s pursuit of Quinn as he plans retribution for what the ISI’s Aasar Khan (Raza Jaffrey) calls “a goddamn coup,” and it’s this precise sense of the American unwinding that lends the episode its subtle charge. Carrie and Quinn are both off the reservation, unsupervised and unbound, with personal convictions replacing strategic concerns as the primary motive of their endeavors. As such, it makes sense that Quinn should head to the apartment of his German ex (Nina Hoss) for help, and that Carrie should track him there so easily. In a smart, somewhat surprising move, “Krieg Nicht Lieb” refuses to expend its running time on their cat-and-mouse game, though Carrie’s glimpse of the water he leaves behind on the floor after a shower is a nice detail. The episode isn’t, as it might have been, just one long chase sequence, and Carrie and Quinn’s early confrontation in the parking garage concisely expresses their respective reversals over the course of the season, with Quinn increasingly desperate to make his work at the C.I.A. mean something and Carrie increasingly willing to relent. “I was stupid enough to listen to you the first time,” he tells her. “I was stupid enough to come back here when you asked me, so I witnessed the fall of the station and the slaughter of my colleagues, and I have never, ever been so convinced of what has to happen now.” To which she responds, “Quinn, we lost.”
That sense of loss, in love and war alike, permeates the episode, as Max (Maury Sterling) once again accuses Carrie of leading Fara (Nazanin Boniadi) to her death and Carrie learns that her father has suddenly died from a stroke. The slow tightening of the frame as tears appear in her eyes and she begins to gasp for breath is a lovely, pained grace note, suggesting “Krieg Nicht Lieb” as a companion piece to “13 Hours in Islamabad”—more ordinary, perhaps, but no less compelling for focusing on failures of a personal, rather than political, nature. Carrie’s own chickens, not only the nation’s, are coming home to roost too.
The episode nonetheless concludes by deploying this season’s catalogue of personal loyalties and betrayals in the service of the genre Homeland has aped most successfully in recent weeks: the espionage thriller. Satellite images indicate that Haissam Haqqani (Numan Acar) is hiding out in Rawalpindi, secreted away in an impenetrable fortress, and Quinn’s suicidal plan to gin up a protest and place an explosive at the gates seems, appropriately enough, a failure protocol of its own. Quinn’s failure, though, is one of idealism: The conduct of the war has driven him back toward the ruthless calculus he resisted at home, in “Trylon and Perisphere” and “Shalwar Kameez,” and from the C.I.A.’s Islamabad operations room, in “About a Boy,” which saw him save Haqqani’s life along with Saul’s.
Carrie, too, finds herself at the precipice of a fatal decision; her presence within the blast radius convinces Quinn to abort the bombing, but a flash of sympathy for Aayan (Suraj Sharma) nearly leads her to assassinate Haqqani. Khan intervenes, and the revived, stripped-down Homeland promises a finale worthy of its recent brilliance, yet the fact remains that Carrie and Quinn prove unable, even unwilling, to accept the failure protocol for what it is: a surrender. “He will never get out,” Quinn’s German ex says of him, and, by extension, of Carrie. “But every so often it makes him feel better to say he will, and then he goes back to doing what he does best.” Not love, but war.
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