Review: ‘Homeland’ – ‘Beirut Is Back’

Senior Television Writer
10.07.12 135 Comments


A review of tonight’s “Homeland” coming up just as soon as I picture you in a Burka…

“It fucked me up, Saul. Being wrong about Brody. It fucked me up. Because I have never been so sure, and so wrong.” -Carrie

The end of “Beirut Is Back” is one of those jaw-dropping “Homeland” moments that threatens to overwhelm the hour leading up to it, but what makes it extra-special, I think, is how well it paid off what had come before.

Saul spends the hour unsure of whether he can rely on Carrie, which Carrie completely understands. Her counter-argument – “Look, the way I am now, I wouldn’t trust me, either. But the Carrie who recruited her – that one I believe.” – was beautifully-phrased by writer Chip Johannessen, and she spends much of that scene beating herself up for her perceived failure with Brody. If she could be so sure about that, and apparently incorrect, then how can she be sure of anything again?

But the tip about Nazir turns out to be right, and this fictional version of the U.S. government gets incredibly close to taking out its own Bin Laden type, foiled only because Brody once again gets to work a cell phone in a secured location.(*) Still, Carrie’s instincts are proven right, and then proven right again when she insists on searching the apartment for clues – not because the papers she secures are valuable, but because the bag she put them in happens to contain the memory card with Brody’s video confession from the end of last season.

(*) Those of you who didn’t like the season 1 finale – or simply didn’t like that Dana was able to place a call to Brody in a secure underground bunker (and to a stranger’s phone, no less) may have had flashbacks when Brody texted Nazir the “May 1” (aka “May Day”) warning.

Brody’s decision is an interesting one, as he could have let Nazir die and hope that this would be the end of his involvement in terrorism. He definitely seems to enjoy his new life and memories of Isa or no, you can see him wanting out. But his instinct is still to save Nazir and hope that this will be enough to secure his freedom, when it’s only going to drag him in deeper.

And, of course, he doesn’t know that Saul has seen the video confession, which is a point of no return moment for the series. There may be a plan to keep Brody around for the long-term, somehow, but it won’t be a case where he keeps his identity a secret for years on end. Saul knows, and even if he keeps the information close, I can’t imagine this being a situation where he keeps it entirely to himself, then gets conveniently bumped off after foolishly confronting Brody on his own. Things are going to change, and as we’ve seen from some other Showtime series of late (including the one that leads into “Homeland”), change can be very, very good.

Some other thoughts:

* Speaking of what Saul does or doesn’t do with the video, this would be the point where I remind everybody of the No Spoilers rule for the blog, which includes no discussion of the previews. I don’t know how much, if anything, they give away of what Saul does, but we’re not going to talk about it in the comments. 

* We see the return of Brody’s old Marine unit, including Lauder, the drunken instigator who once again sees through all the lies, but is so obnoxious that no one listens.

* I actually had less of an issue with Brody texting Nazir in a room with the Joint Chiefs than I did with Carrie having the enormous good fortune to grab that bag. The fact that it was in the apartment of one of Nazir’s chief lieutenants mitigates that a little, but it’s still a big leap.

* Jess is getting in deeper with the Washington elite, including the introduction of Walden’s wife Cynthia, played by Talia Balsam (aka Mona Sterling from “Mad Men”).

What did everybody else think?

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