Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 2, Episode 10 of Showtime's "Homeland," titled "Broken Hearts."
I just finished watching the new episode of "Homeland" and boy, are my suspension-of-disbelief muscles tired.
Somehow, the world's-most-wanted terrorist, working alone but for the remote assistance of a hacker who specializes in medical devices, managed to crash his SUV into Carrie's car without injuring her or leaving any trace of his own vehicle. Because there couldn't be any easier way of kidnapping her. And only by kidnapping the woman Brody loves could Nazir force him to carry out a chore so preposterous that Diddy wouldn't have dared to propose it on Making the Band. (Meanwhile, when did Nazir find out that Brody loves Carrie? Is that what they discussed during their secret prayer session?)
Yes, after failing to kill Vice President Walden on two previous occasions -- the first having been foiled when Brody chickened out and the second when Brody snitched to the CIA -- Nazir has decided to pursue the Plan Z of all Plan Z's: get Brody to steal the serial number to Walden's pacemaker so the aforementioned hacker can access the device and fatally fibrillate the old bastard. And how exactly does Nazir know that Walden keeps this information on a bookshelf next to the treadmill in his home office at the Naval Observatory? "The New York Times, believe it or not," the wily old terrorist says. The writers are just laughing at us now, aren't they? (Oh, my mistake: Nazir is actually crediting the Times with teaching him how to hack a pacemaker.)
Yes, there was a lot to disbelieve in this episode of "Homeland." Why does Dar Udal, a man who is so secretive that his missions don't exist, he changes addresses every few weeks and he holds business meetings on the bus, eat waffles at the same diner every Tuesday? Why isn't the CIA tapping Brody's cell phone and instead leaving him free to conduct heart-to-heart FaceTime conversations with Abu Nazir? Why do Jess and Mike insist on making out by the light of the aquarium in the middle of the safe condo where Dana is liable to materialize at any moment like the Ghost of Christmas Past? Why have I seen scenes of "Scooby Doo" that were more plausible than the one where Galvez returns to help find Carrie? Why does the greatest terror mastermind in the world use plastic zip ties to constrain his prisoners? And does Carrie really think she can take him down with a crowbar?
There were also a few letdowns following last week's excellent episode. As it turns out, Brody wasn't double-crossing the CIA -- and Nazir wasn't using him as a smokescreen. The plot to kill 300 returning Special Forces vets with a van full of explosives was the plan, and Brody's betrayal of Nazir foiled it.
The Estes-Quinn conspiracy to kill Brody isn't as interesting as it might have seemed, either. After failing to get any actionable intelligence out of Dar Udal, Saul confronted Estes with some grade-school logic: You don't want anyone to know about the drone strike that killed Issa; Brody knows about the drone strike; therefore, you want Brody dead. Estes lashed back with a big "fuck you" that made it pretty clear where things stood. Even those "Homeland" fans who wondered whether Walden might be in on the plot to kill Brody were disappointed by the Veep's incredulous look as Brody stood over him, sneering, "You still don't get it, do you? I'm killing you."
Speaking of things that are hard to swallow, the entire scene inside the Naval Observatory was pretty ridiculous -- and yet I rather enjoyed it. I certainly hope a rogue congressman never manages to have a video chat with a terrorist from inside the vice president's home office, but it's fun to imagine it happening. And Damian Lewis brought a certain sweaty intensity to the whole wild goose chase, which I appreciated. That said, I'm afraid the sheer panic that overtook him when Nazir threatened Carrie makes their relationship less interesting, not more. This duo is most fun to observe when we can't tell where the true passion ends and the crafty manipulation begins. I understand why Brody feels so strongly about Carrie now -- of the people who know all his secrets, she's the only one who doesn't think he's a complete piece of shit. But the fact that he cares so much means their relationship is much simpler now. The interactions that were once so electric now run the risk of getting boring.
I'll tell you one thing that's not boring: watching Morgan Saylor work those eyebrows and fingers. Dana got another chance to remind viewers why they don't willingly spend time with 17 year olds this week, as Finn inexplicably penetrated the CIA safe house in order to inform her that he feels guilty about killing that woman. If only Dana could show him some sympathy, the pain would be bearable. Her reply: "Whatever we felt, we broke it. We killed it just the same way we killed that woman." Neither of these crazy kids will be satisfied until they've served 15-to-life in the state pen. Luckily, Dana also had what might be her best line of the series so far. After Finn asks what she and her family are doing at the safe condo, she replies, "My dad is like a super-spy and terrorists want to kill him or some shit, I don't knuh." Classic!
And then there's Carrie and Nazir. The long-awaited encounter between these two should have felt a lot more momentous than it did. Something about Carrie's showy refusal of the water bottle felt forced. She'd been handcuffed for about 45 minutes -- it's not exactly analogous to what Brody went through in Afghanistan. And then all that yammering about organic food and little boys in marketplaces -- it just didn't add up to anything meaningful. Let's face it: Nothing Nazir says is going to make us sympathize with him at this point, no matter how evil Walden is.
But he is so evil, isn't he? "Fuck your family"? Nice one, jerk. I can't imagine there were too many fans lamenting the demise of this vicious old creep. Still, his death does raise some interesting questions. Estes, in particular, will presumably want to know what on Earth Brody was doing in the room with the croaking VPOTUS. Carrie, of course, knows what really happened, but I highly doubt she'll feel inclined to share that knowledge with Estes, especially now that the deputy director has sicced his goons on Saul. (They better not hurt my Saul!)
That is, if Carrie gets out of the mill alive. The episode ends with her walking through a door into heaven knows what kind of danger. At this point, for better or worse, I feel like anything could happen on this show.
What did you think of the episode? Let us know in the comments, and don't miss Maureen Ryan's exclusive interviews about this episode with Jamey Sheridan, who played Walden, and the show's executive producers.
"Homeland" airs Sundays at 10 p.m. EST on Showtime.