"Homeland" — "Broken Hearts": The Exterminator
Throughout this uneven second season of highs and lows, and despite a few disappointing, incredulous plot points, "Homeland" has kept us along for the ride with unexpected twists and stellar acting. "Two Hearts" continued along that path, with one glaring oddity: Damien Lewis. Where Claire Danes has roundly been both praised and ridiculed for her expressive, emotive acting style, Lewis was always the more subtle thespian. His best moments have been those where Brody's underlying panic was just visible beneath a mostly stable veneer--we could see the wheels turning without being slapped in the face. But, at times this hour--most notably during the phone calls with Nazir--Lewis inexplicably slammed into overdrive, mugging and nearly popping his eyes out of his head. It was distracting...even comical. By contrast, in the moment when Brody walked into the safe house, surprising Mike and Jessica and instantly assessing the situation, Lewis was perfection.
Wonky faces aside, the dichotomy of "Two Hearts" was evidenced throughout the episode. The all-too-brief scene between Saul and Dar Adal left me wishing we could stay in the diner all day. After last week, it wasn't much of a revelation that Quinn was a black ops soldier, but who cares--Mandy Patinkin and F. Murray Abraham together! Adal's suggestion that Estes doesn't trust Saul is, of course, right on. And though all clues point to Saul as the possible mole, I will once again beg the writers, let it not be him. Saul is best being "...too sensitive for this line of work"; it's why we love him. Later, Patinkin has a standout moment when he tells one of the security guys to "Get your fucking hands off me," after Estes has Saul detained. Is the director attempting to set up Saul as a mole to cover his (drone) tracks? It doesn't make sense that Estes merely didn't want Saul to know Quinn is going out to kill Brody; by the time Saul could warn Carrie (who would in turn warn Brody), it would be too late. Something more is going on there (and in the previews, it looks like James Urbaniak is returning as polygraph man).
The dualities continued with Nazir's smash and grab Carrie kidnapping. Desperate after the ruined, ridiculously overt switching bombs for batteries plot, Nazir wisely chooses his next move to manipulate Brody. But why doesn't Saul, Quinn or anyone else immediately think of Brody and lock him down? Why doesn't Brody call the CIA for help? When Carrie escapes and phones Saul, why doesn't she tell him Nazir is going after the Vice President? Everyone conveniently goes dumb so we can get from point A to B, and granted, the ensuing scenes are spectacular, but reality is severely stretched. Carrie and Nazir trading viewpoints on terrorism, motivation, defense and longevity is riveting and chilling. Danes nailed her character's disgust and Negahban conveyed Nazir's views in such a way that allowed for both sympathy and fear.
The hour's really terrifying moments between Brody and Walden were a surprise (maybe even to Brody himself), and finally provided a definitive answer to where Brody's loyalty lies. After everything he's been through, the wound that cannot be healed--the key to Nazir's hold over him--is Issa. After Nazir released Carrie, it seemed unclear what Brody would do. Though he texted the serial number of Walden's pacemaker, it still seemed impossible Brody would let the plan be carried out...but there he was, actually in the room with Walden, explaining that he was withdrawing his name as a candidate. And then, when Walden said "Fuck your family," everything about Brody's face changed; the side Brody was choosing became horrifyingly evident. Watching Walden's death unfold, Lewis let his countenance turn dark and cold--it completely overrode the earlier overacting.
I can't begin to predict what will happen during the final two hours, but Brody has to die.
Notes: Can we all agree that next week's episode title--"The Motherfucker with a Turban"--is one of the greatest in the history of television?
"Broken Hearts" is an interesting choice for this episode; it seems less about love and more about broken people and ideals. Neither Brody nor Jessica seems broken up about their marriage--more indifferent. Dana and Finn never really got started, and whatever Carrie and Brody feel, it doesn't seem like love either. Saul is broken, both in his personal and professional lives. Quinn has nothing.
There's a little confusion over Estes' position at the CIA--Saul calls him the Deputy Director, but Showtime lists him as Director.