Oh, "Homeland." What happened? At this point in the first season I was on the edge of my seat, waiting impatiently for the latest developments in a white-knuckle thriller. The past few episodes have set the back half of the sophomore season on choppy waters -- this week's episode rights the ship somewhat, but the spy intrigue falls short and the hour remains mired in soapy melodrama.
The big question following the reveal last week of Abu Nazir's presence stateside was whether Brody would have a sudden change of heart. We pick up some 12 hours after his helicopter ride to nowhere, with Nazir dropping Brody off at an abandoned warehouse seemingly content that his former prisoner is back on board the conspiracy plot. However, his allegiance still seems to be with the CIA (or, more specifically, with Carrie), as he reports back in on what happened following his abduction.
Brody's debriefing and the accompanying flashbacks provide the more intriguing scenes of the episode. Despite saving his life after the failed CIA assassination attempt, Nazir asks for confirmation that Brody's head is still in the game, dropping thinly veiled threats against his family if it seems that Brody is unsure if he can move forward. We also learn of his supposed terrorist plot: Brody and Vice-president Walden are set to greet returning Special Forces soldiers at an event that is supposed to be closed to the press. Nazir requests that Brody lean on Walden to let co-conspirator Roya Hammad and her crew into the event, with fireworks sure to follow.
The missing time seems to be important -- do we take Brody at his word, content that the flashbacks are genuine and tell the whole story? Or is there more to the clandestine meeting than he's letting on? The way things go down with Hammad and her crew getting taken down a little too easily would suggest the latter, but Brody's bond with Carrie is the ever-present wildcard.
Meanwhile, remember how Saul and Carrie were going to look into Quinn's shady background back in the third episode? Well, thankfully the writer's did as well, as we finally get a payoff. Their rogue surveillance team has apparently run into dead-end after dead-end off camera, finally locating his apartment home this week where they find cleaning equipment for a sniper rifle along with one sole personal item: a photograph of a young woman and newborn. In this week's Adventures of Saul, Saul gets in touch with the ex-girlfriend under the guise of an IRS agent. The woman, a Philadelphia police officer, claims she has not had contact with Quinn for several years. Quinn gets wind of this and goes scrambling to his apparent superior, meeting with CIA spook Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham) on a city bus, presumably to discuss getting Saul off his back. Saul is aware of Adal's reputation, many of his operations ending violently, and is concerned that Quinn and Adal may be running a shadow game behind everyone else's backs.
Elsewhere, Mike takes the Brody clan to a CIA safehouse until its certain that Nazir and his crew are brought in. Mike and Jess rekindle The Most Boring Romance Ever -- apparently the affair was contingent on convenience, because aside from being in the same hotel suite I couldn't point to any act that could have spurned her to make a move, aside from Mike showing an interest in Dana's troubled state of mind.
It seems with Jess and Mike's rekindling romance, Abu Nazir still on the loose, and Quinn's ulterior motives that Brody's days could be numbered. Either his allegiance has swayed back to the dark side, or he showed his hand to Nazir by sending the CIA on Hammad and her crew. Either way, I'm hoping for a shake-up and a return to suspenseful form for the series sooner rather than later.
Final Grade: B-