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'Homeland' Recap, Season 2, Episode 3: Carrie Achieves A 'State Of Independence'

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HOMELAND SEASON 2 EPISODE 3 STATE OF INDEPENDENCE
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Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 2, Episode 3 of Showtime's "Homeland," entitled "State of Independence."

Each year, would-be Emmy nominees have to submit a single episode that best represents their work throughout the season. Last year, Claire Danes wisely submitted "The Vest," which began with Carrie bouncing around the hospital, demanding colored magic markers, and ended with her getting fired after David Estes discovered her terrifying (but accurate) color-coded timeline of Abu Nazir's activities. Given how frequently Carrie goes off the rails, it's entirely possible she'll have an even better episode than "State of Independence" later this season, but Danes could do worse than to submit this one for 2013.

Which is odd, actually, because yet again, Carrie was relegated to the "B" story in this episode. The majority of the hour was instead devoted to the increasingly tragicomic Brody marriage. This week, all Jess wanted from her cranky, PTSD-riddled, Qu'ran-clutching husband was for him to show up at her wounded-warriors fundraiser, give a speech and make her look good in front of the Washington establishment that she so desperately wants to fit in with. Instead, he had to travel to Gettysburg to personally escort the tailor who designed his bomb vest to a safe house. Apparently, an email referencing Gettysburg had been among the documents Carrie snatched during her daring (and perhaps suicidal) dash into that Hezbollah commander's apartment in Beirut, and Nazir was taking no chances that the CIA could find the tailor and, presumably, get him to talk.

Maybe the tailor saw Season 1 of "Homeland" and remembers what happened to Raqim Faisel when he took his girlfriend to a Nazir-sponsored safe house in an attempt to evade the CIA. (In case you don't remember, he and his girlfriend were killed it was a death trap and he was hunted down and killed after fleeing the scene.) Either way, the tailor certainly has a much clearer view than Brody does of the danger he's in. Truth be told, Brody seems impatient to get this damned errand over with so he can get back to Washington and deliver that speech. Maybe he's just hoping Jess will continue their kitchen-island lovemaking session after he proves that he can handle one social situation without punching someone out or making a joke about blowing up the joint. (Also, speaking of the lovemaking session, I suppose we should award "Homeland" points for anatomical accuracy in depicting Brody's condition following Dana's untimely interruption, but ... ew.)

This season has been heavy on unbelievable plot turns, and the flat tire was just the latest in a long line. Also: "No fucking jack"? I hope that's going to be explained in a future episode, because otherwise it just reflects a lack of planning so unbecoming of a Marine that I basically don't believe it. Also also: I guess Brody was pressed for time, but do they not have Zip cars in Washington, DC? Did he really think it would be a good idea to flee the CIA in the family SUV?

But what was believable was the fact that the tailor thought he could knock Brody out with a rock, but totally underestimated the Congressman's Marine-tough ability to shake it off. And the fact that Brody was about 10 times faster than the tailor, and able to tackle him to the ground. Now, we come back to what's unbelievable: a sword-like tree branch broken fence post sticking out of the ground at precisely the location where Brody tackled the tailor, such that it stabbed the poor bastard right in the vitals? I think we're stretching again.

Whatever, none of it matters, because it was all just a set up for the greatest phone call between a Congressional wife dressed up like Jackie O and a Congressman murdering an inconvenient foreigner with his bare hands in the history of television. Seriously, is that anyone else's worst nightmare? You're talking to your spouse on the phone and they sound preoccupied. Are they multi-tasking? Nuzzling with some illicit lover? Using the toilet? No, they're snapping the neck of a terrorist who won't stop moaning and crying for help! Next time, Jess, try FaceTime!

By this time, Brody really doesn't give a crap about being late to the dinner anymore. So it's up to Jessica to give a not-very-good speech that we are asked, through the suggestive power of standing ovations and Mike saying so over and over again, to find absolutely brilliant and occasion-saving. No wonder she wants to lure Mike from his muscle car into the living room for a night cap and a do-over of her unconsummated nooner with Brody. Too bad Brody chooses exactly this moment to pull up in the family SUV/terrorism-transfer vehicle, wearing his patented, "She may love you but she's my wife, you jerk" face. After Mike shuffles away, Jess tells Brody (I love how she calls him Brody no matter what), "You're hiding something. I can see it in your eyes." Oh, Jess, if only you knew. She storms off to bed, with a parting shot about how she's not really feeling this marriage anymore, and leaves Brody to share another silent moment of shared suffering with poor Dana, who hears absolutely everything that is ever said in this house.

But back to Carrie! Her dad is worried about her. She should be sleeping, but instead she insists on writing an 18-page report about what went down in Beirut. She thinks this is her ticket back into the CIA, but of course, she's wrong. When she shows up uninvited to the debriefing, Estes gives her the "You've been so helpful. We couldn't have done it without you" baloney that they obviously save for civilians who think Abu Nazir is some guy who played basketball for the Lakers. Then he delivers the death blow: She didn't really think she'd be reinstated, did she? No, of course not, David. The CIA only happens to be her entire reason for living. Who didn't want to cheer when Carrie's dad found her snuffling in her room and said, "What did those assholes do to you now?" Nothing, Dad. Just leave me alone so I can go home, put on my sluttiest outfit for a night of soul-crushing sex with dirty old men, then change my mind and swallow all my pills at once, then change my mind one more time and puke it all up so I can be fresh for Saul, who's due at 3 a.m. from his flight from Beirut with proof that I'm not actually crazy and that I AM THE BIGGEST GODDAMNED GENIUS THE CIA HAS EVER PRODUCED!

Am I making this sound silly? I don't mean to. It was sublime. The profile shots of Carrie looking in the mirror, assessing her choices, her chances, her future in a world where she's not welcome at "the Company"? The way we saw through her warrior paint, to the agonized soul within? And even earlier, when she put on the bravest face she could for that creep Estes, then let herself break just a tiny bit in the elevator? This is why she won the Emmy this year, and why she could easily win it again next year too.

And then, the final scene. "I was right." The warring emotions on her face: pride, relief, self-forgiveness, a touch of anger and so much sorrow at having been so unfairly dismissed and discredited. It makes me very happy that Saul took the video of Brody's confession to her first. (I'm also happy he had the foresight to not let Hezbollah steal it from him at the airport.) I have a feeling he'll regret it, but I love seeing people do the right thing on-screen for a change.

What did you think of this episode? Any other unbelievable plot points I neglected to mention? Am I being too hard on Jess? Will anyone miss the tailor? Sound off in the comments!

"Homeland" airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on Showtime.