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Homeland – season 3 episode 4 – Game On

Game On

Carrie finds out that the CIA can still exercise power when they have to, Dana goes AWOL, and Saul and Fara follow the money trail to an unexpected location.

Carrie’s hearing followed a night of disturbed sleep because another patient was being forced to take medication against her will. Carrie’s family didn’t show up despite a reminder from Carrie’s representative the day before because they had been duped into believing that the hearing had been cancelled. Carrie was deemed fit to be released under normal circumstances but  too much of a security risk to be allowed to leave. It wasn’t long however before Carrie was released following an emergency circuit judge decision as a favour to the law firm Carrie had turned down the day before as she suspected they were not working in America’s best interests. Car-less and with her funds frozen Carrie was forced to consider options which in the past were part of her risky behaviour. She slept with a previous one-nighter to get away from her own apartment and access to some cash. It did her no good of course as she was picked up at eight outside his department, just as she was meant to have been picked up at eight outside her own. Meeting a shady lawyer she finally agreed to meet with his client face to face alone to talk about why he had lost operatives in the US.

Dana meanwhile had run off in the family car with her drug toking boyfriend. Phone flung out the window and expensive car swapped for a clunker she was on the run and off the grid  for the duration. They spent their own version of a road movie visiting key moments from their pasts, like the death of a younger twin and the last true word Brody had said to Dana. However all was not as it seemed here either as Leo had actually been the one who had shot his twin and his stay in the facility had been the result of a plea bargain to keep him out of JD. So Dana has unwittingly exchanged one liar for another.

Saul and Fara traced the skimming of $45 million to the second in command in the Iranian regime. It was to be used by Saul as leverage to find out who the Iranian spies were on American soil.

The cliffhanger when it came was almost worth the slow pace of the first three episodes as it appeared that Saul and Carrie were actually working as a team to force a meeting with the Iranian so that the next stage of the investigation could begin.

It all comes down to trust, who do we trust and are we right to place that much power into their hands?


Homeland 2

On Sunday 7th of October, the second season of Homeland starring Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison and Damian Lewis as Nick Brody will begin on UK TV on Channel 4 at 9.00 p.m.

The Israeli bombing of Iranian nuclear plants  underline Homeland’s central theme of untrustworthy Muslims out to get America wrapped up in a classic spy drama. Dana, the sulky teen with typically stroppy attitude, will also play a bigger role this season. A multi-layered, high quality plotline strewn with unanswered questions and red herrings is what we have come to expect and no doubt – what we will be served.

It’s Showtime, at its best.

Homeland – Series finale

Nicholas Brody  The episode opened with Brody talking to camera in full uniform. He explained his actions were caused by his love of country and his oath to defend America from enemies both outwith and within the United States. He made it clear that he held Walden responsible for the unacknowledged deaths of 83 children on foreign soil. He left the SD card with the confession hidden in between two rocks in a park near his secret lock up. Abu Nazir  in flashback told Brody to purify his soul and to look forward to the battle before he engaged in it. Brody went into the family garage to pray but was followed by Dana and so he had to confess he had converted to Islam. A Muslim could never deny Allah even if it meant that their deeds were about to be discovered. Dana agreed to keep it “their little secret”. She was very suspicious though and later wondered why her father had locked himself in the bedroom. He had to take off the bomb vest to go and reassure her but he put it on again before going with his secret service detail to D.C. He couldn’t let Dana hug him in case she felt the vest but she knew something was wrong and begged him not to go. Later the vest failed to detonate when he had all the VIPS with him in the bunker. He must have connected it wrongly when he was interrupted earlier.

Saul told Carrie’s sister that Carrie would not be charged but would never work in Langley again. Carrie, still looking awful after the bombing, was very upset that Brody had sold her out, making her lose everything. Saul worked out that Carrie was actually in love with Brody. Carrie still realised that the key to what was going on was to work out what had happened to put Abu Nazir off the radar for months. Looking every inch the mad bint, Carrie went to speak to Dana telling her he was part of a terrorist plot to kill the VP. She gave her a phone and told her to call her father but Dana, and subsequently her mother and the police, all thought she was insane. Once Carrie had been taken away Dana used the phone to call her father just at the moment that he was about to try detonation for a second time. She made him promise to come  home and that was a very powerful scene, well acted. The facial expressions of Damian Lewis gave us every thought of what that promise would mean to his plans.

Tom Walker  hid in the back seat of an older woman’s car after having hours of practice with his weapon. She had been chosen because she lived two blocks from the State Department and her access to Walden’s chosen location for his announcement was perfect for his purposes. He rearranged her perfect furniture in her perfect flat to rest his gun. Walker got several people in his sites making it difficult for the audience to work out who he was there to actually kill. He fired at Gaines and the VP, killing her and missing, deliberately, him. Brody and all the VIPs were sequestered in a secret bunker to keep them safe. He left the woman’s apartment ruffling her hair affectionately. A moment of humanity amidst terror. Carrie worked out that Brody was going to take them all out.

Virgil  was really scared for Carrie when all she wanted to do was sleep and she refused to eat the soup he had made. Next morning he gave her her pills and agreed to take her outside for a drive. He was less than pleased when her directions took them to the scene of the announcement, pointing out that the equipment he had in the surveillance van wasn’t exactly legal and that it was no longer her responsibility to keep people like the VP safe. Carrie said he had missed the point, that it would always be her job. Despite the high level of security and the barriers, Carrie and Virgil made their way on foot to the location of the announcement. She spoke loudly about “terrorists” in front of a police officer who looked suspicious but didn’t do anything – didn’t quite fit in with the security at airports that we’ve all experienced just as tourists.

Saul found the evidence that proved that Estes and Walden had deliberately chosen to launch a drone attack on the school near where Abu Nazir was living. Estes pointed out that if he went to the New York Times he would be sentencing all American operatives on foreign soil to death as the tapes would be used as the most powerful recruitment tool since Abu Graib.

Carrie promised Brody that she would stay away from him and she looked broken by his speech about all the things she had done to him while being so sure he was guilty. He claimed he was not what she thought he was. Carrie signed herself into hospital for ECT but Saul arrived just before she received it. He told her there were other ways of fighting what was happening in her brain. he also told her she had been wrong about Brody but right about Abu Nazir being in mourning and the records of the VPs orders having been wiped. She still went through with the ECT but the anaesthetic brought back a memory of Brody shouting out Isa in his sleep which was proof he had known Isa, Nazir’s son so was connected to Abu Nazir. The question was, would she remember it when she woke up?

Brody’s SD card was missing and he went to meet Walker and talk to Abu Nazir on the phone. He argued that it would be more valuable to Abu Nazir to have someone influencing policy than to kill the VP – to kill an idea rather than to kill a man. He had to prove his loyalty by killing Walker.

Homeland 10 – Representative Brody

Carrie and Saul encounter a Saudi diplomat that appears to be a Abu Nazir agent while the vice president offers Brody a congressman’s seat.

Carrie drove through Georgetown – how I missed it – en route to a bank while Saul gave us details about the money trail and the sexual tastes of the Saudi diplomat to be used as leverage to find out where Tom Walker was. She wanted to “entice” the diplomat into the bank and question him for a couple of hours there before he would be missed by his embassy. Of course any such activities would be illegal and Saul would leave Carrie to carry the can. Perhaps that is why he keeps her in the team – a useful scapegoat when it all hits the fan. She was told to “eviscerate the motherfucker.”  Very diplomatic.

Brody clutched breakfast cereal, looking terrified, while looking out his window at the black cars which were arriving in his driveway. The secret service foreshadowed the VPs visit to offer Brody a vacant House of Representative’s seat. Brody was “interested” but said he needed to tell his wife first. Hmmm. I still haven’t forgotten his coldness when masturbating in front of Jess. His wife’s first worry was that her house  had been a mess when the VP visited. Jess was less than enamoured that their lives would be examined by the media – her affair with Mike and his “fucking the CIA lady”.  Brody called Carrie afterwards and they pussyfooted around where and when they should meet. She said she would text him her address – say what? First her family cabin and now her own house, is she crazy? Oh that’s right, she is… Brody also met with Mike and cleared the air, spoke about how nothing wrong had happened as they had both thought he had been dead when they had their affair and he appealed to Mike to talk to Jessica and save his family. This went down like a lead balloon for Mike and Jess sarcastically suggested that they all go to bed together. However she discussed it with the children, surprisingly absent from the episode, and they all agreed they would support his desire for public office.

Saul and Carrie began their questioning of the diplomat who looked crestfallen. His meeting with Sabac in Geneva had been observed and his loyalty to the West was discussed. He apparently didn’t care that she held evidence about his homosexuality as his wives already knew. She then played the card that his daughter would not be welcome to continue studying in the West – she would be forced to go back to Saudi, get fat and wear a burkah for the rest of her miserable life. Surprisingly he sat back down. He gave the details of the signal – a child’s drawing of a heart into his living room window. The diplomat would be bait, and now working for the CIA.

Brody turned up at Carrie’s apartment while Miles Davis’s My funny Valentine  played in the background. She poured wine which he refused and then went on to ask her if she had told anyone about their time in the cabin. She promised that Jessica would never know and Brody left. His “Goodbye” instead of “Goodnight” was significant. Carrie was more upset that expected once he left. The scene cut to Saul taking a lonely bottle of water out of the fridge at work and returning to his peanut butter and cracker meal which had to be scooped out and spread with a ruler from his desk.

Walker, far from falling into the trap set for him in the square, sent in a physically similar man with a briefcase. Once he reached the diplomat Walker used a mobile phone to explode the bomb inside. Carrie had realised late on and was shouting to everyone to get out and stay back but she was caught in the explosion. Not killed, but wounded – a really bad concussion. She was being ordered to take a weeks’ rest and drugs. It became clear that there was an insider in government who had warned Walker. Carrie watched Brody from her hospital bed declaring his candidacy in a full media glare.

Homeland Episode 9 – Crossfire

Mobile phones featured heavily in the first section of this episode with a series of missed calls over, of all things, vita-min water, and Brody was attacked in the supermarket underground car park presumably by Abu Nazir’s men. While Brody’s wounds were tended to he had a flashback to  years earlier when he had first met Abu Nazir and been shown the luxury of a private bath without being bound. Looking a bit beefy for a captive he lowered himself into the steaming water before being groomed of all his excess facial hair. Brody had been brought to Abu Nazir’s house to teach his young son fluent English. Isa had no truck with working with this English speaking foreigner and took both the literal and metaphorical ball away. Brody had gained his trust when he had taken the blame for glasses broken by the boy’s football. Further united by prayer the boy grew to respect and apparently love his new teacher. Brody woke out of his flashback to find himself in a bedroom, ribs bound up, so that he could speak to Abu Nazir over a webcam. Nazir reminded him that he had trusted him with his son, who had been killed by an American drone attack on the school he had attended and that Brody had committed to vengeance in Isa’s name.  William Walden, the VP running for president, is the target as he was the one who had defended the raid on television. Brody returned home and said all the loving things a wife would want to hear and that the VP had called.

Walker was trudging through a forest while Carrie, her CIA head Estes and the FBI tried to work out where he was and what act he was about to commit. Throughout the episode the scene would cut to his target practice. He was interrupted by a hunter, calling himself  Dan, and he showed him his weapon’s sweet spot. It became clear that Dan was putting two and two together and couldn’t wait to leave as he fingered the bullets he had on his belt. Too late of course and now Walker had a truck to get about with.

Carrie surprised the iman in the mosque by talking to him in Arabic but he demanded a full confession that the FBI were to blame for the shooting of two of the muslims in the mosque the day before, and that they had shot first despite not being shot at,  so that their families could get justice. He implied that he knew Walker and had some useful information which of course Carrie found intriguing. The FBI leader of the investigation refused to make any such admission and accused Carrie of being high – ironically. His version was going to be that the deaths were due to crossfire – how silly of him to say so when she was taping him, afterall hadn’t he said a minute earlier that he had trained her? Estes however threw a spanner in the works, saying that there was no bridge she wasn’t prepared to burn in her efforts to scorch the earth. She pled her case again with the imam and somewhat predictably she impressed his wife more than the imam. Zahira phoned Carrie to arrange a surreptitious meeting in a shoe shop. Zahira sought reassurance that her information would be treated in confidence. She spoke about Walker meeting a man at the mosque several times and said he had Saudi diplomatic plates on his car. Saul continued to advise Carrie – but would he really give her so much leeway?

Homeland – Achilles Heel

Tom Walker, apparently alive and working with al-Qaeda,  pan-handled cars in DC streets within sight of the White House. His operator slipped him a note on a hundred dollar bill.

Brody’s story about beating Walker to death was suspect. He may have buried someone, but was he suffering from a false memory or continuing to disseminate a false trail?

He started to try to find common ground with Jess who after all had waited six years after believing him to be dead before forming a new relationship.

Elizabeth Gaines phoned  Jessica to remind her about the party she was throwing in their honour the next evening.  They did look like the perfect couple, all spruced up in glad rags and uniform – perfect for the poster boy recruiter or the newest political candidate. Telling Saddam Hussein/Mr Potatohead anecdotes, Brody held his audience in the palm of his  hand and there was a dawning realisation that he was being groomed for greater things as the current Republican representative – Dick Johnstone ironically – was outed as a mobile phone sexter. Afterwards family togetherness over watching Ice Age made them seem like a unit.

Carrie and Saul worked on trying to get Walker before he did anything harmful using the Achilles heel of the draw to his family. He hung up as soon as his wife answered, hearing her voice was enough for him but it was also enough for the CIA to trace the area of his call to within a mile. Walker was eventually pinpointed but his wife told him to get out.  The FBI followed him into a darkened building and shot two men,  Walker had taken sanctuary in a mosque. Walker however had escaped and found his way to the weapon left from him.  To tell the public or not? Carrie told Brody just prior to the public being told – sightings came in thick and fast of course but too many to be helpful. Carrie started to feel lonely perhaps for the first time.

It was increasingly obvious that Saul’s wife was also his Achilles heel, despite his claim that it was work that he had to drop everything for. Something for his enemies to exploit in the future perhaps.

The transition episode ended with the twist that Brody was lying in wait for Walker’s operator to send a powerful message to Al Qaeda/Abu Nazir that he was done. He was out.

Homeland 7- The Weekend

Complications, complications…

Beaumont Texas – Aileen (pronounced Eileen) Morgan tried to get out of the States by buying a bus ticket to Mexico but Saul was hot on her heels. Buying a one way ticket in cash is obviously not the way to go into  hiding in America. Surrounded by guns of the federales, Aileen chose to go with Saul. His gentle voice lulled her into an apparent daze and  finally she spoke about Faisal’s horse and told him that he did not know her. Princeton educated Aileen spoke about her father seeing her riding the brown boy’s horse one day and shipping her off to private school. Her part in whatever was being planned was her big “Fuck you!” to America and her father. Saul took Aileen to a barn which his family had used as a synagogue and told her about his childhood where he was forced not to assimilate. He had wanted to not be alone. “They fuck you up” the poem by Larkin was referenced.

Brody’s daughter Dana defied her mother’s grounding  by smoking pot and drinking beer and then falling into a patio door which promptly smashed and cut her arm. How unsafe are American glass doors? 19 stitches later Mike was in Brody’s house, kissing his wife despite her saying she wanted things to go back to being simple. Dana told Mike that he should leave them alone as there was no place for her father while he was there – he looked as if he had never considered that before.

Carrie and Brody drove around while he explained that he was taking a break from his wife because she had been having an affair – perhaps explaining that he wasn’t lying when he claimed to have never been unfaithful. Brody and Carrie went to a dive full of white supremacists and got out by the skin of their teeth using fight and flight. Carrie took Brody to a cabin in the woods and it became clear that she had skipped her anti-psychotic meds that day, she then loaded a weapon while Brody took in the scenery and the stars. Brody said that he had been taught to lie to save his life and asked if they could graduate from parking lot sex to cabin sex. The next morning the cabin seemed idyllic and they both swore off the booze and discussed the beauty of a waterfall Carrie had hiked to every day of her childhood summers. Their shared experiences of life in Baghdad seemed to be drawing them closer together. Partners in the kitchen preparing dinner together they looked like more of a couple than Brody had with his wife since his return. In the firelight she removed his shirt and kissed his scars which led to such an intimate bout of sex and afterglow spooning that it looked like love. Brody’s nightmare about Aisha woke Carrie who obviously thought this was a clue. Unfortunately next morning she gave Brody a clue by revealing she knew what tea he drank – Yorkshire Gold. She told him she was always working and also revealed that she thought he was working for Al Qaeda . He let go of the gun and said she could ask him anything she wanted to know. He eventually revealed that he prayed in the garage, was a muslim, that he tapped when he didn’t have his prayer beads with him and that he had beaten his friend to death in order to save his own life. He was no hero, a broken man living in the dark who responded to the only man who had been kind to him – Abu Nazir.

Towards the end of the episode, Tom Walker was revealed to be the American who was turned according to Aileen. Carrie was devastated. Brody returned home to his sleeping children and then cried in his den.

Homeland 6

“We must, and we will remain vigilant.”

The Good Soldier

After losing key players in Nazir’s plot against America, the CIA ordered polygraphs on everyone connected, including Brody. Carrie saw this as an opportunity to finally uncover the truth.

The possibility of a mole was too good an opportunity for Carrie to overlook and she publicly asked for all 11 people, including herself, who had had access to the terrorist who committed suicide at the end of last week’s episode obviously hoping that she would manage to prove Brody was a bad guy after all.

Jessica continued to be subservient to her husband, fixing his collar and telling him how handsome he looked – cue compliment to wife, which never came.

The lie detector test proved both that Carrie continued to take illegal drugs after joining the CIA and David continued to be bitter towards Carrie who had broken up his marriage.

Rakim and his wife went on the run and it became clear in their conversation that the American wife had dragged her husband into “this”. He told her she was “Fabulous” and she told him he was full of it, or something that rhymed with that.

Tom Walker’s remembrance service of farewell was difficult for his wife Helen and watching Brody giving the eulogy when we had all seen the flashback beatings inflicted in prison made us realise that Brody is more than capable of lying to everyone. He gave a roll call of all the soldiers who all stood to attention with and without crutches, the only one missing of course being Thomas Patrick Walker. Very effective for American audiences no doubt.

Hakim and his wife made for a safe house to await further contact with their handlers. Luckily for them she realised that there was a bomb on the other side of the door and they escaped. Hakim said they should hand themselves in as they had broken no law and would only be questioned and released. “Tell that to the guys in Guantanamo,” put paid to that argument.

At the after-funeral get-together Brody was angrily confronted  by a fellow soldier for becoming the poster boy for war recruitment. When he insulted Jessica it was Matt who punched him which so incensed Brody that he beat Matt up in front of everyone, including his own son.

Saul’s polygraph implied that he had been the one who had passed the razor blade and at that point he conveniently became too busy to complete the test.

Brody phoned Carrie to say that he wouldn’t be able to do the polygraph so she agreed to meet him in a bar – much flirting, throwing back shots and sharing confidences which played into Carrie’s hands but possibly into Brody’s as well. Staggering across the car park Carrie told Brody she was half Irish so wouldn’t puke and at first she seemed to be about to drive away but then Brody pushed her into the back seat and they both seemed to be really into the sex-in-a-public-place dangerous behaviour which surely would have been picked up by CCTV?

Hakim was shot while his wife was conveniently in the bathroom of their motel room.

Saul told his wife he was going to take a new job which would allow him to go with her on her adventures but she shocked him by telling him she didn’t want him to go with her. He then passed the rest of the test including the question he had already failed on.

Brody turned up to be questioned and Carrie watched him from behind glass. He appeared to pass the razor blade question but also passed the “Have you ever been unfaithful to your wife?” question which Carrie insisted be asked.

So, what do we know now? He can lie and pass a lie detector test. Does that mean he is the bad guy after all or did he just lie about the unfaithful husband question?

Homeland episode 5

Blind Spot

Islamabad – a CIA op resulted in the capture of the only surviving terrorist, Afzal Hamid, from the camp in Afghanistan where Brody had been held hostage. There was a fast cut to Brody doing the obligatory prayer out in his garage – the blind spot of the surveillance which had been going on in the Brody household. Was this the titular blind spot?
Carrie watched her father struggling to hold it together and reminded him about taking his medication which he threw right back at her. Was her reliance on anti-psychotic drugs the blind spot?
Brody was named as the person who would help to interrogate Afzal Hamid. That beggared belief didn’t it, that a recently returned captive would be used in this way, especially as so many had seen his meltdown at the family BBQ? He hardly seemed stable enough, even if they didn’t know he had changed his religion and was going to  counselling.
Brody, drinking out of a gigantic bottle of juice from the fridge door, managed to sweet talk his son while simultaneously finding things to argue with his wife about. Like the Stepford wife she appeared to have become, she smiled serenely as if her life was perfect.
Carrie and Brody had an “awkward moment” of reintroducing themselves to one another as if she didn’t already know everything there was to know about him and he hadn’t met her at the meeting the week before.  Brody was shown the captive on TV and had an immediate flashback to “Affy” urinating on his wounds following a beating. Brody swore profusely. Carrie also explained that Afzal was there to prove he was who they thought he was and also to give as much background information to unsettle him during his interrogation. Afzal was given a purple crayon and paper to write down any information he had in order to save his own family.
This series was written without any advert breaks so those that we are seeing are artificial. They seemed better placed in this week’s episode than they had in the previous weeks. Longer but less frequent works for me – in so many cases.
Brody noticed his perfect tea – Yorkshire Gold – but didn’t notice his wife’s new pixie style elfin haircut despite her making it as obvious as she could without actually saying “I’ve cut my hair unresponsive husband.” Noisy music in short blasts was used to torture Afzal until he wrote down the names he said he knew. He did give an e-mail address which was his method of  communication with the next in line in his chain of command. A false e-mail from the CIA bounced through encryption and ended up in Faisal, the college professor’s e-mail account – the professor who had paid cash for the house next to the airport.
Brody returned to David’s office and argued the case for why he should be allowed to look Afzal in the eye, now that he was ready to talk.  Brody provoked Afzal until he spat on his face, giving Brody the opportunity to leap across the table at him. An effective way of shutting him up perhaps, permanently?
Brody forgot to turn up at his son’s competition. Mike of course was there and had prepared the celebratory ice cream for Brody’s return. Why wasn’t the mother there however if it was so important?
Afzal committed suicide with a razor blade that no-one knew he had. This was enough for Saul to authorise the search of Faisal’s house. Faisal had of course left the building.
Saul’s paramour, Mira, returned from India and – quelle surprise – he had little time for her due to work. Mira wanted a life that wasn’t dictated by Saul’s work. And Saul, is he really so calm? Why kiss someone he was about to interrogate? Why say prayers for him after he committed suicide with the razor blade? Could Saul be our blind spot?
Carrie had an explosive argument with Saul about his lack of action over Brody and she ended up clearing out her desk and going to her sister’s who was angelic in her response. It turned into a giant girly sleepover with nieces and sisters together. Meanwhile Brody and son were also in a bedroom having “family time”.
God Bless America!

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