HOMELAND Recap: “Two Hats”

     November 25, 2012


The middle part of this second season of Homeland has helped me remove my rose-colored glasses, and stopped me rather blindly and emphatically praising the show’s every move.  I’m still not used to really criticizing the show’s choices though, and “Two Hats” left me confused.  It was a greatly entertaining hour, with a ton of twists.  But in many ways felt like a completely different show from last week’s “I’ll Fly Away.”  It reminded us what is supposed to be important (that Carrie’s main target is Abu Nazir, not Brody, and that Brody’s loyalties are always questionable), and opened up a few new plots that seemed to come out of nowhere.  Was this genius or a desperate move?  Hit the jump for the many sides of “Two Hats.”

homeland-season-2-poster-1Last week’s capture of Brody, and his being delivered to Abu Nazir, shot off plot bullets everywhere.  The most linear related to Brody’s chat with Nazir, shown in part in flashback.  It’s a great device that the show hasn’t used in awhile to call Brody’s remembrances into question, and to show what he’s lying about (or more likely omitting).  It seems that Brody was very honest with his former captor / religious mentor, and in turn was fairly honest with the CIA (leaving out the bit about his conversion to Islam, which is interesting for a number of reasons both within the story world and as a larger commentary).

Things happened very quickly from then on out, and Brody played his part as frighteningly well as he usually does (barring the occasional breakdown), helping the CIA put the pieces into place for the capture of Roya and her TV crew / bomb squad.  Speaking of that, did Carrie really think Nazir would be there when all of that went down?  He’s far to clever and cautious for that.  He may want to bring the fight the enemy, as he says, but he’s not going to sit in a van outside of a fast food restaurant while bombs are being transferred in plain view.

homeland-season-2-episode-9-two-hatsIn any case, the fallout from this is sure to be immense.  Nazir will have to know Brody sold him out … right?  And without Roya as a go-between what could happen next?  These developments were great.  The pacing was so sudden and swift yet the anticipation wasn’t exceptionally high by Homeland standards — still, it gave us action and some satisfaction (capturing Roya and stopping the bomb, if not getting to Nazir) and opened up plenty of possibilities for the weeks to come, something the show is great at doing.

But speaking of swift and sudden action, anyone who had suspicions about Quinn surely felt justified.  After being a little bit of a robotic weirdo through most of the season so far, Quinn got his own profile, more or less, in “Two Hats.”  Virgil and Max escalated their investigation of him (I seem to have a shadow of remembrance of Saul asking them to do this, but I could have imagined it), and uncovered his strange Spartan existence and a single personal item: a photograph of a woman and baby in a copy of Great Expectations.

So suddenly Saul is driving to Philly and masking himself as an IRS agent to get details about “John X, Senior,” a.k.a. Peter Quinn, and then tracks him talking to (apologies, didn’t catch the name … Dahl?) his CIA mentor, kind of a Dark Side agent, before blowing up to Estes about the whole thing.  In the episode’s biggest twist, it seems that Quinn’s mission is as Estes’ eyes and ears in the control room, as part of the anti-Brody faction, and a kind of hired gun should Brody become “unnecessary.”

I am truly torn between thinking this is a brilliant narrative sidebar or a totally wacky one.  Sometimes Homeland plays a game of too many coincidences, and Quinn’s story hit all of the lucky breaks here.  Much like Jess and her good timing with Mike, who she banged in the next room while her kids were sleeping.

homeland-season-2-episode-9-two-hats-1With so much having been drawn out this season, “Two Hats” felt like a whirlwind of sudden plot development, many bits of which sprung up from virtually nowhere.  In fact, two people who had very little to do in the episode, oddly, were Carrie and Brody (Carrie particularly).  Homeland’s first season was very focused, but it seems to be looking into its longevity now by fleshing out the world more.  It can’t always be about Carrie and Brody, at least, not as a central conflict, so what else do we have going on?

So the theme was obvious this week — the duality, the proverbial two hats worn by Quinn in the episode but also by Brody, by Jess, by Nazir and Roya, and just about everyone.  It’s even a reference to Carrie’s bipolar.  Homeland‘s duality also extends to a more general genius / absurdity, yet the latter also happens to be extremely palatable even at its most eyebrow-raising.  Right now seeing which side wins in the end is a waiting game.  One of the show’s greatest strengths in the meantime though is that no matter the end game, the journey is incredibly — even if occasionally ludicrously — entertaining.

Episode Rating: B

homeland-season-2-posterMusings and Miscellanea:

— If the writers are trying to make Brody more estranged to play up the Jess/Mike, Brody/Carrie pairings I’m not sure I’m onboard with that.  Then again Brody and Jess did try to make things work and his life has just been too weird.

— I was so happy when Mike schooled Dana and basically told her to shut up and stop moping.

— That was the most tricked out safe house ever.  Damn!

— “We need to be extremely fucking vigilant here” – Estes

— Is Alvarez alive?  Did they say his days were numbered?  I miss him.

— “You think you’re the only one who thinks this fucker needs watching like a haw?” – Saul to Quinn regarding Brody

— Philadelphia P.D. Officer Diaz is one sharp lady.

— Quinn: “You look wasted.”  Saul: “I’m just old.”

— It’s interesting how far Dana has turned against Brody, and how she turns to Mike for comfort just like Jess (well … not just like Jess).

— Chris calls Mike “Uncle Mike” … how weird would that be if he became Dad Mike?  Uncle-Dad?  Eeesh.