Last week's tense offering seemed to garner mixed reviews from the "Homeland" audience. Some compared it to an overwrought "24"-type plot. Others (including this reviewer) enjoyed the return to suspense that the series has done so well the past two seasons. The latest, "In Memoriam," offers a great mixture of both tension and well done melodrama, and is among the season's best.
We return from last week's cliffhanger with Carrie venturing into the darkness to find her arch-enemy and kidnapper. Alas, she is not superhuman, exhausted after a day of imprisonment and no doubt still feeling the effects of her car accident, and she winds up losing Nazir in the shadows before the rest of the strike team shows up.
Despite the vast operation, Nazir somehow manages to slip through the cracks, leading Carrie to theorize that there was an inside man on the search crew who helped him get away. With the search wrapping up, Roya Hammad is brought to Langley for interrogation in the hopes that she can divulge some leads. Carrie appeals to Roya's humanity, an educated and empathetic woman caught up in the harsh reality of a holy war she perhaps doesn't fully want to be part of. In short, it doesn't work. At all. Roya knows exactly what she's doing, and turns Carrie's own mentality against her in a gripping scene.
And why yes, having bumbled the interrogation of their chief witness, the CIA does in fact let Carrie drive herself home. This after she was just abducted not two days before after her car was plowed into by the very man they are searching for. Yeesh. Headscratcher aside, the drive back at least gives Carrie a chance to collect her thoughts, and she returns to the warehouse to resume the search. "Homeland" has done tense and claustrophobic chase scenes well in the past, but the dark search through the machinery maze ranks among the best. The end result is a game changer: Abu Nazir is found and killed.
I've been a big detractor of the relationship melodrama that's plagued this season, but for this episode it works. Brody and Jess' relationship, circling the drain nearly the entire season, is finally flushed in an emotional confrontation between the two after Nazir's death. Dana's frustration boiling over as she confronts her father about how Mike is better for the family than he ever could be was powerful and gut-wrenching. For once, the war at home with the Brody clan was just as engaging and compelling as the CIA drama, as the death of his former captor represents a rebirth of sorts as both fragments of the family can move on to the next chapter of their lives.
At least some of them can. When we last left Saul, he was being detained against his will as the rest of the team took to hunting Nazir in the country. After running afoul of Estes, the CIA director puts Saul through the ringer on a polygraph, getting enough incriminating information to use in summarily ousting him from the organization. Saul is completely on point here, pegging the move as a last ditch effort by Estes and Quinn to push him to the side so he doesn't ask questions when they assassinate Brody.
Indeed, all signs point to next week being do or die (literally) for the congressman. Will Carrie and Brody flee to start a new life together? Or will he eat a bullet to tie a bow on Estes and Walden's war crimes?
Final Grade: A