"Homeland" has always presented itself as being more grounded in the real world than "24," and viewers complain that the former looks too much like the latter when Showtime's spies take actions that strain credibility. You can't build up the realistic interactions of the Brody family or the CIA bureaucracy and then pile on crazy twists. "Homeland" usually avoids this kind of thing - I doubt Dana Brody will have to fend off a hungry mountain lion on the show - but it's always a little jarring when the series seems to gift into a different level of genre. A lot of that happens this week, the incidents of which could have fit into an hour of real time (at least, "24"-style real time), but thankfully were not.
So Mandy and Murray walk into a diner. Actually, Saul (Mandy Patinkin) walks into a diner and finds Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham). Saul knows Adal is a regular there and Adal shrugs, "I guess old habits die hard." (Maybe the sixth film in that Bruce Willis action series will be called Old Habits Die Hard. As a covert ops muckety-muck, Adal confirms that Quinn belongs to his team and calls him a soldier. Saul points out that soldiers kill people, and Adal replies, "They also fix airplane and engines and cook bad food. It's a figure of speech." He also says that Quinn is on the team at Estes' request.
"About last night... " Mike says to Jessica at the safe house. "I loved last night," Jessica says in a post-coital glow. They start to kiss and there's a knock at the door: Oh, there you are, Brody. The congressman seems to suspect that they've been up to something, and Mike makes himself scarce. Brody and Jessica talk awkwardly and ask "What are we doing?" regarding their marriage, but before they can discuss what they actually are doing, Carrie calls.
"The attorney general's ready to honor our agreement with you," she says. So, good news, you get to resign from Congress and reject the vice presidential bid. Carrie drives to work, puts her beloved bebop jazz on the car stereo and BLAMMO! A car crashes into her out of nowhere.
Estes gives a victory speech his CIA underlings and announces "I am personally looking forward to several martinis!" I bet he orders them shaken, not stirred, just because that's how James Bond takes them. Saul takes Estes aside and confronts him about Quinn: is Quinn an insurance policy to keep Brody from making Walden's drone strikes known? Estes doesn't like being challenged, especially in the middle of a victory lap. Speak of the devil, Quinn rushes up and says that Carrie's been broadsided and is missing.
Back at the safe house, Brody plays Hearts with his son what's-his-name and handles other family matters when he gets a camera phone call of a handgun pointed in Carrie's face: Nazir's got her. Standing half-silhouetted in front of a sinister fan (standard issue for villain lairs in abandoned industrial sites), Nazir demands that Brody make his way into the vice president's office and find a plastic box: it contains the serial number for Walden's pace maker, which can allow third party access. What would Jack Bauer do, if a loved one was kidnapped by a terrorist and demanded he carry out a nefarious plan? Didn't that happen like, every few months on "24?" Jack Bauer probably would not say, "I got a small cyclone stirring over a matter of wheat subsidies - I've gotta see the vice president."
Carrie's in bad shape: gagged, tied to a pipe and apparently suffering from injuries from the car wreck. Nazir leaves and Carrie painfully makes her way along the pipe and finds a jagged piece of metal. Nazir shows up and ties her more securely. Dammit.
Saul finds no sign of Carrie at the crash scene while Virgil mentions competing eyewitness reports. "We dropped the ball. We never should have let Carrie wander around unprotected." Really? Why assume that? Saul calls Brody about Carrie's whereabouts. Brody says that the last time they spoke involved his political future - which is technically true, since he didn't actually talk to her when he learned she was hostage.
Dana takes a visit from Finn Walden at a rooftop pool. Finn admits to being wracked with guilt about the woman he killed every time he wakes up in the morning. Since Dana's the only one who understands that situation, he asks if they can start over. Dana says that whatever they felt before, they killed it, just like they killed the pedestrian. Despite the teen angst of this subplot, it illustrates the moral repercussions of violence in a way that the show's "A" plots seldom address.
Nazir removes Carrie's gag and offers her some water. "That's what you did to Brody? A lot of pain, a little love?" Carrie shoots back. The CIA agent and the Islamist terrorist have a debate about Brody and Nazir's future. Nazir points out the unethical nature of drone attacks and insists that his people will overthrow the West, even if it takes centuries. Carrie challenges him on his macho would-be martyr's death wish and accuses him of perverting the teachings of The Prophet. Even if they scene amounts to a villain's monologue, it's nicely played.
One of my favorite moments of the week comes when Brody's en route to the Vice President's office, realizes that he needs to put on a necktie and ties it with an annoyed expression on his face. Brody talks his way in, agrees to wait for the Veep to finish meeting with the Israeli ambassador, then sneaks off in search of a "bathroom." The suspenseful music goes thrum-thrum-thrum as Brody finds the Veep's office, looks around and discovers the plastic case - only to realize that the print's too small to read the serial number. In a hilarious detail, he finds a Sherlock Holmes-style magnifying glass and reads it. I was wondering if sunlight was going to shine through the window and cause the glass to burn the serial number off the tag. D'oh!
Brody calls Nazir and they have a face-off over the phone. "Give me the number!" "Let her go!" "Throw me the idol!" "Give me the whip!" Brody swears on the soul of Nazir's son Issa that he'll follow through on his promise and give him the number. Nazir, remarkably, lets Carrie go. When Carrie seems safely away, Brody, remarkably, gives him the number. We see Nazir's hacker start futzing around with the pacemaker signal. Carrie tries to flag down drivers on a country road.
Walden comes into his office and Brody breaks the news that he doesn't want to be vice president and would rather hang with his family. "Fuck your family," Walden snaps, and begins showing signs of chest pain. Brody says that the real reason is that he wants to feel clean again, and hates everything Walden says and does. Walden starts to keel over, like the poisoning scene in The Little Foxes, and Brody refuses to call him a doctor. "You still don't get it, do you? I'm killing you.," a look of sadistic pleasure on his face. He prevents Walden from reaching a phone. (Jack Bauer would not approve.) On the terrorist hacker's computer screen, Walden's vitals flat-line. Eventually, Brody calls for help.
Carrie makes truck driver stop, steals his cell phone and calls the office. She gives them her location and says that Nazir's there. Saul makes a portentous phone call. Quinn goes off by himself in an ominous fashion. In the lobby, big guys detain Saul, who doesn't get to go catch the terrorist. Carrie makes her way back into the abandoned factory, picks up a pipe as a weapon. She hears a sound, finds a door, steps into a darkened room. Fadeout.
So who's in the room? Nazir's hacker? Nazir himself? That big doomsday bomb? Maybe something really crazy, like a still-living Issa?
I get that Nazir knows that Brody and Carrie have a relationship: Roya would have told Nazir about their affair. But is it believable that Nazir would be able to find and abduct Carrie so easily, especially with most of his team under arrest?
Will Carrie tell the other CIA cohorts that Brody abetted in Walden's assassination by pacemaker?
Is Walden actually, definitely dead? If so, what does that mean for Brody's political prospects? It's starting to feel like "Homeland" has written Brody and his family into a corner. It's hard to imagine the story going forward without Damien Lewis, Morgan Saylor and company, but how can the show justify their continued presence?
Walden's heart problems seem to be inspired by Dick Cheney, who famously had a pacemaker. The show's use of drone strikes, though, echoes a real-world critique of the Obama administration. Arguably "Homeland" criticizes foreign policy choices on both sides of the aisle.
What kind of name is "Dar Adal" anyway?
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