“Homeland” has trained its audience well. When an episode begins quietly as “A Gettysburg Address” does, moseying…humdrum, we start to feel twitchy. The writers have expertly manipulated us to the point where we know we’re just tiptoeing through the minutes, probing for land mines. We sense the dread, yet we’re still unable to avoid the explosion that blows us off the couch. Waiting for it makes every little nuance of every conversation all the more tense. Like Quinn and Brody, when the Congressman admits the tailor is dead, and as Carrie realizes Virgil has lost Roya’s unidentified contact, we’re ready to go from zero to sixty in mere seconds. Each conversation has a potential double meaning, and we have reason to suspect everyone is lying. Is Carrie assuming too much about the new guy, or is another attack really that imminent? Why did Max and Virgil bungle the tail so badly? Is the CIA having Brody followed, or is it Nazir? When Roya and Brody stop speaking to each other, is it only because someone else is in the hallway, or does some silent communication pass between them? Is Roya suspicious of Brody—does she believe his denial when she asks if he knew why the CIA had suddenly stopped watching the tailor’s shop and entered to investigate?
There is at least, some unintended comic relief in Dana’s hospital visit sideshow and subsequent encounter with her increasingly psychotic new boytoy—aka Finn—aka the Vice President’s son. It wasn’t hard to predict that last week’s hit and run would take a turn for the homicidal worse; at some point this cover-up will surely intersect with Brody’s mess, but right now, it’s just silly. Likewise, there’s an oncoming train wreck in the form of two-man Scooby gang, Mike and Lauden (perhaps, with Jessica, they’ll eventually form a trio). The ridiculously easy “investigation” into Walker’s death (finding Brody’s ammunition, minus one bullet!), and information dump by a surprisingly forthcoming detective leads Mike right to the CIA, and Saul…and Estes…and a military official. The one intriguing aspect came in the form of Saul asking Mike to nod that he understood the CIA was telling Mike to back off, and then a camera angle change to outside the office window, looking in. Exactly who was being signed to? And why did I have a funny feeling in my stomach over Saul’s usual matter-of-fact manner during that scene? There is so much lying now, everyone is capable of an easy duplicity. Brody and Dana, who only a few episodes ago felt so safe with each other, keep everything hidden and lie with the same exact words: “Yeah, I’m fine.”
But no one and nothing is fine, and as Carrie passes on her gut instinct to Quinn that there has to be something more at the tailor’s shop; he sees something strange about a wall, calls for back-up, and our stomachs begin their descent. We feel the bad thing coming, but we’re still as woefully unprepared as the men in the shop when Nazir’s militaristic strike hits. It seems incomprehensible that this type of attack can so easily render the federal agents helpless, but there it is—it happens right in front of us—and we’re left feeling knocked to the floor like Quinn, wordless…sputtering.
After getting angry earlier at Carrie’s perceived false warmth and the manipulation of her touch, Brody returns the gesture when she bursts into his office, furious and broken over the attack. “Did you know?” she screams at him, and we’re forced to wonder too. Because the brilliance of “Homeland” is that even in this second season, we’re not sure which side Brody is on, and we don’t know whose judgement we can trust.
Notes: 1. I’m still convinced Roya is closer and more important to Nazir than she claims. And
***preview spoilers whited out: swipe below to read****
2. I cannot believe Carrie and Brody are going to go at it again.
3. I’d like to see Claire Danes and “Dexter’s” Jennifer Carpenter have a face off; an expression contest. At least we know these ladies are not Botoxin’.
Cindy Davis is glad Quinn is still alive.