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WashingTelevision: Homeland Recap, Season Two, Episode Two, “Beirut Is Back”

Carrie gets her groove back, Brody makes a big mistake (huge!), and Saul makes a very important discovery.

Carrie (Claire Danes) and Saul (Mandy Patinkin) wonder why there are so many awkward wedding photos on the wall of their Beirut safe house. Photograph by Ronen Akerman for Showtime.

“Beirut Is Back” is an odd title for last night’s episode of
Homeland, because did Beirut ever really go away? Yes,
March of the Zapotec was a hard act to follow, but 2011’s
The Rip Tide met with almost unanimously good reviews. Anyway, I digress.

Brody, what the hell is wrong with you? You had a chance to make all your Abu Nazir-related
problems go away, almost definitively (it’s hard to maintain an allegiance to a global
terrorism leader whose head is spattered all over a downtown Hezbollah stronghold).
And you blew it by texting Nazir while INSIDE A PENTAGON SITUATION ROOM. Remember
this picture from 2010? I really want to see the Pete Souza photo that shows Brody
sweating, jiggling his thigh like a maniac, and texting “May 1” to a presumably Arabic
number from his presumably government-owned BlackBerry.

Blah blah blah, Stockholm Syndrome, blah blah blah you were in hell and a man came
along who was nice to you. Man up, carrots. There’s no point in crying like a little
girl to sexy Roya in your late-night highway meet about how you’re not a terrorist
and you won’t do terroristy things when you’ve just said goodbye to all your hopes
of a normal life with one misguided SMS. Because it’s a gosh darn certainty that had
Abu Nazir been killed, Carrie would never have made her 500-yard dash across the rooftops
of Beirut and inadvertently picked up the one canvas bag that happened to have your
“I am a suicide bomber” explanation video sewn into it.

Despite all these quibbles, last night’s episode was
Homeland at its very best: gripping, heart-attack-inducing, maddeningly frustrating television.
We saw Carrie at her zenith (going rogue to talk to her source after Friday prayers,
her eyes a lesson in how to look trustworthy and competent) and Carrie at her nadir
(having a full-blown anxiety attack on a rooftop in plain sight, her eyes a lesson
in the merits of antipsychotics). We saw Brody caught between two warmongering bomb-throwers,
both of whom want to manipulate him for their own dastardly means. “Know who’s having
this party?” he tells Jess at a fundraiser. “They make bombs. You really want to help
vets? Take out everyone in this room.” Which is probably not the sort of comforting
small talk Jess was hoping for when she put on her lovely white party dress.

I confess I spent a large portion of the hour between 10 and 11 last night wondering
how Carrie’s hair changed color so quickly. Was it a wig? Because if so, she shouldn’t
have gone to sleep wearing it in Nicosia, and I’ve never seen a dye job wash out that
fast. (This is the kind of nitpick Alex Gansa complained about when he talked about
bloggers and Pennsylvania Avenue.)
Maybe Carrie’s hair is like her brain and has the ability to flit between razor-sharp
efficiency and a whole pile of crazy in 0.6 seconds.

“Beirut Is Back” was nothing if not redemption for Carrie, though. Her admission to
Saul on the rooftop, mid-bawl, that she’d never been so sure of anything as Brody
being a terrorist, and that it had completely removed her ability to trust her super-spidey
spy-sense, was heartbreaking, but at least there’s now one person who knows wholeheartedly
that she was right. Saul’s betrayal of Carrie in the season finale—when he dismissed
her ramblings about a bigger plot and called some goons to escort her away—was one
of the cruelest moments to bear, and it makes him a much less sympathetic character
in season two. But now that he has definitive proof, what is he going to do with it?
The fact that he didn’t immediately e-mail it to Estes doesn’t fill me with hope that
things will be resolved expediently, if at all.

In other news, Dana is now friends with Finn Walden, and Jess is now friends with
the inner power circle of DC (we didn’t see Sally Quinn, which was a shame). And everyone
kept going on about Brody delivering some keynote speech at some big fundraiser for
veterans, which we assume is because it’ll be important at some point. Also, Jess’s
former lover and Brody’s former best friend, Mike, is back, and he wants answers about
Walker, because Walker was a crack shot and never missed. And the crazy friend Brody
may have punched out last season is rambling about conspiracy theories in a thoroughly
Mel Gibson-y way, but he’s actually right, which is disturbing. But Brody’s having
none of it, saying, “He stopped being a Marine the day he turned traitor.” To which
we say: Et tu, Brody?

Other questions remaining:

1) Hezbollah operatives wear balaclavas? I thought they’d be a trifle hot out there
in the 110-degree heat. Balaclavas are for terrorists like the IRA, who’re more likely
to have their faces removed by Belfast frostbite than CIA snipers.

2) Who’s the mole?

3) Is Jess really so enamored of Washington high society that she’s willing to stay
with a man she has a reasonable suspicion might be a terrorist? And does Washington
high society really want Jess even though she makes everyone else in it look like

4) I would advise teenage girls to run away as fast as they can when someone says they’re
trying to see what they’d look like in a burqa.

5) Seriously, who’s the mole?

What did you think of last night’s episode of
Homeland? Let us know in the comments.