A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Parabiosis is defined as “the anatomical joining of two individuals, especially artificially in physiological research.” Throughout Parabiosis, each character is trying to find some semblance of unity between their two dichotomies, framed by Alex Graves’s camera as a struggle between their realities and their reflections that haunt them. Alison’s fight, while certainly kept under the wraps for the most part, seems for now at least to be between the two agencies she is seemingly calling home. Carrie’s struggle, while a literal fight between life and death, is to grasp what remains of her “normal” existence and the life of espionage she had lived before. Saul’s fight becomes a manifestation between the part of him that believes what Carrie is so urgently telling him and the part of him that is grasping onto whom he has become, a hardened man who only sees lies from his former protégée before him. Parabiosis can also be seen as the coming together of unusual allies, such as Quinn and the mysterious man who rescued him and the fairly surprising one between Otto and Saul. In the most obvious meaning, however, the episode’s thematic heart is displayed openly at the end, with Carrie and Saul finally on the same page. It was an arduous journey to that juncture, but it is one that is sure to take an intriguing but cooling season and jolt it with a sense of propulsive adrenaline.
Carrie and Saul’s opening meeting is one of those quietly devastating Homeland moments, made all the more powerful as expected with Claire Danes’s ability to convey a gamut of emotional devastation without speaking a single word. Carrie notes that someone put her name in Saul’s kill box, completely compromising his plan with Quinn to carry out jihadist kill missions. Saul simply doesn’t believe it. He asks the fair question as to why anyone in Russian intelligence would want her killed, especially after she had left her intelligence job two years prior. It’s a decent question every viewer is asking as well. Carrie’s only answer is a shaky one, but to her benefit, it is perhaps the only answer that at the moment makes any amount of sense. From her vantage point, the documents are imbued with some information the Russian intelligence agencies want to remain hidden and they would go to any length to keep that information hidden. Saul is skeptical and Carrie is reaching a breaking point. She notes, heartbreakingly, that she put her life in jeopardy just to meet him but Saul simply doesn’t care. But her words nevertheless ring throughout Saul’s ears. No matter how much Saul has hardened and changed, his past as an espionage officer latched onto what Carrie had said and refused to let go.
Saul has never been as paranoid as he is in those moments from when he first notices that he is, as Carrie noted, being quietly followed. That paranoia builds and builds until it reaches a massive crescendo and Saul is hauled away from Otto Düring’s club. In fairness to Saul (even though I’m not too keen on giving Saul much of a benefit these days), it’s difficult not to be that paranoid in those circumstances. Alison tells him upfront, with complete bluntness, that evidence from the wreckage pointed towards Israel and Dar had ordered Saul to be followed. Last week I had expressed some consternation that Dar was far too quick in ordering Saul’s surveillance. But a quick history lesson between the two reveals that thirty years ago, when the Intifada was occurring, Saul had revealed terrorist names to the Mossad. Saul defends his actions during that moment and notes the consequences he suffered for that breach, but Dar simply isn’t having any of it. The embassy being entirely stripped from head to toe to uncover any potential illegal bugging is a logical move, but Saul is hardly benefiting from it, having been stripped of his security clearance. He’s being shut off at every single juncture, finding himself just as alone and isolated as he had left Carrie in the darkened streets of Berlin. That isolation makes his final move of handing over the documents to Düring so Carrie can get to the borrow of everything that much more powerful.
As powerful as Carrie looking upon Düring with that faintest hint of a smile was, Parabiosis suffered from some mischaracterization and a dullness of proceedings like the episode preceding it. The most gross mischaracterization I felt was that of Carrie, whose drive to find the truth suddenly gets zapped out of existence. I understand where the episode was going, with the subsequent losses of Saul, Quinn, and Jonas driving her to the brink of losing all hope. But Carrie arriving at that position felt a bit rushed in an episode that ironically felt too slow. Quinn’s subplot was even more problematic. The idea of actual jihadists being amongst the inmates released because of evidence from illegal surveillance used to convict them is a fairly complex one with actual, real-life implications but here it’s a throwaway consequence of the leaked documents and little more than that. For a show grappling with accusations of racism and the pride of tackling issues in a complex fashion, that was not a shining moment of any sort. The resulting storyline was equally muddled, if more complicated. The man who rescued Quinn was a good samaritan who helped people in the shadows that had a dire need of medical care who were in the shadows. At the same time he gave shelter to a man who espoused jihad. It’s a complicated web of entanglements and a portrait that is duly complex. The circumstances surrounding him, however, are not complex enough.
Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+“There’s a line between us that you drew. Forget that. It’s a fuckin’ wall.”
+“He went to die, Carrie.”
+“I don’t know who to trust.”
+“Does that register?”
+“I bring down everyone around me.”
+“She died when her clinic was bombed in Mosul.”
Episode Title: Parabiosis
Written by: Chip Johannessen & Ted Mann
Directed by: Alex Graves
Image Courtesy: Elle