Wednesday, 28 November 2012

HOMELAND, 2.9 – 'Two Hats'


written by Alexander Cary / directed by Dan Attias

I've been increasingly disappointed with Homeland since "Q&A", but this episode went some way towards helping restore my faith. There were a number of surprises and more of a feeling we're moving towards something exciting in terms of Abu Nazi's attack on the US homeland—which is kind of essential given the title of the show. It was also interesting that "Two Hats" gave the writers the ideal opportunity to switch Brody's (Damien Lewis) allegiance back to Nazir, seeing as he was incommunicado for 12-hours, but appears to have avoided that. I guess this means we can finally relax and start to invest in Brody being a double-agent who isn't pulling the wool over everyone's eyes in a very clever way. Or can we? God, this show make me so paranoid!

Now that Abu Nazi's revealed to be in the US, with Brody's loyalty to him to reinstated after torture (well, the threat of it), the show seems to have given itself a jump-start. Brody now has important intel for Carrie (Claire Danes) and her team, and there was an increased sense of danger when he demanded his family be taken to a CIA safe house. This also meant a reprieve from the mind-numbing hit-and-run story with Dana (Morgan Saylor), which had practically dismantled my affection for her character this season. It felt good to have Brody's family involved in the primary story, no matter how peripherally—plus it was the ideal excuse to have Mike (Diego Klattenhoff) act as chaperon and rekindle his affair with Jess (Morena Baccarin, fulfilling Showtime's nudity quota).

The biggest talking point of "Two Hats" was Quinn (Rupert Friend) being revealed as an operative reporting to Dar Adul (F. Murray Abraham)—a man Saul (Mandy Patinkin) knew from 18 years ago when he was running classified operations out of Nairobi. Indeed, it quickly transpired that Estes (David Harewood) appears to have sought Quinn's involvement so he can provide "clean up" after Nazir's capture. In other words: to assassinate Brody when Nazir's in custody, most likely pinning the blame on terrorists and, in so doing, prevent anything Brody knows about the drone bombing sanctioned by the Veep ever becoming public knowledge. Like last season, Homeland's starting to reveal that there are no "good guys" and "bad guys" on this show, as many characters wear the titular "two hats".

I don't have much more to add this week. This was an efficient episode that threw a few welcome curveballs, and at least we know the remainder of the season will focus on preventing Nazir blowing up the Vice-President during a homecoming event attended by 300 special ops soldiers—involving the mysterious (a bomb?) Nazir's assault team retrieved from the tailor shop, and Roya (Zuleikha Robinson) as the only approved journalist.

Overall, by delivering fresh information, planting some certainties, and dealing us an unexpected surprise, "Two Hats" has the potential to be remembered as the moment Homeland got its act together after a slack mid-season. This season's quality still falls far below last year's brilliance, but I think everyone expected that because Homeland should have been a miniseries. But at least now I'm interested in how things will pan out; particularly if the CIA's willing to kill Brody to protect the government's secrets.

25 November 2012 / Showtime
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