Homeland recap: The Beginning of The End

Carrie's hunt for Abu Nazir hits a series of dead-ends, and Jessica and Brody's marriage reaches a milestone
Ep. 11 | Aired Dec 9, 2012

BAD HAIR DAY IS NO BIG THING One thing to keep in mind watching Claire Danes run, crouch, cry, and scream in this week's episode: She's doing it while several months pregnant.

Kent Smith/SHOWTIME

All Carrie could do was head back to Langley to wash her face, survey her wounds, and get back to work. Though Estes told her the snafu with Galvez was no biggie, he also knew Carrie wasn't exactly at her best: He ordered Quinn to question Roya instead, in the hope of learning of Nazir's whereabouts. Estes apparently didn't realize that the Langley architects had placed the women's restroom just down the hall from the interrogation rooms; when Carrie saw Roya being placed in one, she took the opportunity to get a jump on questioning one of Nazir's top operatives.

She was, to put it mildly, not successful. Carrie tried the same plaintive empathy route that she'd used with Brody, saying she couldn't believe Roya was as ruthless and vicious as the man who gave her the wounds on her face and wrists. But Carrie neglected to take two things into account: One, she hadn't bothered to establish any sort of rapport with Roya before presuming to know her heart; and two, Roya did know something about Carrie's heart. "Have you ever had someone who somehow takes over your life, pulls you in, gets you to do things that aren't really you?" she asked Carrie. "That you knew were wrong? And you can't help yourself? Do you have anyone like that?" A tear streaming down her face, Carrie whispered, "Yes." Roya's face twisted into a hateful grimace. "Well, I've never been that stupid," she spat at Carrie. "You idiot whore!" Snnnnnnap! (That very well may be the last we see of Roya for a long while, so at least Zuleikha Robinson got to do something before she disappeared that wasn't transmitting exposition.)

Quinn quickly ushered Carrie out of the room, and ordered her home for some needed sleep. Carrie was doubly devastated: One, that she'd blown it with Roya, setting back any further interrogation with her; and two, that she'd admitted to herself that Brody's presence in her life isn't ultimately a good one. The last time Carrie went through a major physical and emotional trauma (i.e. the suitcase bomb in season 1), she plummeted into a severe bipolar episode. So while what Carrie decided to do next — drive back to the factory on the hunch that Roya's Arabic (?) outburst that Nazir would never run meant he'd never left the site — was on one level completely crazy, on another level, it demonstrated some heartening growth. When pushed against the wall, Carrie didn't dissolve into a pool of self-doubt and lip quivering. Instead, she popped her medication and redoubled her efforts, fully comfortable in her own instincts once again.

At the site, Carrie convinced the last tactical team there to sweep through the factory tunnels once more, this time with her at their side. She noticed the false wall, and got the soldier with her — but without his fellow ops partner, bizarre given how much of a big deal Quinn made about this the night before — to confirm that it was indeed Nazir's hideout. The next few minutes unfolded like a horror flick, with Nazir transformed into a literal boogieman stalking the shadows: He slit the soldier's throat, chased Carrie through the factory, snuck up behind her and threw her to the ground. On cue, the other soldiers swept in before Nazir could finish Carrie off, surrounding him as he sat kneeling in prayer. For a moment, I thought Nazir would detonate a bomb, but instead, as my colleague Ken Tucker has already astutely pointed out, his death was much more mundane: He put his hand on his heart, and was shot dead in the dark. And that was that.

"It's a big day," Estes said to Carrie matter-of-factly outside the factory. "You must be very happy." The look of ambivalent exhaustion cascading over Carrie's face at that moment is something I won't soon forget. When you've dedicated your life to a single pursuit, a pursuit that has all but laid waste to your life, to see all that work finally end, even successfully, is as much a loss as it is a triumph. It's Homeland's ability to capture those nuances that still make the show such demanding, engrossing television, despite its more recent flaws.

NEXT PAGE: Dana cries over spilt milk. Literally, over it.

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