One thing lately that Homeland has had in common with Sons of Anarchy is that even when the plot lets you down, the show does a damn fine job of giving satisfying “feels.” Last week’s Homeland left viewers and critics alike in a quandary: was it a great episode? A ludicrous one? Had it turned into Prison Break? My stance was essentially that it was pretty ridiculous, but as others pointed out, we’ve bought into a pretty ridiculous world here anyway. Why not believe that terrorists could be using Skype or that a normally subtle character went off the rails screaming a terrorist’s name in the Vice-President’s house? But “The Motherfucker with a Turban” righted many of those wrongs, and focused almost entirely on the emotional. It also blew some of the show’s conspiracy theories out of the water, possibly, but hit the jump to get into the specifics.
The death of Abu Nazir was one of the most emotional moments of the series so far, both for Carrie, who saw her life’s work and purpose carried away more or less in a body bag, and for Brody who lost a mentor, oppressor, enemy and friend. It was also emotional for viewers — at least this one — because Nazir had been the bogey man / scapegoat / crux of so much that had happened on the show. He was a complex villain, and though foreshadowing alerted us to his (likely) imminent death, the way he was even able to control and orchestrate those final moments showed what a powerful person he really was.
That orchestration raises other questions. Theories floated around last week that Brody and Nazir had actually plotted the entire thing together, from the kidnapping of Carrie through the killing of Walden. Brody’s histrionics therefore were explained because he assumed he was being overheard by Carrie, and the whole thing then created the opportunity for him to “save” her and reestablish their relationship as a massive manipulation tactic to keep Carrie quiet and use her feelings for him to allow him to continue to operate for Nazir.
I’m not sure I totally buy this, though it makes for a neat story (and explains a lot of the craziness of last week). But can we really deal with yet another twist of Brody’s loyalty? In “Turban” he did essentially let his family go, and we don’t know why Nazir would have released him back to his normal life after his kidnapping unless the two had concocted something special together. Does Brody still have a terrorist plot in him? Do we even want him to?
The promos for the finale all but blatantly show Brody’s death, but nothing is certain with Homeland and I won’t be placing any bets. Yet as much as I adore Damian Lewis, Brody is becoming a drag, and eliminating him along with Nazir would allow the show a fresh start next season that might make it like 24, sure, but also might still be a better option than the forever Brody-Carrie back and forth.
There’s plenty going on in the background, too, though it is all somehow tied to Brody. Estes still wants to take him out, which Saul knows about, which has Estes putting him out to pasture. Quinn seems conflicted suddenly about his mission, possibly because he actually likes / respects Carrie now or because he simply doesn’t believe in it, but that doubt could be exceptionally important next week. Homeland‘s characters are rarely without complex motivations, and one of the best aspects of the show is that most of the time, we have no friggin’ clue what anyone is thinking.
As I mentioned pre-jump, another one of the series’ greatest strengths is its ability to give us real emotions, and Brody’s very truthful (for once) conversation with Jess in the car was a fantastic moment. Even though Brody is conceivably free now (or is he?) it’s too late — his family unit has broken down for good, or so it seems, and he and Jess essentially acknowledge that without laying blame on anyone. It’s just how it is. That’s that.
Brody’s family dynamics played such a massive role in the first season (that being the real focus of the Israeli series on which Homeland is based: the idea of coming home and assimilating back to “normal” life, and if it can be done), but if Brody really is being set up for a send off in the finale, the conversation with Jess was an important one in quietly closing the chapter on their story.
There will always be a new target, and Roya’s switch on Carrie and her dedication to her cause is still very much in play, and very interesting. Homeland’s second season may not have been as engaging necessarily as the first, but it’s still fascinating television if not just for what it gives us, but also for our discussion of all that it doesn’t. Prayer circle for Brody …
Episode Rating: A
Check out a sneak peek at the season two finale, “The Choice,” below:
Musings and Miscellanea:
— Homeland occasionally flirts with other genres, and it turning into a horror film briefly was a suspenseful and spooky change.
— Many were disappointed by the idea of Galvez being the mole because he is a Muslim character, something Carrie vocalized this week in a moment hopefully we can just chalk up to her being off her meds … if he is the mole, that would be an unfortunate place for the show to go, though.
— Speaking of which, the title of this episode …
— I’m not sure how I would react if someone told me that they had killed the Vice President to let me live. How about you?
— Claire Danes gave some amazing face tonight. I hope they all get GIFed
— Everyone gives Dana a hard time for being really unlikable, and that’s why I love her so much. She’s so real! Her histrionics about the milk made me uncomfortable because I got flashbacks to my own asinine hormonal teenage behavior. Dana is a great character because she’s exactly the mess she ought to be.
— Roya was allowed to keep her high heels? They weren’t considered a potential weapon?
— When is Estes going to learn to trust Carrie? She is always right!
— Did no one watching Brody as he stared, sputtered, cried, and then looked up like nothing happened upon hearing the news of Nazir’s death think that was weird? That was weird! Although I guess Chris did ask “isn’t this a good thing?” I kept waiting for Brody to act like he was sobbing from relief but … nope.
— RIP Nazir …