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Sunday, November 4, 2012

"Homeland," Season 2, Episode 6

THE MIGHTY QUINN? Rupert Friend on Homeland
“Homeland” has been moving at such a clip that it’s hard to believe that the latest installment, “A Gettysburg Address,” marks half-time for the 12-episode second season. I’ve season several other recaps describe Season Two as being superior to the first, which seems at once accurate and unfair. The new season’s enormously suspenseful, satisfying twists rely so much on the groundwork done last year, it seems wrong to measure the one against the other. It’s not so much comparing apples to oranges as young apples to riper apples.

The show’s events have moved so fast that it makes sense for “A Gettysburg Address” to slow things down a little, and it feels more like a transitional episode after last week’s game-changer. The episode delivers plenty of spy-jinks, of course, beginning with Team Quinn keeping Roya Hammad under surveillance, with Carrie micromanaging the guys from back at the office. She meets an ominous stranger I’ll call The New Guy, but the CIA team can’t hear their conversation over the nearby fountain. After the meeting, Virgil follows The New Guy, but loses him in the subway. “Dammit!” yells Carrie, pulling her hair into an angry ponytail.

At the Brody house, Jessica brings the Congressman pain-pills in bed, and hassles Dana to get a move on. It’s apparently not easy to get a good night’s sleep in a house of secrets. Playing the dutiful wife and mom, Jessica makes a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and quizzes Brody about whether he’s working with Carrie. “I told you, she had a nervous breakdown,” he says, avoiding an inconvenient truth over a lie that could almost certainly will blow up in his face.

The CIA recovers a subway camera photo of The New Guy, so they decide to bring Brody in to identify him. But wouldn’t it be easier to take a copy of the photo to his office?) Brody acts all grumpy when they arrive and doesn’t recognize The New Guy, but clearly has something on his mind. He reveals that he accidentally killed the Tailor of Gettysburg — oops! — so the CIA doesn’t have to worry about him coming back. Quinn and Carrie have a spat over each other’s objectivity regarding Brody: which is more unprofessional, asking him to leave his family, or stabbing him in the hand?

As a military intelligence officer, Mike arranges a meeting with a Washington DC homicide detective at the scene of Walker’s murder, and brings Lauter along just to act all pissy. On the revelation that the police found a 9 mm shell casing at the scene, Lauter declares, “Military issue.” Mike replies, “Everything issue.” The only other thing we learn is that the CIA took over the investigation from the locals. Mike reaches out to a friend at the CIA, who turns out to be Saul, but Saul rats him out, so Mike gets scolded by Estes for investigating a classified matter. Estes admits that they don’t know who killed Walker.

Dana has her own concerns about an unresolved act of violence, so she goes to ICU of the local hospital and finds Mrs. Hernandez, the hit-and-run victim from Finn’s joy ride. Things go about as bad as Dana could imagine: she meets the woman’s daughter, who says that her mom was doing well, then a clot came loose in her brain. “The nurse? She said call a priest.” Decatur native Morgan Saylor does a great job this week conveying Dana’s guilt and trepidation. Mrs. Hernandez apparently passes away, so she tells Finn, who’s no more willing to come forward than when she’s alive. “I’d rather die than have my father find out,” he says. Foreshadowing?

Quinn leads a forensics team to the Gettysburg tailor shop to look for intel, while Carrie meets Brody in a parking garage. She asks if he told Roya they’re seeing each other. “I told her we’ve been fucking, yeah,” he replies in a surprisingly blunt fashion. Carrie suggests Brody feed Roya some misinformation to see if she reveals a clue about The New Guy. She also touches him tenderly, and Brody snaps, “What is this? Sex? Understanding?” He seems uncertain about Carrie’s behavior to him, and he has a point: it’s not clear where she thinks their boundaries belong. Anyway, Brody “accidentally” runs into Roya and said Carrie took a phone call involving a visitor from Hezbollah. Roya says that there may be a clue in the tailor shop.

Although ordered off the Walker investigation, Mike goes directly to the Brody house, where young Chris helps him look around the garage. The Koran’s gone, but Mike uncovers Brody’s 9 mm and discovers there’s exactly one shell missing. He reveals to Jessica his theory that Brody killed Walker. Jessica says, “I know he’s not who he was. But he’s working for the CIA.”

In Gettysburg, Quinn notices that one of the walls looks funny and suspects there’s something behind it. After he calls for back-up, including a SWAT team, a bunch of guys in body armor arrive — and promptly open fire on Quinn and his team, killing almost everybody, although Quinn’s alive the last time we see them. One of them removes his helmet and has a big bruise on his face — I’m pretty sure he’s the New Guy. They tear out the important wall and remove a huge, black container from it. Is there an A-bomb in there or something? I’m not crazy about this development: the idea that Nazir has a super-efficient death squad on U.S. soil seems like a plot point out of “24.”

Carrie goes storming through a hall of flags into Brody’s congressional office. “Did you know?” she wants to know, the Claire Danes cry-face taking over her features. Brody doesn’t seem to know what she’s talking about, but he holds her and comforts her.

I seem to remember earlier episodes floating rumors that the Nazir organization had a non-Brody mole in the CIA. Could Virgil or his young sidekick Max be contenders? They seem more like CIA contractors than insiders, but were uncharacteristically ineffective at monitoring or tailing The New Guy. They’d certainly be the last people you’d expect.

There’s a sequence this week in how Carrie interacts with Brody. First, she has Brody come to her, at the CIA. Then, she meets him in a private parking garage. Finally, she goes directly to him, at his office. Each time their feelings come closer to the surface: it’s like she subconsciously wants an emotional response from him, beyond the spy information. I’m starting to question Carrie’s coping skills given the high-pressure mission and the depths of her feelings for Brody. Saul clearly feels the same way, and while Carrie reassures him, I’m less convinced.

This week focuses on the consequences of two killings that took place at Brody’s hands: Walker and the tailor. Lewis does such a good job of eliciting sympathy for Brody that it’s hard to forget how much evil he does, for lack of a better word. He’s a murderer and a liar, and it’s unclear whether his arrangement with the CIA will lead to his redemption or not. Wondering about his future character arc makes me wonder if “Homeland” will treat him like such shows as “The Sopranos,” “Boardwalk Empire” and “Breaking Bad” treating their central characters. Tony Soprano, Nucky Thompson and Walter White all started out more or less sympathetically, but frequently chose a path of expediency that cost other people’s lives and hurt people they cared about. Will Brody follow suit?

Quinn made a point of referring to one of the guys in Gettysburg as “Chapman.” I wonder if that’s a reference to North by Northwest?

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