“For a man who no longer has a homeland, writing becomes a place to live,” said German philosopher Theodor Adorno. From which we would paraphrase the following: “For the producers who have a proven hit with Homeland, writing becomes a place to goof off.” How else can you explain a season during which Carrie got her job back, Galvez came back from the dead, terrorist agents burst into a shop in Gettysburg and killed several federal agents, a TV news journalist doubled as Nazir’s number two, and Carrie and Brody got back together?
What we loved so much about season one of Homeland, and what garnered it a full house of Emmy Awards and lavish praise from everyone from President Obama to Diane Sawyer, was the fact that it tried really hard to get Washington right. Showtime president David Nevins, a Washington native, even gave this interview to the Washington Post in which he said things like, “In all my shows, I’m not interested in the iconic shots of the Capitol and the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. I’m always interested in trying to get the culture of the place—trying to get it right.”
No offense, Nevins, but what was Dana and Finn’s little escapade up into the closed (and presumably locked) Washington Monument if not an iconic shot that totally defied reality? Ever since that moment, season two of Homeland has devolved into a show that looks at authenticity as a loose and abstract concept, as proven by showrunner Howard Gordon’s interview with Huffington Post’s Maureen Ryan in which he declared that it’s okay to strain credulity for dramatic moments that make the audience sit up in their chairs. Unfortunately for Homeland viewers, credulity has been strained so effectively this season that it’s starting to resemble one of Kim Kardashian’s bandage dresses.
So what now? We can start by revisiting all the ridiculousness from season two in the hopes that, like Carrie, we’ll find some kind of method in the madness. Here, by popular request, is a list of everything important (and more than one thing frivolous) that happened this season on Homeland. Take a look back and then tell us what we missed.
• The season opens with Carrie in a state of decent mental health, teaching English as a foreign language, and growing vegetables. Estes asks her to go to Beirut to talk to one of her old sources, and Carrie agrees. After this, we never see her family again, meaning Estes might actually be a Level XIII Scientologist. He tells Carrie that in no way does this mean she’s getting her job back.
• Carrie goes to Beirut via Cyprus, but the drugs make her brain fuzzy. Nevertheless, she meets with her source, who tells her Abu Nazir is coming to meet the source’s husband in a downtown Hezbollah stronghold. No one believes Carrie except for Saul, but they change their minds when Abu Nazir does actually show up.
• Brody, a brand new congressman who has a complex personal history with Nazir, is left alone in Estes’s office and manages quite easily to find some encryption codes, which are never mentioned again. He’s then brought into a situation room to watch the Nazir-killing operation go down. The President isn’t there because he has nothing to do with matters of national security, ever, preferring to delegate it all to his VP. Nobody asks Brody to surrender his cell phone, and nobody notices when Brody freaks out and texts Nazir under the table.
• Estes agrees to have dinner with Roya at Cafe Milano, but presumably one of them cancels because it’s never brought up again, even when Brody tells the CIA that Roya is Abu Nazir’s BFF.
• The CIA don’t get to execute Nazir thanks to Brody’s excellent cell service, but Carrie goes rogue and runs into a building where she just happens to find a canvas bag. Saul looks at the bag and realizes it has a memory card inside it, which of course contains Brody’s suicide video. Nobody ever explains why a Hezbollah operative has this video, or how coincidental it is that Carrie just happens to find it in her 50-yard dash through her source’s husband’s study.
• Estes again emphasizes to Carrie quite firmly that she isn’t being hired back by the CIA. She goes back to living in her townhouse and tries to kill herself at one point in episode three but then pukes and seems to be mentally quite healthy for the rest of the season. Then, after Brody’s suicide tape is revealed, Carrie is hired back by the CIA even though her bipolar disorder and the fact that she’s on antipsychotic medication technically make her unfit for service. Nobody ever mentions it again or questions why she’s there, although whenever she says anything about anyone they raise their eyebrows slightly in a way that suggests they think she’s crazy.
• Roya and Brody both have time to fulfill Abu Nazir’s various nefarious orders, even though one is a hard-hitting TV news journalist covering politics in a campaign year and the other is a congressman who’s widely tipped to be the favorite candidate for Walden’s veep spot. Brody, in fact, goes to the office twice and goes to one lone fundraiser during the entire season. He never sets foot on a campaign plane. He has only two staffers: a chief of staff and an assistant, Betsy, who does nothing except tell Roya that his schedule is “wide open.” Somewhere, Paul Ryan is laughing or taking his anger out on a moose.
• Dana tells everyone at Sidwell Friends that her father is a Muslim, but everyone just laughs like she’s joking. Nobody tells their parents, we’re guessing.
• Abu Nazir has tons of people doing his evil bidding, but he nevertheless demands Brody drop everything, drive to Gettysburg, pick up the tailor, and drop him at a safe house, even though Brody has the one thing he’s obliged to do as a potential Veep candidate to do that day. Presumably all the people at the safe house had more pressing matters than keeping the Vice President happy to attend to.
• We meet Peter Quinn, a mysterious but handsome young agent who no one’s ever heard of who’s appointed to be the boss of Saul, Carrie, Virgil, and everyone else who’s trying to take down Abu Nazir.
• Brody kills the tailor for smoking in his car. Not really. Dana points out the smoke smell, which leads to this elaborate and pointless subplot where Brody takes a cab to Langley.
• Brody is taken into captivity by the CIA after Carrie yells at him in a hotel room and tells him how much she hates him. Peter Quinn stabs him in the hand and nobody acts like it’s a big deal, because this is totally how our federal agents roll. Then Carrie tells Brody how much she loves him, and the stress of having to deal with this infernal woman and her mood swings causes Brody to break and admit to being a terrorist who tried to kill the Vice President of the United States, David Estes, and several hundred other people. Brody is then sent home as long as he promises to behave and doesn’t mind meeting Carrie every now and again to discuss “work.”
• Dana and Finn break into the Washington Monument and go up to the top, even though it’s closed due to being unsafe from earthquake damage and the views are actually way better from the skyscraper condo the Brody family later moves in to. Presumably, Secret Service agents have keys to historic sites for occasions like this one. Then Dana and Finn go for a joyride and hit a woman before driving away. Dana has an attack of the guilts and goes to the “hospital” (because there’s only one in DC and it’s totally easy to find), where she immediately deduces which ICU patient is the one she hit. She also goes to the woman’s funeral, too, because presumably there’s only one church in Homeland-ville and funerals are always at the same time.
• Abu Nazir and Roya send a team of black-clad stormtroopers to burst into the tailor’s shop and take the mysterious box that’s buried in the wall. We’re told there are six casualties, including Ellis from The Wire, who pops up for a one-episode cameo. Then there are five casualties, because Peter survives. Then Galvez survives, too, so I guess only the four people we didn’t know died. No one in Gettysburg seems to care about all the gunfire and terrifying men in black, and the incident is never talked about again, despite the fact that a terrorist has killed six/five/four federal agents on US soil. Nobody wonders why Abu Nazir didn’t hide the explosives in one of his giant abandoned warehouses instead of in a tiny store in a tiny town in Pennsylvania.
• Brody may or may not be involved in this because he has a conversation with Roya about Gettysburg and the two stop talking when someone else approaches.
• Mike and Lauder decide to investigate Brody and whether or not he killed Tom Walker. Lauder, an actual crazy person, convinces Mike that Brody is a murderer. Mike seems to agree, finds a gun in Brody’s garage, and tells Jessica that her husband is a killer. Then the CIA tell Mike to drop it and he never mentions it again.
• Brody goes to a fundraiser in a palace in Virginia, where a man named Rex makes him feel ashamed by treating him like a hero. A weird lady stares at his scars and asks creepy questions about how he got them. Brody is so stressed out by this whole experience that when he finds out his daughter was in the car that accidentally killed a woman, the only thing he wants to do is drive her to the police station to confess.
• Jessica also wants to drive her daughter to the police station to be arrested as an accessory to murder, even though just a few minutes ago the only thing she cared about was being the next Mrs. Vice President of the United States.
• Saul drives to visit Aileen Morgan in a supermax prison in Virginia. Aileen spins Saul some yarn about a guy called Mohammed who lives in New Jersey because she secretly hopes he’ll leave her alone in an unguarded room in a supermax prison with some glass she can kill herself with. He, of course, does.
• Everyone is rude to Max, and I don’t like it. “I’m not a mute,” Max finally shouts, thereby offering definitive proof that he is not a mute. This means he might or might not be the mole.
• Nobody mentions the mole all season until episode 11, by which time everyone except me has forgotten what the mole did (smuggle razor blades to the guy who was interrogated early on in season one).
• Abu Nazir, the world’s most wanted terrorist, manages to get into the US by shaving his beard and putting on a baseball cap. Then he kidnaps Brody via helicopter and wires him to a car battery before telling him he has nothing to fear. The CIA apparently lacks the technology to look at flight patterns from that day or track the helicopter with radar devices to see where it went, even though it can hack into the security cameras everywhere in the world, including a congressional office building.
• The mysterious Peter Quinn turns out to be a secret, secret CIA agent, as opposed to all the other totally open and honest CIA agents. He’s also been assigned to kill Brody by Estes and the guy who won an Oscar for playing Salieri in Amadeus. This in no way explains why he was ordered to run the CIA’s Nazir-catching operation, because it would have been far easier to just have him tail Brody and then eventually kill him, especially since Brody wouldn’t then recognize him when his limo showed up.
• Carrie and Brody have sex, and it’s horrible, and everyone in the CIA hears it. Jess and Mike have sex and it’s very romantic, but luckily her kids don’t hear it through the adjoining wall, or wonder why their mother’s wearing a negligee to share a bed with them.
• Carrie’s car is hit terribly hard by an SUV presumably driven by Abu Nazir, but she isn’t badly hurt and neither is Nazir, since wreckage from only one car was found at the scene of the accident.
• Abu Nazir, a man who has helicopters and teams of masked murderers at his disposal, is so alone and without backup that he’s forced to hide out alone in a warehouse in Chantilly with no one to help him.
• We finally met Dar Adal, a man who has to move house every two weeks because he has so many enemies. These enemies have somehow not yet realized that he eats lunch every Tuesday at Walt’s Waffles.
• Abu Nazir kidnaps Carrie in order to force Brody to murder the Vice President by locating the serial number to his pacemaker. Abu Nazir knows that said number is in a box in Walden’s office, because he read it in the New York Times, and really, where else would it be?
• Brody, a man who is under constant CIA surveillance for much of the season, and who is a known terrorist under protection from Abu Nazir by the CIA, manages to have a Skype conversation with the world’s most wanted man and shout “Nazir!” over and over again when said terrorist hangs up without anyone noticing.
• Brody, a known terrorist who was under constant surveillance, blah blah blah, is given free rein to run around the Naval Observatory looking for pacemaker serial numbers, then manhandle Walden in his study without anyone noticing or treating him suspiciously.
• Brody, also a man who has admitted to the CIA that he once tried to kill the Vice President, seems to be in no way suspected of the Vice President’s death by the CIA, even though he was the only person alone in the room with him during his fatal “pacemaker malfunction.”
• Abu Nazir lets Carrie go. She flags down a truck and calls for backup. The CIA sends tons of people to go through the warehouse and tunnels the most evil terrorist in the world may be hiding in, but they don’t use a) dogs or b) infrared heat sensors, which are the two things that might actually help. Then they give up after a few hours and seem convinced that they’ve looked as hard as they possible could have.
• Roya is interrogated in what looks like a Langley conference room. Security is so high that Carrie can waltz right in without anyone noticing or checking her ID.
• Carrie has a sixth sense that Nazir might still be hiding somewhere in Chantilly after Roya curses at her in Arabic and tells her Nazir would “never run.” Of course this can’t be metaphorical. Carrie rushes back in to the warehouse without a weapon or any protective gear and finds the transparent wire box behind which Nazir is hiding, which all the SWAT teams and FBI agents somehow missed.
• Peter Quinn makes a big fuss about how all the SWAT people work in pairs. Then one abandons his partner at the drop of a hat to go look for Nazir with Carrie. His radio doesn’t work when they finally find proof Nazir is still there and try to call for backup, making it the opposite of Brody’s BlackBerry, which works on the face of the sun. Nazir kills the agent with his handy-dandy knife but only punches Carrie in the stomach. He doesn’t think to steal the agent’s gun so he could at least shoot some people before heading off to the great terrorist bunker in the sky.
• Danny Galvez (who has been declared dead by Carrie, then reported to be on his deathbed) makes a miraculous recovery in time to try and find Carrie when she’s kidnapped by Abu Nazir. Then his stitches burst, so instead of asking some of the assembled emergency personnel for help, he drives like a bat out of hell toward a hospital by himself without telling any of his colleagues where he’s going, leading them to assume he’s the mole because he’s Muslim.
• Peter Quinn tells Carrie to go home. Miraculously, her car is close by the warehouse in Chantilly with no apparent damage from the SUV that hit it the day before. Her pills and purse are also in the car.
• Carrie, the queen of recklessly risking her life to defend her country against acts of terror, says nothing to anyone when her boyfriend admits he killed the Vice President to appease Abu Nazir and keep her safe.
• Chris Brody is repeatedly asked to leave the room, and by the penultimate episode of the season, he finally gets the message and storms out without anyone having to ask him to.
• Jessica Brody spends the whole season telling her husband that all she wanted was the truth, dammit, before suddenly deciding right when their marriage is over that she can’t handle the truth, actually.
• Message boards and comment threads buzz with rumors that Abu Nazir might have sent a body double/identical twin to Chantilly in his place, making Homeland less like a serious drama and more like a Diamonds Are Forever/Days of Our Lives hybrid.
What have we missed? Let us know in the comments.