Episode Title: "Beirut is Back"
Writer: Chip Johannessen
Director: Michael Cuesta
Previously on "Homeland":
More than anything else this season, I’m impressed by the confidence of the “Homeland” writers. It’s a bold move to have a game changing episode like this as the second installment of the year. And if the creative team is ready to pull these triggers now then there must be something even bigger on the horizon.
The early part of "Beirut is Back" brings Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) back down to Earth in a hurry. Carrie succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest dreams by evading local authorities and meeting with her informant, Fatima Ali (Clara Khoury). But when Carrie returns to the safe house with an opportunity to take out the terrorist, Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban), she is instantly reminded of how little regard or faith the CIA has in her.
The expression on Danes’ face practically screams “Why did you bring me out here if you don’t trust me?!” And she has to listen as both her mentor, Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) and her former lover, David Estes (David Harewood) question her judgment and openly wonder if she is being used to lure them into a trap.
Carrie practically suffers another emotional breakdown when she overhears Saul say that he didn’t even want her there. And once again, Danes gives an impressive performance as Carrie falls into despair and later when she makes an impassioned plea for Saul to believe her former self even if she no longer trusts her own instincts after the debacle with Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis).
Estes has shown a constant lack of leadership on this series, which he demonstrates again by kicking the decision to proceed down to Saul rather than taking personal responsibility for his actions. Estes is such a weasel that I have little doubt that he would have taken full credit for Abu Nazir’s death if it had happened as planned.
The staging of the potential hit on Nazir and the corresponding scenes in Washington seemed designed to invoke the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. But as soon as Brody entered the room, it was obvious that he was going to find some way to warn Nazir. That was sadly, all too predictable. However, the buildup was still intense, both in Washington and in the slow arrival of Nazir and his associates in Beirut.
Brody may have a will of his own, but he can’t seem to prevent everyone around him from using him to serve their own agendas. Nazir has a hold on Brody that is still not fully understood as he manipulates him from half a world away. Vice President William Walden (Jamey Sheridan) has also made it clear that he sees Brody as just another tool in his political arsenal to further his needs.
Even Brody’s wife Jessica (Morena Baccarin) is not above using Brody’s celebrity and name recognition to enter the political circle of Washington D.C.’s elite. Everyone is pulling Brody in different directions and that’s enough to make anyone crack under the pressure.
It was refreshing to see Brody’s daughter, Dana (Morgan Saylor) and her mother have a moment to themselves in the car where they compared notes on Brody’s new religious faith without bickering. Dana’s burgeoning romantic subplot with the V.P.’s son is less engaging, but not objectionable.
In the aftermath of the botched hit on Nazir, Carrie opts to prove herself (and perhaps prove something to herself) by racing into the home of Fatima Ali’s husband and frantically grabbing anything that looks relevant as angry mob gathers around the car outside. Director Michael Cuesta created a lot of tension in that scene and Carrie’s subsequent escape from the building was an exciting highlight of the hour.
For her bravery, Carrie’s reward is a swift return to her normal life; which has to sting even more now that she knows that she can still handle her job. However, Carrie may have just vindicated herself. Because among the pile of useless documents, Saul finds a hidden memory chip that has Brody’s pre-suicide bombing recording from last season’s finale.
The truth about Brody is out… at least among the high ranking CIA officers. Will they be willing to share that info with Carrie? It would be pretty cruel to keep Carrie in the dark after everything that she went through to prove her suspicions about Brody. But it seems unlikely that anyone from the CIA besides Saul cares about Carrie at all.
Exposing Brody’s true loyalties so early in the season will potentially open up a lot of different story directions. Will the CIA begin spying on him or again? Or will they use him as their puppet to take down Nazir? Either way, Brody seems destined for a fall that makes Carrie’s look tame by comparison. At this point, Carrie’s situation can only improve. For Brody, there’s only a downward trajectory ahead.