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"Homeland" — "The Smile": Secrets and Lies

By Cindy Davis | TV Reviews | October 1, 2012 | Comments ()


Whether or not you agree with Claire Danes and Damian Lewis winning Emmys, watching "The Smile," it's not hard to see why they won. Danes' mastery of facial contortions take Carrie Mathison from doped stupor to childlike glee; we can feel her fragility. Lewis has a way of wordlessly showing the wheels turning inside Nick Brody's tortured mind--his control when Jessica throws the Koran on the floor, and the way he lovingly wrapped it like a newborn--just brilliant. "Homeland's "Season 2 opener brought us right back to the edge of our seats, where we belong.

"The Smile" opens with Israel having bombed five Iranian nuclear sites, and Carrie's former boss/mentor CIA Middle East Division Chief, Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) in Beruit, dealing with protesters and unrest when an unknown informant makes contact, claiming she has information about an imminent attack against the United States. Meanwhile, Carrie--recovering from electroshock therapy to treat her bipolar disorder--is now living with her father (James Rebhorn) and sister Maggie (Amy Hargreaves), spending her days gardening and teaching ESL (though she can't help a peek at the headlines). A major Season 2 issue is how (and in what capacity) Carrie can be reinserted into CIA operations; for now she's brought to Beruit as a "helpful citizen" when it turns out Saul's informant will only speak to Carrie. After a challenging briefing and a harrowing trip that clearly takes a toll on her psyche, the undercover brown-eyed, brunette Carrie arrives in Lebanon and receives instructions on a meet with Saul. As she speaks with Saul by cell phone, making her way to the rendezvous point, Saul realizes he's under surveillance by police and though Carrie follows his instructions to pass Saul by, the cop goes after her. Saul goes into panic mode, advising Carrie to turn herself in, but she instead insists she can lose the cop. After winding through a marketplace, Carrie quickly changes headscarves, catches the cop by surprise and knees him, allowing for a quick escape and a glorious (smiling) moment for both Carrie and Danes.

Back in the States, Brody--now a Congressman and potential Vice Presidential running mate (with current Vice President William Walden)--is approached in his office by journalist Roya Hammad (Zuleikha Robinson) who turns out to be delivering a mission from Abu Nazir. Brody meets with CIA Counterterrorism Head David Estes (David Harewood) the following morning, uses the code Roya gave him to get into Estes' safe and copies names from a list of potential targets. (And how about that look Brody gave Estes when the director gloated over the drone program success?) Meanwhile, in her first Kim Bauer-like move, Brody's daughter Dana (Morgan Saylor) outs her Dad as a Muslim in a class discussion, prompting the school dean to call Mom--which in turn prompts a brilliant scene by Damian Lewis, as he has to instantly decide how to handle the showdown with his wife (Morena Baccarin) and daughter. Before uttering a single word of confession, Lewis' expressions run through the panic, the options, the decision, the reassurance (to Dana) and the resignation. Brody's freedom of honest emotions with his daughter are in sharp contrast with everything he hides from his wife, and everyone else, nowhere more evident than as they bury his defiled Koran together under cover of night.

And that's the theme of "The Smile"--secrets. Carrie secretly still wants to be a part of the CIA world, she has a secret memory waiting to be discovered by her own mind. There are secrets between mother and daughter, husband and wife, Congressman and country, perhaps even a man and himself--does Brody know exactly how far he'll go for Nazir? The thrill of coming back to "Homeland" is that we, the audience, think we know them all; we're just waiting for the secrets to be kept or exposed.

Cindy Davis really hopes Mandy Patinkin isn't a mole.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • cdramy

    This episode was amazing.

    First, I thought the same thing, why didn't he just take a picture with his cellphone? However I do believe that they would have taken his phone before he entered as he is not YET vice president. Would be interested to see how loyal they stay to that rule moving forward.
    One big issue I have is that so far there are so few Muslim characters that are shown in a positive light. From the terrorists to the journalist who is also a terrorist, there is no one who is Muslim and fleshed out past a stereotype.
    The only ones I can think of off the top of my head are: 1. the Mosque leaders wife who gives information about Walker in Season 1 and now 2. possibly this new woman who is the wife of a hezbollah leader. It feeds into this idea that being Muslim = terrorist and only the women scared of their husbands and scared of Islam, forced to wear headscarves, decide to break free and help the US government.

    Unless Brody decides to not be a terrorist but STAY Muslim, this is a really one sided portrayal of a very complex culture and peaceful faith. Borderline wartime propaganda.

    This show is very well done and has very powerful characters. I hope Homeland does not waste this opportunity and allows in season 2 for a character who is Muslim and not out to kill America to have some story development and be fleshed out. Shows like this DO have an impact on people's perception. The Wire proved it, along with many other powerful and socially relevant shows - especially in times of war.

    I feel that to most people it is seen that Brody's internal struggles here are that of a American hero and great dad and that of a Muslim aka terrorist. That he is torn between those two. In reality it is an internal struggle between that of an American hero and great dad and that of a FUNDAMENTALIST.

    That distinction should be made. That there is a difference between Muslim and fundamentalist. The problem is there is not one good Muslim character we get to know for very long that can highlight this middle ground.

    YET. Fingers crossed that he/she is on the way. I bring this up because I love this show. Because it would make it all much more real and much more interesting and fleshed out. Less black and white.

  • Alyssa

    I loved everything to do with Carrie. This show has made me do a complete 180 on Claire Danes.

    I'm not as sure about Brody's story, but I will say that I thought the scenes with his family were fantastic, especially when Jessica threw his Koran on the ground. And his relationship with Dana might be my favorite thing about the show. I'm already preemptively crushed for her when she finds out the truth about him/when he dies. I hope Brody dies or is at least exposed by the end of the season. I'd miss Damien Lewis if Brody gets killed off, but I don't think they can stretch this out any longer.

  • Blake

    They need to think long game with Brody. The farther he goes politically the more potential he has for Nazir and having him steal information is just stupid. I think the confrontation by Hammad was to remind him and the audience (at least those not familiar with the series) that he has obligations and is a "bad guy".

    They've already established that there is a mole in the CIA who could probably have provided the same information.

  • Jim Johnson

    I think having him steal the information was to test Brody's loyalty. Him becoming VP would be worthless to Nazir if he's not actually still working for him. He failed to complete his mission the first time, and the only test of his loyalty we've seen since then is him killing Tom Walker. Tom Walker was a traitor to the US, so Brody being willing to kill him isn't exactly compelling evidence that he's still turned.

  • TheOtherOne

    They have his confession (before the attempted bombing). I think that should be leverage enough.

  • I feel the same about Claire Danes--couldn't stand her after My So Called Life--love her in this role.

    Also agree on Brody.

  • Fearganainm

    While I enjoyed the episode, I couldn't help but be confused as to how Brodys contact Roya, managed to acquire the combination of The Deputy Director of the CIA's document safe; and as for her clumsy attempt to come on to Estes, as Brody is breaking into it, in order to distract him? Sloppy screenwriting much?
    It seems to me, Brody wants to be caught, he didn't memorise the combination of the safe and then, when he accessed it, wrote all the info down in his notebook?
    Why didn't he photograph it with his cell phone?
    Spycraft 101 at it's most basic...something Abu Nazir would have drilled into him, after he was turned.
    His honesty with his daughter Dana is wonderfully portrayed,and one can't help but wonder, whether she will be presented with some conflicting choices as the story advances.
    Carrie's smile as she exits the Souk made up for it all though...

  • Masterpiece

    I think he had to turn in his cellphone at the door, didnt he? Otherwise that was dumb.

  • Blake

    +1. Why risk Brody when he could be VP (It was good to see Ilana / Zuleikha Robinson again)? I hope they are not going to go all "crazy bitch" with Jessica.

  • Al X

    Good ep, but I had a hard time buying into the whole plan with the safe in Estes' office. How did Brody know what to look for? Did the folder have a sticker that said "Super Secret Special Targets"? Also, no camera surveillance in the office?

  • Guest

    I also had a hard time buying the safe code, but Nazir has shown himself to be scarily imaginative before so I'll bite. I don't think it's a stretch that there's no camera in Estes' office. It seems a little superfluous when you consider the huge amount of security. Anyway, Is you taking notes on a criminal fucking conspiracy? If you're in charge of the drone program I guess no.

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