Image credit: Kent Smith/Showtime
BEARD VS. BEARD After watching Saul (Mandy Patinkin) confront black ops svengali Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham) at the latter's favorite waffle spot, I've begun fantasizing about a spin-off series that's just these two men touring greasy spoons across our fair land — kind of like that 2011 Steve Coogan/Rob Brydon film The Trip, but with way more growling.
Carrie, meanwhile, had her own up-close-and-personal encounter with her sworn enemy, but her experience was far from resolved. The sight of her bound and bloodied on the floor of a random empty factory was much more unsettling than I would have expected — I did not like seeing Carrie that helpless, and not just because it was a damsel-in-distress cliché. The last time she went through a major physical trauma, it jarred her psyche so badly that she fell into a life-demolishing bipolar episode. Instead, Carrie demonstrated a remarkable grit, keeping her sanity and refusing to deal with Abu Nazir on his terms.
First, she struggled to snag a lose strip of sharp metal near her on the floor, but the writers at least proved they're above the old "my captor has conveniently left me alone to plot my escape" gambit, and Nazir caught her and tied her feet together to keep her immobile. (Watching a clearly pregnant Claire Danes contort her body into every manner of uncomfortable position: another reason this sequence left me all squingy.) Then she refused to drink the water Nazir provided her, spitting his tactics back in his face. "That's what you did to Brody, isn't it? A lot of pain, a little love?" (Literal dangling thread #1: The piece of bloody make-up hanging from Danes' wrist during this scene.)
Nazir blew off Carrie's taunt, but with her gag removed, she began pressing her captor further, claiming Brody couldn't and wouldn't go through with his mission, especially since he knows Nazir will kill her anyway. "A man gambles with what he has," Nazir assured her. "[Brody] will try." Carrie was undeterred: "Don't be so sure. He's smarter than you think." Nazir just smiled, and replied with the most menacing thing he could say to Carrie at that moment: "You love him too. Perhaps we have that in common." Not only did Nazir respect Carrie enough to share the "emotional transference" he experienced with Brody while breaking him down, but he actually bothered to sit and debate the geo-politics of the war on terrorism with her. Their discussion didn't cover a great deal of new ground on this topic — Is a man who uses a drone to take out a defenseless community from afar a solider, or a terrorist? If the survivors of that attack retaliate with whatever indiscriminately violent means they have at their disposal, does that make them terrorists? — but it was still fascinating to watch these two share a scene together after playing cat and, well, cat for two seasons. Nazir's final point — that the tenacity of his faith and the faith of his brethren will outlive easy Western decadence, even if it takes centuries — still felt like boilerplate Islamofascism 101, though. It may ultimately be a realistic dramatization of what a guy like Nazir would say at this moment, but I just wished his philosophical outlook was a bit more unpredictable.
Eventually, Nazir struck his bargain with Brody to let Carrie go. She managed to flag down a trucker long enough to steal his cell phone to call the CIA. She called in the cavalry to capture Abu Nazir at their position, but neglected to tell anyone that, oh right, Nazir is about to give the vice president a killer heart attack. Given that Homeland's opening credits feature Carrie stating emphatically that she can't let the U.S. get "hit" again, this was something of a surprising development. Was her faith in Brody so unshakable that she believed he would go back on his word and not give Nazir the pacemaker code? Did she secretly agree with Brody that Walden was an unrepentant war criminal and deserved to die? Was she just trying to protect Brody from getting caught? I have no idea. But I do hope the show has a mighty good explanation for her sin of omission.
At least she nerve to go back to the factory to try to, I guess, whack Nazir with a random pipe and hope he didn't shoot her? I kid, but I totally bought that Carrie would be just that determined — this is the same woman who raced into a random Beirut apartment deep in Hezbollah territory on the off chance she would score some intelligence. The cliffhanger of her stepping into a black void after Nazir was immediately resolved with the teaser for next week's episode, but it still got me screaming at my TV all the same. And again, it got me wondering about what lies ahead for the show: Should we expect more uncertain darkness in Carrie's future?
Your turn! What did you make of "Broken Hearts"? Were you bothered by Brody's magic Blackberry? Did you buy Carrie's kidnapping? Now that David Galvez has mended enough from his wounds that he's back at work, do you think he's obviously the CIA mole? Or would that just be way too obvious? (For one, it would spoil one of the most purely sentimental moments ever on Homeland, with Danny pulling himself out of the hospital the moment he heard Carrie was in peril.) And what do you think awaits Saul in the bowels of the CIA?