Homeland Season 2 Review “Beirut is Back”

Homeland Season 2 Premiere "The Smile" (3)

Through two episodes, Homeland has produced harrowing action sequences, brilliant acting, and plot points that require you to stretch your disbelief (in some cases quite strongly). While the quality of the work remains very high, it’s tough not to look at these two episodes without a red flag popping up behind your back.

I consider myself a first-rate Homeland apologist, but the places they are taking Brody to keep him in the loop call for some serious high-wire activity. If you thought stealing from the CIA director’s office was tough, try having him send secret texts to the world’s most wanted terrorist while sitting in a room with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It was already enough of a stretch that he was in the room to begin with, but then they’re going to add him communicating with Abu Nazir while in the room? The captain flashed the red flag sign at that point. Normally, this wouldn’t be much of a problem, but we’ve already contrived to keep Brody around at the end of last season. Therefore, it doesn’t seem to make much sense to me to take Brody to the point where he has to go. He may not be there yet, but he’s approaching that point far more rapidly then it seemed possible once they decided to not blow him up. It’s a dangerous game that they are playing. Our empathy for Brody may only go so far.

I definitely had my questions about Brody’s storyline, but I really enjoyed Carrie and Saul’s pursuit of Nazir. My favorite aspect of the episode was the call back to what happened last season. Good shows remember that stuff happened the previous season. Here, no matter how much Carrie wants back in, Saul is there to remind her that she couldn’t get used to being back on the team. In addition, Claire Danes got to really flex some acting muscles again on the rooftop in Beirut. Her acknowledgement of the past coupled with her steadfast belief in her source certainly convinced me that Saul should give the operation the green light.

Still, none of what came in the previous 40+ minutes of television will measure up to the final revelation. After Crazy Carrie resurfaced to put everyone’s life in danger in a Hamas leader’s house, Saul discovers the Brody suicide tape. Now, coming off of the now famous Walt Whitman-inspired toilet discovery by Hank on Breaking Bad, this revelation seems strange to appear in the second episode of the season. Is the Brody chase back on? If they are truly chasing Brody again, it’s not going to take much time for Brody to be discovered. After all, you can’t take that many risks while under surveillance.

A great deal of the fun of Homeland‘s first season rested in the unknown of what Lewis’ character was going to do. Lewis himself didn’t even know until close to the end of the season. As a result, his performance was fantastic. This year, his lack of certainty in his character’s position isn’t quite as compelling. Hopefully the revelation of this tape coupled with the increase scrutiny coming from a potential vice presidential campaign will elicit some of the old Brody.

We haven’t quite reached the dizzying heights of the previous season, but there is plenty of room for upward mobility. Strangely, there is also plenty of room for a freefall if handled incorrectly. That being said, Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa have earned my trust. I’ll follow them down the rabbit hole.

What did you think of tonight’s Homeland?