In many ways, “A False Glimmer” reminded me a lot of last season’s Homeland finale, “Long Time Coming.” After Carrie stops Bibi from releasing the sarin gas in the train station, with the help of Qasim, who unfortunately doesn’t make it out of the situation alive, the rest of the hour is spent tying up loose ends and digging into the emotions of these characters that we’ve known for years (in the cases of Carrie and Saul) or were introduced to this season (such as Otto, Jonas, and Laura). And while not all of it works perfectly, the sense of sadness that permeates throughout “A False Glimmer” is powerful; after everything these characters have done to thwart the planned terrorist attack, it is not only believable but fitting that they would deal with the fallout in the ways that they do, and it’s admirable storytelling from Homeland to give us these quieter moments when it could have just made its entire finale one big chase to stop the terrorists.
For obvious reasons, the most effective of these moments in “A False Glimmer” is the episode’s final one, as Carrie arrives at Quinn’s hospital room to pull the plug on him after he suffers a severe stroke, but just as she pauses, and a ray of light shines through the windows, Quinn passes away naturally. Now, it’s not 100% clear if Quinn dies in that last moment at the hospital (even after rewatching the scene a few times, I’m still not entirely certain, but that’s how I read it); however, even if he doesn’t die right then and there, there’s no believable way that Homeland can bring him back next season without ruining its credibility as a show. Sure, the Homeland writers have made some unrealistic storytelling decisions in the past, but they have to know that having Quinn return (at least as the man we know him as before) would be a step too far.
Not to mention, it would cheapen the beautiful and very tragic scene between him and Carrie, where the letter he wrote for her in the Season 4 finale (in case anything went wrong and he was killed during his mission in Syria) is read aloud as she gives him a tearful goodbye. The most powerful words in the entire letter provide this episode with its title, as Quinn talks about the hope he had that he could be with Carrie and escape this life, but that it was all just a “false glimmer”; there was never any real way for him to get away from the work he does best, no matter how much it tore him up inside. Despite all of Quinn’s efforts during last season to leave the CIA and his violent ways behind, he knew that it would end this way: his broken body finally giving up on him, and a sad but understanding Carrie there to read his final words.
It’s a tragic but fitting ending for Quinn, and it’s another terrific emotional moment during this season of Homeland, one which has given more attention to quieter, more thoughtful scenes of reflection. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have as much of an impact as it could for a couple of reasons. First, Quinn was so isolated for so much of Season 5, and his lack of interaction with Carrie and Saul in the eleven episodes preceding this finale lessens the emotional gut punch that his death really should have delivered. And second, Carrie’s seemingly lack of interest in where Quinn had disappeared to after being shot made them feel more disconnected than ever this season. While I understand Carrie was trying to figure out who was behind the assassination attempts on her and Quinn, he became so much of an afterthought to her that he also became one for viewers as well.
And yet, even with some of these problems, “A False Glimmer” is still a strong conclusion to Homeland‘s slower but stellar fifth season. Saul is able to take down Allison in a brutal but deserved way; Laura has the two most important things in her life taken away from her: her power and her credibility; and Jonas trusts in Otto’s words and breaks things off with Carrie, allowing for the head of the foundation to express his true feelings for the ex-spy (more on that unexpected and gross development below). And a tearful Carrie is left sitting in Quinn’s hospital room, his words ringing in her head, saying one final goodbye to the man she loves, looking at the beacon of light pouring into the room and finding comfort in the fact that he’ll always be with her even after he’s gone.
- If this is truly the end of Quinn, I’ll miss his character and Rupert Friend’s outstanding performance. Since his arrival in Homeland‘s second season, Quinn’s easily been one of the show’s best and most reliable characters. I wish he had been given a little more to do this season, but again, this is a fitting sendoff to the character.
- I both love and hate the way that Allison dies in this episode. On the one hand, it’s great that Saul is able to turn Ivan and get him to give up how they plan on taking Allison out of the country, and that he takes her and the two men in the car out in a such a cold, vicious manner. However, part of me also wanted one more confrontation between the two of them.
- Also, speaking of Allison, Miranda Otto was fantastic all season long and really helped create a memorable antagonist.
- So Otto’s in love with Carrie, too, huh? It makes sense, given the weird vibes he’s been given off all season and the tenseness of all their scenes together, but that still doesn’t make it (or his manipulation of Jonas) any less gross.
- Saul offers Carrie a new position back at the CIA, one where it sounds like she would have a whole heck of a lot of power, but she keeps insisting that she’s not that person anymore. But will Quinn’s death change her mind? I can’t see Homeland giving us another season of Carrie off on her own again. Also, Saul’s “I need you” line during that scene was another excellent emotional moment in an episode full of them
- For those who want to read it themselves, here’s Quinn’s full letter to Carrie: “Carrie. I guess I’m done. And we never happened. I’m not one for words, but they’re coming now. I don’t believe in fate, or destiny, or horoscopes, but I can’t say I’m surprised things turned out this way. I always thought there was something kind of pulling me back to darkness. But I wasn’t allowed a real life. Or a real love. That was for normal people. With you I thought maybe just maybe. But I know now that was a false glimmer. I’m used to… they happen all of the time in the desert, but this one got to me. And here’s the thing, this death, this end of me is exactly what should’ve happened. I wanted the darkness. I f–ing asked for it. And it has me now. So don’t put a star on the wall for me. Don’t say some dumb speech. Just think of me as a light on the heavens. A beacon. Steering you clear of the wrongs. I loved you. –Yours, for always now, Quinn.”
- And that’s it for Homeland Season 5! Thank you so much to everyone who has taken the time to read these reviews and/or comment with their thoughts. It’s been really fun writing about the show this season, and hopefully, I’ll see you all back here for Season 6 next year! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
What did you think of Homeland‘s Season 5 finale? Comment below and let me know.
[Photo credit: Stephan Rabold/Showtime]