Last night was an epic moment in Homeland history: Ladies and gentlemen, we finally got to see Roya at work. Here we were starting to think she spent all her time having secret assignations with terrorists and going to the hairdresser, and yet she actually is a real reporter! For the “CNB” network, no less. So when she isn’t organizing massacres of federal agents, coordinating terrorist handovers, and schmoozing David Estes over dinner, she’s reporting on camera about fiscal cliffs and electoral colleges (we’re guessing).
Totally implausible character histories aside, Roya was completely terrifying in this episode, especially given the flat tonelessness of her British accent. Take that away and make her Viennese and she’s practically the Terminator. “You’re late. Do you want to tell me why?” she asks Brody. And: “Quitting is not an option.” No wonder she always gets the best tables at Cafe Milano.
Given the ups and downs of the season so far, last night’s episode was a return to what the show does best: surveillance, suspense, and sexytime. From start to finish we watched characters go from one place to another and had very little idea where exactly they were headed. Dana, in the opening scene, gets off a bus and walks through a crappy-looking neighborhood, and of course we think she’s going to see the daughter of the woman she killed. But instead she goes to see Mike, because he used to boink her mother a year ago so she feels like she can trust him. Mike, who lives in a really, really nice apartment and has an American flag hanging on his wall (semper fi, y’all), welcomes her, makes her scrambled eggs, and lets her hang out until she’s ready to go home. There are a few nice moments between the two, like when Dana acknowledges how hard it must have been for Mike to disappear after Brody came home, and when Mike tells Dana how much Jessica loves and respects her.
But then Dana asks Mike to drive her to Columbia Heights, and this time she really is going to see the daughter. And surprise, surprise, that lady is not particularly thrilled to see the girl she’s guessed killed her mom. “I didn’t kill her!” says Dana. “I was in the car.” It’s the same exact thing, the daughter spits back. Dana says how sorry she is and that she wants to come clean. Don’t, says the daughter, because if she does she’ll lose the fat paycheck she’s getting to keep quiet, and she needs the money to take care of her two sisters. Then she shoos the horrified Dana out.
Now that the starting-to-be-boring Dana car crash stuff is taken care of, onto Brody. He begins the episode having a screaming fight with Jess, who cannot (a) figure out why he wouldn’t go to the police station with Dana or (b) muster a facial expression that isn’t blank. Virgil and Carrie are listening in, and they hear Brody go ten shades of postal. “I can’t I can’t I can’t!” he screams, and it really does seem like he actually can’t.
Remember back in the halcyon days of Homeland, when lying came as easily to Brody as clenching his jaw? Not anymore. The stress of maintaining different frauds against the CIA, Abu Nazir, and his family has finally gotten to him, and when Carrie busts into his house to see why he’s late for his appointment with Roya, he’s in his prison pose, lying in the corner. “You were listening out there,” he tells Carrie. “You heard. This is a f***ing nightmare. Everything’s falling apart.”
And yet she manages to rouse him and drag him to his meet with Roya, which is when everything goes haywire. Brody, in no uncertain terms, tells her he’s sick of being part of a plan to attack the US; a plan about which he knows nothing. He shrugs off her arm and paces away. Back at HQ, Peter is freaking out and wants Brody taken into custody right away. But Carrie, being Carrie, goes rogue and takes his car keys. (To which we say, he’s melting under pressure, Carrie. He’s not drunk.) Then she drives him to a motel in the middle of nowhere, where they are obviously not going to hook up.
Estes is furious because he thinks Carrie’s run away with a terrorist, but Saul does his best Bill Hader impression and says that Estes needs to trust her and she’s probably just protecting her asset. Estes is also very mean to Saul, telling him he burned his last bridge in Beirut and he needs to get the hell out of his chair and go find Carrie and Brody, like, right now. Poor Saul complies, but he’s not looking very good this week, possibly because the Aileen thing is still troubling him.
Over at the motel, which inexplicably has duck wallpaper and a TV with an actual antenna, Brody stares at the sunset, because we know from last week that terrorists love light in all its celestial guises. Carrie goes to get food, then comes back and sits on his bed while he tells her he’s finally burnt every single bridge he has, and he’s more alone now than he was in that hole in Iraq. And instead of slapping him around the face because she’s just taken him away for the weekend to a duck motel, Carrie nods, and says that when he’s in jail, she’ll probably be in the cell next door. Which isn’t quite what she had planned for the two of them.
What plans might those be, Brody asks. Well, Carrie had hoped that when Brody helped the CIA foil a major terrorist attack on the US, he’d be hailed and a hero and all his previous evilness would be forgiven. And people would kind of forget the bad stuff about her, too. “This deal of ours. I think it’s a way out for both of us. . . . You think you’re alone. You’re not,” she says. And then they’re smooching.
And then they’re making godawful porn star noises and humping like crazy, and it’s really awkward because (a) Claire Danes is pregnant in real life and (b) the entire CIA is listening in. Saul has his head in his hands and even pervy Peter looks embarrassed. “You have got to give Carrie a chance,” says Saul. “She’s turning it around.” She’s turning what around now? says Peter. “Is that someone turning it around or is that a stage five delusional getting laid?” Peter’s all pale and sweaty, so either the humping is bothering him or the ten dozen oxy pills he guzzled before work this morning are finally starting to do their thing.
The next morning the Carrie magic seems to have worked, because Brody calls Roya (at her news bus, no less) and apologizes, and asks to be accepted back into the Abu Nazir gang. She’s noncommittal, but the next day she unexpectedly surprises him in the Rayburn parking garage and tells him he’s going on a day trip. She’s very menacing and takes the battery out of his cell phone so the CIA can’t track him. Carrie, now back at the CIA and freaking out that her boyfriend’s no longer GPS-stalkable, jumps in a van with Virgil and heads off to trail him.
Brody and Roya drive until it’s dark, when she makes him pull over in a clearing. Stuck in a dark van behind them with no idea of what’s going on is torture to Carrie, who’s back in full cray cray mode. She begs Peter to let her do a drive by to see what’s going on, and he finally agrees. They see the terrorist assassin from Gettysburg standing with Roya, and understandably, Carrie gets a bit stressed out and goes full-speed Sarah Palin, jumping out of the van, and walking toward them against Peter’s EXPRESS orders. But she’s too late, because a helicopter gets to them first, and Brody’s hustled away. And guess whom he meets when he’s finally manhandled to his destination? Abu Nazir, now clean-shaven and borrowing Christian Bale’s Batman voice. “NicHHHolassss,” he growls.
1) Is Homeland simply more interesting when the audience is kept in the dark? This week’s episode was really gripping because we, like Carrie and Brody and the CIA, had no clue what was going on at any point.
2) Did Carrie pull an Abu Nazir this week in being nice to Brody when he was at his lowest point? Here’s hoping Abu Nazir wasn’t quite as “nice” as Carrie was, though.
3) Why does Abu Nazir insist on calling Brody by his first name? Not even his wife does that.
4) What is it with Homeland and motels?
5) What happened to poor Galvez? Did he die or not?
6) Brody’s a congressman and yet his entire day is “open”? I find that extraordinarily hard to believe.
7) My Uber driver on Friday night was named Nasir, and he told me he’d only been in the country three weeks. Coincidence?
What did you think of last night’s episode of Homeland? Let us know in the comments.