Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 2, Episode 6 of Showtime's "Homeland," titled "Q&A."
Nod your head if you understand why I love "Homeland."
I'm echoing Saul, of course, who used a variation of that delightfully patronizing language in his attempt to shut down Mike's "freelance investigation" into the question of whether Brody killed Tom Walker. But I think it works here, because, yes, this series has been edging toward soap opera territory at times. And yet, the good stuff is so good that there's no way I'm quitting it now.
The writers have piled up so many twists and turns this season that the "Previously on ... " lead-in feels 20 minutes long. Got all that, folks? Good, because this ain't AMC! The plot points are flying like bullets from an automatic weapon!
We start with Quinn, Carrie and the gang observing Roya through a mixture of 360-degree camera coverage and some human intel in the form of sweet Virgil and sleepy Max. I won't complain about how all this "Bourne"-style surveillance is completely unrealistic, because clearly nobody cares but me, but it does seem a bit rich that, despite this unprecedented display of technology, they are reduced to sending Virgil trotting down the metro stairs in pursuit of Roya's contact. That said, this is probably the most realistic thing in the episode: When the going really gets tough, the nation's premier espionage agency turns to a balding, middle-aged guy in a T-shirt and tells him to follow that terrorist!
Naturally, Virgil loses the guy, who can't be identified with facial-recognition software because
that doesn't exist either he's wearing sunglasses. Good thing Carrie has an idea: Let's call my boyfriend! I bet he can help. Quinn, having no other option, says fine, but he's careful to remind Carrie not to trust the compulsively lying would-be suicide bomber even though he is dreamy. This is understandably annoying to her, since, as she later tells Saul, "I'm the one who came up with that theory, back when everyone was calling him the patriot of the century." Point: Carrie!
Brody, meanwhile, is still doing damage control with Jessica, who has "50 million questions" about his new gig with the CIA. Or, actually, make that one question: Is he working with ... "HER AGAIN? CARRIE? THE NUT?" This happy couple's new era of honesty gets off to a cracking good start when Brody replies, "No," before adding, for good measure, "I told you before -- she had a nervous breakdown. They kicked her out. She's not even at the CIA anymore." Why tell just one lie when you can tell two, eh, Congressman? Meanwhile, Dana is the sleepiest person on the planet. Will she ever wake up and go to school? Yes, because the writers need another scene of her and dad in the car, each pretending not to be crazy in front of the other. Brody is so distracted by the red hunk of junk on his tail that he almost forgets to scowl at Dana and Finn as they say hi and play it off like they didn't just run someone over the night before.
At the Agency safe house -- which, alarmingly, apparently just opens out onto the street -- Carrie tells Brody they need him to ID someone in a photograph. If that seems like a small price to pay for blanket immunity, she warns him it "generally won't be this easy." Also making it less easy: Quinn, who is not done playing the bad cop. When Brody says he could do without the tail following him and his daughter to school, Quinn says, "There are a lot of things about this arrangement that are less than ideal" ... which is actually interesting because I don't think Brody knew whether the tail was CIA or Nazir's people, and Quinn wasn't about to tell him. Maybe Quinn doesn't know either. Brody has never seen the guy in the picture, which prompts Quinn to scowl and curse some more. Eventually, they usher him over to their suspect board -- because why shouldn't a highly untrustworthy double agent possibly reporting back to the enemy see the sum total of the Agency's investigative efforts so far? -- where Brody helpfully points out that the tailor "died" in an "accident." This sets off Quinn again, who explains to Brody that "the deal is full fucking disclosure, not pick and choose what you say."
Carrie, who doesn't seem to grasp that Quinn is at least partially play-acting, takes him aside to suggest that they raid the tailor's shop in Gettysburg and search it. She also wants Brody to put a feeler out to Roya, in hopes of getting a clue about the mystery man. They have an awesome exchange where Quinn reminds Carrie that she told Brody she wanted him to leave his wife and children for her, prompting Carrie to remind him of the hand-stabbing incident. "The difference being, what I did worked, so don't worry about my objectivity -- worry about your own!" Another point for Carrie!
Hey, this wet tunnel looks familiar, though last time we were here I recall it being very dark. Oh, right, it's where Brody killed Tom Walker. What are Mike and Lauder doing here? Ah, talking to the detective who found the body. He says Walker was shot, point-blank, between the eyes, with a 9-mm. That gets Mike's interest: Marines use 9-mm ammunition! Lauder, meanwhile, is focusing his handful of functioning brain cells on the location. Nobody would enter this tunnel unless they were with someone they trusted. Then the detective says something really interesting: The files on the murder are all gone because the CIA took them away! Unless I'm missing something, this actually fits better with Mike and Lauder's wrong theory (in which the CIA is covering for Brody) than it does with "reality" (in which I can't quite figure out why the CIA wanted control of the Walker investigation, unless it's just part of a big Nazir-related net).
God, this recap is getting so long, and we haven't even visited the hospital with Dana. Well, here she is, snooping around. Don't ask me how, but she's somehow found the woman Finn hit with his car, and lo and behold, here is that woman's daughter to say that her condition has worsened to "call a priest" levels. This makes Dana very upset, and she flees the hospital and races back to school, where she inexplicably tells Finn that the woman died overnight. (At least I can't explain this; can anyone else?) Their budding relationship is not going to be helped by Finn's selfish temper tantrum, in which he whinges, "I need our help!" and effectively threatens to commit suicide if Dana says anything to anyone. Obviously, she's telling Dad next episode. Does this mean Finn is not long for this world? It would explain why Timothée Chalamet can't get his name into the opening credits sequence.
Anyone who thinks Saul is the mole is crazy, and his moving scene with Carrie is all the proof you need. He's the father figure she never had. Hell, he's the father figure I never had, and I have a perfectly great father. She tells him he doesn't know what it's like, having everyone assume the worst about you. He says he doesn't feel that way, not at all, though, "I do worry about you being so close to Brody again." You can say that again, Saul!
Speaking of the mole, do we still think there is one? The fiasco in Gettysburg would seem to suggest that there is, no? It starts off innocently enough: Quinn is in ass-kicking mode, telling Galvez they need to make up for lost time. Then Brody talks to Roya, who reveals that (A) She knows the Agency has moved in on the tailor's shop and (B) There may be something valuable inside. Carrie calls Quinn with a hunch: There's something big. Keep your eyes open. Quinn gets the heebie-jeebies and has Galvez call for backup, but it's going to take awhile. Suddenly, he looks at the wall and has an idea: Could there be something behind it? Too late. Suddenly, four Nazir operatives dressed head-to-toe in black SWAT gear are marching through the place, mowing down the investigation team with assault rifles. Galvez shoots one of them, but he's shot down a moment later. When everyone's dead, or seems to be (yes, we do get a shot of Rupert Friend stirring and promising with his eyes not to abandon the series), the intruders saw through the wall Quinn was just checking out and haul a huge trunk out of it. What's inside? I guess we'll find out next episode, but Carrie did say the tailor was Nazir's munitions contact, so maybe it's ammunition for the attack on America we keep hearing about.
I know some of you are griping about my unwillingness to suspend disbelief, but seriously: Why on Earth didn't Nazir's people move this thing before the CIA busted down the doors if they knew the location had been compromised?
Despite having been warned by Saul and David in most amusing fashion, Mike goes searching for evidence to support his theory in Brody's garage. And he finds it: a carton of 9-mm cartridges with one bullet missing. That's what you get for being organized, Brody! He confronts Jessica, who -- shocker -- discloses that Brody is working for the CIA, thus seeming to confirm Mike's incorrect supposition. Jess wants him to butt out. "I'm just trying to look out for you," Mike says. "I know," she replies, "but don't, please." I feel bad for these two and wish they would get together already, but the kids make it awkward, as does Jess's burning desire to be invited to only the best parties in Washington.
Carrie isn't always the most careful spy on the planet, and here she is, barging into Brody's office with a pretty thin cover story ("Who are you?" "A constituent with some urgent business!"). What happens next explains why I keep watching this show. The quibbles and reality checks fall away. I don't care that these characters are crazy and silly and not even all that likable. They're so lost, in such a dangerous world, one that no one else understands. She's lost her colleagues in an unthinkably horrible attack. She has every reason not to trust Brody, to believe that he set them up, and yet she knows he didn't. They are connected. There's nothing they can do about it.
And, obviously, I will be tuning in next episode to see what happens next.
"Homeland" airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on Showtime.