In the last two weeks, Homeland has delivered back-to-back, rock-‘em-sock-‘em episodes that re-calibrated the show’s central story and our expectations for just how much of our own brain matter a television show could splatter on our couches. This week’s episode? Not even a nosebleed. Things downshifted significantly, allowing the characters (and the audience) to soak in their new circumstances. Brody grappled with his sudden status as a double agent. Carrie struggled to reassert herself at the CIA, and decide how far she could allow herself to trust Brody. Dana faced the lethal consequences of her hit-and-run escapade with Finn. Jessica and Mike both reassessed their feelings about Brody, and came to very different conclusions. And Chris, um, played videogames instead of brushing up on his Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Though the episode did conclude with what’s become de rigueur for this show — the I-did-not-quite-see-that-coming shocking plot turn — it drew the first half of the season to a close by behaving more like a standard serial-procedural drama than it has all year. It wasn’t exactly the best fit.
We opened with an extended sequence tracking the CIA’s surveillance of Roya Hammad, who has continued to be Homeland’s most stubbornly enigmatic character. She’s savvy enough to try clocking anyone tailing her by checking the reflection in the glass at a bus stop, and to arrange to meet her new mysterious contact in front of a roaring fountain, stymying any attempts at recording their conversation. (She did get a wee bit of help in this regard thanks to the semi-bumbling efforts of Virgil and Max, the closest thing Homeland seems to have to doofus comic relief. Silly Max! Wake up!) But Roya’s motives, her personal wants and desires — why she is in this fight to begin with — remain a mystery beyond the vague close connection between her family and Abu Nazir’s when they left the West Bank in 1947. By the end of the episode, we learned that the man Roya met at that fountain was definitely no one to trifle with — and, by extension, neither is Roya. Given how much she has been driving the main story forward, though, I would just like to know more about her other than her taste in impeccably tailored pantsuits.
With no lead on who Roya was meeting, Carrie convinced Quinn to let her bring in Brody to help identify Roya’s new contact, which, alas, he couldn’t. (He could at least had said something like, “You know, he kinda looks like David Boreanaz’s cousin,” but then again, I wouldn’t peg Brody as a big Buffy or Angel fan, and Bones premiered while he was in the hoosegow.) It wasn’t quite clear to me precisely how much time had passed since Brody’s interrogation — at first, I thought it was the following day, given Jessica’s morning-after bedside caretaking and the “50 million” questions she had about Brody’s work with the CIA that she ultimately didn’t ask. But after Brody revealed that the Gettysburg tailor had, er, “died” while in Brody’s custody, Quinn blew up, screaming that Brody had wasted his team’s time with such vehemence that it felt like they had been working for longer than 12 hours. Or maybe Quinn’s just really taking his bad cop role to heart. He trusted Brody about as far as he could stab him, but he did trust Carrie enough to heed her instincts about asking Brody to go back to Roya to sniff out more info about their contact.
NEXT PAGE: “What is this? Sex? Understanding?”