"Homeland" — "Two Hats": Great Expectations
The best thrillers rely on unpredictability and intrigue to take us down twisted paths; complicated relationships and unknown intentions keep the audience on its toes trying to work out what will happen next. "Two Hats" is one of "Homeland's" best episodes, dropping us right into the middle of the CIA confusion and speculation--we share in their disorientation. Instead of the straight story about what happened to Brody after he was spirited away to meet with Abu Nazir, only bits and pieces are revealed, and we're left as unsure as Estes and company as to what the truth really is. Brody omits that he prayed with Nazir, what else is he hiding? After he's assured by Carrie his family has been moved to safety, Brody shares Nazir's plan of attack against a group of soldiers returning home from Afghanistan. But is that the real plan? Is it the whole plan? Did Nazir give Brody correct information, or is he just being tested or set up?
We'll just skim over the business with Mike moving the family, grumpy Dana and cheery, naive Chris who's thrilled to find there are televisions in every room of the safe house. Jessica uses the opportunity to get laid, and who can really blame her? Brody is clearly gone from the marriage, and Mike is a hot, willing and much less complicated replacement.
And if sorting out the truth between Brody's lies and omissions isn't intrigue enough, Virgil and Max finally pay a visit to Quinn's booby-trapped apartment, where the agent lives like he's ready to run, and keeps a sniper rifle cleaning kit. The oddities cause Saul just enough suspicion to head out on a little side-reconnaissance mission, and we're again left wondering who is on which side. Saul puts on an unconvincing IRS agent act, and doesn't find out much about who Quinn really is, but when Quinn is alerted (by the *supposed* estranged mother of his child, who asks Quinn if she "did good") that someone is asking about him, the more-than analyst has a secret bus meeting with an operative Saul recognizes as Dar Adul (F. Murray Abraham). While it's a relief to find out Quinn is still with the good guys, it's also disconcerting to find that Estes is keeping Saul in the dark--even though we don't mind when Saul does the same to Estes. But the shocker of the episode comes, as it often does, right at hour's end. Acting on Brody's information, Carrie, Virgil and Max follow Roya to a restaurant, where she ostensibly meets her camera crew for breakfast. Outside, a group of Nazir cohorts pull up alongside the news crew van (in the easily recognizable black SUV of evil intentions) and start switching out camera batteries for what are presumed to be bombs (in full view of anyone and everyone). Since they're being so obvious, the CIA team swoops in and nabs the bad guys; the SUV purportedly holding Abu Nazir is stopped from escaping and Carrie runs over to identify him--but of course it's not him. In the final moments, we become privy to that second hat Estes told Saul Quinn was wearing...and no, it wasn't his job to sneak out and kill Abu Nazir. It was Quinn's job, just like the rest of them, to kill terrorists. Quinn was sent out to kill Nicholas Brody.
Notes: Is Estes keeping secrets from Saul because of Saul's relationship with Carrie, or simply because he knows Saul's conscience? Beyond taking out Brody and Nazir, is there a bigger mission at play?
Just need to throw out a big cheer for F. Murray Abraham. I cannot wait to see him interacting with Mandy Patinkin.
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