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Posts Tagged ‘Quinn’

Homeland - Courtesy Showtime

Formerly (and more awesomely) known as “The Motherfucker with the Turban.”

Perhaps it’s fitting that this episode changed its name from something shocking (at potentially offensive?) to something a little more standard. The first half picked up right where last week left off, to the point where I was internally writing a eulogy for the Homeland that once was. And then, Abu Nazir died, and things started clicking into place again. It’s just that it’s getting increasingly difficult to put aside the ridiculous stuff and appreciate the acting and the emotional scenes on their own merits.

The beginning of the episode was another 24-ish romp as Carrie withheld significant information from Quinn (that Brody/Nazir are the ones who caused Walden’s pacemaker to malfunction), lied unconvincingly about how, exactly, she managed to escape from Abu Nazir (she got lucky, I guess?), and quickly jumped to the conclusion that Galvez must be the mole who helped Nazir escape since he, you know, just got out of the hospital and everything. This particular leap would be fine for just Carrie and her sleep-deprived brain to make, but they lost me a bit when Quinn leapt off the proverbial cliff with her, concluding that it “made sense” and leading an FBI chase of Galvez who, it turns out, was just going back to the hospital because he’d popped his stitches (or is that just what he wants us to think?!?!).

The one bright spot of the first half was Carrie’s botched interrogation with Roya. Nevermind how absurd it is that Carrie got into the room with her in the first place (she’d gone to wash her face while Estes explicitly told Quinn not to let her in the room, and then, when Quinn got back, Carrie was already in the room). That’s some ninja interrogation shit right there. Anyway, what I liked about it was that, while it seemed at first that we were in for another demonstration of Carrie’s expert interrogation skills, Roya quickly turns the tables on her. She tells Carrie what she wants to hear, feeding her some bullshit about what it’s like to be around someone who you know is bad for you, and who makes you do bad things, but you just can’t help yourself. A single tear falls down Carrie’s battered face, and Roya pounces. She grabs Carrie’s bruised wrists, and spits insults at her in Arabic. It was a powerful moment and would have been made all the more powerful if only there hadn’t been so many leaps necessary to get Carrie in the room in the first place.

Anyway, after Carrie’s failure, Quinn insists that she go home and rest, but for some reason sees it fit for her to drive herself home (in what was presumably a CIA-issued vehicle). However, the drive leads Carrie to realize that when Roya told her that Nazir wouldn’t run, she meant it literally – he had to still be at the abandoned mill (sidenote: I’m pretty sure Nancy Drew and the Abandoned Mill was a book I read in elementary school. Just something to think about for next season, Homeland writers. Maybe move away from the young adult mystery genre). She naturally heads back there against Quinn’s advice, and finds everybody packing up to go. There’s only one tactical team left and, probably just to shut her up already, they agree to go back in for one more sweep. Naturally, again, Carrie is left alone with only one guy (after an explicit conversation earlier in the episode where it was discussed that they always go in pairs), quickly finds a hidden room, and waits in the hallway while the lone operative goes in, finds where Nazir was hiding, and promptly gets his throat cut. The show then shifts from 24 to pure horror movie, as Carrie runs away screaming “HE’S HERE.” She manages to fight Nazir off not once, but twice, before the tactical team can swoop in and shoot him as he kneels on the floor in front of them and reaches into his pocket to pull out what I’m sure will end up being a cell phone.

The parallels between Nazir and bin Laden are fairly obviously drawn, but I especially liked the distinction between the popular reaction to bin Laden’s death (jubilant cheering, U-S-A chants) and Carrie’s quiet realization that she’d succeeded in taking down the person she’d devoted the last 10 years of her life to catching. There was no trace of jubilation on her face, but rather a mixture of satisfaction, relief, exhaustion, and a strange sense of sadness and pity. Abu Nazir was probably the person she knew the best in the world, and now he was lying bloodied on a gurney in front of her, looking like just any other person, not an evil terrorist mastermind.

As I mentioned above, after Nazir’s death, things changed. When Brody is told, his reaction is just as compelling as Carrie’s was. He breaks down weeping before attempting to pass it off as tears of relief to his family. It’s clear though, that Nazir’s death hits him hard. Before, he was lost because he was trying to follow the rules of too many people. Now, he’s killed Walden and Nazir is dead – the only person he has left to answer to is Carrie. Since the terrorist threat is apparently neutralized, the unhappy Brody family is allowed to go home (much to Chris’ chagrin).

What they don’t know, however, is that Brody’s life is in fact in more imminent danger after Nazir’s death. Saul’s detainment last week was for a lie detector test that Estes will use to blackmail him later, if necessary. I loved the return of the lie detector operator from last season, and equally loved that the actual administrator of the test was a stone-faced Estes henchman. I loved that the questions were framed in such a way as to trap Saul with partial truths (did he technically give Aileen the weapon she used to kill herself? Well yes, but there’s far more to that story, obviously). Saul correctly identifies the motivations behind this line of questioning, telling the operator that the only reason he’s being investigated is because he knows about the plot for the CIA to assassinate a U.S. congressman. This is, of course, left out of the official report. While I will eternally love Mandy Patinkin, this plot seems a little heavy-handed in terms of Estes’ rapid shift from authority figure harshing the main characters’ collective spy buzzes, to actual evil guy involved in blackmail, murder, and all sorts of shady dealings. Last season, Estes controlled Saul by revealing truths to him about the nature of intelligence and the war on terror, this time, he controls him by blackmail? It just seemed like a bit of a leap.

In any case, Estes tells Quinn that the plan is still very much on, and that he needs to kill Brody sooner than later so that they can just blame it on blowback from Nazir’s death (it’s best not to think too hard about exactly how this would work – would they really pretend that there’s another congressman-terrorist on the loose in DC? Exactly how incompetent is the CIA anyway?) Anyway, the spectre of Quinn’s gunshot hung over the final scenes, adding heart-pounding tension especially to Jessica and Brody’s breakup conversation in the car. While their decision to finally divorce was a long time coming, the way it got wrapped up into a neat little bow felt a bit forced. I mean, one day they’re yelling at each other, jealous of each other’s affairs, and the next day, they’re having a quiet conversation about how it can never work between them? I suppose it was set up by Jessica’s assertion at the beginning of the episode that “everything has changed” after Walden’s death. In any case, I thought the fact that Brody went right up to the point of telling Jessica everything before she stopped him by saying she doesn’t want to know was true to character. No matter how much Jessica proclaimed herself to want the truth, she couldn’t handle even the glimpses of the true Brody that she saw. Her realization that the only person he’s ever told the truth to was Carrie and that “you must really love her” was both cheesy and effective.

When a bullet didn’t explode through Brody’s head the minute Jessica exited the vehicle, it was clear that Brody would be going to Carrie’s. I hoped beyond hope that when the doorbell rang it would be Saul or Quinn telling her that Brody had died (because this would have been unexpected) but instead it was Brody, feeding Carrie lines worthy of my guilty pleasure, Days of our Lives. He did what he did to Walden because, if the choice was Walden’s life or Carrie’s, it wasn’t even close? Carrie naturally swallows it up, which I can hopefully attribute to her not having slept for 2 days. Was she really just able to ignore the fact that the whole reason Brody was a terrorist in the first place was because he wanted to kill Walden? Anyway, she tenderly kisses his hand and brings him inside while Quinn watches through the scope.

There’s only one episode left and a hell of a lot to get through. I’m hoping that, in the end, Carrie will realize that Brody is a terrorist and her happily-ever-after fantasies are both unrealistic and pathetic. I hope she’ll be the one to kill him, but no matter who does it, I want him dead. I don’t see how Brody can live and have this series continue to exist under any semblance of plausibility. As it is, I don’t really know how they can continue. Saul is out, Carrie is out (even though she single-handedly took down the world’s number 1 terrorist, I can’t picture control-freak Estes keeping loose-cannon Carrie around and not Saul), the whole Brody clan is out, Nazir is dead, Walden is dead – the whole series is begging for a reboot. Personally, I hope that Carrie, Saul, Virgil, and Max get together and form an elite private investigators’ unit and, through their surveillance of cheating spouses and insurance fraudsters, stumble upon a terrorist plot that’s even bigger than Nazir’s ever was. I just can’t imagine how they’re going to wrap it up next episode though.

In the end, that’s really the difference between this season and last season. Last season, the unpredictability was this show’s greatest asset, and even when it seemed like they’d painted themselves into a corner, they always managed to find their way out, even if it meant jumping through the window. I always trusted that the twists they would take us on would feel earned and would contribute to taking this show to greater heights. This season, when the show has its back against the wall, it fights its way out with explosions when exposition would do, and it takes us on wild goose chases rather than the simple path from A to B. After last week, I don’t trust it to do itself justice anymore, and that’s a real shame. I hope they can redeem themselves next year and the only way they can do that is by killing Brody and starting fresh in season 3.

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For some reason, I’m having a hard time writing a regular review for this episode. Perhaps I’m spent with all the excitement of Boardwalk Empire or perhaps it’s because so much has happened this episode (and this season) that I’m running out of steam. Whatever the reason, I think I’m just going to stick to bullet points for today. Hopefully next week, I’ll be feeling more energetic!

  • So, we don’t really know what exactly happened between Brody and Abu Nazir during the 12 hours he was off the grid. The story that he tells Carrie, Saul, Quinn, et al. seems plausible enough, but Brody didn’t tell them that he prayed with Nazir, so who knows what else he’s hiding. I think it is significant that his discussions with Nazir about Allah revolved around personal motivation and force of will. I really liked the way the show kept us guessing by just showing us snippets of the flashbacks.
  • Still, Brody’s panic to ensure the safety of his family after he watched Nazir drive away seemed authentic.
  • The plot to blow up the vice president at a ceremony for 300 returning soldiers is at once symbolically typical of Nazir and also too simplistic. The plot from last season was layered, and I have  a strong feeling that this plot has more to it than meets the eye.
  • Mike, Jessica, and the kids are essentially playing house, and Mike occupies the role of father better than Brody ever has. I especially liked how he shut down Dana’s whining.
  • Mike and Jessica’s middle of the night guest room tryst echoes Carrie and Brody’s cabin tryst of last season. Both Brody and Jessica look more comfortable with their secret lovers than they do with their spouses.
  • I also thought it was significant that Brody wasn’t mad when Carrie told him that Mike was with his family. He is either ready to give up on his marriage and family because a) he genuinely recognizes that they’re better off without him and his baggage; b) he knows he’ll be dead soon thanks to his role in Nazir’s bomb plot; c) he knows that he’ll be in jail soon thanks to his role in Nazir’s bomb plot; d) he has deluded himself into thinking he can somehow run away with Carrie and everything will be fine; or e) he’s got too many other things on his plate to worry about that
  • Meanwhile, Saul has had Virgil and Max keeping tabs on Quinn, and they discovered that he has a different name, lives in extremely spartan living conditions, and a secret baby and baby mama who happens to be a police officer in Philadelphia who is immune to the charms of Saul’s beard.
  • Quinn is apparently adept at the city bus system and has a secret meeting with someone who Saul and Estes know, but who for now remains mysterious. So, he’s not a mole but just working for another agency? Or another part of the CIA? I’m interested to see where this goes.
  • One place that it apparently goes is that Quinn has standing orders from Estes to kill Brody the minute that Abu Nazir is captured. Brody’s saved at the last minute this time, but perhaps he won’t be so lucky next time. I can’t imagine Carrie will be too happy once she finds out this little detail.
  • Is Carrie just playing Brody or does she really have feelings for him that are compromising her integrity? I’m starting to lean more towards the latter.
  • Ambushing Roya and Nazir’s guys at the diner seemed slightly premature. I thought they were going to wait until they got to the location of the reunion?
  • I can’t wait for a Carrie-Roya interrogation scene next week.
  • Do you think they’re using Carrie so sparingly this season because of Claire Danes’ pregnancy? I can’t help but wonder how differently this season might have shaped up had she been able to participate more fully.
  • I can’t imagine what this show is going to do for the next 3 episodes. A normal show would have the interrogations and the frantic search for Nazir occupy the end of the season, but this show will probably cram those into the first half of next week. I can’t wait to see where they take us next.
  • Brody is going to die this season, right? I mean, now he’s got Abu Nazir’s henchmen AND the CIA pointing guns at him and he can only escape so many times. The only question is how it’s going to go down – will Quinn, Nazir, Saul, Estes, Walden, or Brody himself pull the trigger? Or, will Carrie finally be forced to prove once and for all whether she’s able to put her feelings for Brody aside when homeland security is at stake?

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Is anyone else getting the distinct impression that Brody wishes he’d just blown himself up when he had the chance? He at least must be pining for the good old days of season one, when he actually had a semblance of control over his own life and the fallout from the actions. Back then, he was largely on his own. Sure, he had to play the part of the hero, which chafed on him a bit, but that didn’t really involve much energy. In the end, he even was able to exercise the decision not to blow himself up, and then he managed to convince Nazir that this was a better plan after all. Season One Brody was firmly in charge.

What a difference a season can make. While Brody thought he was placing himself firmly within the best-case scenario (he gets to keep his family and his life while working for Nazir from inside Congress), he was actually painting himself into a pretty small corner. Now, nothing Brody does is really under his own volition and it seems like his follower nature is kicking in more than ever. WHen he’s with Carrie, he does what the CIA wants; when he’s with Roya, he starts to think that being with Nazir is the right move; when he’s with his family, all he wants is to tell both the CIA and Nazir to go fuck themselves so he can live in some kind of domesticated bliss that only exists in his head. As Brody continues to spiral downward, it’s becoming more and more apparent that there is no “best-case” scenario anymore. Think about it: If he continues with Nazir, he’ll either die in the plot or he’ll be disgraced by the CIA, hated by his family, and spend the rest of his life rotting in a cell like Aileen. If he continues with the CIA, he’ll either be killed by Nazir (along with his entire family), or he’ll be forced to live in witness protection with a wife who doesn’t trust him, a daughter who is constantly disappointed by him, and a son who . . . well, as long as there’s video games, Chris probably won’t care. But still, hardly ideal options.

Indeed, as much as Brody might want to be with his family, it’s becoming more and more clear that they’d be better off without him. Even Dana, who sympathized with her father’s Islam and unknowingly stopped him from killing himself, doesn’t need him anymore now that she’s got surrogate-father Mike. As much as I disliked the hit-and-run plotline at the beginning, the last couple of episodes have made it all worthwhile. The scene where Dana visited the daughter of the victim and was told in no uncertain terms not to go to the police was heartbreaking. All along, Dana had been seeing the world in black and white, and the shades of grey that she’s discovering are disconcerting. She can’t imagine accepting a payoff in exchange for keeping silent about your mother’s murder and now she finds herself living in a world where that exact scenario is considered almost commonplace. She finds safe haven at Mike’s, and his willingness to give her space even lets her open up to her mother, revealing to her that it was Carrie who made Brody turn around. We don’t see the fallout from this revelation (because Brody doesn’t come home), but when Dana gets back to her parents’ house, she dissolves into tears in her mother’s arms. It’s a powerful scene where the two women, so often at odds with each other, are maybe finally in an honest place with each other, recognizing the strength that each other has, and knowing that, even though they’re in a pretty fucked up world, they’ll somehow get through it together. At the very least, Dana should hopefully sulk less around the house.

Brody, meanwhile, continues to fuck everything up. During a fight over what to do with Dana, Jessica demands that Brody just call the CIA and tell them to back off. Under the pressure coming at him from all sides, Brody finally explodes, screaming helplessly, “ICAN’TICAN’TICAN’T!” When Jessica leaves, Carrie rushes in and finds a broken Brody curled up on the floor at the end of the hallway. She manages to put the pieces back together enough for him to make his meeting with Roya, but the glue comes undone pretty quickly and Brody tells Roya that he’s out. When everyone else at the CIA is ready to pull the plug on the whole thing, Carrie of course insists that Brody can be salvaged if she has more time. She convinces Virgil to take the tracking off his phone, but she takes Brody to a known CIA safehouse motel where Saul quickly tracks them with a camera and audio surveillance. It’s through these methods that we get one of the most laugh-out-loud funny scenes in Homeland history, where Saul listens stone-faced to Carrie and Brody’s desperate sex sounds. Seriously, is there anything more awkward than Carrie’s surrogate father listening to him having sex with anyone, let alone a known terrorist? The awkward hilarity was amplified when the camera panned out to show Quinn and the rest of the surveillance team also listening intently. Quinn uses their moaning as a background track for yet another discussion with Saul about whether Carrie has finally crossed a line into being “stage five delusional.” Saul insists that Carrie is just trying to bring Brody back, but when she does return the next morning, he reveals that he’s not entirely convinced of this fact himself. Carrie insists that she’s not spiralling again, but it’s hard to really be sure. Is she any more able to stay true to herself than Brody? When she’s with Saul and the others, she acts impartial, but when she’s with Brody, it’s not clear whether she’s thinking with her head or her heart. I did love that Carrie treaded the realization that the entire staff had heard her having sex with Brody with no more than an annoyed sigh. Say what you will about her mental state, she doesn’t embarrass easy.

Perhaps she’s so confident because her sexy skills worked, and Brody calls Roya to tell her he’s back in. Roya treats this news with deserved skepticism and leads Brody to the middle of nowhere. She gets him to tell her that he’s only fucking Carrie to get information like Roya wanted him to, and it’s said with just enough edge that it might conceivably be the truth. Almost immediately afterwards, Roya disconnects his phone and the CIA’s listening skills, thus sending Carrie into a panic, insisting on being in one of the follow vehicles with Virgil and Max. As it becomes more and more apparent that Brody’s cover is blown (either that, or these are the stupidest brilliant terrorists I’ve ever heard of), Carrie becomes increasingly agitated.  She convinces Quinn to let them do a drive by, and she sees Roya and the assassin from Gettysburg with Brody. In an act reminiscent of Beirut, Carrie jumps out of the van and runs toward Brody when too late, she and Saul realize that the reason for stopping near an empty field is so that they can be picked up by a helicopter. As Carrie’s futile screams of “he’s gone!” echo into the darkness, it’s clear that this is about more than just protecting an asset.

It’s also clear from the look of terror and panic on Brody’s face that he knows he’s fucked. It’s a testament to the unpredictability of this show that I legitimately thought we were about to see the demise of Sgt. Brody. Instead, Abu Nazir steps out of the shadows and greets “Nicholas” in a deceptively warm-sounding tone. Nazir has clearly decided that enough’s enough and it’s time to bring Nicholas back to where he really belongs.

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Disclaimer: I both watched last night’s episode and am writing this review through a cold medicine haze. So, if things don’t make sense or if I start talking about Brody’s meeting with Nucky Thompson, please feel free to ignore me or correct me in the comments section.

Just as last episode was really all about the interrogation, this week’s episode was all about what happened in the tailor’s shop in Gettysburg. After watching Roya meet up with a mysterious man to have a discussion rendered un-hearable by means of waterfall, Carrie convinces Quinn that they need to bring Brody in to see if he can identify the man. He can’t of course, but he does tell them that the Gettysburg tailor is dead (he “fell” while trying to escape from Brody who was taking him to the safehouse – Brody can’t quite shake the lying habit yet. It’s worth noting that it was Quinn, not Carrie, who managed to get this information from Brody. Carrie might have unmatchable hunches, but Quinn’s skills aren’t too shabby either. In any case, this new information means that they can stop surveilling the tailor’s and go inside and actually start looking for stuff while Brody is sent to talk to Roya and try to extract more information.

In Gettysburg, Quinn, Galvez, a bunch of nameless CIA agents, and Carver from The Wire (here named Chapman, I think) start digging through the paperwork, looking for something that might hint at what Abu Nazir has planned. As soon as I saw Carver on the screen, I knew some shit was about to go down and that he would be involved somehow. After Roya tells Brody that she knows that the CIA are at the tailor’s and that they’re going to find something big (or something like that? See above cold medicine disclaimer), Carrie calls and warns Quinn. He barely has time to call for FBI backup and notice a glaringly obviously re-patched wall hiding a hollow compartment before a bunch of men in black masks burst in with machine guns and take everyone out (I assume this is the same group of goons who shot poor Faisel in the motel last season). One of them conveniently removes his mask to reveal that he’s the same man Roya met with earlier, and they cut a hole in the wall and remove a giant case of . . . something (a bomb? A nuclear warhead? Something else entirely?) At the very end, Quinn moves, showing that he was only playing dead, although those wounds look pretty severe. Galvez tried to play the hero and seems to have gotten himself actually killed in the process, which I guess puts to rest the idea that he might have been the CIA mole all along. In a way, that’s kind of a relief because I didn’t want him to be the mole, but it’s kind of sad that he had to die to prove that. Also significant is who wasn’t shown as dead – namely, Carver from The Wire. He had to have been in on it somehow because why would you hire an actor that most of the Homeland audience would recognize if you were just going to kill him off unceremoniously in the same episode? It’s like when Landry from Friday Night Lights showed up on Breaking Bad. You knew he was going to play a bigger role eventually.

In the aftermath, Carrie goes to Brody’s office and demands to know whether he knew about the hit. He claims to not have known and Carrie seems to believe him, collapsing into tears in his arms. I’m willing to buy that Brody didn’t know anything since Roya seems to keep him on a very short leash, but I’m still not convinced that he would have done anything to stop it even if he had known about it. He chafes at being followed by the CIA as he drops Dana off at school even though he can’t have been surprised at his newfound lack of privacy and he resents being forced to talk to Roya. He might be playing along with the CIA demands for now, but he’s clearly not happy about it. Meanwhile, I don’t know how much longer the CIA can let Roya walk around free, when she clearly passed along the information that led to 7 agents being killed. I predict that she’ll end up chained to the floor being interrogated by Carrie/Saul sooner than later.

While all of this shit was going down, there were two side stories – Mike the conspiracy theorist and Dana the guilt-ridden hit-and-runner. Mike’s story is actually becoming less annoying, as he’s becoming more integrated with the larger plot. This week, he and Lauder talk to a homicide detective about Tom Walker’s death and find out that the investigation was taken over by the CIA. Mike tells Lauder he’ll try to find something out from his CIA buddy (why didn’t he go to him in the first place?), but when he gets to Langley, he’s met instead by Saul and Estes, who tell him, in so many words, to get his nose the fuck out of CIA business. They tell him it’s a matter of national security and that he needs to know his place. Of course, Mike keeps investigating and finds Brody’s gun (a 9mm – which is everyone’s standard issue) in the garage and tells Jessica that he thinks Brody killed Tom Walker. She doesn’t believe him (or does she just not care? Again, I’m pleading cold medicine here). What I don’t get is why Mike is so good at piecing the entire conspiracy theory together, but when the director of the CIA tells him that Brody’s actions affected national security and when Jessica tells him that Brody’s been working for the CIA, he can’t piece together that maybe Brody was working for the CIA and killed Tom Walker at their behest. I mean, it’s not at all what happened, but it would make sense in Mike’s head, wouldn’t it? Anyway, I do like that if he keeps digging, the risk is not that he’ll expose Brody to the authorities (since they already know), but that he’ll expose the CIA operation to try and stop the much bigger and important Attack on America. Mike’s poking around suddenly has much higher stakes for the overall trajectory of the show.

The Dana story on the other hand still feels a bit disjointed. She goes to the hospital and somehow finds the room of the woman they hit with the car. The woman’s daughter tells Dana that she’s going downhill fast and when Dana sees Finn the next day at school, she tells him that she died. Finn continues to act like a douchebag and yells at Dana for being stupid and tells her that he’d rather die than have anyone find out what they did. I’m just still unclear about how this whole thing is going to fit within the larger narrative. I mean, yes, Dana’s guilt over the death of this woman is sharply contrasted with her father’s lack of guilt over the people that he’s killed (most recently, the tailor), but there has to be more to it than that. Perhaps she will let it slip to her dad and he’ll have something to hold over the VP’s head. Most likely, though, it will be something completely out of left field that makes perfect sense and leaves me once again in awe of the writers. I just wish they’d hurry up and get there already. I like the actress who plays Dana and I don’t want to keep wishing her scenes would be over faster so that we can get back to the real storylines.

Next week: The fallout from the shooting and we (maybe?) find out what was in the tailor’s hidden case.

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