The melodrama and soapiness of the last few episodes of "Homeland" falls by the wayside this week, as we finally get a return to form for the gripping suspense series.
It seemed that the terrorist wrap-up with Roya Hammad and her crew went a little too smoothly, leading me to think that perhaps this was the chum Brody and Nazir threw in the water so that they could pursue their own plans. Well, if there was questions last week about Brody's allegiances, they were cleared up quickly. Carrie is abducted by a slighted Abu Nazir, who uses her as leverage to blackmail Brody. The congressman is strongarmed into sneaking into Vice President Walden's office and getting the serial number of his pacemaker so that it can be wirelessly accessed. "You're shitting me!" Brody replies, which coincidentally enough was my reaction as well. That's right, readers: microwaves are no longer the mortal enemy of pacemaker users -- now it's wireless internet!
It's silly, yes, and perhaps a bit head scratchingly low-profile for a terrorist mastermind. But it at least reaffirms that the real enemy in Brody and Nazir's revenge plot was never America in general, but Walden and his war crimes. In a cathartic scene, Brody saves the girl and exacts vengeance on the man he intended to target last season, getting in Walden's face as the wireless pacemaker attack snuffs him out.
Additionally, the scenes with Nazir and Carrie debating their respective ideologies are tense and gripping, "Homeland" at its best. The best villains are the ones who truly believe that what they are doing is morally right and justified, and it's clear during their exchange that the unrelenting Nazir believes just that. Carrie meanwhile perhaps gains a little perspective, as we get a break from the Brody/Carrie melodrama and get a look at what drives her.
The romantic subplots are mercifully short-changed this week, adding to the episode's effectiveness. At the hotel homestead, Finn Walden requests an audience with Dana to get his head straight. The hit and run victim has evidently been weighing on his conscience more than he had let on, and with the vow of secrecy Dana is the only person he can talk to about it. Finn seems eager to go back to the way things were, attempting to rekindle their short romance, but it appears the accident not only shattered Dana's conscience but her worldview as well.
Meanwhile, Dar Adul (F. Murray Abraham) confirms Quinn is one of his -- Estes evidently asked for a soldier, and Adul gave him one of his black ops best. Adul stirs the pot suggesting that perhaps the CIA head doesn't entirely trust Saul and Carrie to get their hands dirty when the need arises, calling him 'too sensitive' for this line of work and questioning how he could have lasted as long as he has. Saul posits that Quinn is an insurance policy against Brody airing VP Walden's dirty laundry regarding the drone strike that killed civilians and children. It's strange that in an episode in which Carrie is being held at gunpoint by Public Enemy #1 and Walden's life is at stake, I found myself most concerned with Saul possibly sticking his neck out a little too far this time. Things are left on a tense note, and I have a feeling our bearded moral compass' days are numbered.
Overall, a strong return for "Homeland" this week, as we are thankfully given a break from the cheesy melodrama and get back to the tension and intrigue that made this one of last year's best shows.
Final Grade: B+