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‘Homeland’ Averts a Catastrophe at the Cost of Making One of Its Characters a Possible Target

'Homeland' Averts a Catastrophe at the Cost of Making One of Its Characters a Possible Target

The following post includes spoilers for “Two Hats,” the November 25th episode of “Homeland.”

The espionage-happy, twistedly epic love story of Carrie (Claire Danes) and Brody (Damian Lewis) took somewhat of a back seat in “Two Hats,” Sunday’s episode of “Homeland,” while the series turned to Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend), the more recent addition to the CIA team and a man with secrets of his own. As Carrie fretted over what befell Brody during his 12-hour disappearance courtesy of al-Qaeda and Brody focused on making sure his not particularly grateful family was safe, Virgil (David Marciano) and Max (Maury Sterling) took it upon themselves to break into Quinn’s apartment as part of an investigation into his background it was easy to forget anyone had asked for.

The turn toward Quinn felt a little jarring given the attention one would think everyone would be paying to the terrorist attack on the horizon, but maybe Virgil and Max are short on things to do with Brody temporarily out of the picture? Regardless, the visit to Quinn’s apartment was creepy indeed, the place a barren studio devoid of furniture save a single chair at a table and a bed with a sleeping bag. Toiletry bag in the bathroom, sniper rifle kit and a lone copy of “Great Expectations” for entertainment — Quinn’s insane or only there on a temporary assignment, and either way he hasn’t been up front with his motivations to the rest of the team. The fact that Saul (Mandy Patinkin) didn’t think that the way Quinn was living was all that telling (“A CIA analyst is a security-phobe? His personal life’s a little wanting?”) might say more about the tendencies of the Agency than Quinn himself, but the sole personal item, a photo of a woman holding a newborn, was enough to prompt Saul to go rattle Quinn’s cage.

Directed by Daniel Attias and written by Alexander Cary, “Two Hats” felt transitional and seemed like one of the more awkward showcases of the “Homeland” trend away from typical pacing — rising action and falling action — to something that runs in reverse like a dip, ramping down from the high on which the last episode ended and eventually escalating toward some final act surprise. This is the episode that almost certainly blew Brody’s cover with Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban) after first shaking his credibility with the Agency, but one that devoted half its running time to domestic schisms and what amounted to intra-office manuvering. The Quinn storyline, which introduced via surveillance photo F. Murray Abraham as black ops runner Dar Adul, occupied that dip, as Saul made a foray to Philadelphia to question the mother of Quinn’s child, a cop named Julia Diaz (Danielle Pineda) who’s quickly figured out her visitor’s not the IRS agent he claims to be. Also in the quiet lull was the continuing drama of Brody’s family, who were squired off to a luxe safehouse where, as the perpetually oblivious Chris (Jackson Pace) observed, there’s a TV in every room.

While Brody’s withholding nature makes the resentment with which he’s currently being treated by half the women in his life a little more understandable, the way both Dana (Morgan Saylor) and Jessica (Morena Baccarin) behaved in this episode wasn’t terribly sympathetic. Dana, still fuming about how her father disappointed her at the police station at the end of “The Clearing,” at first refused to go to the safehouse unless her father showed up and explained why in person, and later wished he’d never come back from Iraq at all.

And Jessica, lonely and feeling isolated from the husband she’s been unable to connect with, crawled back into bed with Mike (Diego Klattenhoff), waking in time to go apparently undiscovered by her children in the morning. While it’s understandable that Dana and Jessica are upset about being left out of the loop, the seriousness of what Brody is up to and the way that the CIA’s involvement confirms it made the fact they kept pushing for more information frustrating and a little forced, a way to free the family man to mingle more with Carrie, the only person he can talk to.

And Carrie’s still at and on Brody’s side, though the way his account of his time with Nazir was presented suggested he might have been holding something back. Carrie claimed to trust him, and he responded that that was all that mattered (“Do you believe me? Because that’s all I care about right now”), but both are playing a perilous game. This go round, the final act sped toward the tense possible capture of Nazir and the stopping of a bomb strike on a ceremony for returning soldiers. The former seemed unlikely even before it failed — it’s too soon to bring down the big bad, and the CIA’s inability to capture him puts Brody and everyone close to him in danger. It’s another promising twist in a show that’s never had a shortage of them, as is the glimmer of the possibility that the home team has its own share of menace, as seen in Quinn’s turning up in Brody’s car with stalled orders to end his life. If Brody and Carrie are going to survive, together or apart, it’ll depend on their surving not just threats from al-Qaeda but from the Agency as well.

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