Homeland Recap: 209, Pray for Me

 Posted by on November 27, 2012 at 9:00 am  Homeland
Nov 272012
 

Among the problems I have with the latest episode of Homeland is the title. Instead of Two Hats, why didn’t they call it Enter Lying? Because that’s what almost everyone does this week.

Carrie’s lying about how she feels since Brody’s been off the grid. Quinn’s lying about who he’s working for. Virgil and Max are lying about checking Quinn out on Saul’s orders. David Estes is lying about something, we don’t even know what at this point. Saul is lying to the mother of Quinn’s baby, and Brody is lying to everyone, possibly including himself.

The only person who isn’t lying is Dana. She has only one real job in this episode, and she plays it to the hilt: doing as many interpretations of this sucks as there are in the great Book of Teen Contempt. Lucky for her, that’s one big book.

We open on Carrie in a blue mood. “He’s dead,” she says flatly to the room at large. “If not physically then operationally.” Of course she’s talking about Brody, who has gone silent for 12 hours — along with all other known terrorist outlets. She’s kind of ignoring her own grief over the loss of Brody when, hey! There he is, on the phone!

He wants her to get Jess and the kids to a safe place. He doesn’t say where or how, and he doesn’t want to talk about anything else, so Carrie handles it: Mike Faber shows up at the Brody house, to whisk them away to a deeeeeluxe safe-apartment in the sky. Good times indeed!

Dana doesn’t want to go. “This is bullshit,” she rages to her mom. “Get out of my room,” she growls at Mike, who lays down the law, as would any good-guy-who-secretly-wants-to-be-Dad. Even at the luxury safehouse, she’s unimpressed.

Seventh rule of Teen Spite Club: spite will go on as long as it has to. This sucks!

Carrie, dutifully driving around where Brody told her to go (“that place we first met”: vets’ support group?), gets a taste of her own medicine when he jumps into the passenger seat of her car. She’s not upset at all.

I AM. I really need a supercut of all the times Homeland characters have jumped unexpectedly into each other’s cars. Failing that, I want to know why no one in Washington ever locks their damn car doors.

“It’s really good to see you,” Carrie says, voice breaking a little. For a moment in their busy day, the unreliable narrator and the pathological liar hold hands.

The only way to follow foreplay like this is, of course, a long debrief. Brody does a masterful job, somehow telling his CIA handlers that Nazir is Stateside without ever admitting to his own role in the plan. “He’s here, he’s in America, he’s planning an attack,” he gushes, but omits the parts we can see in flashback. He recounts his own argument with Nazir (“Neither of us know the will of Allah. Each of us must decide what we can and cannot do”), but never mentions having prayed with him.

Or hugged him goodbye. Or asked for Nazir’s blessing, more or less: “Pray for me,” Brody says to Nazir in flashback. “And you for me,” says his mentor and friend.

The CIA buys it all. Carrie, seemingly delighted, says Nazir’s “plan” (to attack hundreds of US soldiers at a gathering to celebrate their return from Afghanistan) is “quintessential Nazir,” though I doubt this. Nazir’s plans have never been big, showy displays of power: they’re backhanded, quiet subversions of it. But on Carrie’s word, off they all go, down the narrative rabbit hole Brody’s designed for them.

Full disclosure: I now assume that absolutely everything Brody says is a lie. Even when he says to Carrie, post-debrief, “You’re the only one I care about right now,” I don’t believe him. I believe he cares deeply about his kids, and about Jess (though he knows that ship has probably sailed), but I think what we’re seeing here is a guy intent on convincing his boss that he can still do the job. It works, of course.

Over in the Swank Safehouse, Dana takes a break from Teen Spite Club to vent to Mike about her Dad. “Sometimes I wish he’d never come back from that stupid war,” she fumes, speaking for Jess, who’s checking the kitchen for some of that “decent wine” the CIA contact mentioned. Within about six hours, Jess is going to bang Mike Faber like a bass drum at halftime, and I will fall into a vegetative coma.

In his Senate office, Brody’s setting up his own fun for the next few hours. With Estes, he’s trying to convince VP Walden to show up at the returning-vets event, and invite Roya Hammad as well. Estes explains Roya’s role in the plan to a shocked Walden. On cue, Brody drops his funniest line of the season: “Roya’s a terrorist?

Brody is having his best day in weeks. He calls Roya with the good news, and she’s pleased but still bossy: “You should find a way to be near me,” she tells him. “Do you understand?”

I think I do, Basketcases. I think that Roya is a suicide bomber, and the plan — evidently foolproof this time, as she has no pesky children to call right before she self-detonates — is for her and Brody to self-immolate together. Consider Roya’s laser focus on “protocol,” her lack of concern for personal boundaries, her high tolerance for risk. I know she’s planning to die for Allah, and I think she’s going to take Brody with her.

While all of this is going on, Saul is pursuing a few leads on Quinn. Virgil and Max have found Quinn’s living quarters rather monkish, which struck them as suspicious. Saul uses the only personal detail they found — a photo of a woman holding a baby, tucked into a really great novel — to track that woman down. She turns out to be the most admirably self-protective cop on the East Coast. Not even Saul’s quietly threatening alias (“Richard Keller, IRS”) can convince her to give up the man she loves. Loved. Maybe still knows?

Sure enough, Quinn’s baby mama calls him. Nervous, he leaves Carrie in charge, hops a bus, ditches his jacket, and boards another bus. Max and Virgil notice him speaking with another passenger. Their photos reveal that this other man is someone named Daradal, who probably goes by just the one name because he’s a Black-Ops rockstar. Like Prince or Rihanna, only with death!

Next morning it’s “game time,” and Quinn treats everyone to coffee just before getting the nod from Estes and slipping out. Saul notices: “Who’s really running this operation, David?” he pesters. My name is Inigo Montoya. You insult me with your two-hats metaphor. Prepare to lie.

Brody, dressing to die for work, gets a satellite-phone call from the kids. Or the kid; Dana’s too busy mocking her brother (“he knows it’s you, dorko”) to talk to him. Fifth rule of Teen Spite Club: only one spite at a time.

Brody’s okay with that. “It’s all gonna be over real soon,” he promises a rather unimpressed Jessica. Now he even sounds like Roya, you guys!

Right on time, Roya shows up at a diner for breakfast with her crew. Carrie and Virgil are all over it (Carrie, in her element, reading off license plate numbers and otherwise narrating the scene). In minutes, the FBI moves in: apprehending Roya and her team and digging into a crashed SUV for Nazir.

“Stand by,” Estes is saying quietly into the phone, in the situation room.

But Nazir isn’t in the car. Carrie doesn’t take this well: she hasn’t looked so crushed since she had to give up her Wall Of Conspiracy to Estes back in Season 1.

The person on the phone with Estes is Quinn. After borrowing a limo from his limo tours company, he’s driving it and reaching into the glove box for … a gun. Brody has just slipped into the backseat; Quinn is drawing on him when he gets the next order from Estes. “Stand down.”

“We still need him,” Estes continues. Quinn lowers the privacy barrier and looks at Brody, who’s surprised to see him but still alive. For now!

That brings us to this week’s Burning Questions:

  • Nazir’s in Baltimore! Which side do you think he’ll pick, the Barksdale Organization or the Stanfield Crew?
  • What’s the significance of Quinn’s only personal item being a copy of Great Expectations? Is there any? If this were Mad Men it would mean something, right?
  • On the boring-hookups scale, with Eighties Soap Opera being one and Bella and Edward’s vampire wedding night being ten, how would we rate Jess and Mike?
  • When do you think Estes will bust out his I Am The Mole t-shirt? Is Casual Friday a thing in the CIA?
  • Why does the intelligence community have a problem with automatic door locks? Is carjacking part of its counterterrorism strategy?
  • How many episodes before Brody gets killed? And if he gets it in the next episode, why should I keep watching?

In the words of David Estes: Thoughts?

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  27 Responses to “Homeland Recap: 209, Pray for Me”

  1. Roya told Brody to get near her cameraman, not her. She was telling him how to avoid the blast.

  2. My only thought is how funny you are and how much I love your recaps. Can you come up with an excuse to do several recaps of the same episode? One a week is just not enough.

    Also, this show is silly. I love it, and I hate myself for loving it.

    • Thanks so much, Elizabeth!

      It’s suddenly occurred to me that I could do a recap in the voice of Dana. “So some stuff happened, and we had to like go to this big bougie like apartment with like guards, and uuuugggghhhh, I hate my f**king dad.”

      🙂

  3. Thanks, Anne. I haven’t laughed so hard since my first viewing of A Christmas Story.

  4. Thanks for the recap, Anne.

    F. Murray Abraham is playing a guy named Dar Adal. So it’s two names, not one. We had the captions on, which is often handy, and that’s how they spelled it.

    I need to see the debriefing scene another time, because it went by too fast. I don’t know if Brody actually mentioned saving Abu Nazir’s life in it, or if that was something we saw and didn’t hear. I don’t know if we are supposed to assume the things we saw are also things Brody was telling the CIA (except for the praying, which obviously wasn’t), or if what we are seeing and hearing are unrelated to each other unless it’s evident they are related. The CIA still doesn’t know about Brody texting one of Nazir’s minions from the situation room, I think.

    When this series started, I was much firmer about what I knew. Now, not so much. It’s interesting how the show has managed to slowly pull out some of the props of comprehension, rather like that game where you pull out one of the wooden pieces that make up a tower and try not to be the one that makes the tower collapse. I feel like there’s a bunch of that going on, and it’s very intriguing.

    And if the idea is to keep Brody alive only as long as Abu Nazir isn’t in custody, then my guess is that Abu Nazir will be around for a while.

    • Great observations!

      I appreciate the correction on the name of the Black Ops guy, though I’m also a little disappointed. I think “Daradal the Superspy” is a much better name for a shadowy new character. Especially one who’s also an Oscar winner.

      I think that text message from Brody to Nazir, and the fact that it saved the latter’s life, is one of the differences between what Brody actually said and did with Nazir and what he told the CIA. If he had shared that, he would have had to explain his true allegiances to the most wanted man in the world, and that’s not a narrative he’s ever pursued. Brody wants the CIA to see him as on the way out of Nazir’s circle of influence, not still firmly within it.

      Finally, that feeling of not knowing everything that’s going on has been central to my experience of watching this show. It moves really, really fast, and I’ll admit it loses me in at least one place every week. I think this pace is intentional: it adds to the tension the show needs to sustain, and it’s much more forgiving of little continuity issues than a slower pace would be.

      It IS Espionage Jenga. My God, what a great idea. 🙂

  5. I’ll just leave this here, because it’s hysterical… and topical to the Dana theme you had going on.

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/lyapalater/dana-brody-on-homeland-is-the-worst

    • Hope everyone reads the first comment under that link. The girl who plays Dana is given a script and told to act the part. It’s not her fault that the character is depicted as sullen and nasty.

      • I asked my husband last night, “What does it mean that a sulky teenage girl is somehow the moral core of this show?”

        I think Dana is that, as well as frequently annoying. But that’s what teenagers (especially girls) are: great people, very well-intentioned and often shockingly bright, and also just so exasperating you want to open a window and throw them out.

        Morgan Saylor gets this balance perfectly right. Week after week, she reliably kills it as the guilt-ridden, bullshit-calling, sulky-but-loving Dana. Even if she does occasionally remind me of this clip from The Onion, I love her.

        I think that Buzzfeed piece is really funny. Another supercut I need: a video compilation of Dana being Uuuuugghhh, THE WORRRRSSTT.

        • One of the big attractions of Homeland is (like Mad Men) its moral ambiguity.

          Brody is a mass (mess) of conflicting motivations – having killed his fellow POW pal twice – once for real. Having an adopted son – Issa’s death was the driver for most of his Season One actions (the writers played this hand slowly to great effect). His role as double-agent is almost inherently ambiguous. His love for Dana was commingled with his desire for revenge, a submerged desire to live, disdain for the political animals who recruited him, and “faith” in another recruiter’s (Nadir’s) vision. No doubt he’s conflicted about shtupping Carrie (even if he knows Jessica “knew” his pal Mike). I’m sure there’s more – but I missed half of season two. Regardless, Brody remains a compelling cypher.

          Carrie takes the “high moral ground”. She follows her instincts (compulsions?) to beat the terrorists, to prevent innocent deaths (even if the VP is merely “officially innocent”) without regard to her orders.

          As you pointed out, we don’t know who Estes is working for, what his motivations are, what his goals are – he’s another Cypher.

          It’s understandable that the writers would keep Dana morally “pure” in that she “knows” that turning herself in for witnessing the hit and run is the “right thing to do”. I credit the writers for offering her a moment to grow up when she discovered that the victim’s family would be financially compensated. She did not grow up much – “they got paid off”, she told her mother*. Despite this, she’s not so annoying.

          Less understandable (and more annoying) was that mother Jessica had not grown up enough to realize that a teenager’s morality is too simple to be real – her whining about the cover up (after “Mona” told her to keep quiet) rang false – a writer’s misstep IMO.

          *It’s a sad irony that “the right thing” would leave the family impoverished – and legally so

          • The more I see of Jessica, the more she seems like someone whose development was arrested when she became a mother.

            I think she might be growing again now — but if she and Brody were high school sweethearts, she was most likely very young when she had Dana. That might explain her binary thinking around morality, character, choices and consequences.

            If she and Dana are around the same age mentally, there’s a lot of good stuff to mine there. I hope Homeland follows up on it.

      • Dana’s actually my second favorite character on the show (behind Carrie). She does superb for the storyline she’s given.

        I would like to see her smile at some point, though. 🙂

        And I’d love to see another substantial scene between Carrie and Dana. Those two women would act the hell out of that scene… (as they did in Season 1 when Carrie was trying to get Dana to talk her Dad down).

        The link is purely for comedy purposes (both from the site creator’s point of view and my intentions to link it here). I got a chuckle and thought others might too. 🙂

  6. Roya’s gone.
    I’m not watching anymore. There’s no one left to root for. Nazir appears as often as Draper’s conscience.
    Brody dies, and we’re left with Jess and Mike as the ‘good guys’. Fade out.

    • I’m not as sure as you are that Roya’s gone. She didn’t get shot; she got apprehended. That puts into the CIA’s hands the link to Abu Nazir. I want to see how they deal with her.

      • I do not see Roya uttering a peep even if Quinn the Merciless jabs her 100 times with his Swiss Army knife. She will mumify. There’s no there, there.

        • That’s a good point. One thing that shows like Breaking Bad do well is give each character a backstory, regardless of how minor they are (or if they will only have a four episode arc)

          Roya would have benefitted from a backstory. Maybe she has a kid in the states… a beautiful young daughter that the CIA could use as leverage. Maybe Roya’s married… and the CIA could use that during questioning.

          But, as Roya is written, she’s just this… robot… just carrying out orders until her use is complete. So, with the information we have about her now, I’d agree that she won’t crack.

          It’ll be interesting to see if/how the writers invent a motivation for her to crack.

        • Agree, tk.

          “Demand me nothing: what you know, you know:
          From this time forth I never will speak word.”

          Roya Hammad is the Iago of Homeland.

          • The comparison to Iago is fascinating, Anne. For one thing, Iago is, line for line, the longest role Shakespeare ever wrote. It’s no wonder he dominates the play. Iago has more lines than Hamlet or Lear. I don’t think Roya’s that important – but wouldn’t it be something if you were being prophetic here?

      • Nothing Roya spills will help them catch Nazir. He’s hiding, picking up the pieces of his cell, forming a new cell, planning the next attack.

        Putting him in the homeland is a nice plot device – lots to mine there.

  7. whoops, did I miss something, did Roya die in the explosion or car or something. Help? God I love this show. It’s the best since 24!!! Anyway, somebody let me know about Roya will ya. Thanks forever.

    Suz in Atlanta

    p.s.

    dead to Dana….Quinn is my sweetie pie!

  8. On the boring-hookups scale, with Eighties Soap Opera being one and Bella and Edward’s vampire wedding night being ten, how would we rate Jess and Mike?

    The way it was orchestrated wasn’t that great, but I actually think Jess and Mike together really make sense…sadly, much more so than Jess and Brody, who are probably tied together now for political concerns.

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