"I have a better question: how come it's so hard to talk with anyone who wasn't there about anything at all?" -- Carrie
Many drama's telling a single story over many months tend to move in batches of three or four episodes. Since Homeland began a month ago, the "first movement" has been Carrie's (Claire Danes) surveillance of the Brody family. In "Semper I" that all came to an end because no incriminating evidence has been found in the allotted month (we've jumped forward in time three weeks, too), bringing an end to one aspect of this drama, so the rest of the episode setup the "second movement"...
What was most memorable about "Semper I" was seeing how the writers appear to be going regarding Carrie's investigation into Brody. As she's unable to snoop on him, it seems she's decided to get closer to him in real life, and they meet at the support group. Unexpectedly, there even appears to be a genuine connection between them, as both have experienced terrible things while in the Middle East, leading to a marvelous scene between Danes and Lewis in the pouring rain—where it seems clear Nick's attracted to the blonde woman he recognizes from his debriefing, but unaware she's trying her damndest to expose him as a sleeper agent. I particularly liked the way this episode foreshadowed this whole development, with Carrie almost behaving like Nick's wife when she distractedly told him where his missing neck-tie was while watching his morning routine on a surveillance monitor. It'll be interesting to see if Carrie starts to develop real feelings for Nick, becoming his mistress—in an echo of the role her "asset" Lynne played with the Saudi Arabian prince. Or is Nick playing a deeper game, and is only interested in Carrie because she offers a connection to the CIA he can exploit?
Overall, another good episode, making me wonder if Homeland's going to ever put a foot wrong. Some episodes are more exciting and engrossing than others, but the quality is largely the same across every hour. The only subplot that gives me any concern is the issue with the apparent "sleeper cell" living near an airport, which feels very much season 4 of 24 right now. (The actor playing the husband even appeared in 24's final season, if I recall correctly. But then, didn't every American actor of Middle Eastern descent?)
- Loved Nick's brief vision of a younger Jess, with cropped hair, surprising him in their garage by taking her top off. A brief reminder of the love he's turning his back on, but one that's perhaps lost to the past anyway.
- Another sly piece of foreshadowing, with Jess remarking to her husband that a storm is "coming". And not just literally, right?
- Did you notice Carrie actually discovering Nick's prayer mat while snooping around the garage (the only place she didn't have cameras placed)? Amusing to see she just looked past that key bit of evidence, as it doesn't fit with her expectations of what she's find there.